WASHINGTON — The Capital Beltway Funding Corporation of Virginia, the issuer for $589 million for the Capital Beltway expansion project, on Monday will sell refunding bonds to convert its debt to tax-exempt bonds not subject to the alternative minimum tax, taking advantage of the stimulus law provision before it expires at the end of the year.
Meanwhile, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell on Thursday announced his own stimulus plan. One of the provisions includes a request to double the debt Virginia can issue for transportation projects based on funding approved in 2007. Current law caps at $300 million the amount that can be issued per year under the 2007 appropriation, and McDonnell’s plan will need legislative approval to increase the amount to $600 million annually, Finance Secretary Richard Brown said in an interview.
Virginia in 2007 authorized $3 billion of debt for transportation projects, and the first of the bonds were issued in May. The state can issue $500 million without a change in law this fiscal year, he said.
The Beltway’s outstanding senior-lien multi-modal toll revenue bonds are currently private-activity bonds subject to the AMT. The issuer is taking advantage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which allows private-activity bond issuers to sell tax-exempt, non-AMT debt and refund AMT bonds issued from 2004 to 2008. The provision expires on Dec. 31.
Monday’s sale will refund the four series of outstanding toll revenue bonds. The $300 million Series A non-AMT bonds will be sold to Goldman, Sachs & Co., the underwriter and remarketing agent, and will not be offered to the public. Series B, C and D bonds will mature in 2047, according to bond documents.
Hunton & Williams LLP is bond counsel and Winston & Strawn is representing the underwriters.
Fitch Ratings affirmed four letter of credit ratings associated with the Beltway bonds. In October, the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board approved the refunding sale to take advantage of the ARRA provision.
The $2.1 billion expansion project, which broke ground in July 2008, is widening a 14-mile stretch of the Virginia section of the Beltway and converting four inner lanes to high-occupancy toll lanes. In 2007, the state, eager to alleviate congestion on one of the most heavily trafficked roads in the country, joined with Fluor Enterprises and Transurban USA Inc. to form a public-private partnership to finance and complete the project.
The Capital Beltway Funding Corp. was created in 2007 to issue debt for the Beltway expansion project. Additional funding includes a $588.9 million TIFIA loan, a $408.9 million loan from the state, and $348.7 million in equity.
The project is now half-finished and slated to open by spring 2013. The Beltway bonds were the first PABs to be sold for a new toll road.