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San Diego County regional government to buy bankrupt toll road

July 30, 2011 |  9:34 am

A San Diego regional government organization has agreed to purchase the bankrupt State Route 125 toll road near the U.S.-Mexico border for approximately $345 million.

Opened in November 2007, the 10-mile toll road in southern San Diego County was described initially as an example for Los Angeles and other traffic-beset regions on how a private-public partnership could build new roads and ease congestion.

Instead it became a cautionary tale about risky assumptions, and the stubborn opposition of motorists to paying tolls. In March 2010 the road's operator filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, noting that traffic counts were less than 50% of projections.

Tolls were based on the size of vehicle and distance of the trip. For most cars, a short trip has cost 85 cents, the entire 10-miles, $4.

The road stretches from State Route 905 near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry north through eastern Chula Vista to State Route 54 near the Sweetwater Reservoir.

The San Diego Assn. of Governments, governed by a board composed of officials from the region's 18 cities and the Board of Supervisors, voted in closed session Friday to make the purchase, once a public hearing is held.

Under the new ownership, the road won't be free but tolls will be reduced, officials said.


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Photo: Choir members from Bonita Vista High School cavort along the South Bay Expressway, a.k.a. State Route 125, at the toll road's dedication in November 2007. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times