California State Route 73

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State Route 73

SR 73 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by Caltrans and TCA
Length17.764 mi[1] (28.588 km)
Existed1978 (1996 in current form)–present
Major junctions
South end I-5 in San Juan Capistrano
Major intersections
North end I-405 in Costa Mesa
CountryUnited States
Highway system
SR 72 SR 74

State Route 73 (SR 73) is an approximately 17.76-mile (28.58 km)[1] state highway in Orange County, California. The southernmost 12 miles (19.31 km) of the highway is a toll road operated by the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency named the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor, which opened in November 1996. The northernmost 5.76 miles (9.27 km) of the highway, which opened in 1978, is part of the Corona del Mar Freeway. SR 73's southern terminus is at Interstate 5 (I-5) in San Juan Capistrano and its northern terminus is at Interstate 405 (I-405) in Costa Mesa. The highway's alignment through the San Joaquin Hills follows an approximately parallel path between the Pacific Coast Highway and I-405. Currently, there are no HOV lanes for the three-mile freeway segment, but the medians have been designed with sufficient clearance for their construction should the need arise in the future.

Route description

SR 73 begins in northern San Juan Capistrano near the Mission Viejo border at an interchange with I-5. The freeway heads northwest into Laguna Niguel before the tolled portion begins at the Greenfield Drive exit. After passing Greenfield Drive, SR 73 enters Aliso Viejo before entering Laguna Beach, where SR 73 has an interchange with SR 133. Following this, the road passes through Crystal Cove State Park, where the main toll plazas are located. After leaving the state park, SR 73 straddles the border between Irvine and Newport Beach and provides easy access to University of California, Irvine through the Bison Avenue exit. Following the MacArthur Boulevard exit, the tolled part of the road ends and becomes a freeway. SR 73 continues into Newport Beach, running along the southern boundary of Orange County John Wayne Airport (IATA Airport Code SNA). Entering Costa Mesa, SR 73 interchanges with SR 55 before ending at I-405.[2]

SR 73 is part of the California Freeway and Expressway System,[3] and is part of the National Highway System,[4] a network of highways that are considered essential to the country's economy, defense, and mobility by the Federal Highway Administration.[5]


SR 73 climbs into the San Joaquin Hills, as seen looking southward from University Hills in Irvine. In the foreground is the Bonita Canyon Drive exit.

Most of SR 73 is a limited-access toll highway designed to reduce congestion within Orange County on the Pacific Coast Highway (SR 1) and the San Diego Freeway (I-5 and I-405) by providing a direct route through the San Joaquin Hills.

SR 73 is not a toll road over its entire length. From its northbound terminus heading southbound, the first three miles (4.8 km) of SR 73 has no tolls and is known as the Corona Del Mar Freeway. SR 73's previous alignment had the freeway portion end at MacArthur Boulevard, and the SR 73 designations ran along with MacArthur south to meet SR 1 in Corona del Mar. Under the current alignment, heading southbound, SR 73 becomes a designated toll road immediately after the Jamboree/MacArthur ramp and remains so until its southern terminus at I-5. Though the next ramp heading southbound (Bison Avenue) is part of the toll road, it is toll-free, as is the first ramp heading northbound from the southern terminus (Greenfield Drive).

The design and construction of the highway cost a total of $800 million. The design and construction was overseen by the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agencies, or SJHTCA, an agency formed in 1988[6] for the express purpose of designing the tollway. In the end, State Route 73 included 10 interchanges, 68 bridges, 725,000 square feet (67,400 m2) of retaining walls, and 32 million cubic yards (24,000,000 m3) of excavation at completion. Construction was divided into four sections, each with an individual management system and quality control. A joint venture led by Kiewit Pacific Co., a subsidiary of Kiewit Corporation, completed this project in 1996.

SR 73's toll road was the first to be financed with tax-exempt bonds on a stand-alone basis, including construction and environmental risk. In 2011, $2.1 billion in debt for the San Joaquin Hills toll roads was restructured, which pushed back the time until the bonds are paid off and the route becomes a state-owned freeway to 2042.[7] In 2014, the debt was again restructured in an attempt to get improved interest rates, improved debt ratings,[8] and in the process save $44 million in debt repayment. This resulted in another eight years of payments, delaying the pay-off date to 2050.[9] Under this new plan the debt can be paid off earlier than 2050 if ridership and revenue improve.[8]


The tolled portion of SR 73 (beginning after Greenfield Drive in the northbound direction, and starting after the Bison Avenue exit in the southbound direction) employs a barrier toll system, where drivers are charged flat-rate tolls based on what particular toll booths they pass through. Since May 13, 2014, the road has been using an all-electronic, open road tolling system,[10] and on October 2, 2019, the license plate tolling program, under the brand name "ExpressAccount", was discontinued.[11] Drivers may still pay using the FasTrak electronic toll collection system or via a one time payment online. Drivers must pay within 5 days after their trip on the toll road or they will be assessed a toll violation.[12]

Drivers who drive the entire tolled segment of SR 73 will only encounter the Catalina View Mainline toll gantry. As of July 2022, the gantry uses a congestion pricing scheme based on the time of day for FasTrak users, while non-FasTrak drivers must pay the $9.00 maximum toll regardless of the day and time. Tolls are also collected at a flat rate for all drivers at the northbound exits and southbound entrances of La Paz Road ($2.60), Aliso Creek Road ($3.23), and SR 133 ($3.92); and at the southbound exits and northbound entrances of Newport Coast Drive ($3.64) and Bonita Canyon Drive ($2.20).[13]

Exit list

The entire route is in Orange County.

San Juan CapistranoMission Viejo line0.000.00
I-5 south (San Diego Freeway) – San Diego
No access to I-5 north; southern terminus of SR 73; exit 85A on I-5 north
Laguna NiguelLaguna Hills line1.792.882Greenfield DriveSouthern end of toll road; last free exit for northbound traffic
Aliso Viejo2.914.683Moulton ParkwaySouthbound exit and northbound entrance
3.405.473La Paz RoadTolled northbound exit and southbound entrance
4.727.604Aliso Creek RoadTolled northbound exit and southbound entrance
5.258.455Pacific Park Drive / Glenwood DriveSouthbound exit and northbound entrance
Aliso ViejoLaguna Beach line6.35–
6 SR 133 (Laguna Canyon Road) / El Toro Road (CR S18)Tolled northbound exit and southbound entrance; signed as exit 7 southbound
San Joaquin Hills8.7014.00Catalina View Mainline toll gantry
IrvineNewport Beach line11.4618.4411Newport Coast DriveTolled southbound exit and northbound entrance
12.0019.3112Bonita Canyon DriveTolled southbound exit and northbound entrance
12.7420.5013Bison AvenueLast free exit for southbound traffic
14.0022.5314 MacArthur Boulevard north – John Wayne AirportNorthbound exit and southbound entrance; northern end of toll road
14AMacArthur Boulevard south – Newport BeachSouthbound exit and northbound entrance; former routing of SR 73 south
Newport Beach14.3523.0914BUniversity DriveSouthbound exit and northbound entrance
15.0124.1615Jamboree RoadNo northbound exit
Birch StreetNorthbound exit only
15.5324.9916Irvine Avenue / Campus DriveSouthbound exit and northbound entrance
Costa Mesa16.53–
SR 55 north (Costa Mesa Freeway)
Northbound exit and southbound entrance; exit 5A on SR 55
SR 55 south (Costa Mesa Freeway)
Signed as exit 17A southbound; exit 5A on SR 55
17.2327.7317CBear StreetSigned as exit 17B southbound
18BFairview RoadNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
Susan Street / Harbor BoulevardClosed; now part of I-405 exit 11; was northbound exit only

I-405 Express Lanes north
Express lanes scheduled to open in 2023;[17] northbound exit and southbound entrance
I-405 north (San Diego Freeway) – Long Beach
No access to I-405 south; northern terminus of SR 73; exit 10 on I-405 south
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


  1. ^ a b c California Department of Transportation. "State Truck Route List". Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. Archived from the original (XLS file) on June 30, 2015. Retrieved June 30, 2015.
  2. ^ Orange County Street Atlas (Map). Thomas Brothers. 2008.
  3. ^ "Article 2 of Chapter 2 of Division 1". California Streets and Highways Code. Sacramento: California Office of Legislative Counsel. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  4. ^ Federal Highway Administration (March 25, 2015). National Highway System: Los Angeles, CA (PDF) (Map). Scale not given. Washington, DC: Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  5. ^ Natzke, Stefan; Neathery, Mike & Adderly, Kevin (June 20, 2012). "What is the National Highway System?". National Highway System. Washington, DC: Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved July 1, 2012.
  6. ^ Archived 2017-01-06 at the Wayback Machine Exhibit 30. page 4. "On October 17, 1988, the County and city members of the TCA amended the Joint Powers Agreement to exercise power authorized by the legislature to impose and collect tolls on the Corridor"
  7. ^ Press Release May 2011
  8. ^ a b "Reuters, S&P Improves Debt Rating to Investment Grade". Reuters. October 8, 2014. Archived from the original on May 24, 2015. Retrieved May 24, 2015.
  9. ^ Press Release Oct 2014
  10. ^ "All Electronic Tolling". Transportation Corridor Agencies. Archived from the original on October 16, 2012. Retrieved October 12, 2013.
  11. ^ "ExpressAccount". Transportation Corridor Agencies. October 2, 2019. Retrieved April 4, 2020.
  12. ^ "Ways to Pay Tolls". Transportation Corridor Agencies. Retrieved August 13, 2022.
  13. ^ "The Toll Roads Rate Card" (PDF). Transportation Corridor Agencies. July 1, 2022. Retrieved August 13, 2022.
  14. ^ a b "State Route 73 Freeway Interchanges" (PDF). California Numbered Exit Uniform System. California Department of Transportation. September 28, 2018. Retrieved August 1, 2021.
  15. ^ California Department of Transportation (July 2007). "Log of Bridges on State Highways". Sacramento: California Department of Transportation.
  16. ^ California Department of Transportation, All Traffic Volumes on CSHS, 2005 and 2006
  17. ^ "405 Express Lanes". Orange County Transportation Authority. August 10, 2022.

External links