Ohio Boosts Cincinnati Highways With Top-Ranked Debt: Muni Deals

Ohio is tapping investors to help improve roads in Cincinnati and near Dayton.

This week’s sale of $251 million in general-obligation bonds will go toward funding highway projects across the nation’s seventh-most-populous state, deal documents show. They include work on an interchange for Interstate 71 in Cincinnati and repaving Montgomery County’s section of Interstate 70, a major east-west route north of Dayton, according to Chris Berry, a spokesman for the Treasurer Josh Mandel in Columbus.

Standard & Poor’s gives the securities the top rank. As a result, “we are expecting strong investor participation,” Berry said in an e-mail. The debt will be offered to retail investors tomorrow with final pricing May 29, he said.

Besides the state’s general-obligation pledge, the bonds are backed by fuel taxes and drivers’ fees, which provide “extremely strong debt service coverage levels,” S&P said in a release. Available revenue last year tallied $2.73 billion, well above $140.5 million in annual debt service estimated for fiscal 2015, the ratings company said. Ohio will have about $863 million of such debt outstanding after this week’s sale, S&P said.

Moody’s Investors Service ranks the new obligations a step lower at Aa1.

Debt from Ohio issuers this year is earning 5.75 percent, outpacing the 5.6 percent return of the $3.7 trillion muni market, Barclays Plc data show.

The Buckeye State joins issuers offering $5.3 billion in debt this week, down from $6.5 billion last week, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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