Daily News Brief, August 4, 2016

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Secretary Foxx in Australia to Drum Up Private Sector Infrastructure Investment

The Australian Financial Review reports that US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx is visiting Melbourne and Sydney to promote private sector investment in US infrastructure. Foxx tells AFR that Australian investors have a “huge interest” in American infrastructure projects, but adds, “We believe that the funding actually isn’t our biggest challenge. The challenge is putting the pieces in place so that funding can have a place to go and can deliver that project.”



PA Pike Issues RFP for Law Firms, Financial Consultants for Fiber Network

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports, “The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is hiring law firms and financial consultants to advise how to ‘design, build, finance, operate and maintain a fiber network’ for state broadband Internet data and voice calls, and to deliver ‘a wire mesh overlay and market and lease excess network capacity’ to private users along its 550-mile toll road system. The system could run (for example) device apps based in commercial vehicles, or business and residential users near the Turnpike right-of-way. Maybe self-driving vehicles, too?” Click here for RFP information. Click here to read a related turnpike commission news release.

P3 & Privatization Pennsylvania


GDOT I-85 Express Extension Breaks Ground

Atlanta Business Chronicle covers the groundbreaking ceremony for the project to extend I-85 Express Lanes by ten miles. “After initial resistance to the toll lanes when they opened in 2011 from drivers objecting to the tolls, the ability to drive in less traffic during busy times of day in exchange for a toll has become increasingly popular,” the newspaper reports. SRTA, which manages toll operations for the express lanes, was represented at the event by its executive director, Chris Tomlinson.

WXIA-TV News also reports.



TxDOT and HCTRA Ready Tomball Tollway Project's Next Stages

Community Impact Newspaper reports, “Nearly a year and a half after the opening of the Tomball Tollway — a tolled 6-mile stretch of Hwy. 249 in Tomball — the Texas Department of Transportation and county officials are looking to take the next steps that will extend the roadway through Magnolia to Navasota. After a brief planned postponement of portions of the project, all three phases are back on track to be completed by late 2018 or early 2019, officials said.”



NET RMA Plans Toll 49 Safety Upgrade

KWES-TV News (Midland-Odessa, TX) reports that the North East Texas Regional Mobility Authority (NET RMA) “says it’s responding proactively to concerns about multiple fatalities on its roadway. Six people have died in car collisions on Toll 49 this year. . . . Each of those crashes happened near Toll 49’s intersection with Highway 31 west of Tyler.” The agency plans to install rumble strips and reflectors during an upcoming pavement overlay project.



Taxpayer Group Predicts Increase in NOLA Bridge Tolls

WVUE-TV News (New Orleans) reports that a taxpayer organization is advising the public to get ready to pay a Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge toll increase. Even though bridge commissioners will not vote on a proposed increase until August 10, a spokesman for Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany says the state legislature has already authorized toll revenue bonds to fund millions of dollars of bridge safety improvements, which makes the toll hike inevitable.

Louisiana Toll Rate Changes


OHL Bonds Fall on Unfavorable News and a Moody's Rating Downgrade

Reuters reports that Obrascon Huarte Lain (OHL) bonds fell for the third day after Moody’s Investor’s Service issued a “one-notch rating downgrade” on the Spain-based engineering, construction and toll concession company’s corporate rating on August 3. “OHL’s bonds came under pressure on [August 1] after reporting poor first-half results, before taking another leg down on [August 2] as a planned share buyback spooked debt investors.”

Investment Ratings


Port Mann Bridge Lost Money Despite Increased Traffic

CBC News British Columbia reports that metro Vancouver’s Port Mann Bridge “is still operating at a loss even though more people are using the span, a new report shows. The bridge showed a loss of $82.5 million [about US$63.1 million] for the fiscal year 2015/2016. . . .” However, a spokesperson for the operator, Transportation Investment Corporation, tells the newspaper that bridge traffic increased five percent in the last year and toll revenue exceeded projections by $8 million (approximately US$6.1 million).



MassDOT Handing out Free Transponders in Anticipation of AET Start

iBerkshires.com (North Adams) reports that MassDOT is making a return appearance at a Pittsfield farmers market to provide free E-ZPass transponders. The report adds that “MassDOT intends to test AET software during the summer of 2016 and to activate AET by the end of the year.”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Massachusetts


Indiana Toll Road Accident Causes Paint Spill

Associated Press reports that nine miles of the Indiana Toll Road’s eastbound lanes were closed for several hours on August 3 because a commercial truck carrying 23,000 pounds of paint flipped over and covered about 300 feet of the roadway with paint.



Tappan Zee Bridge is Halfway Home

The New York Times reports, “The building of the twin-span Tappan Zee Bridge, the first major new bridge in the New York area in half a century, has reached the halfway point.” The report adds, “The toppling of a 256-foot crane on July 19 onto the roadway of the existing bridge, an accident that shut down traffic in both directions for five hours but remarkably caused no serious injuries, seems to have been a minor problem in the progress.”

Bridges New York


North Tarrant Express is Halfway Home

CBS News Dallas-Fort Worth reports, “Officials on [August 3] announced that the North Tarrant Express highway construction project has reached the halfway mark.” The report adds, “North Tarrant Express spokeswoman Heather DeLapp stated that the $1.6 billion project is still on schedule, and that drivers should start to see improvements.”



Staten Island Newspaper Hammers Potential MTA Fare and Toll Hikes

Staten Island Advance editors take a dim view of MTA’s potential increases, noting that, “[t]he MTA could adjust MetroCard and commuter rail prices in addition to bridge and tunnel tolls. Or they could just boost the base bus and subway fare from $2.75 to $3.”

New Jersey New York Toll Rate Changes


Moody's Issues Ratings on Laredo (TX) Toll Bridge System Debt

Moody’s Investors Service announced that it assigned “an A2 rating to the City of Laredo International Toll Bridge System’s (TX) $9.29 million International Toll Bridge System Revenue Refunding Bonds, Series 2016.” Moody’s concurrently affirmed its ratings on approximately $60.5 million of outstanding bridge system debt. The outlook for all bonds is “stable.”

Investment Ratings Texas


Will Singapore Win the "Self-Driving Car" Race?

CityLab.com looks at why Singapore may be first to get self-driving taxis, reporting that, “Its manageable size (it’s about three-and-a-half Districts of Columbia), flat terrain, warm weather, and well-kept roads provide about as simple of an urban landscape as one could ask for.”

Self-Driving Vehicles