Houston toll roads, ports to weather the storm after Harvey

Heavy damage from the hurricane leaves infra assets facing lost revenue and costs for repairs, but insurance, aid and strong financial positions should fend off financial distress, says Fitch Ratings.

Despite significant damage caused by Hurricane Harvey last week, toll roads and other infrastructure assets in the Houston area are positioned to recover without reaching financial distress, according to Fitch Ratings.

Toll roads have likely suffered severe damage, Fitch said, which may lead to weakening financial positions due to reduced demand and the cost of financing repairs. Ports and airports seemed to suffer less damage, but the impact of the storm on supporting infrastructure such as roads and rail could limit access to these facilities.

In both cases, though, assets have the ability to recover financially despite some near-term losses, Fitch reported. Toll roads are expected to benefit from insurance coverage, state and federal financial assistance and strong financial positions.

“They have the wherewithal from a credit standpoint to adjust rates [and] recoup capital investment,” Cherian George, a managing director for Fitch’s Global Infrastructure group, told Infrastructure Investor. “They are not insulated completely, but they will probably ride through the storm more effectively.”

By Tuesday, both the George Bush International and the Hobby Airport had resumed flights after closing for the weekend of 25 August, when the storm hit. The area’s ports, the Port of Houston and Port of Beaumont, sustained little damage. Little to no change is expected to their credit ratings, Fitch said.