[beta] TRN Weekly Review: Week of February 21-27, 2021

Maryland Released Chesapeake Bay Crossing DEIS And Preferred Alternative

The Maryland Transportation Authority announced Tuesday that the delayed Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the ongoing Chesapeake Bay Crossing Study is now available for online review and comment through May 10. With four options (including no-build) under consideration, MDTA identified “Corridor 7” as its recommended and preferred alternative. The authority said public input will be received through a Public Hearing Virtual Information Room and a series of “Live Testimony Sessions,” scheduled for April.

Illinois Tollway Announced The Permanent End Of Cash Transactions

The Illinois Tollway Authority announced Thursday that it will not resume cash toll collection, which it halted nearly a year ago to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The announcement added, “To ensure a smooth transition for all customers, the [authority] is also developing a significant expansion of the Illinois Tollway’s I-PASS Assist Program aimed at getting an I-PASS, and the lower toll rate, into the hands of those who need it most.”

Midlands Expressway Chose Stantec To Design A Major ETC Upgrade

Express & Star reported, Midlands Expressway, operator of the UK’s M6 tollway, hired Stantec to design a barrier-free electronic toll collection system. “The multi-million pound project” involves installation of roadside automatic number plate recognition cameras and new payment processing technology. For now, “seamless, contactless” payment will be an option; motorists who prefer to use cash or cards will still be able to do so.

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

Maryland DOT Released Its Initial Estimate Of Express Lane Toll Rates

Maryland Matters reported in depth on a preliminary estimate of the toll rates drivers would pay on I-495  and I-270 managed express lanes that Maryland and its P3 associates want to build. Maryland DOT released the projections to enable the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) board to begin a months-long process of public review and comment. Officials stressed their estimates may change, but they now foresee drivers of two-axle vehicles paying an average of $1 per mile during the morning commute and $1.50 per mile during the evening rush.

The February 25 MDTA board packet includes toll rate proposal documentation at PDF pages 331-431.

West VA Prepared To Issue A Toll System Replacement RFI

The West Virginia Parkways Authority (the state’s turnpike operator) announced plans to issue a Request For Information next month regarding its potential replacement of the existing turnpike toll collection system. The RFI will provide information for interested vendors and solicit input on certain aspects of the proposed project.

RIDOT Said Truck Toll System Yields More Revenue Than Expected And Causes Little Diversion

The Valley Breeze reported, “Fewer tractor-trailer trucks than anticipated have been diverting around the state’s tolls, according to the Rhode Island Department of Transportation. . . . The truck tolls have also garnered more revenue than previously anticipated, bringing in more than $42 million since they began going live in October of 2019, say RIDOT officials.” According to RIDOT spokesman Charles St. Martin, “During the pandemic, truck tolls have been one of the few revenue streams that remained stable while passenger vehicle traffic and gas tax revenues were significantly reduced.”

Bus Rapid Transit And Managed Lanes Projects Undergo Review In Houston

Community Impact Newspaper reported that TxDOT and Houston METRO are hosting a virtual public meeting room through March 12 to present information and solicit comments on proposed improvements to Houston’s Inner Katy Corridor — I-10 between I-610 (the West Loop) and I-45. METRO is studying a plan to build six miles of dedicated bus rapid transit lanes in the corridor. TxDOT has two corridor projects on the drawing board, one of which would extend the Katy Freeway managed toll lanes operated by the Harris County Toll Road Authority from I-610 West to Downtown Houston.

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AV and AI Methods Of Boosting Bus Lane Traffic Are Tested By PANYNJ

NJ.com reported, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which has announced plans to expand bus transit infrastructure, is banking on technology to move more buses more quickly through the existing Lincoln Tunnel bus lane. The agency is already testing autonomous vehicle and artificial intelligence technology for bus platooning in partnership with the Southwest Research Institute and NJ Transit.

Buttigieg Said RUC Could Become A Viable Funding Mechanism

Transport Topics reported, Pete Buttigieg delivered one of his first speeches as USDOT secretary on Thursday  when he addressed attendees at AASHTO’s Virtual Washington Briefing. “Due to increasing electrification of vehicles, Buttigieg recognized the gas tax is not a long-term funding solution and said he doesn’t think ‘that’s where the energy is going to be in Washington.’” He suggested road usage charging could be a sustainable funding alternative if technology issues and privacy concerns are resolved.

Two Former Parsons Executives Joined Finley Engineering’s Board

Finley Engineering Group announced that two former Parsons Corporation executives, Jim Shappell and T.A. (TAG) Goodwin, have joined Finley’s board. Goodwin will focus on the firm’s ’s strategic business development, according to a news release.

MTC’s Andrew Fremier Was Elected To An IBTTA Leadership Post

IBTTA announced that its board of directors elected Andrew Fremier to serve as the international organization’s second vice-president. Mr. Fremier, a licensed civil engineer, is the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s deputy executive director for operations and the deputy executive director of the Bay Area Toll Authority.

ParkMobile Said It’s Testing A Toll Payment Service For App Users

Atlanta-based ParkMobile, LLC, a leading provider of mobile apps for parking payment and reservation in North America, announced it has launched a beta program that enables some of its users to pay highway tolls in 11 states. The service is currently available to customers by invitation only, but the firm is accepting offers to participate. ParkMobile said it plans to expand availability to more states “in the coming months.”

Potomac Local News and DroidJournal reported this week on two full-fledged apps, Uproad (a Kapsch product) and GoToll (by Transurban), providing insight into how mobile payment services are being marketed.

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NCDOT Panel Gave P3 An Uplift

In the Nossaman law firm’s Infra Insight Blog, Josh Burke noted that public-private partnerships received favorable mention in a recent report on transportation financing prepared by a North Carolina DOT blue-ribbon advisory panel, the NC FIRST Commission. The report identified P3s as an option for getting transportation infrastructure projects moving while reducing the state’s reliance on diminishing revenue sources, such as taxes and federal aid.

ARTBA Research Revealed The Impact Of FAST Act Investment

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association released detailed research on the 2015 FAST Act and the almost 111,000 federal-aid highway and bridge projects it made possible. ARTBA’s compilation of FHWA data shows that between FY 2016 and FY 2020, states leveraged nearly $200 billion in federal funds to support over $340.5 billion in “new highway and bridge program improvements.”

NAF Launched An ASTM Shares Buyout

Reuters reports, the value of shares in ASTM Group, which claims to be the world’s second largest toll road operator, rose 27 percent earlier this week after the firm’s largest investor made a $2 billion offer to buy the stock it doesn’t already hold. Nuova Argo Finanziaria (NAF), a 42 percent stakeholder in ASTM, issued its voluntary tender offer last weekend.

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