Michigan Weighs Tolling Options

MLive.com reports on recently adopted legislation that gives Michigan DOT 18 months to obtain and present a study of tolling’s feasibility as a source of state highway funding. “Lawmakers who supported the study say it doesn’t require any commitment from the state to go through with tolling, but rather shows whether it’s possible.”

WXYZ reports on state highway corridors likely to be in the scope of the study.

NJ Union-Contractor Group Applauds Infrastructure Plan Made Possible By Toll Rate Hikes

Carpenter Contractor Trust, a marketing organization representing union carpenters and contractors, issued a news release touting recent New Jersey tollway rate hikes and the $24 billion in capital projects that the additional funds will make possible. Widening turnpike and Garden State Parkway segments, converting both highways to cashless tolling, and repairing aging roads, bridges and other infrastructure will make the state’s infrastructure safer and more reliable, construction industry representatives maintain. They also cite expectations that those projects will create thousands of new skilled jobs and give the state economy a boost it badly needs in the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic.

Arizona DOT Achieves Success Using Thermal Cameras To Detect Wrong-Way Drivers

The Arizona Department Of Transportation announced that its unique use of thermal cameras to detect wrong-way drivers on freeway off-ramps in Phoenix “will continue to grow, especially after the cameras have worked well as part of a pilot project along Interstate 17.” A new report on the pilot concludes that the cameras are “a reliable way to detect wrong-way vehicles, alert law enforcement and warn other drivers to reduce the risk of crashes involving often-impaired wrong-way drivers,” according to an ADOT news release.

Florida DOT Launches A Review Of Segmental Bridge Inspection Procedures

Florida DOT announced, “In light of preliminary bridge inspection findings on the Roosevelt Bridge in Stuart, . . . Secretary Kevin J. Thibault has called for a proactive review of segmental bridge inspection procedures statewide. As part of this on-going review, FDOT is examining inspection findings as well as FDOT laboratory test results and partnering with the Federal Highway Administration, universities, and transportation peers nationwide to develop recommendations to be utilized for inspections going forward. The review will be completed as quickly as possible and recommendations will be shared as soon as they are available.” FDOT’s news release notes that fewer than 100 of the state’s 12,400 bridges were constructed segmentally.

CBS News Miami reports on the announcement.

[beta] TRN Weekly Review: Week of June 28-July 4, 2020

Ohio Turnpike Awarded Conduent A $101 Million Toll System Modernization Contract

TrafficTechnologyToday.com reported, the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission selected Conduent State & Local Solutions to furnish and operate the new toll collection system contemplated by the commission’s strategic plan for system modernization. According to the article (based on a Conduent news release), the company will “upgrade equipment on a combined 216 lanes, to include self-service and toll collector-operated toll plazas at on- and off-ramps as well as open-road, automated tolling points designed for E-ZPass transactions. The company will also implement state-of-the-art, multimode automated toll payment machines. . . .

The commission resolution accepting Conduent’s RFP response stated that the maximum amount of the contract is $101,120,128, as detailed in an attached price proposal document.

NY State Bridge Authority Awarded Redecking And AET Infrastructure Contracts

Times Herald-Record reported, the New York State Bridge Authority (NYSBA) awarded a $95 million contract to Yonkers Contracting Company for the replacement of the deck on the north span of the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge. Yonkers Contracting submitted the lowest of four bids that reportedly ranged as high as $120 million. “At the same time, Yonkers will be executing a second contract with the authority to erect an overhead gantry and auxiliary equipment building at the toll plaza to support the switch to all-electronic tolling. The $6.8 million contract includes the eventual removal of all the toll booths and the realignment of traffic lanes.” An authority spokesperson says it “expects to hire a company to provide the actual AET system later this year and begin converting all of its bridges to cashless tolling next year.”

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.

PA Turnpike Seeks Input On Mon-Fayette Project Revisions

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Authority is soliciting comments until July 31 on some proposed changes to the plan for the final stage of the Mon-Fayette Expressway project. A PTC official told the newspaper some engineering issues required a change in the design of two interchanges near the town of Dravosburg. According to the article, plan revisions will be posted on the project website.

Officials And Executives Made News

The Transportation Corridor Agencies announced Valarie McFall’s promotion to the position of interim first deputy CEO effective July 1. McFall has held several management positions since joining TCA in 2000, most recently serving as chief environmental planning officer.

The Lawton Constitution reported, Lawton businessman Gene Love was elected last week to chair the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority board. His term began on July 1. Love, an Army retiree who formerly served as Lawton mayor and a state transportation commission member, has represented OTA’s District 5 since 2011.

HNTB appointed Kristi Lafleur, a leader in the toll and transportation infrastructure sectors, to head the firm’s Chicago office beginning in August, when she takes over for Mark Becherer, PE, who is transitioning to a division leadership position. Lafleur is well known for her five-year tenure as executive director of the Illinois Tollway Authority and her service on the boards of the Chicago Skyway, IBTTA, the Alliance for Toll Interoperability and the E-Z Pass Group.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation announced that Governor Mark Gordon (R) appointed Greg Venable to the Wyoming Transportation Commission to replace retired Commissioner Louie Pfrangle. Venable, a trucking company executive and an officer of national and state trucking associations, will represent WYDOT District 5.

IFM Agreed To Buy A 56 Percent Stake In Italian Toll Road Brebemi

“IP&E Real Assets” reported, IFM Investors, the Australian pension fund investment manager, has agreed to purchase a 56 percent stake (worth €2 billion, or about US$2.25 billion) in Italian toll road Brebemi from banking group Intesa San Paolo. The acquisition is reportedly being made through IFM’s Madrid-based infrastructure unit Aleatica. “The transaction, subject to regulatory approvals, is expected to close not earlier than October 2020.” (A report on Brebemi’s financial results as of December 2019  is available in English online.)

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SH 130 Concession Company Launched A Customer Rewards Program

The Austin American Statesman reported, the SH 130 Concession Company announced the launch on July 1 of a rewards program designed as “an extra perk” for current customers and an incentive for others to try the toll road as an alternative to toll-free I-35. The “Fly 130 Rewards Program” will reportedly begin with a contest for cash prizes to be awarded monthly to the registered car driver and commercial trucker who accumulate the most mileage-based points. (At the end of the six-month contest, additional prizes will go to the two drivers with the most cumulative points.) “As the rewards program continues into the summer, drivers will be able to exchange points earned for gift cards and other items.”

Miami-Dade Expressway Authority Won Another Round In Its Fight To Stay Alive

The Bond Buyer (subscription required) reported, “A Florida court has denied the state government’s latest attempt to eliminate the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority, but the legal battle over the future of the toll-road agency is far from over. Florida’s First District Court of Appeal issued a June 25 decision denying the state legislature a writ of prohibition to strike down a 2019 lawsuit [brought by MDX to prevent its statutory dissolution].”

“Fewer Piers Are More for Illinois Tollway’s Mile-Long Bridge Replacement”

“Engineering News Record” looked at the Illinois Tollway’s massive rebuild of the Mile Long Bridge on the Central Tri-State Tollway (I-294). “Cutting in half the number of piers [in the bridge design] made the litany of obstacles beneath it” — they include the Des Plaines River, the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, the Illinois and Michigan Canal, two sets of railroad tracks, local roads and a jet fuel supplier’s pipeline — “more manageable.”

NY Thruway CEO Gave AET Conversion And COVID-19 Tolling Updates

WBEN discusses the New York Thruway Authority’s systemwide conversion to all-electronic tolling with chief executive Matt Driscoll, who reports that gantry installation work is “66 percent done” and the new system is on track to “go live” by the end of the year. Tollway officials plan to initiate the system gradually by groups of interchanges rather than all at once. Addressing the emergency toll collection procedures introduced because of COVID-19, Driscoll said motorists without E-ZPass who traveled during the 10-week suspension of cash tolling will  start to receive mailed invoices soon.

TCA Challenged A Grand Jury Recommendation That It Refrain From New Projects

The Orange County Register reported, Orange County grand jurors recommend that the Transportation Corridor Agencies focus on paying off debt and then wind down without undertaking new projects. Those are principal conclusions of a report they issued last week, despite acknowledging that the COVID-19 epidemic prevented them from first conducting a thorough, unbiased inquiry. For its part, TCA says the report is “replete with unsubstantiated opinion,” and “[i]t is likely that a more collaborative approach by the grand jury could have benefited from current data and factual statements supported by evidence, instead of relying on sensationalized news stories and one-sided input.” TCA is preparing a formal response to the report that it will issue within 90 days.

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Major MTC Express Lanes Project Nears Completion

ConstructionEquipmentGuide.com took an in-depth look at construction of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s 45 miles of new I-880 express lanes in the East Bay. The facility, a conversion of former HOV lanes, is on schedule to be completed this summer at a cost of $139 million.

ASCE Found COVID-19 Has Exacerbated The US Infrastructure Crisis

Transportation Today reported, “Already at a crisis point prior to COVID-19, America’s infrastructure faces ‘dire’ new challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new report from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has found. Released [on June 24], the report found that the pandemic has had an impact on roads and transit systems, but also drinking water systems, inland waterways, energy systems, parks, ports, schools, and wastewater infrastructure.” ASCE reportedly cited the deprivation of revenue experienced by transportation agencies as a contributing factor and specifically recommended that Congress appropriate $50 billion for state repairs to roads, bridges and transit systems, as well as a multiyear surface transportation reauthorization bill that restores the Highway Trust Fund. (Links inserted by TRN.)

California Appeals Court Upheld Voter-Approved Bay Area Bridge Toll Increase

San Francisco Chronicle reported, a California appeals court decided yesterday that Regional Measure 3, the 2018 voter referendum that authorized a phased-in, three-dollar toll increase for the Bay Area’s seven state-owned bridges, was legally approved. The unanimous three-judge panel upheld a trial court ruling that California law allows the state to charge fees for use of state property, and bridge tolls are a fee not a tax.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission issued a statement welcoming the decision. It added that MTC and the Bay Area Toll Authority are “excited to finally unlock the toll funds approved by voters and put those dollars to work on dozens of much-needed projects to provide both mobility and jobs throughout the Bay Area.” (BATA implemented the toll rate increase in 2019, but it has been depositing proceeds in a special account pending the outcome of litigation.)

Philippines Government Pressed Toll Operators To Advance Interoperability

The Philippines Department of Transportation on Monday “implored” stakeholders in its toll system interoperability drive to “to fast-track the necessary measures in order to fully implement the scheme for the benefit of motorists and commuters.” Participants in the initiative, launched in 2017, include the Toll Regulatory Board as well as toll road concessionaires San Miguel Group, Metro Pacific Group and Ayala Group. Leading executives of the three firms today renewed their support for the initiative, which they see as a complement to internal processes of transition to all-electronic tolling.

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