Thanks to new owners, Texans can continue to drive 85

by | Jul 2, 2017 | Bankruptcy

Any shred of doubt Texans have over the future of fast driving from Mustang Ridge to Sequin has disappeared. Any concerns over being forced to take on the never-ending congestion on I-35 are over.

Texans traveling on a portion of State Highway 130 can still drive 85.

SH 130 Concession Company operates 41 miles of the toll road from Mustang Ridge to Seguin. A year after filing for Chapter 11, the firm that oversees a stretch of highway with the country’s fastest speed limit has emerged from the bankruptcy process.

With the removal of over a billion dollars in debt combined with $260 million in new financing from a loan, SH 130 claims to be on stronger financial ground with a new owner.

In 2012, SH 130 signed a then-unprecedented 50-year agreement with the state. The company agreed to split toll revenues with Texas while taking on all building and operational expenses. What was initially touted as the best way to put the pedal to the metal while alleviating gridlock on Interstate 35 through Austin started to run out of gas.

Traffic revenues did not meet expectations. Two years into the agreement, SH 130 was close to defaulting on their debt. Financial problems left them with no choice but to pursue a Chapter 11 filing in 2016.

Critics of the public-private partnership feared that Texas would use tax dollars to cover the debts. The state’s Department of Transportation sought to alleviate those concerns by announcing that under the terms of the five-decade accord, the state would not be responsible for the debts.

Strategic Value Partners, an international investment firm that focuses on distressed debt, will now control the company, replacing the joint venture of Cintra and Zachry American Infrastructure. They announced that they will use the new funding (their only debt to date) to improve infrastructure and boost marketing efforts.