City celebrates reopening of Bell Road

Commuters were able to cruise over the new Bell Road Bridge at Grand Avenue on their way to work this morning, as the Arizona Department of Transportation officially opened the road at 12:15 a.m.

The city of Surprise hosted a pre-celebration on Monday in the Surprise Marketplace parking lot to officially kick-off the 2016 Holiday Season and to thank the area businesses, residents and drivers for their patience during the seven-month closure of Bell Road.

“To the customers that continued to shop these businesses, thank you for realizing that they were ALWAYS open and for supporting them,” said Mayor Sharon Wolcott. “And to those that took a different commute during the closure, I invite you to come back to this area. No more stopping for the train and three new businesses have opened since the closure began in April, with two others opening this fall. Come check them out!”

Representatives from the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce also spoke at the event that was attended by neighboring elected officials, residents and local businesses.

As a “thank you” for supporting the businesses around the Bell and Grand intersection attendees received Surprise shopping bags, filled with vendor coupons and promotional items. A perfect reminder to Shop Surprise this holiday season!

The Bell Road closure was part of the ADOT US 60 (Grand Ave) and Bell Road Interchange project which began in January 2016. By closing Bell for 7 months, construction delays were avoided during two Spring Training Seasons and this year’s holiday shopping season.

The entire Bell-Grand project, including the ramps connecting Grand Avenue to Bell Road, is scheduled to be complete prior to Spring Training 2017 at the Surprise Recreation Campus. In the meantime, your Bell to Grand Avenue access remains on Dysart Road, east of the intersection and Bell to Reems to Grand, west of the intersection.

Fitch upgrades Surprise revenue bond and long-term default ratings to ‘AA+’

City Manager Bob Wingenroth announced Tuesday night that Fitch Ratings, one of the “Big Three” nationally recognized credit rating agencies, has upgraded the city’s Excise Tax and State-Shared Revenue Obligation (ETRO) bond rating to ‘AA+’ from ‘AA-’.

Fitch stated the “rating reflects a solid coverage cushion and expectations for strong pledged revenue growth.”

Fitch also upgraded the city’s Long-Term Issuer Default rating (IDR) to ‘AA+’ from ‘AA-’.

In reviewing the city’s economic base Fitch noted, “The city’s 2015 population of 128,422 has realized a rapid 10% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the past 15 years and its median household income exceeds that of the U.S. by 16%.”

In commenting on the city’s operating performance Fitch reported, “Fitch expects Surprise to maintain a high level of financial flexibility through economic downturns based on its ample revenue raising capacity and solid financial flexibility, supplemented by its ample reserves.”

“We are very pleased with this news,” says Finance Director Lindsey Duncan. “In following the financial policy direction as set by City Council, we have been able to do an amazing job of managing city revenues in a responsible manner and these favorable ratings verify that.” A city’s credit rating is important due to its impact on interest rates in the bond market. A better rating means the city can sell bonds to finance capital projects and pay a lower interest rate to the buyer.

The agency also issued a rating outlook of Stable.

View Fitch’s news release.