CHICAGO – The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority board signed off on a 2016 budget that counts on $1.3 billion in revenues for maintenance, operations, debt service, and capital costs.
The agency is planning on $600 million of new issuance in the coming year as it funds the fifth year of its 15-year, $12 billion Move Illinois capital program.
"This budget returns more than 75% of the revenues we collect back into our system so we can ensure safe and convenient travel for our 1.5 million daily customers, as well as support economic development that will create jobs and new opportunities in the communities we serve," the tollway's executive director, Greg Bedalov, said in a statement Dec. 17 after the board vote. "This fiscally responsible budget also will allow us to invest $1.2 billion in the fifth year of our Move Illinois Program – the largest capital program in the agency's history."
The agency expects revenues will rise to $1.3 billion from the $1.2 billion budgeted in 2015 due to projected increases in toll transactions and a previously approved hike in toll rates paid by trucks. Of the $1.3 billion in estimated revenues, $1.29 billion is from tolls and evasion recovery, $2 million is from investment income and $8 million is from concessions and miscellaneous revenue.
Operating costs will increase 3.6%, mainly due to increases for health care and retirement costs and equipment and fees to accommodate revenue collection. These costs remain consistent with the long-term financial plan outlined for the Move Illinois Program.
The authority was recently in the market in a refunding that followed new money borrowing.
Ahead of the sales, three rating agencies affirmed the authority's AA-minus-level ratings on $5.8 billion of debt secured by toll revenues. All three rating agencies assign a stable outlook.
The overall program relies on a total of $5 billion of borrowing with another $2.5 billion still to come after this week's sale.
The 2016 capital plan funds the completion of the rebuilding and widening of the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway and continues construction of a new, all-electronic Elgin O'Hare Western Access Project.
It completes resurfacing on the Reagan Memorial Tollway and begins design work for reconstruction of the Central Tri-State Tollway.
The 286-mile system serves the state's northeastern region. T