The Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority said Tuesday that dwindling toll revenues will require an increase in tolls to protect the agency’s bond rating, according to a local report by WFTV.

Executive director Mike Snyder appeared before the Orange County Commission to discuss a 25-cent toll hike that is under consideration.

Unsurprisingly, drivers in the central Florida region have opposed proposed toll hikes in the past.

Snyder reportedly told county commissioners what could happen without the increase and if the authority defaulted on its $2.13 billion of outstanding bonds.

“There is a real possibility that the people who own the bonds can step in and take over the organization and raise tolls. There will be no questions asked. They will raise tolls to protect their bonds,” Snyder reportedly said.

The Expressway Authority may take up the proposed toll increase at its meeting next Thursday.

The tollway experienced only a 1% increase in traffic in fiscal 2008 compared to an average of 7% per year increase during the 10 previous years, according to its fiscal 2008 annual financial report.

“Traffic has actually declined by approximately 8% over the last year through the first four months of fiscal year 2009,” the report said.

The authority owns and operates 100 miles of toll roads in Orange County. Its debt is rated A by Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s, and A1 by Moody’s Investors Service.

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