by Photo courtesy of the City of Chula Vista

Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas is pushing San Diego Association of Governments to exercise its option to pay off State Road-125 Toll Road Debt in 2027, to make it free for commuters. 

Opened in 2007, South Bay Expressway (SBX) Toll Road is a ten-mile stretch of State Route 125 (SR 125) that runs from Otay Mesa Road near State Route 905 to SR 54, and its the only toll road in the county. The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) purchased the SR 125 franchise from Creditors, including the U.S. Department of Transportation, following bankruptcy in December 2011.

The SBX owned by Caltrans and leased by SANDAG, operates as a toll road under the Amended and Restated Development Franchise Agreement (ARDFA) with the State of California, which is the agreement governing the day-to-day operations. The toll road will revert to Caltrans in November of 2042. 

In 2012, SANDAG reduced tolls by 24 to 40 percent. Five years later, the board reduced the total debt service on SR-125 by refinancing an infrastructure loan through the sale of fixed-rate revenue bonds. 

For the past few years, Salas has requested for SANDAG staff about SBX and wants to find a way to pay off the  $172 million it owes by 2027.

“Even though we are pushing for this, it’s still going to take a lot of time, a lot of political effort, and a lot of collaboration with other mayors in the county to get tolls off the roads,” Salas said.

According to a city staff presentation, $33 million in funding is needed by SANDAG in 2027 to finance bond call. 

SANDAG discussed SBX during a Jan.28 meeting, where Salas expressed unanimous support from Chula Vista City Council Members. 

The SBX connects the only commercial port of entry in San Diego and Otay Mesa, the largest area of industrial-zoned land in San Diego County, to the regional freeway network, therefore making the elimination of tolls a benefit to the region, state, and nation. 

According to a city staff report, existing tolls place an undue and disproportionate burden on South Bay users and hinder the City’s economic development activity in areas such as business attraction and retention. 

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *