The Point: Paying off loan adds flexibility for RCTC to fund traffic relief improvements along the 91

It may seem hard to believe that it’s been more than four years since RCTC added new lanes to the 91 and extended the 91 Express Lanes to Riverside County from Orange County.

The finance plan for the $1.4 million 91 Project included a combination of funding from toll revenue bonds and local sales tax revenue bonds. The 91 Express Lanes extension was financed with a $421 million federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan.

RCTC has made payments toward its bond obligations for the past four years with revenue from tolls collected on the 91 Express Lanes in Riverside County. To reduce the debt incurred from the 91 Project at a lower interest rate and prepay the TIFIA loan in full, RCTC explored a bond sale in 2020. This effort was placed on hold due to uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As communities across the country reopened and markets began recovering, RCTC voted in September 2021 to approve a complex, new refinancing plan. When the refinancing closed on October 14, proceeds from the bond sales allowed RCTC to prepay its TIFIA loan in full before the first payment was due this December and benefit from lower interest rates for the refinanced debt. As a result, RCTC’s actions will save taxpayers $85 million.

These savings will allow RCTC to invest funds in transportation improvements on the 91. The closeout of the TIFIA loan also removes constraints and administrative requirements that will enable RCTC to direct toll revenues toward other improvements in the 91 corridor.

RCTC is grateful to U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representative Ken Calvert for their support for the 91 Express Lanes TIFIA loan. Combined with RCTC’s prudent financial planning and strong partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation, RCTC will be able to stretch taxpayer dollars to keep delivering transportation solutions for Riverside County residents and motorists.