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July 13, 2015 10:11 AM, EDT

Fitch Sees Stable Outlook for Port, Toll Road Bonds

Chip Chipman/Bloomberg News

A new survey from Fitch Ratings, which analyzes bond quality, found that publicly funded investment in ports and other transportation infrastructure generally will remain stable.

The early July report, by analyst Seth Lehman, said financing will “maintain solid financial balance for the remainder of 2015 and into 2016, albeit with challenges persisting specific to each sector.”

His report said Fitch expects “modest improvements for the rest of 2015” in port investments, in line with U.S. economic growth trends.

However, he noted that “shippers remain weary” after West Coast labor unrest drove congestion in 2014 and early 2015.

“Ports continue their preparations to better accommodate larger ships,” his report also said. “In the face of shipping industry consolidation, Fitch follows initiatives toward cooperation and alliance building by U.S. ports.

Rising interest costs could challenge project financing, and the political environment is another question mark, he said.

“The continued lack of federal action on a longer-term transportation policy is creating ongoing uncertainties and challenges at the state level for implementing transportation funding where large capital projects for expansion or replacements are necessary,” the report noted.

Toll road financing trends remain stable, Lehman said, in light of expected moderate growth in highway use.