The Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority last Thursday increased tolls in central Florida for the first time in nearly nine years. The base toll will increase 25 cents beginning April 5 with future increases every five years based on the consumer price index.

The agency currently is experiencing a drop in revenue of more than 8% from last year, and officials were seeking the toll increase largely out of concern for future debt service coverage and the ability to issue more debt.

The agency has $2.13 billion of outstanding revenue debt and is currently complying with required bond debt-service ratios, spokeswoman Lindsay Hodges said in an interview last week.

While the Expressway Authority has a $3.54 billion, 12-year work plan, it also has four “shovel-ready” road projects estimated to cost $648 million that it wants to advance later this year.

The agency’s debt is rated A by Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s, and A1 by Moody’s Investors Service.

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