AAA bond ratings to help region’s key infrastructure projects

AAA bond ratings to help region’s key infrastructure projects
Del Mar will benefit greatly from the AAA bond ratings when they begin infrastructure on along Jimmy Durante Boulevard from San Dieguito Drive, including a roundabout at the oft-congested intersection. Photo by Tony Cagala

REGION — Taxpayers in North County and the entire region could see savings on a number of critical infrastructure projects as the county’s regional transportation planning arm announced its $350 million in revenue bonds received AAA credit ratings.

The San Diego Association of Governments announced that Fitch and Standard and Poor’s assigned its highest possible rating to the revenue bonds that the agency is selling this summer to raise money for several key transportation projects.

AAA credit ratings typically result in more favorable interest rates and thus save taxpayers money when repaying the debt, officials said.

“The ratings are in recognition of our agency’s strong capacity to manage our finances and meet our obligations,” said SANDAG Director of Finance Andre Douzdijian.

One North County city that will directly benefit from the bond sale is Del Mar, as the proceeds will fund one of the city’s largest public works projects — a full-scale street revitalization of the city’s two key arterial streets, Jimmy Durante Boulevard and Camino Del Mar.

The bond revenues are expected to fund parts of several North County projects, including a $3 million sidewalk, street and drainage improvement and construction projects in Del Mar.

The first phase of the project, which SANDAG authorized in January and was completed in spring, included 2,800 feet of new curb and gutter, 12,000 square feet of sidewalks, 20 pedestrian ramps, and pavement rehabilitation along Camino Del Mar from 22nd Street to 29th street.

The second — and largest — phase will include similar construction along Jimmy Durante Boulevard from San Dieguito Drive, including a roundabout at the oft-congested intersection, to Camino Del Mar and 15th Street. The final phase will include the last key stretch of Camino Del Mar in downtown.

Del Mar is financing the project by borrowing against their entire allotment of the region’s half-cent sales tax program known as Transnet.

“This project was a priority for the city and the council, so the news of the AAA rating is obviously big news for us,” Del Mar Public Works Director Eric Minicilli said. “And it just so happens that the Del Mar project will be specifically financed with the current bond sale, so the timing is fortunate for us.”

Minicilli said the city hopes that the more favorable rates will help the city accelerate its repayment schedule so that it could have future Transnet funds available sooner than later.

Other projects in North County expected to benefit from the current bond sale include a key project along Interstate 5 to extend the carpool lane from its current terminus in Encinitas to state Route 78 and proposed double tracking of the coastal rail corridor.

Just south of North County, a large portion of the bond proceeds is going to be used on a key expansion of the MTS Trolley service from Old Town to University City.

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