Work is under way on the $2.1 billion Wekiva Parkway, a 25-mile toll road that will complete a beltway around Orlando, Fla.

BRADENTON, Fla. - The Central Florida Expressway Authority name will make its first appearance in the muni primary with $193 million in senior-lien revenue bond anticipation notes.

The BAN deal, which will require approval of the authority's governing board in June, will provide interim financing for a portion of the 25-mile Wekiva Parkway toll road that will complete the northern beltway around Orlando.

The BANs were rated A by Fitch Ratings on May 20 and A2 by Moody's Investors Service on May 22.

In addition to bridge financing for the Wekiva, the notes will fund capitalized interest through maturity and pay costs of issuance. According to Fitch, the notes will have a single maturity.

The authority plans to take out the BANs in January 2019 through a draw on its junior-lien Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan. The 35-year TIFIA loan closed in March at a rate of 1.23%, the lowest interest rate ever for the federal loan program.

The TIFIA loan was rated A-minus by Fitch and A3 by Moody's.

Both agencies also affirmed their ratings of A and A2, respectively, on $2.5 billion of outstanding senior-lien revenue bonds that are the responsibility of the CFX, which is successor to the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority. The outlook for all of the debt is stable, they said.

Fitch said its ratings reflect the essentiality of the CFX system to commuters in the Orlando area coupled with a demonstrated willingness to implement toll increases even during challenging economic times.

"CFX's continued efforts to improve its liquidity position add strength to CFX's debt structure," said Fitch Emma Griffith. "The upcoming capital plan, while sizable and requiring additional borrowing, is manageable and will serve to enhance the essentiality of the system."

According to Moody's, the CFX expects to issue $1.5 billion of debt through 2037, which includes the TIFIA loan.

Traffic consultant projections indicate that debt service coverage ratios are expected to remain over 1.6 times for the life of the senior and junior debt, and 1.4 times with the inclusion of $20 million in subordinate annual lease payments to the Florida Department of Transportation.

Moody's said its stable outlook is based the expectation that traffic growth and toll revenues will continue to provide good financial margins and debt service coverage ratios, and that the authority will retain adequate liquidity levels despite a capital plan that requires significant borrowing.

The total cost of the Wekiva Parkway is estimated at $2.1 billion, according to Fitch. The CFX is building 10 miles at an estimated cost of $630.7 million. The FDOT is building the remaining 15 miles.

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