SR-125 toll road turning a profit despite a drop in toll prices

Improvements coming for county's only toll road

SAN DIEGO - A $341 million road appears to be paying off.

It took almost six years and two owners, but the state Route 125 toll road is turning a profit.

It helped that the toll road went bankrupt in 2010, forcing the previous owners to sell it at a loss to the San Diego Association of Governments. The price -- $341 million -- was a steal for a road that cost $800 million to build.

"Growth has outpaced our projections by far," said SANDAG Director of Operations Samuel Johnson.

SANDAG dropped toll prices across the board and immediately saw an increase in ridership.  SR-125 used to have about 28,000 riders a day. It had 40,000 a day last week.

Despite the decreased tolls, the toll road is making enough money that SANDAG is stuffing away money for future improvements, including beautification of the median.

"We're experimenting, planting some wildflower seeds," said Johnson.

The center of the toll road is mostly dead grass. Johnson said he wants drivers to avoid traffic and enjoy the view.

"If we can establish these plants at a minimal cost, then they'll be there forever," he said.

The profits will also be used to update the much-maligned toll booths that sometimes back traffic up.

"The tolling system is now over 10 years old," said Johnson. "We need to look at replacing that."

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