C O M M I S S I O N N E W S R E L E A S E
May 4, 1998
Kathy Liebler, 717-939-9551, ext. 2850
John Brenner, 717-939-9551, ext. 2431
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TURNPIKE RECEIVES "AA-" BOND RATING
THE HIGHEST AWARDED TO A TOLL ROAD
HIGHSPIRE, PA. -- The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, for the first time in its 58 year history, has received a "AA-" bond rating from Fitch IBCA, the highest rating awarded by the company (Fitch IBCA) to a turnpike agency.
Fitch IBCA is one of the leading international rating agencies with more than 550 analysts world wide. It announced last week it has given the Turnpike's $1.09 billion outstanding revenue bonds a "AA-" credit worthiness rating. Fitch IBCA reported that the Turnpike's strong financial performance should continue, citing that "organizational and managerial changes in recent years have strengthened the Turnpike Commission's ability to plan long-term operating and capital needs."
Turnpike Executive Director John Durbin described the high bond rating, from one of the largest and well-respected global ratings agencies, as "truly significant. The "AA-" rating recognizes and validates the extensive operational changes and improvements being accomplished under the leadership of the Turnpike Commissioners. Better business practices are in place at the Turnpike Commission. Fitch IBCA's rating confirms that," Governor Tom Ridge offered his congratulations to the Commission. "The new bond rating is a compelling affirmation of the Commission's efforts to improve the Turnpike and its operations," he said.
Durbin explained that Fitch IBCA's "AA-" rating is important to the Turnpike's financial portfolio "because the higher rating allows the Commission to issue debt at lower cost. In other words," he said, "the Turnpike will save money every time we issue bonds. We are absolutely thrilled with this news."
In a press release issued by Fitch IBCA, Analyst William Streeter said, "The Pennsylvania Turnpike, the nation's oldest turnpike system, has a stronger credit profile than most turnpike systems, with revenue growth on the system resulting in a strong financial position for the Turnpike."
Streeter cited several Commission strengths including its management and planning efforts; that the Turnpike serves most major economic areas of the state; its financial position is strong at current toll levels, and that the Commission is in a steady debt retirement mode.
He also noted that expansions to the Turnpike system, underway in southwestern Pennsylvania, are being financed through dedicated taxes, thereby insulating the existing toll revenue base from additional fixed costs.
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