Daily News Brief, August 11, 2016

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Federal Judge Rules NY Thruway's Diversion of Toll Revenue for Canals Is Unconstitutional

Reuters reports, “A federal judge on Wednesday [August 10] said the New York State Thruway Authority’s practice of diverting toll revenue it collects from commercial truckers to maintain upstate canals is unconstitutional.” The American Trucking Associations, which filed the litigation, issued a statement in which CEO Chris Spear states, “ATA believed that the courts and Constitution were clear – revenue from tolls must be spent maintaining the roads they’re collected on. . . . We hope today’s ruling will not only end this practice in New York, but dissuade other states from financing their budget shortfalls on the backs of our industry.” [Editor: The court’s opinion is designated American Trucking Associations, Inc., et al. v. New York State Thruway Authority, et al., No. 13-08123 (US SDNY).]

Issues of Law New York


FDOT Construction of $303 Million Express Lanes Project Extension to Begin Sunday

Sun Sentinel (Ft. Lauderdale) reports, “Construction for nearly 17 miles of poles and tolls is scheduled to begin Sunday night [August 14] along the northern stretch of Interstate 95 in Broward County, according to the Florida Department of Transportation. The $303 million Express Lanes project extends two toll lanes in each direction from north of Broward Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale to just south of Southwest 10th Street in Deerfield Beach, FDOT said.” [Link deleted.]

Express Lanes Florida


Report Shows Mass Turnpike Could Lose up to $16 Million Annually in Uncollected Tolls Under AET

MassLive.com reports that the Mass Turnpike’s conversion to AET could result in “an estimated loss of between $15.9 million and $16.1 million a year in uncollected toll revenue. This is on top of another $10.6 million to $13.8 million the state estimates it will lose from vehicles diverted off a toll facility,” based on a MassDOT report issued in November 2015.

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Massachusetts


C-470 Groundbreaking Comes Amid Litigation

Denver Business Journal reports, “The long-awaited plan to expand the C-470 freeway across Denver’s southern suburbs kicked off Wednesday [August 10] with a groundbreaking attended by state and local officials.” The report adds, however, that a group of residents suing over the $317 million project “filed a request for a preliminary injunction to halt construction on the project. The issue is whether noise walls are needed along sections of the expanded highway.”



Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Commission Approves Toll Hike for Safety Improvements

The Times-Picayune reports, “After hearing citizens’ objections for more than an hour, the Causeway Commission voted Wednesday night (Aug. 10) to raise tolls and spend $103 million to beef up railings on the southbound bridge and add sections of shoulder to both spans.” The report adds, “Under the plan, the $2 round-trip cost for a toll-tag customer would rise to $3. Cash customers would see their $3 round-trip cost rise to $5.”

Bridges Louisiana Toll Rate Changes


East Texans Push for More Toll 49 Safety Upgrades in Wake of Six Deaths

KLTV News reports, “East Texans are still pushing for safety upgrades on Toll 49 in Smith County, where so far six people have died this year. That number includes 34-year-old Skyler Harper, who died in a head-on collision on the toll road back in May.” The report adds, “NET RMA says they plan on starting safety upgrades on Monday [August 15]. They say they plan on adding passing lanes on every segment of Toll 49 by 2018.”



DelDOT's US 301 Toll Project Advancing

The News Journal reports on the progress DelDOT is making on the U.S. 301 project, reporting that “the four-lane tollway . . . will transform the area into a fully-fledged part of the Northeast Corridor – connecting the once rural enclave to some of the nation’s largest cities with a high-speed expressway.”



Will MoPac Segment Be Completed Before School Year Opens?

KXAN News (Austin) wonders whether the north section of the toll lanes on North MoPac will open in time for the start of the school year, reporting that, “The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority tells KXAN they have not yet received the updated schedule for completion and there has been an increase in workforce.”



Christie Aide Claims Governor "Lied" in Bridgegate News Conference

Bloomberg reports, “New Jersey Governor Chris Christie ‘flat out lied’ in a news conference when he said his senior staff and campaign manager weren’t involved in the George Washington Bridge scandal, an aide texted to a colleague at the time, according to court papers.”

New Jersey


RIBTA Rolls Out 10-Year, $223.4 Million Capital Plan

Providence Journal reports, “The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority plans to spend $223.4 million over the next decade to maintain the four Narragansett Bay bridges it maintains, according to a 10-year plan released Wednesday [August10].” Click here for a RITBA news release detailing the plan.

Bridges Rhode Island


Local Officials Bank on PA Pike's Mon-Fayette Project

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports, “Monroeville officials are expressing hope that the planned extension of the Mon-Fayette Expressway will help the municipality, by making it more accessible to businesses.” The report adds, “The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission announced in January that it will move forward with the $1.75 billion project, which had been delayed since 2009 because of funding issues.”



"Unexpectedly High Toll Revenues" Pave the Way for New I-405 Traffic Lane

The Seattle Times reports, “A project to add a traffic lane and bring relief to one of the worst choke points on Interstate 405 will start sooner than expected, state officials said Wednesday [August 10], noting that unexpectedly high toll revenues gave them the necessary funds.” Click here to read WSDOT’s announcement about construction of the peak period shoulder lane.

Express Lanes Washington State


Report Says Tolling Massey Replacement Bridge Will Cause "Congestion Nightmare"

CTV News Vancouver reports, “A provincial government traffic assessment predicts a congestion nightmare on the Alex Fraser Bridge if a George Massey Tunnel bridge replacement is tolled and pushes drivers to free alternatives. While the documents predict traffic will improve on the new tolled crossing, the spillover from drivers avoiding the toll will result in tens of thousands more vehicles using the Alex Fraser Bridge in the near future.”



Opponents Press for Referendum to Stop Longmeadow Parkway Project

Elgin Courier-News reports, “Construction has begun on the first phase of the Longmeadow Parkway Fox River Bridge Corridor, but opponents are suggesting a binding referendum to stop the $115 million project. [Link added.] Opponents are preparing to have their voice heard at an Aug. 30 public hearing on an Environmental Assessment Reevaluation the Kane County Department of Transportation commissioned, said Billita Jacobsen, one of the people behind a movement stop the project.”