Texas' flagship toll road faces financial problems
By David Tanner
Land Line senior editor
July 17, 2014
Since 2006, the state of Texas has put a ton of trust in private companies to build and operate toll roads in exchange for a cut of the profits. Just eight years in, the state’s flagship public-private toll road, the SH 130 that connects Austin and San Antonio, is facing financial difficulties, low traffic volumes and a “junk bond” rating from financial analysts.
Moody’s Investor Service, which twice downgraded the SH 130’s bond rating in 2013, announced this month that the SH 130 Concession Co. had failed to make a full debt-service payment to lenders on the money it borrowed to build Segments 5 and 6 of the roadway. According to the 50-year contract between the SH 130 Concession Co. and the Texas Department of Transportation, the builder-operator carries the financial risk while the roadway itself remains owned by the state of Texas.