Countywide : Big Budget Hikes OKd for Tollways

County tollway officials on Thursday approved huge budget increases for the two agencies overseeing construction of the proposed San Joaquin Hills and Foothill/Eastern tollways.

The San Joaquin corridor agency board voted a budget of $61.2 million, up by nearly 115% from the $28.5-million spending plan for the year ending June 30. The Foothill/Eastern agency's budget will be $95 million, up 85% from $51.4 million.

The big increases in the two budgets are due to rights-of-way purchases and construction costs that were not incurred in prior years, officials said.

The tollways, expected to cost more than $2 billion, are scheduled for completion during the mid-to-late 1990s.

The tollway agencies are financed through fees levied on new commercial and residential construction; state and federal grants, and loans to be repaid once tolls are collected from motorists.

During Thursday's agency board meetings, Newport Beach City Councilman John C. Cox Jr. was reelected chairman of the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency while Yorba Linda Councilman Gene Wisner was named to the same post by the Foothill/Eastern corridor group.

The two sister agencies oversee construction of the three publicly owned tollways in the eastern and southern areas of Orange County. The agencies share the same staff and have some board members in common.

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