BECKLEY, W.Va. — The West Virginia Parkways Authority held their December meeting Thursday at the Tamarack Conference Center.
One of the main agenda items was to approve the finance committee’s recommendations for revenue bond underwriters. This step has to occur in order to implement their portion of Governor’s Justice’s Roads to Prosperity bond that passed in October.
This team will create a financial plan to be presented to a rating agency in New York. The agency will then rate the bonds to determine an interest rate on them.
The Parkways Authority agreed to a four member underwriting team with Wells Fargo as senior manager and co-senior J.P. Morgan. Selected co-managers will be Cruz & Associates and Piper Jaffray.
Parkways Authority General Manager Greg Barr said the selection will allow them to move forward with discussing traffic study data and proposed changes at their January meeting.
“We’re getting our team ready to take the action they need to take once the traffic study is done. The traffic study is the big piece of this whole process. That is what certifies to the rating agencies and the people that are going to buy our bonds that yes they can be paid back and there will be certifiable revenue available in the future.”
Barr indicated that the money from the bond will not be distributed all at once, rather broken down into smaller portions.
“We’re not going to sell $500 million all at once. We’re looking for $120 million to start and that will give us a chance to see and prove to the markets that the traffic study’s projections are in fact accurate.”
The collected data from turnpike surveys handed to travelers earlier this year will help determine new toll rate structures as well as a proposed flat rate transmitter. Users of the new device would only pay one annual fee between $8-25 for unlimited use of the West Virginia Turnpike. This would result in a new toll rate structure for non-annual fee users.
“That’s a huge change. So we’ve got to generate additional revenue to be able to sell these bonds. We’re not sure what the loss of revenue will be from this new flat fee discount. So once we determine what that loss will be, then all of the other toll rates have to be adjusted to make up for that.”
Public hearings on the survey results and the flat fee format will have to be held in February before being implemented, Barr said. Details are expected to be revealed at the Parkways Authority’s January 4 meeting in Charleston.