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These toll roads won’t become freeways for years

Q. When the 73 toll road was being introduced, it was promoted as becoming a freeway once tolls paid for its construction. In other words, once paid for, it would be free. When does it become free to use?

– Nick Moffitt, Irvine

A. Nick, are you a patient man – a real patient man? And fairly young?

The 73 toll road, which rolls 17 miles from Newport Beach to San Juan Capistrano, opened in 1996, meant as an alternative choice for motorists who otherwise would take the I-405 and I-5 freeways.

That toll road, at times, has struggled to get a sufficient number of drivers – and hence their dollars.

Tolls were projected at the time to be paid until 2027 or 2033, when it would become a freeway – as in free to drivers.

It was unclear to Honk what was the original payoff date, as an Orange County Register story, in 1996, cited the earlier date while one six years ago said it was actually the later one. Either way, that nirvana for drivers won’t come for a while.

The goal line was extended out at least two times when the debt was refinanced – the latest in 2014 reduced the interest rate.

The financing bonds are now to be retired in 2050 for the 73, and three years later for the 133, 241 and 261 toll roads, said Kim Mohr, a spokeswoman for those toll roads.

At that time, Caltrans will make the call on what happens to the toll roads, but the intent has always been for them to become freeways.

These toll roads, Mohr said in an email, “are well-positioned to meet their financial obligations, weathering economic impacts such as we are now experiencing.”

Q. Dear Honk: A major street near my house, Winnetka Avenue in the western part of the San Fernando Valley, was recently repaved and bicycle lanes added. Thick bars of green striping were added, too, in front of bus stops and at intersections. I’ve never seen this green striping before anywhere else in the city. When I look for information on the green striping in Department of Motor Vehicles material, I find only a general reference to green lines marking bicycle lanes, which I have seen in other areas. Drivers have no idea how to negotiate this green striping at intersections: Some drive over it, and some notice it from a distance and drive around it. What does the green striping mean, and what should we do when we encounter it?

– Robert Rakauskas, Winnetka

A. Honk was scratching his quickly balding pate on this one, even after Robert was kind enough to take some photos and pass them along.

How far across the roadway the thick bars stretch differs, from a skinny section marked off for an apparent bike lane to the full width of a lane.



A veteran of the roads, the transportation beat and life, Honk would have been clueless as to what those fat, green lines all meant.

He reached out to the Los Angeles Department of Transportation for an answer, and spokesman Colin Sweeney explained that, yes, green means bicycle lanes.

“Green paint is a commonly used indicator of bicycle lanes,” he told Honk in an email. “Dashed green indicate areas where vehicles and bikes may intersect and share the lane.

“The green paint serves as a high-visibility warning to drivers that people riding bikes may be present and they should be alert.”

You can park on the green bars, so long as no curb marking or street signage says otherwise, Sweeney said.

The first such usage of the green markings in Los Angeles was about 2012 on First Street in Boyle Heights, Sweeney added.

To ask Honk questions, reach him at He only answers those that are published. To see Honk online: Twitter: @OCRegisterHonk

Source: Orange County Register

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