Daily News Brief, July 19, 2016

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More MoPac Delays

KVUE-TV News (Austin) reports, “Additional delays to the MoPac Improvement Project were confirmed on [July 18], with a portion of the express lanes now [scheduled to open] in August. The project, originally scheduled to open in the fall of 2015, is now delayed until the end of 2016. The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) has agreed to soften delay penalties if contractor CH2M Hill could open at least part of the project early.”

KXAN-TV News also reports.

North MoPac Express Lanes Texas


I-77 Express Lanes Take Shape. Contractor Focuses on the Work, Not the “Noise.”

WFAE-FM News (Charlotte) has an update on the progress of the I-77 Express construction project. I-77 Mobility Partners’ chief infrastructure officer, David Hannon, tells the station, “contractors are focused on the work — not the politics. ‘We ignore the noise. We’re here to build the project. And that’s what we’re focused on doing — delivering the project by the end of 2018.”

I-77 Express Lanes (NC) North Carolina


MD Looks for Ideas to Reduce I-270 Congestion, but Tolling Is Off the Table

NBC News Washington reports, “The I-270 Innovative Congestion Management project hopes to gather ideas to reduce congestion and delays along the corridor in Montgomery and Frederick counties.” Maryland transportation officials say they’re looking for new ideas and “tolling systems, like the express lanes in Virginia, will not be considered. Some drivers said they’d be willing to shell out some money to get moving.” Click here to read Governor Larry Hogan’s project announcement. Click here for bid information (solicitation number MDJ0231025866).

Maryland Washington (DC) Metro Region


Toll to Cross Lake Pontchartrain Causeway May Be Headed North ($100 Million in Improvements Cited)

The New Orleans Advocate reports, “The Greater New Orleans Expressway Commission is scheduled to consider a proposal this week to raise the [Causeway Bridge] toll fee by $1 to finance as much as $100 million in bonds for safety improvements. “The newspaper adds, “The bridge opened in 1956. Since then, tolls have increased only once, in the mid-1990s.”



Charleston County Council Eyes Sales Tax Referendum

The Post and Courier reports that Charleston County Council is scheduled to decide today whether to put a sales tax referendum on the November ballot to raise $2.1 billion for transportation and open space projects. Complicating the decision is the “most contentious issue on the draft project list,” a proposed I-526 extension which recently lost the state infrastructure bank’s support. Some local officials favor tolling as a method of closing the project’s budget gap.

South Carolina


Despite Delays, Work on Gordie Howe Bridge to Proceed Shortly

Detroit Free Press reports, “Delays in buying properties in Windsor and Detroit has held up progress on the planned Gordie Howe International Bridge, but the head of the project expressed confidence this weekend that work will proceed shortly.” No surprise, Matty Moroun is the owner of several Detroit properties the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority still needs to acquire.

Canada Gordie Howe Int'l Bridge Michigan


Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel Opens Revised Bids

The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk) reports that Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel has received revised design-build bids for its proposed Parallel Thimble Shoal Tunnel toll project. Dragados USA and Schiavone Construction Company came in with the lowest bid ($755,987,318). “All contractors proposed a ‘bored’ tunnel, which uses a huge machine to dig a tubelike passage under the sea floor. It would be the first of its kind in the area,” according to the newspaper.



TX Lawmaker Pushes Tolling over Bonding

KXAN-TV News (Austin) reports that Texas lawmakers are debating whether the state should “use more bond money or toll cash” to pay for roads. State Representative Larry Gonzales (R-Williamson County), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, no fan of bond debt, wants the state to explore tolling.



Hardy Toll Road Converts to Cashless Tolling

KHOU-TV News (Houston) covers the Hardy Toll Road’s conversion to non-cash tolling effective July 18. The station notes that county research revealed that “up to 90-percent” of motorists using the toll road before the conversion already had a toll tag.



WA to Finalize New Rules for I-405 Express Lanes, Eye Use of Tolling Consultants

The Herald (Everett) reports, “Drivers’ ability to use the I-405 express toll lanes for free on nights, weekends and holidays is about to be chiseled into law. The state Transportation Commission [today, July 19] plans a final public hearing before it is expected to approve a permanent change in the rules on when tolls can be collected on the 17-mile stretch of I-405 between Lynnwood and Bellevue.” Also, WSDOT toll division chief Patty Rubstello will update commissioners on, among other things, the Customer Service Center procurement, the use of tolling consultants, and future SR 99 tolling during the commission’s two-day meeting.

Washington State


Caltrans Seeking More Volunteers for VMT Pilot

Redwood Times reports, “Caltrans is still accepting volunteers for their new nine-month pilot program to assess a pay-by-the-mile idea.” The report notes, “No actual money will be exchanged during the pilot.”



Tesla Working on Improvements to Autopilot System

USA Today reports that Tesla Motors is working with its suppliers on possible improvements to the company’s Autopilot system.


The Crime Beat

KHOU-TV News reports that rocks were thrown at the windshields of cars passing through a Grand Parkway toll plaza last week.

WGME-TV News (Portland, ME) reports, “A woman is dead after state police say she was hit by multiple vehicles on the turnpike. Investigators say the victim tried to cross all six lanes to get from one service plaza to the other in Kennebunk.”

Maine Texas