Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency Bonds Upgraded to A
Fiscal diligence core to Strategic Plan and continues to achieve goals
IRVINE, Calif. - March 02, 2022
In yet another indication of the financial strength of the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) and The Toll Roads system, S&P Global Ratings has upgraded the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency’s (F/ETCA) senior-lien and junior-lien bonds to A and A-, respectively, with outlook stable.
The F/ETCA operates the 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads in Orange County, Calif.
“F/ETCA's very strong management and governance, reflecting the agency's history of meeting or exceeding most operational and financial goals, detailed financial forecasting that is updated frequently to address material variances, and very capable staff that has considerable experience operating a regional tolling agency. The ratings reflect our opinion of the F/ETCA's strong enterprise risk and financial risk profiles. Our enterprise risk profile assessment reflects F/ETCA's strong market position due to its important role providing congestion relief …,” stated S&P Global Ratings in the Ratings Direct report dated Feb. 28, 2022.
“S&P Global’s decision to upgrade the Agency’s bonds is the product of the effort and collaboration by the Board of Directors and staff to ensure the financial stability of The Toll Roads, both now and in the future,” said Peggy Huang, F/ETCA Chair and Yorba Linda City Councilmember. “It is important that the Agency continues its path of fiscal responsibility, while looking for opportunities to strengthen its position.”
“Strong fiscal management is core to the Agencies’ past and future success. The Boards’ past decisions created the strong footing that the current Boards are building upon,” said TCA CEO Samuel Johnson. “These decisions are driving the Agencies’ mission to support the movement of goods and people while also continuing to create opportunities to further reduce debt.”
In January 2021, the F/ETCA executed a refunding of certain outstanding 2013A and all 2013C bonds that decreased annual debt payments without extending any maturity dates, resulting in a reduction in debt service payments of $214 million net of all transaction costs.
The refunding was recognized by The Bond Buyer, an independent municipal finance publication, which honored the transaction as its Far West Deal of the Year.
The F/ETCA and San Joaquin Hill 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.
Both Agencies are on firm financial footing with strong reserves and solid traffic and revenue forecasts that have been consistently recognized by Wall Street’s independent rating agencies, as well as investors. The Agencies’ financial approach and debt management policies have resulted in more than $700 million in savings in just the last few years.
Fiscal prudence has been and remains the foundation for all the Agencies’ approaches and activities. TCA’s Strategic Plan focuses on protecting the ability to fund operations and Capital Improvement Plan projects while positioning the Agencies to take advantage of debt reduction and early paydown opportunities.
“We continuously look for opportunities to bolster our creditworthiness and capitalize on low interest rates, reduce debt payments and generate cash flow without extending bond maturity dates,” said TCA CFO Amy Potter. “TCA’s debt is structured to follow conservatively projected revenues to ensure the Agencies can meet financial obligations while aggressively attracting traffic from congested highways and local streets.”
In November 2021, S&P Global Ratings upgraded the SJHTCA senior-lien and junior-lien bonds to A and A- respectively, with outlook stable.
The Toll Roads have been providing a choice for drivers for more than 20 years and the tolls collected are used to repay the debt incurred to construct the system and fund on-going operations and improvement projects.
The Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) are two joint powers authorities formed by the California Legislature in 1986 to plan, finance, construct and operate Orange County’s public toll road system comprised of the 73, 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads.