CHICAGO — The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority board approved a pool of 10 law firms to work on its bond sales as it embarks on a partially bond-financed 15-year, $12 billion capital program.
The firms chosen based on a competitive selection process are Burke Burns & Pinelli Ltd., Chapman and Cutler LLP, Foley & Lardner LLP; Ice Miller LLP and Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP.
Also on the list are Mayer Brown LLP, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, Pugh, Jones, & Johnson PC, Quarles & Brady LLP and Schiff Hardin LLP.
The agency’s board approved the pool at a meeting Thursday. The firms will remain in the pool for five-year terms with possible extensions of up to five years. Last month, the board chose four financial advisory firms to work with over a three-year period, with a possible extension of up to two years.
High scorer Public Financial Management Inc. will be adviser to the authority on an ongoing basis. Three others were chosen to advise on individual transactions — A.C. Advisory Inc., Columbia Capital Management LLC and Acacia Financial Group Inc.
The agency is still finalizing new underwriting pools and has not selected any firms to work on its first bond sale of $200 million to finance initial projects under the new program.
“The underwriting pool procurement process is ongoing, and not yet completed,” said spokeswoman Wendy Abrams.
The authority board last August approved a $12 billion program to maintain and expand the 286-mile system, along with a steep toll increase. The extra toll revenue will help repay $4.8 billion of debt to support the Move Illinois program.
Toll revenues are expected to rise to $973 million this year from $680 million in 2011, primarily due to the 87.5% toll increase that took effect Jan. 1. Debt service has a priority claim on system revenues after operations are funded.
The new program funds construction of new toll roads and projects aimed at keeping the 52-year-old system’s existing roadways in a state of good repair through 2026. The program provides $8 billion for improvements to existing roads and $4 billion for new and expanded roadways.
New borrowing would be repaid with revenue from the toll hike for all passenger vehicles and a previously approved commercial vehicle increase that takes effect in 2015. Additional revenue would also come from tolls collected on new toll roads.
Total debt of $4 billion is forecast to peak at $7.3 billion. Debt service is estimated at $302.8 million in 2018, but projected to rise to $636.9 million in 2030 as a result of new money borrowing.
Moody’s Investors Service rates the authority Aa3. Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s rates the tollway’s $4 billion of debt AA-minus. Fitch assigns a negative outlook. It affirmed its rating and outlook in March.