Puerto Rico governor names new head of Highways and Transportation Authority

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Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced a change in the executive director of the Puerto Rico Highways and Transportation Authority, a public entity in bankruptcy with $4.1 billion of debt.

Rosselló said Rosana Aguilar would replace Carlos Contreras, who held the role for the last two years. The appointment is contingent upon the authority’s board voting for it, which is widely expected.

Contreras will continue in his role as executive director of the Department of Transportation and Public Works. In the last two years he was head of both the authority and the parent department.

Aguilar has 15 years of experience in permits, administration, project management, engineering, and construction, according to the governor’s press team.

According to the El Vocero news website, Aguilar said in a speech on Sunday she'd emphasize the maintenance and repair of existing roads.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus.

Aguilar worked for six years as regional director of infrastructure for the western region of the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority.

Along with the PRHTA, the department also includes the Commission on Traffic Safety, Maritime Transport Authority, Metropolitan Bus Authority, and Ports Authority.

The authority had $4.1 billion of bond debt outstanding as of January 2017.

In May 2017 the Puerto Rico Oversight Board put the authority into Title III bankruptcy. The authority has not been making its debt payments.

The board certified the latest version of the authority’s fiscal plan in June 2018. The plan indicated that after the board mandated measures were put into place, the board anticipated the authority would have $401 million available for paying debt service and for capital projects from fiscal year 2018 to fiscal year 2023. By comparison, there was $1.56 billion in bond interest and principal due from the authority in that period.

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PROMESA Puerto Rico Highway & Transportation Authority Puerto Rico