Daily News Brief, July 26, 2016

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No Cap on FL Express Lanes Tolls

Orlando Sentinel reports, “In 2008, the state opened 7 miles of express lanes on Interstate 95 near Miami, and drivers paid as little as 25 cents and as much as $7 to use them. But in 2014, the maximum price rose to its current $10.50 because of more traffic on the road. Toll industry experts say any price cap on express lanes is an illusion, and the Florida Department of Transportation says it does not have a price cap for any of its projects in Central Florida.” 



TransCore and ME Turnpike Extend Their Relationship

TransCore announced, the “Maine Turnpike Authority has extended its statewide toll collection system maintenance contract with TransCore another 10 years through June 30, 2026. TransCore will continue to maintain all facets of the Turnpike’s toll collection system, which includes the newly deployed Infinity Digital Lane System, TransCore’s flagship tolling solution.



Kentucky and Fired OH River Bridges Toll Consultant May Continue Mediation

WDRB-TV News (Louisville, KY) reports, “A lawsuit involving a tolling consultant fired from the Ohio River Bridges Project may be headed to mediation once again.” Attorneys for Kentucky state government and the eTrans Group Inc., agreed in June to suspend filings in the case until they let a judge know the results of mediation. . . . The talks failed to yield a resolution but discussions are ongoing, said Pamela Trautner, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet. She said mediation “most likely will continue.” An attorney for eTrans declined to comment.

Kentucky Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges


PA Lawmaker Pushes for Tax Credits for Toll Payers

Bucks County Courier Times reports, “State Rep. and Democratic congressional candidate Steve Santarsiero is pushing state legislation [HB 1298] that would lighten the financial impact a little of rapidly rising tolls on Pennsylvania’s highways and bridges.” The report adds, “The proposed legislation would offer a state income tax credit for 50 percent of tolls paid on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and bridges operated under the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission and the Delaware River Port Authority of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Only those with E-ZPass would be eligible. . . .”


CA Governor Signs Temporary-License-Plate Law Focusing on Toll Violators

Associated Press reports, “California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation [on July 25] requiring that newly purchased vehicles display temporary license plates, approving the bill despite objections from social justice activists who say it will lead to more fines and economic hardships for poor people. The bill [AB 516] aimed to stop toll-road cheats and ensure law enforcement officers can identify vehicles on the road.”



Mass Highway Administrator Plugs AET Conversion

Masslive.com reports, “Speaking to fellow transportation officials from across the country and around the world, Massachusetts highway administrator Thomas Tinlin defended the Bay State’s coming switch to all electronic tolling on the turnpike.” Speaking at an IBTTA meeting, “Tinlin said the move will decrease congestion on the roads and increase air quality as well as safety. Toll booths lead to higher crash rates, according to Tinlin,” the report adds.


RI Town's Proactive Move to Discourage I-95 Toll Avoidance

The Kent County Daily Times reports that the Town of West Warwick is considering a measure to discourage truck drivers from using the municipality’s streets to avoid future I-95 tolls.  The town council has had its first reading of a revised ordinance that prohibits “heavy trucks” from using town streets as thoroughfares. Public works and emergency vehicles, and truckers making local deliveries would be exempted.

Rhode Island


Governor Raimondo to Discuss RhodeWorks at Convention Forum

Providence Journal reports that while in Philadelphia for the Democratic Party convention, Governor Gina Raimondo will speak at a July 27 private forum on infrastructure sponsored by Bloomberg News. Topics will include the RhodeWorks truck toll plan. The governor will be on a panel that includes former governors Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and Martin O’Malley of Maryland.

Rhode Island


Tappan Zee Traffic Slow to Return to Normal after Crane Accident

The Journal News (Westchester County) reports that traffic is slowly returning to normal after last week’s construction crane collapse on the Tappan Zee Bridge. “Traffic has finally eased . . . . now that all seven lanes are back in service, but drivers faced heavy delays over the span [Monday morning, July 25]. Westchester-bound traffic was backed up from the bridge to Exit 14 for the Garden State Parkway for much of this morning’s commute.” Part of the wreckage remains visible on the new replacement span, according to the report.

Governor Mario Cuomo Bridge (Tappan Zee Replacement Bridge) New York


College Student Launches Petition Drive to End ERC Tolls

WVEC-TV News (Hampton, VA) reports, “A college student who became frustrated with mounting tolls and what she considered an inflexibility by Elizabeth River Tunnels (ERT) to work with her on a payment plan decided to do something about it. She started a petition calling for the end to tolls.” The report adds that Leila Rice, spokeswoman for Elizabeth River Crossings/Elizabeth River Tunnels provided a statement noting, among other things, that “beginning in January 2017 we will begin providing $500,000 annually for 10 years to fund a toll relief program administered by VDOT.”



New VDOT I-66 HOT Lanes Predicted to Attract "Slugs"

PotomacLocal.com predicts that “slugging” (“a form of commuting where riders ride free and the drivers — many of whom have a reserved parking space at their work or choose to pay for parking — get to skip the congestion on the main travel lanes and get to work faster”) will become a popular option when VDOT’s new I-66 HOT lanes open.

Virginia Washington (DC) Metro Region


NC Lawmaker Opposed to I-77 Express Steps Down, Ends Reelection Campaign

The Charlotte Observer reports that State Representative Charles Jeter (R-Mecklenburg County), who was late to join the ranks of I-77 Express Lanes opponents but sponsored unsuccessful legislation to end NCDOT’s contract with the project developers, announced that he is resigning his seat and withdrawing from his campaign for reelection. According to the newspaper, “Jeter said he plans to remain involved,” but wants to devote more time to his family. Jeter faced and survived a primary challenge from an anti-toll candidate earlier this year.


The Downside of Cashless Tolling: Rental Cars

“Money Magazine” looks at the Mass Pike’s conversion to AET and reports, “For commuters in the Bay state, this is a good thing by and large. The high-tech toll system will mean people won’t even have to slow down as they drive through the plaza — and that lack of a slowing and acceleration will reduce pollution from noise and emissions.” Still, the report adds, “But the real rub is for people who go through cash-less toll roads with a rental car. With no cash option, the bill — which can have administrative charges on top of it — will be sent to whatever address the rental car has on file.”



A Short History of E-ZPass

WNYC Public Media reports, “The E-ZPass is one of those inventions that makes you wonder how we survived without automatic tolls. It’s been around for only 24 years, but the technology that lets you zip through toll booths was born at the start of World War I.” WNYC charts the origins of the toll transponder and its underlying technology.