[Editor: This is the text of a February 16, 2017, news release from the E-470 Public Highway Authority.]
E-470 releases 2016 traffic and toll revenue figures;
Record-setting year precedes two bond rating increases announced within the past few weeks
The E-470 Public Highway Authority has released unaudited 2016 year-end traffic and toll revenue figures showing that traffic, as measured by the number of toll transactions, increased 7.2 percent over 2015, with transactions rising from 74.6 million to 80.0 million. It was the seventh straight year of traffic growth. The rise in traffic, coupled with a nominal 2016 toll increase, resulted in an 11.4 percent, $19.8 million increase to $192.8 million in net toll revenues.
Operating costs were $42.3 million in 2016 (unaudited), compared to the $49.2 million budgeted. The 2016 actual operating costs compare to $37.9 million in the prior year, an 11.6 percent increase. A significant portion of the authority’s increased operating costs are directly related to processing and collecting the growing volume of tolls on E-470 as well as other new CDOT managed lane toll facilities.
According to Jason Myers, E-470’s finance director, the 11.4 percent growth in net toll revenues was sufficient to meet E-470’s financial obligations. Those obligations included $97.2 million of debt service payments in 2016 to bondholders. E-470 has $1.5 billion in outstanding bond debt.
E-470 Executive Director Tim Stewart said, “The increase in toll revenues reinforces our ability to meet our debt obligation to bondholders plus have the reserves required to reinvest in our road. We need to make certain that we provide the kind of driving experience our customers expect in return for their toll dollars.”
E-470’s continued upswing in traffic and revenues, as well as other strong financial metrics, has led to two investment-grade bond rating upgrades this month in anticipation of an upcoming 2017 bond refinancing. Rating increases were issued by two of the three major bond rating agencies, along with reaffirmation of a strong rating from the third.
Within the past few weeks, Fitch Ratings announced it had upped its rating of E-470’s senior lien revenue bonds from BBB to BBB+ with a stable outlook. Standard & Poor’s (S&P) Global Ratings announced that it had increased its rating of those bonds from BBB+ to A- with a stable outlook. Moody’s Investors Service, which in June 2016 upgraded E-470’s rating from Baa1 to A3 with a stable outlook, announced that it continues to assign the same A3 rating and stable outlook.
E-470 is the 75-mph toll road that runs along the eastern perimeter of the Denver metropolitan area. The road is not taxpayer-funded and is financed, constructed, operated and governed by the E-470 Public Highway Authority. E-470 is composed of eight local governments: Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties, and the municipalities of Aurora, Brighton, Commerce City, Parker and Thornton.
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Jessica Carson, E-470 Marketing and Communications Manager, 303-537-3706
Dan Christopherson, Christopherson & Co. Public Relations, 303-779-4920
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