LowTGimenez wants waterfront property, does nothing as Miami Beach & Key Biscayne floods...

Miami Herald:

The Miami bridge to Key Biscayne sparks a new worry on Wall Street: rising seas

  • "investors demand more scrutiny and skepticism about how local governments are going to weather climate change."

Each year, the Fitch credit-ratings firm issues a report on debt backed by tolls collected on Miami’s Rickenbacker Causeway, the bridge system connecting downtown to the shores of Key Biscayne.

On Thursday, Fitch debuted a new cash-flow concern for the Rickenbacker. “Given its location,” Fitch analysts wrote, “the causeway is exposed to extreme weather events in relation to rising sea levels and vulnerable to traffic and revenue disruptions.”

The newly spelled-out hazard about rising seas didn’t hurt the debt rating for the county-owned causeway, which Fitch still considers a reasonably safe credit risk with a BBB+ score.

In fact, rising seas get less attention from Fitch than do more immediate factors influencing Rickenbacker toll revenues. That includes the loss of Key Biscayne’s two-week Miami Open tennis tournament and the fact that March’s three-day Ultra music festival wasn’t long enough to make up for the lost traffic.

But the brief mention of sea level rise in relation to the financial future of a Miami-Dade toll expressway captures the shift underway on Wall Street as investors demand more scrutiny and skepticism about how local governments are going to weather climate change.

Last month Moody’s, a Fitch competitor, purchased a research firm focused on modeling physical risks from climate change. Four Twenty Seven, based in Berkley, California, predicts future costs to borrowers from floods, wildfires, torrential rain and other hazards made worse by a warming climate. Moody’s said it plans to use the data to judge how climate change might hurt a borrower’s chances of repaying long-term debt.

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