Daily News Brief, August 17, 2016

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CFX's E-PASS "Reload Lanes" Are a Hit

Orlando Sentinel reports, “The Central Florida Expressway Authority opened the nation’s first Reload Lanes for motorists to replenish their E-Pass accounts in May and say consumer response so far has been positive.” The report adds, “Since it’s opened, about 5,000 motorists have used it to refill their E-Pass balance and an additional 3,500 E-Pass accounts were started.”

Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX)


Study for CA Highway 101 HOV and Express Lanes Saved by Local Funding

San Mateo Daily Journal reports, “Previously jeopardized plans to consider carpool lanes on the increasingly congested Highway 101 can now move forward as local companies have pledged a $3 million contribution. San Mateo County transportation officials have been working to cobble together funding for a study since losing an anticipated $9.4 million from the California Transportation Commission . . . . The estimated $11.5 million study will consider various options, such as adding a new lane or converting an existing lane to create either carpool or express/toll options for commuters. . . .”

California Express Lanes


Communities Study Tolling to Fund Roads and Control Access to Eco-Sensitive Areas

CBS News Denver catches up on the news that Colorado’s Clear Creek County is studying tolling of the Guanella Pass road. The pass, just south of Georgetown, is a scenic attraction and a link between Interstate 70 and Highway 285.

The Challis Messenger reports on the possibility of Custer County, Idaho, tolling the Salmon River East Fork road, an access point to wilderness areas. At a recent meeting, county commissioners cited “the efforts of Boise County to make the expensive-to-maintain Banks-Lowman highway a toll road. Due to increased traffic on the narrow East Fork Road, commissioners may try to pass an ordinance making it a toll road so the county can afford to bring it up to a higher standard.”



What's the Toll on a Hoverboard?

NBC 10 (Philadelphia) reports — and has the video to prove it – that a man stuck in a traffic standstill on the Pennsylvania Turnpike decided to tool around on his hoverboard, noting that, “It’s not exactly as cool as roaring down Route 66 on a Harley, but it’s amusing.”

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission


Ohio Pike Gears Up to Use Drones

Cleveland.com reports, “The Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission in September will complete its first bridge inspection using an unmanned aircraft system, or drone. The drone will be used to inspect the Sandusky River Bridge, a 970-foot-long bridge in Sandusky County on either Sept. 13 or Sept. 14, depending on the weather.” Randy Cole, turnpike executive director, told commissioners at their August 15 meeting, “We hope to determine if the use of a drone may reduce the time and expense and increase safety when performing these types of inspections on the turnpike and on the ODOT system.”

Ohio Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission


DRJTBC to Repair Bridge That Leads the League in Overweight Truck Violations

Lehighvalleylive.com reports, “Repairs will start as soon as next week on a Delaware River bridge stressed over the years, in part, by overweight trucks. The Riverton-Belvidere bridge . . . sees weight violations more frequently than any of the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission’s 20 spans, according to a commission news release.”

Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission (DRJTBC) New Jersey Pennsylvania


PA Pike Continues Public Meetings on $1.6 Billion Mon-Fayette Project as Review of All Construction Projects Continues

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette staffs the latest public hearing on the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s $1.6 billion Mon-Fayette, leading with comments by a resident and engineer who, 30 years ago, “helped to design the first version of the highway.” The report adds, “Commission Chairman Sean Logan, a former mayor of Monroeville and state senator who strongly supports the expressway, has said that if the project doesn’t proceed this time, it probably is dead.” The report adds that the turnpike commission is reviewing “all construction projects to make sure they are needed and affordable.”

Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission


Will a New PA Pike Exit Deliver Prosperity to Norristown? Will the Project Survive Review?

The Philadelphia Inquirer looks at the potential benefit of a new Pennsylvania Turnpike interchange to Norristown Borough which, despite being the “seat of one of the state’s wealthiest counties” has “high crime, poverty, and property-tax rates.” County and borough officials are confident the project will be a boon, while “experts say that revitalizing the municipality is no done deal,” the report adds. (The report does not mention that the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is reviewing all capital projects to ensure “the best decisions are being made on capital expenditures.”)

Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission


Hays County (TX) Approves Bond Referendum for Roadways

Austin American-Statesman reports that Hays County leaders “hashed out a nearly $238 million bond package that they will ask voters to approve in two parts. One proposition will ask for $106.4 million for an emergency operations center and jail expansion. The second asks for funding to reconstruct some 24 roadways.” Click here for more information about road work planning.



An "Odd Coalition" Launches Multimillion Dollar Blitz for Illinois Transportation "Lock Box" Initiative

Crain’s Chicago Business looks at the November ballot initiative “designed to keep money in the state’s road fund from being diverted to nontransportation purposes” and reports, “With a big financial assist from the construction industry, Citizens to Protect Transportation Funding today is launching the first wave of what’s expected to be a multimillion-dollar paid ad campaign.” The article delves into the players and politics behind the group, dubbing it “one of the odder political coalitions to form [in Springfield] in a while.”



MnDOT Starts Crack Down on MnPASS Express Lanes Violators

KSTP News (Twin Cities) reports, “You’re about to see more enforcement when it comes to MnPASS Express Lanes. An enforcement partnership will kick off [today, August 17], meaning six Minnesota State Patrol troopers will be enforcing the MnPASS Express Lanes on interstates 35E, 394 and 35W during peak travel times Mondays through Fridays.” The station adds that “the goal is to cut down on the number of motorists who use the lanes illegally while also enhancing safety and free-flowing traffic conditions in the lanes.”

Minnesota Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) (MnPASS)


Still No Deal in NJ Transportation Stalemate

NJ.com reports, “Gov. Chris Christie on [August 16] squarely placed blame for a protracted impasse on transportation funding that has idled road projects across New Jersey on the Democratic-controlled Senate, saying lawmakers should return to Trenton and pass a bill.”

New Jersey


Candidates for Metro Miami House Seat Agree Traffic and Tolls Are "The Pressing Issues"

Miami Herald reports that the candidates in the race to represent District 118 (a predominantly conservative slice of Miami-Dade County) in the Florida House of Representatives agree on one thing: “[T]the pressing issues in the South Dade district center on traffic and tolls, as residents in that area spent hours of their day commuting on toll roads to go to work downtown.”



Florida Engineers Honor Turnpike System

EquipmentWorld.com  reports, “The Florida Engineering Society (FES), which is celebrating its 100th anniversary, recently named the Florida Department of Transportation’s Florida Turnpike System as one of its Engineering Projects of the Century.”

Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Florida Turnpike Enterprise (FTE)


Former Caltrans Employee Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

KFSN News (Fresno) reports, “It’s the end of the road for a former Caltrans official accused of embezzling thousands of dollars for everything from fake expenses to trips never taken. With a few quiet words, Christine Cox-Kovacevich admitted to boosting her six-figure government salary by ripping off taxpayers.”

California Crime Beat


Gainesville Newspaper Plugs FDOT I-75 Task Force Recommendations

The Gainesville Sun editors endorse the I-75 Relief Task Force final recommendation, which they note “calls for widening existing federal highways and providing new traffic enhancements, such as truck-only lanes and safer interchanges. Those ideas are far better, economically and environmentally, than building a new road from Citrus County to outside Jacksonville, as some proposed, through thousands of acres of open land and wetlands, not to mention whole communities.” Click here to read the Sun’s coverage of the final report.