Transportation systems face major storm defense costs-Fitch

Thu Nov 8, 2012 5:47pm EST

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Nov 8 (Reuters) - Major U.S. East Coast transportation agencies hit by superstorm Sandy may face "substantial" costs to beef up flooding and other severe weather defenses in coming years and will likely need to issue more debt to do it, Fitch Ratings said on T hur sday.

Flooding, damage and power outages from the storm caused massive disruptions to trains, tunnels, airports and other major transportation systems in several Eastern states, particularly in New York and New Jersey.

The systems have to consider the "impact of the increasing occurrence of severe weather," Mike McDermott, managing director in Fitch's global infrastructure group, said in a statement.

"These costs could be substantial and will most likely be self-funded through unplanned debt issuance as grant funding could be hard to come by," he said.

Of 23 agencies Fitch examined, most have at least 140 days' cash on hand for immediate repairs and lost toll and fare revenues stemming from extreme weather events, Fitch said.

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