[beta] TRN Weekly Review: Week of July 28-August 3, 2019

Construction of $514 Million Bay Area Express Lanes Facility Began

San Mateo Daily Journal reported, “Construction has begun for a massive express lane project officials contend will ease traffic congestion on Highway 101 while a San Mateo County [California] joint powers authority is one step away from securing state approval to manage the project and its tolling policy.” When the $514 million project is finished (October 2022 is the target date for the start of tolling), one lane in each direction along a 22-mile segment of the highway will have been widened and converted to a dynamically tolled express lane.

Tolling, a Big Business in Virginia’s Hampton Roads Region, Is Poised to Grow

The Virginian-Pilot took a deep dive into the economics of tolling in Virginia’s Hampton Roads region, where toll collection, according to the newspaper, “is a $180-million-a-year business — nearly twice the size of the region’s fishing and farming sectors combined — and is set to grow.” The article focuses on the operating cost and financing of two major facilities, the Norfolk-to-Portsmouth tunnels operated by Elizabeth River Crossing and the publicly maintained Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, both of which rely on toll revenue to bankroll major expansion projects.

These are just a few of the toll industry developments TRN covered last week. If you’re not a subscriber, click here for a free, 14-day trial of Daily News Briefs and read the news as it happens every weekday morning.

Work Began on San Diego Toll Road, Gateway to New Border Crossing

Los Angeles Times reported, construction of the final segment of California Route 11 was scheduled to get underway Wednesday. The $100-million project, a joint Caltrans and San Diego Association of Governments undertaking, will reportedly create a four-lane, tolled connection between San Diego’s freeway system and the future Otay Mesa East Port of Entry. A Caltrans official told the newspaper the highway will be “state-of-the-art with traffic management, congestion pricing and border wait-time information.”

FDOT Appointed M-CORES Task Forces

The Florida Department of Transportation announced the names of persons appointed to the three Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (M-CORES) corridor task forces. Each group will study and make recommendations on an assigned area where new construction or expansion of a toll road and other infrastructure have been proposed. Follow the  links below to learn more about each task force and see the roster of its appointees:

Earlier in the week, WJXT reported that FDOT announced the launch of http://floridamcores.com, a new website to facilitate “citizen engagement” in the M-CORES program.

WSDOT Extended ETCC Contract to Ensure Prompt Start of Seattle Tunnel Tolling

The Seattle Times reported, “[S]tate transportation officials this spring said they had lost confidence that a new contractor would launch Highway 99 tunnel tolls on schedule, records show. State toll managers became wary enough that they’ll make a temporary deal with the existing statewide tolling contractor [Electronic Transaction Consultants Corporation or ETCC], to take over the tunnel-toll startup. . . . Then next year, [ETCC] will hand off the tunnel toll operations to the new company, Dallas-based ETAN, state toll-project engineer Jennifer Charlebois said in an interview.” Tom Shivers, an ETAN executive, told the newspaper the company “experienced some unexpected challenges with certain aspects of the legacy data and environment. However, those have been overcome and we look forward to a successful deployment.”

Court Ruling Allowed MDX to Continue Fight against Dissolution

Miami Herald reported, “A Tallahassee judge is allowing a lawsuit over the abolishment of the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority to proceed, saying that a bill passed this spring to replace the county agency with a new organization might have violated the county’s ‘home rule’ charter.” Last Thursday, Circuit Judge John Cooper denied motions to dismiss the case brought by FDOT and the Florida House of Representatives.

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Faneuil Has Plans for New Lexington, KY, Call Center

Richmond [Kentucky] Register reported, Faneuil Inc. “plans to establish a new call center in Lexington [Kentucky], creating 450 full-time jobs over the next two-and-a-half years. They aim to steadily increase recruiting to employ approximately 200 people this year, potentially growing to 450 by the close of 2021.” Faneuil provides customer service for government and commercial clients in several sectors, including transportation and tolling.

Transurban Launched App to Show Sydney Drivers the Value of Using Toll Roads

7 News reported on Transurban’s launch of the “Trip Compare” app, which allows Sydney drivers to input an itinerary, learn the cost of taking a toll route and compare the real-time differences in travel time and conditions between the tolled route and non-tolled alternates. Transurban is reportedly confident that the app won’t cost it customers, but instead will show “what good value its toll roads are.”

Award-Winning App Is Helping PA Turnpike Improve Incident Response

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on a GIS web application — Catch it Early, Act, Analyze and Review, or CAAR — developed by Pennsylvania Turnpike employees to improve their monitoring of and response to roadway incidents. The app, which received IBTTA recognition last week, collates data from multiple sources and presents information of critical importance to traffic managers. According to the article, over the first year of its deployment, the app has helped the turnpike reduce the average delay for accidents and other incidents from one-hour-46 minutes to one-hour-18 minutes.

PANYNJ Plans to Phase-Out Carpool Toll Discounts

CBS News New York looked at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s decision to phase-out a policy, reportedly little-known, that rewards carpool drivers who use the George Washington Bridge and the Manhattan tunnels with substantial toll discounts. Advocates say the policy encourages slugging and traditional carpooling, both of which reduce congestion. PANYNJ told CBS it has “safety concerns with people standing on the side of the road hopping into cars,” and it lacks reliable technology for counting vehicle occupancy in its cashless toll lanes.

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US Senate Committee Unanimously Approved New, $287 Billion Highway Bill

“Engineering News-Record” reported, “The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has unanimously approved [SB 2302] a five-year, $287-billion highway bill, an eagerly awaited initial piece of what would be a multi-part surface transportation package. The measure, which the committee cleared on July 30 on a 21-0 vote, would amount to a 27% increase over current authorized funding, but because the committee’s jurisdiction doesn’t cover revenue, the bill doesn’t address where the additional money would come from.”

Metro Pacific Expects Philippines to Approve $1.8 Billion Toll Road Proposal

Manila Standard reported, “The Metro Pacific group said it expects to receive the original proponent status for an unsolicited proposal to build a P92-billion [approximately US$1.8 billion] toll road, including a tunnel below Rizal Park, to link North Luzon Expressway and Manila-Cavite Expressway. NLEx Corp. president Luigi Bautista said the firm submitted the proposal . . . to the Public Works Department in 2018.”

Lhota Resignation Letter Revealed Reason for His Departure from MTA

New York Post reported, “Joe Lhota, the former chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, stepped down from the position last year due to potential conflicts of interest with his outside gigs, a report revealed Tuesday — a different explanation to the one he and Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave at the time.” According to the article, both the governor and Lhota publicly described his departure as the culmination of a temporary arrangement intended to help MTA stabilize its subway service.

Two Canada Pension Funds Compete to Acquire India Toll Roads Portfolio

Livemint reported, “Pension funds Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) are competing to acquire Highway Concessions One, a roads portfolio owned by infrastructure fund manager Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), two people aware of the development said. ‘The two Canadian funds are the only suitors left in the race. They are locked in a close battle to buy these roads,’” one of the unnamed sources told Livemint.

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