[beta] TRN Weekly Review: Week of April 4-10, 2021

New Riverside County, CA, Express Lanes Opened

The Press-Enterprise reported, “Fifteen miles of exclusive express lanes are scheduled to open early Saturday morning, April 10,” — they did open on time — “to paying solo drivers and car poolers. . . .” The article noted that local motorists will be warily eyeing the new, $472-million facility’s impact on congestion. Initially, the facility’s toll rates will vary by time of day, but a dynamic pricing structure will eventually be implemented.

Archer Western-ICE Team Submitted Winning Proposal For Georgia Bridges Project

“Roads & Bridges” Magazine reported, Georgia DOT has selected a design-build proposal for the I-285 Eastside Bridge Replacements Project, which is part of the state’s Major Mobility Program.  An Archer Western Construction-Infrastructure, Consulting & Engineering team submitted the chosen proposal from among a total of four entries. If awarded a contract, it will extend three overpass bridges to accommodate future express lanes and mitigate traffic impacts during construction of the I-285 Eastside Express Lanes Project. The article notes, the team received the highest technical score “and also submitted a significantly reduced project delivery schedule, showing the project reaching substantial completion 509 days earlier than the GDOT-required deadline.”

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.

Roadis Submitted A Proposal To Advance Colorado DOT I-25 Expansion

Colorado Hometown Weekly reported, ROADIS US — a Denver-based investment arm of Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board — presented an unsolicited proposal to manage, improve and expand Segments 2 through 5 of Colorado DOT’s I-25 North Project. “The move came after CDOT last year lifted a moratorium on the receipt of such proposals.” According to its president, Michael Cheroutes, Roadis wants to “help the state find ways to finance projects that have been on the drawing board for a number of years without an imminent funding possibility.” (Cheroutes is the former director of CDOT’s High Performance Transportation Enterprise.)

MnPASS Lane Extension Work Advanced

KSTP reported, “A major traffic shift goes into place this week along Interstate 35W as part of the larger MnPASS project that’s underway between Roseville and Lino Lakes. . . . Construction on the three-year project is set to wrap up this fall. While traffic congestion is still down due to the pandemic, the Minnesota Department of Transportation said some folks are still taking advantage of the MnPASS lanes.”(Link inserted by TRN)

The Otay Mesa East Border Crossing Project Was Spotlighted

The San Diego Union-Tribune looked at the progress of the Otay Mesa East border crossing project. Access toll road construction is already underway on the US side of the border. In September 2022, work will begin on the new toll-financed port facility. There will be ten lanes each for passenger vehicles and cargo transporters, and all lanes will be reversible to meet volume demands and minimize wait times. “The port will have a toll that will be levied based on guaranteed waiting times.” Caltrans, SANDAG and Mexican state authorities are overseeing various parts of the project.

ACS Entered The Bidding For Autostrade, Hoping To Create A Dominant Toll Roads Operator

Bloomberg (via MSN) and Reuters reported, ACS (Actividades de Construccion y Servicios SA), the Spain-based infrastructure construction and engineering giant, confirmed on Friday that its chairman and majority shareholder, Florentino Perez, sent a letter to the board of Atlantia to express interest in participating in the acquisition of Autostrade per l’Italia alongside other potential investors such as Cassa Depositi e Prestiti. Unnamed sources said Perez puts a value of 10 billion euros ($11.9 billion) on the Italian toll road firm. According to Bloomberg, which saw a copy of the letter, Perez wrote, “We believe this transaction would represent a unique opportunity for Atlantia,” and a “first step toward a potential future merger” to create the world’s largest motorway concessionaire.

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Senator McConnell Floated P3 Financing And RUC Ideas

Lexington Herald-Leader reported, “Mitch McConnell is adamant that raising taxes on corporations to pay for President Joe Biden’s infrastructure package is something Republicans are ‘not going to do.’ But the Senate Republican Minority Leader is floating an alternative: Leveraging private sector funds and attaching user fees — with the potential of adding other types of taxes to keep from adding to the national debt. ‘The users of our infrastructure,’ McConnell said [in a WHAS radio interview], “have always been the ones who have principally paid for it.” Asked by WHAS if that meant levying a mileage tax to cover the new projects, McConnell did not rule it out.”

New York’s MTA Began Recruiting Congestion Pricing Program Managers

Daily News (New York) reported, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission “is on the lookout for top-notch transportation experts to oversee New York City’s congestion pricing program that will toll motorists who drive south of 61st St. in Manhattan. The agency has over the last week listed five jobs related to the program, including a project manager to ensure the tolling technology gets up and running, and a director to act as a czar for any exemptions to the tolls.” (To view the five employment notices, click here and input the keyword search “toll.”)

Illinois Tollway Advertised For Services Of A Consulting Engineer

The Illinois Tollway Authority announced Friday that it is seeking firms to provide consulting engineer services as defined in the Tollway’s Bond Trust Indenture. “Interested firms should have a nationwide and favorable reputation for skill and experience to provide applicable consulting engineering services.” The contract would have an initial
five-year term with one, four-year option and one, one-year option to renew exercisable by the authority.

Debate Over The American Jobs Plan Has Started To Turn On The Definition Of “Infrastructure”

The New York Times reported, ” The early political and economic debate over President Biden’s $2 trillion American Jobs Plan is being dominated by a philosophical question: What does infrastructure really mean? Does it encompass the traditional idea of fixing roads, building bridges and financing other tangible projects? Or, in an evolving economy, does it expand to include initiatives like investing in broadband, electric car charging stations and care for older and disabled Americans?”

Andrés Sacristán Was Named CEO Of Cintra

Ferrovial announced that its board appointed Andrés Sacristán to serve as CEO of Cintra, the company’s toll road division. Sacristán has been a Cintra employee since 2001 and moved up from the position of Cintra US operations leader. Sacristán replaced Alejandro de la Joya, who is leaving Ferrovial after 30 years with the company.

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Do FHWA Drop-Ins And NEPA Litigation Put Biden Building Aims At Risk?

Reason.com reported, TxDOT is in the process of reviewing FHWA’s request for a pause in the $7 billion I-45 North Houston Highway Improvement Project to allow more time for federal evaluation of complaints based on civil rights law. The article assessed the broader implications of the FHWA request, which has emboldened environmental and social justice advocates in other cities to request FHWA intervention in highway projects that affect minority and low-income communities. Federal interventions of this sort, which are rare, have the potential to create “an interesting bit of tension between [President Biden’s] goals of going on a once-in-a-generation building spree and furthering ‘equity’ with transportation spending.”

Bay Area Traffic Neared A Pre-COVID-19 Level

San Francisco Chronicle reported, “[A]s the Bay Area economy continues reopening . . . traffic is returning, too — at near pre-pandemic levels, a Chronicle analysis of Bay Area traffic data found. The increase is evident to anyone who’s driven Bay Area freeways in recent weeks. But traffic is still flowing better than before the pandemic, according to traffic experts, though they warn that won’t last.”

WV Turnpike Easter Holiday Traffic Reached Summer 2019 Level

WCHS reported, “Numbers out Easter Monday showed travel on the West Virginia Turnpike jumped 3.35% last week compared to 2020. State officials said there were 767,321 transactions on the Turnpike during the holiday period from March 28 to April 3. The second Easter under pandemic conditions was, according to state officials, the biggest week of travel on the Turnpike since August 2019.”

India’s Toll Revenue Has Increased Significantly Under Its New AET Regime

The Hindu reported, “FASTag-based toll collection on national highways rose more than 20 per cent in March to Rs 3,100 crore [415.7 million USD] compared to Rs 2,560 crore [343.3 million USD] in February, helping India’s highways development agency improve its financials and increase the pace of asset monetisation.” FASTag payment, which the national government made mandatory in February, “has plugged a large part of the toll leakage suspected in toll projects and has led to better data reporting, YES Securities (India) Ltd said in an April 5 note.”

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