The Regional Transportation Authority plans to issue $192 million of bonds this month, which would exhaust the last of $1 billion of bonding authorization.

Rick Ollett, the authority's chief financial officer, said the proposed bond issue for capital improvements will be voted on this week by the authority's board.

Under the 1989 state law that granted the bonding authorization to the authority, any bonds issued after 1994 would have to be sold on a competitive basis.

Ollett said that stipulation is not the reason why the authority wants to issue the rest of the bonds in a negotiated deal this month. He said that the outlook for higher interest rates as well as the spending needs for mass transportation projects in northeastern Illinois are driving the authority's decision.

Bear, Stearns & Co. has been chosen as bookrunner, while Merrill Lynch & Co. and Morgan Stanley & Co. have been picked as co-senior managers, according to Ollett.

All three firms participated in a $275 million bond issue that the authority sold last spring with Morgan Stanley as the bookrunner.

The combined issuance of $467 million of bonds this year would be by far the most the authority has issued since it began tapping the bonding authorization in 1990.

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