Moody’s lowers Pa. turnpike agency’s bond rating

Posted: April 12, 2013

Massive borrowing and fewer-than-expected toll payers on the Pennsylvania Turnpike have prompted a downgrade in the Turnpike Commission's bond rating. Moody's Investors Service has lowered the rating to A1 from Aa3 on $3.1 billion of senior lien revenue bonds.

Moody's cited the Turnpike Commission's massive borrowing to pay for statewide road and transit projects, "continued underperformance of its traffic and revenues compared to . . . forecasts," and higher-than-forecast toll increases.

The commission is about $7.5 billion in debt, largely because state Act 44 compels it to pay $450 million a year for non-turnpike projects, in addition to paying for turnpike maintenance and expansion.

Turnpike commission chief executive Mark Compton said the downgrade was "not surprising." He said Moody's rating is now comparable to that from two other rating agencies, Standard & Poor's and Fitch.

    - Paul Nussbaum

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