Highways chief: Toll hikes are necessary part of ‘more reasonable’ approved debt deal
By TThe Star Staff
The Highways and Transportation Authority (ACT by its Spanish initials) Executive Director Edwin González Montalvo confirmed on Thursday that after the approval by federal judge Laura Taylor Swain of the agency’s debt adjustment plan, increases in tolls will begin in January.
“Tolls are the only fixed income that the Highways and Transportation Authority has. The tolls will be for debt service to pay the debt, which is now more reasonable,” González Montalvo said in a radio interview. “It will be a more comfortable payment in that sense because the debt is smaller.”
“Tolls are going up,” he said. “What was achieved is that the fiscal control board wanted increases of 8.3% for the first few years and that was basically cut in half, achieving savings on the payment of the ACT debt in our projections that was not necessarily an increase as drastic as the one that the board was proposing.”
The highways director noted that the intention of the Financial Oversight and Management Board was to recover the debt with increases which had not been charged since 2005.
“There will be annual increases until that debt is paid off,” he said.
“It is an important agreement for Puerto Rico. It brings us closer every day to where the fiscal control board is no longer necessary, reduces the debt of the [ACT] and allows us to focus on that debt service and the projects that will result in a better quality of life,” González Montalvo said.
He said the ACT’s assets -- tolls -- were combined under a Toll Office, which will segregate funds that are from toll roads from those that are not.