The New York State Thruway Authority Friday approved toll increases of 5% in 2009 and 5% in 2010.

The authority will also reduce discounts for E-Z Pass customers in July. The board also approved the refunding of $530.8 million of auction-rate securities sold in 2003 on the local highway and bridge service contract credit.

The refunding bonds will be sold as variable rate demand bonds with par of up to $575 million. The authority expects to receive direct pay letters of credit from Allied Irish Bank and BNP Paribas and a standby purchase agreement from Dexia Credit Local. Citi will be lead remarketing agent.

The increases are designed to boost revenue after Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s in September revised their outlooks on the authority’s debt to negative based on projected shortfalls when projections for traffic growth were lowered.

The authority’s traffic consultant, Stantec Inc., had projected growth in traffic of 2.3% annually when the 2005-2011 financial plan was passed but those growth projections were lowered to 1.2% in 2008, 1.5% in 2009, and 2.2% in 2010 and 2011. Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s rate the authority’s revenue bonds Aa3 and AA, respectively.


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