S&P’s upgrade of E-470 Public Highway Authority reflects “our view of recent growth in transactions which reached a new peak in 2014," analyst Todd R. Spence said.

DALLAS - Standard & Poor's upgraded Colorado's E-470 Public Highway Authority to BBB-plus from BBB as the authority prepares to issue $40 million of refunding bonds.

The higher rating "reflects sustained strong traffic and revenue growth, proactive debt and financial management and our expectation that the service area economy growth will continue to have a positive effect on traffic and revenue into FY 2015 and beyond," S&P's primary analyst Todd R. Spence wrote. Moody's Investors Service upgraded the authority to Baa1 from Baa2 on Feb. 20.

The tollway, part of a beltway around metro Denver, has seen record-setting traffic and revenue growth since 2014. The authority has $1.54 billion of debt outstanding for its toll road on Denver's eastern perimeter.

With the tollway completed, the authority has no plans to issue new debt but is seeking to fix out variable rate debt and terminate swaps. The authority's 2015 through 2019 capital budget totals $196 million and is expected to be funded from excess cash flow and funds on hand. After 2019 the authority has identified an estimated $448 million in demand-driven capital projects, including two new interchanges at I-70 and I-76, and widening if demand warrants. However, no debt is expected to be needed for these projects as they are also expected to be funded from cash flow and funds on hand.

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