BRADENTON, Fla. — The North Carolina Turnpike Authority expects to sell $220 million of state appropriation revenue bonds in a two-day sale this week.
The offering is the second of three tranches to finance the $725 million, 19.7-mile Monroe Connector, which recently cleared a legal hurdle last month that had stalled the project for nearly a year.
The new toll road will provide a bypass for drivers from U.S. 74 at Interstate 485 in eastern Mecklenburg County to U.S. 74 near the town of Marshville in Union County. It is the NCTA's second toll-road venture.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch is book-runner of a 10-member syndicate that is selling the bonds Wednesday with final pricing on Thursday.
The transaction is structured with serial and term bonds. Final maturities could go as long as 40 years but will be determined at pricing, according to the agency's spokeswoman, Reid Simons.
"After we sell these bonds, we will be ready to deliver a project that has been on the books for decades," Transportation Secretary Gene Conti said.
The bonds have been rated Aa2 by Moody's Investors Service and AA by Standard & Poor's. Both agencies assign stable outlooks.
The authority closed on $233.9 million of taxable Build America Bonds as the first tranche of financing for the Monroe Connector on Oct. 26, 2010.
Less than a month later, the Southern Environmental Law Center bought a suit on behalf of Clean Air Carolina, the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, and Yadkin Riverkeeper alleging there were violations of the National Environmental Policy Act in reviewing the proposed route.
Last month, U.S. District Court Judge James Dever ruled that there were no violations, clearing the way for the project to move forward.
The Turnpike Authority received unanimous approval last week from the Local Government Commission to proceed with the Connector's financing.
The plan also calls for $170.18 million of grant anticipation revenue vehicle bonds, and a $10 million private placement with Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
The project also will be supported by a $77 million contribution from funds allocated to the state transportation improvement plan.
The agency plans to sell the Garvee bonds in the next 60 days.
The Garvees will be taken out in around seven years with toll revenue bonds, according to David Joyner, executive director of the NCTA.
"The beauty of this structure is, once the road is up and finished, and it's open a couple of years, we have more certainty of the toll revenues," Joyner said in a recent interview. "We want to repay those Garvees so that money can be used for other transportation projects."
The structure is expected to save "hundreds of millions" of dollars on total debt service because it eliminates the need for capitalized interest, he said. Joyner believes the project is one of the first to use Garvees in this manner.
Conti said after this week's bond sale a design-build contract would be executed with a joint venture consisting of United Infrastructure Group Inc., Boggs Paving Inc., Anderson Columbia Co., and the lead design firm of Rummel, Klepper & Kahl LLP. Work on the bypass is expected to begin early next year and be completed in late 2015.
Public Financial Management Inc. is the authority's financial advisor.
Bond counsel is Hunton & Williams LLP. Underwriters' counsel is Bode, Call & Stroupe LLP.
Along with Bank of America Merrill, other underwriting firms on the deal are BB&T Capital Markets, Citi, JPMorgan, Loop Capital Markets, Piper Jaffray & Co., RBC Capital Markets, Siebert Brandford Shank & Co. LLC, Southwest Securities Inc. and Wells Fargo Securities.