TRN Weekly Review: Week of March 12-18, 2023

“Choice Lanes” And P3 Bill Advanced In Tennessee Senate

The Center Square (Tennessee) reported, “A bill to add toll lanes and fund future highway and road improvements in Tennessee passed a key Senate committee Tuesday. The Tennessee Transportation Modernization Act passed the Finance, Ways and Means Committee with a 10-1 vote and will head to the full Senate after it goes through the Senate Calendar Committee.”

Maryland DOT Remains Committed To Rebuilding American Legion Bridge

NBC News Washington reports, “Maryland’s plan to build a new American Legion Bridge and put toll lanes along part of the Capital Beltway and Interstate 270 could be facing a major uphill battle after Transurban, the lead transportation group that was going to build that project, walked away from it last week.” Although the proposal for tolled express lanes remains controversial, there is broad agreement the bridge and the corridor’s congestion problem need attention. “In a statement, Maryland Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld said, ‘MDOT is committed to delivering a new American Legion Bridge and transportation solutions that relieve traffic congestion throughout this corridor and promote equity and environmental protection.’” The state’s next move, according to NBC, “will be finding a new contractor to build whatever is agreed upon.”

Transurban’s Maryland Exit Won’t Affect VDOT Express Lanes Project

According to Tysons Reporter, “Virginia’s extension of the I-495 Express Lanes past the George Washington Memorial Parkway in McLean remains on track for a 2025 opening, even as its counterpart across the Potomac River faces another setback in its efforts to widen the Capital Beltway.” (TRN substituted a link.)

Lee County (FL) Commissioners Approved $401 Million In Repairs For Three Bridges

WGCU reported, “A trio of bridges in Lee County, Big Carlos Pass Bridge, Cape Coral Bridge, and Sanibel Causeway, were recently approved for construction improvements beginning this year.” The report adds, “Lee County’s financial responsibility for all three bridge repairs will be $162.5 million and the total cost of repairs will be $401.8 million.”

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.

Washington State Official Delivered Update On Hood River Bridge Traffic And Revenue Study

The Center Square (Washington) reported, “In a presentation to the Washington State Transportation Commission titled ‘Hood River Bridge Traffic & Revenue Study,’ preliminary financial and tolling numbers were outlined for the replacement toll bridge connecting White Salmon, Washington with Hood River, Oregon. The study’s aim was to ‘conduct a full planning level traffic and revenue study of the Hood River Bridge to determine the viability of toll revenues to support future financing of improvements and possible replacement of the bridge’ . . .” The presentation was delivered on Tuesday, March 14, by the commission’s deputy director, Carl See, and representatives of CDM Smith and Clary Consulting.

New Jersey Toll Agency Issued RFPs Related To Planned AET Conversion

Courier-Post reported on the South Jersey Transportation Authority’s current search for services related to its conversion of the Atlantic City Expressway to all-electronic tolling. One of two pending RFPs seeks proposals for the construction and installation of AET and ITS systems infrastructure, as well as the demolition of obsolete toll plaza facilities. The other RFP is a request for construction management and inspection services. The authority requires AET installation be substantially completed by January 2026 and all construction work, including the demolitions, to conclude by the following October. (More information on the RFPs is available at the authority’s bids and contracts web page.)

NJ E-ZPass Must Warn Customers They Won’t Necessarily Receive Out-Of-State Discounts (subscription required for full access) reported, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) signed a bill requiring the state’s E-ZPass website to include a notice that account holders may not receive a discount when they use their New Jersey transponder to pay out-of-state tollway operators. The measure passed both house of the legislature without a dissenting vote. noted that “many of those cross border discounts offered during the early days of E-ZPass as enticements to encourage drivers to sign up have disappeared.”

Oklahoma Attorney General Requested Investigative Audit Of Turnpike Authority

The Oklahoman reported, Oklahoma’s attorney general on Wednesday called on the state auditor to conduct an investigative audit of the $5 billion ACCESS Oklahoma expansion project proposed by the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA). The state’s top law officer, Gentner Drummond (R), said his “many” conversations with “legislators, community leaders, private citizens and state employees” convinced him that an inquiry is warranted. He added that his concerns about OTA “include but are not limited to improper transfers between the OTA and the Department of Transportation, improper contracting and purchasing practices, and inadequate internal financial controls,” as well as disregard of open meeting law requirements.

Tulsa World reports, “Turnpike Authority Executive Director Tim Gatz said he welcomes the scrutiny and will cooperate with any requests from the State Auditor’s Office,” adding, “Hopefully, this helps us clear up some of the confusion and misunderstanding and maybe misinformation that’s out there. The Turnpike Authority’s operation is well-run and well-managed.”

NTTA Prepares Next Stages Of Dallas North Tollway Extension Project

The Dallas Morning News reported, “The North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) opened a new bridge, part of the Dallas North Tollway over U.S. 380 on [March 11]. The bridge extends the tollway into Prosper and is the first part of a Phase 4 project for Collin and Denton counties. The project will eventually extend Dallas North Tollway main lanes to the Grayson County line.” The article looks at the future phases of the project and the mobility improvements they are expected to deliver.

Sample Daily News Briefs, our weekday news report. A 14-day trial is free.

ALDOT Will Launch Mobile Bridge And Bayway Project In 2024 reported, “Residents in coastal Alabama are gearing up for a busy year of road projects, including closure of a major thoroughfare in Mobile and the beginning of the highly anticipated Mobile River Bridge and Bayway replacement project.” At an estimated cost of $2.7 billion, the toll bridge and  I-10 widening project will be the most expensive road project undertaken by Alabama DOT. “Though it missed out on the federal Mega grant, last week it was announced that the project would be one of only a few projects in the country that would receive technical grant assistance from the U.S. Department of Transportation.”

Pierce Coffee Departed Transurban North America

The Australian Financial Review (subscription required for full access) reported that Pierce Coffee, named chief executive of Transurban US in February 2021, left the company “just before the Australian toll road group abandoned its $5 billion Maryland express lanes project. Ms Coffee . . . said on LinkedIn she was pursuing ‘the next chapter of my career.’” AFR noted, “Transurban declined to comment on Ms Coffee’s departure, which is understood to have been announced internally last month. It is looking for a new president for its North American business.” Ms. Coffee said the US unit’s CFO, Michael Discenza, has stepped in as acting president while “Transurban formalises its leadership team in the coming months.”

Michigan State Economics Professor Made The Case For Road Use Charging

Bridge Michigan posted an op-ed column by Michigan State University economics professor Ronald Fisher, who asks and answers a crucial question: “Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and legislators are considering two important policy questions concerning road finance: Should Michigan adopt tolls to help finance roads? Should Michigan move toward a mileage fee to replace the motor fuels tax to finance roads? YES (to one or both)!”

Oman Seeks Private Sector Partner To Build Country’s First Toll Road

Muscat Daily (Oman) reports, “The Ministry of Finance (MoF), in cooperation with the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology, is inviting private sector companies to bid for a qualification tender to build the sultanate’s first toll road,” the 67-kilometer (41.6-mile) Salalah-Thumrait Truck Road (STTR). The project’s goal is to revitalise Salalah Port and  nearby communities by stimulating export and import commerce. The deadline for submission of bids is May 4.

Have A Question or Comment? Email Us!  For TollRoadsNews subscription information, please call 717-991-2823, email us or visit our website.