[beta] TRN Weekly Review: Week of September 12-18, 2021

Virginia DOT Awarded Conduent A Toll System Contract

Conduent Transportation announced that Virginia DOT awarded it a contract to design, implement and operate express toll lanes along I-64 in Hampton Roads. “Following a 16-month implementation period . . . , Conduent will operate and maintain multiple [dynamic] tolling zones of the I-64 Express Lanes network. . . . The lanes and system are currently expected to be completed by the end of 2022. The contract, valued at approximately $51 million, includes a three-year base term plus a total of nine one-year options.”

Maryland Proposed To Fund An I-95 Tunnel’s AET Conversion

Baltimore Business Journal noted that Maryland’s draft FY 2022-2027 Consolidated Transportation Program includes $22.8 million for the conversion of the I-95 Fort McHenry Tunnel to cashless tolling. The budget plan announced on September 1 sets aside a total of $2.78 billion for the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA).

Florida Announced New Funding Will Expedite Three Tampa Bay Next Projects

WUSF and Tampa Bay Times reported on Monday’s announcement that Florida has boosted funding for major FDOT projects in metro Tampa. The additional money will support the Howard Frankland Bridge and Downtown Tampa Interchange projects, as well as work on the Westshore Interchange. The funding will come via a $2 billion infrastructure package the state legislature approved earlier this year.

WTVT reported that FDOT plans to seek Westshore interchange “early work” construction bids this fall. The project will be carried out in segments, and advertising for bids on phase-one work will take place in the fall of 2022.

These are some 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.

$103.3 Million In New Illinois Tollway Contracts Included One For Maintenance Facility Construction

The Illinois Tollway Authority board approved 11 contracts for construction and professional engineering services worth more than $103.3 million at its recent meeting. Lorig Construction was awarded a $43.5 million contract to reconstruct roadway and bridges at an I-290 and I-88 interchange as part of Tri-State Tollway (I-294) Project. George Sollitt Construction received a $33.8 million contract to build a new “state-of-the art” maintenance facility in Hoffman Estates for the eastern end of the Jane Addams Tollway). Utility Dynamics Corporation received separate contracts for camera installation and lighting repairs. The board chose seven other firms to provide design, construction management or technical assistance services.

US House Committee Added Infrastructure Initiatives To The Budget Reconciliation Bill

“Engineering News-Record” reported, the US House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved an additional $40 billion in infrastructure spending during its Wednesday markup of the pending budget reconciliation measure. The article also looked at the prospects the new spending approvals will survive final action on the bill.

AP Spotlighted PA Turnpike FY 2021 Revenue Leakage

Associated Press reported, “More than $104 million in Pennsylvania Turnpike tolls went uncollected last year as the agency fully converted to all-electronic tolling. . . . An internal turnpike report issued in July and obtained by The Associated Press . . . showed nearly 11 million out of the total of about 170 million turnpike rides generated no revenue for the agency in the year that ended May 31.” AP’s analysis of the PTC report focused on challenges associated with collecting TOLL BY PLATE fees. While acknowledging the significance of the non-payment problem, PTC pointed out that “the E-ZPass system helped the turnpike collect tolls on about 93% of all trips” last year, and the toll-by-plate process itself yielded $127 million in FY 2021 revenue.

Audit Report Found Some Deficiencies In Maryland’s Oversight Of Its ETC System

An audit report by Maryland’s Office of Legislative Audits released last week concluded that the  Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) took inconsistent and sometimes insufficient measures to address electronic tolling errors that resulted in the overbilling of some customers. The report noted that the audit period coincided with COVID-19 disruptions and a process of transition to a new toll collection and customer service system operated by new vendors, and concluded that these were factors contributing to the MDTA deficiencies. The audit agency stated that MDTA was in “general agreement” with its findings and recommendations, although it disagreed with some of the report’s conclusions.

Delaware Announced An Amnesty Program For Toll Scofflaws

Delaware DOT announced that it will conduct a three-month amnesty program for Route 1 and I-95 toll violators beginning October 1. “Anyone with outstanding toll violations incurred . . . between January 1, 2014 and April 30, 2020 is eligible to participate.” The state is waiving civil penalties in return for violators paying their outstanding tolls plus an amnesty fee that is scaled according to the number of outstanding violations.

MTA Chief Said We’re “Really Now Engaged” On Vetting Congestion Pricing

THE CITY reported, the Manhattan Central Business District Tolling Program (CBDTP) may be gaining some momentum. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s interim leader, Janno Lieber, told board members MTA has “turned a corner” on the program and is “really now engaged — on the cusp of going 100 miles an hour, pardon the pun — in this public review process, which will open the door to the implementation of congestion pricing.”

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Industry People Made News

Maureen Coleman, a state government lawyer for over 20 years, recently became the New York State Bridge Authority’s chief executive. She was formerly general counsel for the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation.

Westfair Communications and Times Hudson Valley Media profiled Tara Sullivan, NYSBA’s retired executive director, and looked at her accomplishments over an 11-year tenure in authority management.

AASHTO Journal reported that Ryan Anderson has succeeded John MacKinnon as the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities commissioner. MacKinnon retired on September 3. A 20-year department employee, Anderson was promoted from the position of northern region director.

Associated Press and AL.com reported that Tim James, 59, a proponent of private toll projects in Alabama and  Louisiana, is exploring the possibility of entering the Alabama gubernatorial race as a challenger to incumbent Governor Kay Ivey.

Business Standard and The Hindu reported, during an address last week, India’s highways minister, Nitin Gadkari, invited US investors to take advanatge of a “gold mine for all stakeholders” by particpating in the funding of India’s road and highway projects. “He assured better returns for the investors compared to those garnered in the US.”

Bechtel Rejected Kenya’s Proposal To Structure An Expressway Project As A P3

Business Daily Africa reported, US engineering firm Bechtel, which holds a sole source contract to build Kenya’s Nairobi-Mombasa Expressway, has rejected a government proposal that the firm finance the project by collecting tolls from users. According to a parliamentary budget office statement, Bechtel “indicated that the country will get better value for money if the road is constructed under an EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) model” rather than the proposed public-private partnership model that, according to Bechtel, would cost five times more and take longer to complete.

Italian Tollway Operator Will Offer Reimbursements to Drivers Delayed By Road Work

Reuters reported, “Autostrade per l’Italia . . . has earmarked 250 million euros ($296 million) over five years to refund [tolls paid by] travellers disrupted by maintenance work, Chief Executive Roberto Tomasi said on Tuesday. The company, which is currently 88% owned by Italian infrastructure group Atlantia, is due to return to government control next year when the sale to a consortium of state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, Macquerie and Blackstone will become effective.” The company launched an app (Free To X) through which drivers delayed by road work can seek a toll reimbursement.

Eurowag Confirmed Plans For An IPO

Siliconrepublic reported, Eurowag confirmed last week that it is planning to make an initial public offering. The Czech Republic-based provider of (among other services) toll and fuel payment processing for transport companies announced it will will apply for admission to the premium segment of the London Stock Exchange and plans to float at least 25 percent of its issued shares. The offering will include both existing shares and approximately €200 million (US$235.83 million) of new shares. Eurowag also announced Paul Manduca, former chair of Prudential plc, is its new chairman and independent non-executive director.

Report: The Search For An RUC System That Adequately And Equitably Funds Highways

Axios may have published the understatement of the year: “Roads have to be funded, even if gas taxes disappear. Figuring out an equitable fee system is going to be a big challenge.” Its look at the prospects for road use charging focused on vehicle-miles-traveled pilot programs in Oregon and Utah. The article suggested, “One way to implement more sophisticated fee policies is through a layered pricing scheme that uses dynamic road pricing and advanced tolling,” in other words, mobile systems that do not rely on conventional tolling infrastructure.

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