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California Tolls

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posts: 296
reviews: 106
California Tolls

We will be arriving at LAX and traveling to Laguna Beach then to Lajolla/San Diego.

I'm planning to take 405S to 73 and this will involve tolls.

How do the tolls work in California? We have an EZ pass but I don't think it works in California. Can you just pay cash?

I think to reach Lajolla from Laguna Beach, we will take the PCH but for our return from the San Diego we would take I-5 and 405N so I would appreciate any toll info for this leg as well.


San Diego
Destination Expert
for San Diego
posts: 46,615
reviews: 61
1. Re: California Tolls

There are no tolls on the I-5 or the 405.

I have lived here in southern California for more than 25years and have never needed to pay a toll on any road sooooo neither will you ! I don't know how the tolls work at all.

Just don't use those roads and you won't have a problem.

Anaheim, California
Destination Expert
for Anaheim
posts: 24,196
reviews: 13
2. Re: California Tolls

The 73 until May will have Toll Booths that take cash until May, so if you take the entire length, at the top of the hill, stay to the right and follow the signs and pay the person who can make change if needed. If you don't take the entire length, when you exit the freeway, there will be an automated machine to take some money, no change given. California has its own transponder called "FasTrak" and doesn't work with other states. (In fact there are different versions of the California version, which makes things a pain.

In May, the "Toll Roads" (Orange County) will be going cashless, where you can pay in advance based on your license plate and a couple of more options or just use the "FasTrak".


San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
posts: 26,360
reviews: 131
3. Re: California Tolls

Why do you need to take the toll road ? Why not just go as many of us do on the freeways. ?

We have been from lax to sd Laguna Anaheim more times than I can remember for the past 30 years and ONCE we used 73.

Www.thetollroads.com has all the Info. May 14th is when they go cashless or electronic but until then you can pay cash

Laguna Niguel
posts: 34
4. Re: California Tolls

If you map out the route using a map app they will be getting the shortest route which will include the 73.

From LAX to Laguna Beach you can avoid the 73 simply by taking I-405 south until you hit 133. Take 133 towards Laguna Beach. To get to La Jolla from Laguna Beach take PCH south and follow the signs to I-5 South. On your return to LAX from Sand Diego, take I-5 until you hit I-405 and take this all the way to LAX.

FYI the toll roads in this area do not offer a much shorter route. Their benefit is during rush hour when their use can translate into significant time savings.

Edited: 10:30 am, April 15, 2014
Los Angeles
Destination Expert
for Los Angeles
posts: 15,157
reviews: 58
5. Re: California Tolls

If you are using Google Maps, after you ask for directions there's a link you can click on labeled something like "advanced options" - once you do that there's a checkbox labeled "avoid tolls" which you can select, which would show you how to go without using the 73.

Corona del Mar, CA
Destination Expert
for San Diego, Orange County, California
posts: 37,428
reviews: 349
6. Re: California Tolls

Going to Laguna Beach I wouldn't use the 73, at least not the toll portion. Get off before the toll portion starts on MacArthur Blvd and just take that to Coast Highway and drive down Coast Highway to Laguna Beach.

Are you doing this drive all in one day?

The 73 is great when you are coming from San Diego heading to LAX or John Wayne for a flight. It is a huge time saver and worth the cost.

I actually use the 73 all the time as does the rest of my family because a lot of my family lives just off it in Corona del Mar, Laguna Woods, Laguna Beach & Aliso Viejo so it makes a lot of sense for us.

Anaheim, California
Destination Expert
for Anaheim
posts: 24,196
reviews: 13
7. Re: California Tolls

I am also a fan of the 73 and other toll roads, I have a FasTrak device (the new Toll Roads version with the switch to state how many people are in the car) that I use all the time in LA and Orange County (Express Lanes and Toll Roads), I would say my average bill is now about $30 a month, but the time savings

Also, due to a federal law, more Express Lanes are coming to California and the rest of the country. And they will be cashless. So the toll issue is something that folks have to think of.

But they have been around for a long time, I remember the Coronado Car ferry, then the Bay Bridge which had a toll (expired and now a free bridge), so as a 50+ year California native, been paying tolls since I started to drive, and of course, my parents paid them when I was a kid.

Edited: 11:51 am, April 15, 2014
Santa Monica...
posts: 324
reviews: 1
8. Re: California Tolls

I used that toll road around Laguna Beach once ... I found it an ugly depressing road ... That you had to pay a toll for. I always get off the 405 and go through Laguna Canyon (133 ?) ... It's the most beautiful drive ... Free ... And takes you right into downtown Laguna Beach.

Huntington Beach...
Destination Expert
for Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach
posts: 5,012
reviews: 146
9. Re: California Tolls

I hate the 73, especially at night as it is very dark and very steep. Unless you are driving during rush hours there is absolutely no reason to take the 73 toll road. Also, it becomes a toll road after MacArthur. Between the 405 and MacArthur it is free.

posts: 296
reviews: 106
10. Re: California Tolls

Rickdogg....thanks for providing the alternate to the toll route.

We are actually heading to your area , Laguna Niguel but used Laguna beach as a reference. When I put this Into maps, it has a route going on the 405 to 5 toward Capistrano , then backtracking to Laguna Niguel on 1... Does that sound feasible?

While we plan to spend time in Laguna Beach, I think we'd like to stop into our hotel first.