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More Bond Upgrades for the Toll Roads

March 15, 2024 9:09 AM | Todd Stearns (Administrator)

Irvine, Calif. - March 11, 2024

The Foothill Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (F/ETCA) continues to strengthen its economic position in the bond market with Fitch Ratings upgrading the Agency’s bonds to A- for Senior Lien and BBB+ for Junior Lien, with a positive outlook. F/ETCA operates the 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads in Orange County, Calif.

Following are the F/ETCA’s current bond ratings:

  • Fitch: A- and BBB+ respectively, with outlook positive
  • Moody’s: Baa1 with outlook stable
  • S&P: A and A- respectively, with outlook stable

In addition, Fitch Ratings has affirmed San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency (SJHTCA) Senior Lien bonds at BBB+ and Junior Lien bonds at BBB and revised the rating outlook to positive.

“The rating upgrade reflects an improved credit profile driven by the combination of the agency's prudent debt management strategies through bond buybacks alongside traffic and revenue performance that has exceeded Fitch's case expectations,” stated in a recent release by Fitch’s Credit Rating. “Management demonstrated its commitment to paying down debt when opportunities arise at bond call dates as well as opportunistically through open-market bond buybacks, which will support debt service reductions over the long term.”

“Fitch’s decision to upgrade the F/ETCA credit rating underscores the Agencies’ financial strength and well-positioned fiscal policies that provide The Toll Roads with stability and strong operational performance,” said F/ETCA Chair and San Juan Capistrano City Council Member John Taylor. “It is important that the Agencies continue to pursue opportunities that further reduce operating costs and enhance revenues, along with board-approved policies for managing and reducing debt.”

“In line with the Boards of Directors’ Strategic Plan, since 2019, the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) have executed bond refundings and strategic early bond paydowns that have reduced debt service by nearly $1.4 billion, thereby further enhancing the Agencies’ strong financial position,” said TCA CFO Howard Mallen.

The F/ETCA and San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency (SJHTCA), which comprise TCA, are two joint powers authorities created to plan, finance, construct and operate Orange County’s 51-mile toll road network – the 73, 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads.

The Toll Roads have been providing a choice for drivers for over 25 years and the tolls collected are used to repay the debt incurred to construct the system and fund ongoing operations and improvements.

The Toll Roads system, which represents 20% of Orange County’s highways, is the largest toll road network in California.

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