Orlando-area Mayor Teresa Jacobs has sent a memo to fellow directors of the Orlando Orange County Expressway Authority (OOCEA) proposing they replace current chief executive Michael Snyder Dec 29 and install a county Comptroller Jim Moye as interim chief. Jacobs has said Snyder is responsible for putting the toll authority in a parlous financial condition by gambling with longterm financing based on short-term variable interest rate debt rollovers.
US secretary of transportation Mary Peters this week called for the toll industry association IBTTA to work for the elimination of all toll booths in the US by 2014. The last ones "should be sent to the Smithsonian (Museum)," she said.
The Port Authority New York New Jersey (PANYNJ) got no bids Wednesday for three year notes (bonds) it had on offer, a sign of the breakdown of capital markets. There was no ceiling on the interest rate or price to put lenders off. Longer term bonds of the PANYNJ are rated Aa3 by Moddy's, AA- by Fitch and S&P.
The great global financial fiasco has its fun side. Mrs Fang He, apparently an emigrant Chinese woman filed with the Australian Stock Exchange November 5 that she had become, under the rules of trading, a "substantial holder" of stock in BrisConnections, a recently formed toll concession in Brisbane, Australia's third city. She bought 32.3 million shares ('units' there) or 8.6% of the equity of BrisConnections.
Russell Roberts an economics professor at George Mason University had a dismal but persuasive piece in the Wall Street Journal recently concluding that so much of what the federal government is likely to do will make the financial crisis worse, we'd be better off with inaction. Some excerpts:
New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has broken a financial logjam successfully selling $550m of bonds Friday. Many other toll authorities are unable to borrow due to the great financial crisis. North Carolina Turnpike Authority and North Texas Tollway Authority both recently postponed attempts to raise bond money.
ACS the large European toll operator and developer has "significant liquidity issues" and stockholders should sell. That was the advice from equity research analysts (tipsters) at Credit Suisse (CS) this morning.
CS analysts this morning emailed customers to their research service with the headline "ACS: Significant liquidity issues possible on Monday? Sell".
Financing for the $1 billion Triangle Expressway in Raleigh NC is delayed because of the breakdown of the capital markets. North Carolina Turnpike Authority officials are saying: "Credit windows are closed right now." The Authority wants to go to the markets with about $600m of toll revenue bonds. A federal TIFIA loan would provide another $400m.
A special meeting of the board of North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) has been called Oct 13 to push back the deadline for sale of Series 2008 bonds to May 19 2009. The resolution being put tot he board also would permit an index floating rate to be part of the issuance.
The moves are apparently a reaction to turmoil in the capital markets.
In the spring and summer there was the big runup in gasoline/diesel prices. Now in the fall there's the startling financial crisis and a likely economic recession/depression - events without precedent at least in living memory in their potential severity. But we'll leave for later such analysis wandering into speculation and punditry.