Garcon Point Bridge Bondholders Trustee Threatens a Toll Hike

Posted on April 28, 2021 by Romi White

UMB Bank, on behalf of the Garcon Point Bridge bondholders, issued an April 28 letter to Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin J. Theibault. suggesting that a toll hike could be looming due to what the trustee describes as an “improper suspension of tolls.”

Florida Senator Doug Broxson and Representative Jayer Williams were copied on the letter which states:

“It is our continuing position that the toll suspension imposed by the Department is without legal authority, is completely contrary to its historical conduct, and is violative of the Lease Purchase Agreement that relates to the bridge.” 

The letter states that traffic on the bridge has “swollen to unprecedented levels during the seven-month toll suspension.

“The longer the tolls are suspended —and with no debt service being paid during the suspension —the more difficult it becomes to retire the bonds in accordance with the terms of the financing documents. It is quite possible — if not likely —that another upward adjustment of the tolls will be necessary in order to timely retire the bond debt,” the letter went on to say.

The bank did suggest there is an opportunity to lower the tolls to around the $4 per vehicle range by refinancing the bonds during the current  historically low interest rate environment.

“Such a reduction would obviously benefit the citizens of Santa Rosa County and the travelling public at large. The Trustee and the Bondholders continue to be perplexed as to why the Department has not pursued this obvious and holistic fix,” stated the Trustee, expressing an interested to further discuss the matters.