Daily News Briefs, April 19, 2017

Colorado Wins Challenge to $1.2 Billion I-70 Expansion, but Project Opponents Aren't Done Yet

The Denver Post reports, “Dozens of committed activists and other opponents of the $1.2 billion expansion of Interstate 70 through northeast Denver lost a big challenge against the project last week, but don’t count them out — not yet. One attorney for an environmental law firm speculated that federal officials’ findings in favor of the Colorado Department of Transportation on a civil rights complaint . . . would only embolden critics fighting the highway in other ways.”

Colorado Colorado Department of Transportation

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Construction on Kane County (IL) Longmeadow Project Halted for Endangered Bumblebee

The Courier-News (via Chicago Tribune) reports that a federal court issued a temporary restraining order against the Kane County Department of Transportation on April 17 that temporarily stopped construction of the latest phase of the Longmeadow Parkway highway and toll bridge project.

Northwest Herald  reports that the TRO motion, filed by the group called Stop Longmeadow, asked for a temporary work stoppage to permit an assessment of the project’s effect on a bumblebee species the federal government listed as endangered in March.

Illinois Kane County (IL) DOT

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I-4 Ultimate Project's $300,000 "Artistic Signage" Towers Raise Some Eyebrows

Orlando Sentinel reports, “As the mega-rebirth of Interstate 4 unfolds, 90-foot towers costing about $300,000 each are being built as artistic signage showing drivers where they can hop directly onto the interstate’s new toll lanes. Builders in the gargantuan project have promised a ‘more aesthetically pleasing corridor through artful bridge design, lighting and landscaping.’” A German tourist asked for his opinion of the new landmarks tells the newspaper, “There are many things in the U.S. that we do not understand at all.”

Florida Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) I-4 Ultimate Improvement Project (FL)

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CT House Speaker and Governor Differ on Odds that Tolling Is a Given

WTNH reports that Connecticut House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz is still predicting that “electronic tolls could be on Connecticut highways within 18 months,” and he maintains that an AET bill will get a vote in May. However, WTNH notes that both the governor and the Senate majority leader are “are saying, ‘not so fast’” because of their preoccupation with creating a lockbox for transportation funds.

Connecticut

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Maine Turnpike Sticks to Its Guns in Fight Over Toll Plaza and Cash Toll Collection

Seacoastonline.com reports, “The Maine Turnpike Authority turned up the heat on the town and citizens’ group Think Again in recent testimony submitted to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection over the York toll plaza. In fact, MTA Executive Director Peter Mills wrote the turnpike ‘has no plan to abandon cash toll collection, nor any prudent basis for proposing to our bondholders and the public that we do so.’”

AET Maine Maine Turnpike Authority

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Maryland DOT Outlines $105 Million Plan to Reduce I-270 Congestion

“Bethesda Magazine” reports, “Additional lanes, reconfigured ramps and new technology are among the proposed improvements in [a Maryland DOT] $105 million plan to reduce traffic congestion on I-270. The department detailed the proposed improvements in a document sent to the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board on April 12.” (The document, designated “Item 15,” can be downloaded from the board’s April 19 meeting agenda page.) The magazine adds that the proposal comes nine months after state officials solicited ideas from the private sector for reducing I-270 corridor congestion, but, “It’s not clear from the document . . . which private firm, if any, came up with the proposal.”

Maryland Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) Washington (DC) Metro Region

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Unpaid Tolls, Fines Mount in Texas

KTBC reports, “According to TXDOT records, 2016 ended with $41.7 million in unpaid tolls and fines on the books.  So far this year, the tab has reached $12.5 million with a combined total of $54 million.”

Texas TxDOT

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Details on HCTRA's "All Inclusive" Tomball Tollway Extension Project

Community Impact Newspaper provides an update on the Harris County Toll Road Authority’s Tomball Tollway extension, the tolled portion of Hwy. 249, noting that, “According to HCTRA, Phase 2 of the tollway project seeks to reduce travel time for commuters between Harris and Montgomery counties as well as reduce traffic on the Hwy. 249 frontage roads between FM 2920 and Spring Creek.”

Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA) Texas

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Will IL Tollway's Route 53 Project Ever Break Ground?

News-Sun (courtesy of Chicago Tribune) takes a run at the Illinois Tollway’s Route 53 project, writing, “But even without taking sides, it’s fair to say that momentum on the Route 53 project — to use a generic name for what would actually be a Route 53 extension from Long Grove to Grayslake and a Route 120 bypass around Grayslake — is not moving in the direction of seeing the roadway turning its first spade of dirt.” [Links inserted and deleted.]

Illinois Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (IL Tollway)

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Mackinac Bridge Authority Plans Rescue Training Exercise

Associated Press reports, “Rescue training is taking place with local emergency services agencies in preparation for a painting project on the Mackinac Bridge’s north tower. The Mackinac Bridge Authority says the training is scheduled [this evening] at the bridge that connects Michigan’s Upper and Lower peninsulas.”

Mackinac Bridge Authority of Michigan Michigan

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Antique Tractors to Vintage Snowmobiles to "Jeep the Mac": Toll Bridge Hosts 17 Special Crossing Events in '17

Lansing State Journal reports on preparations for the second annual “Jeep the Mac” parade across the Mackinac Bridge. “There are at least 17 special crossings planned on the five-mile [toll bridge] this year. Besides the annual Labor Day Walk, there are runs, a bike events and parades of antique tractors, big rigs, Mini Coopers and all-terrain vehicles. There’s even a vintage snowmobile crossing in December.”

Mackinac Bridge Authority of Michigan Michigan

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Indiana Lawmakers Have No Deal on Road Funding as Adjournment Looms

The Times of Northwest Indiana reports, “The Indiana House and Senate have yet to agree on a final road funding package or two-year state budget, putting in doubt Friday’s planned adjournment of the 2017 General Assembly.” The newspaper reports on some progress in the negotiations, but notes that “big issues” remain unresolved.

Indiana Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT)

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Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Revenue Increases despite Traffic Slump

Northern Ontario Business reports, “International Bridge Administration (IBA) has announced that one-way traffic crossings of the International Bridge at Sault Ste. Marie totaled 101,945 for the month of March 2017. This represents a decrease of 4.8 per cent . . . as compared to March 2016. However, bridge revenue for the first quarter of 2017 was up 3.9 per cent as compared to last year.”

Canada Michigan Ontario Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Authority

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Atlantia SpA Exploring a Deal with Abertis

Bloomberg reports that Italy’s Atlantia SpA is exploring a deal with its Spanish rival, Abertis Infraestructuras SA, as it “looks for ways to cut reliance on its Italian home market.” Atlantia “expressed a ‘very preliminary and generic interest’ in common projects with [Abertis], the company said in a statement [on April 18].” Bloomberg reported earlier that “Atlantia is exploring a combination with its rival, which would create one of the largest toll-road companies, according to people familiar with the matter.”

Mergers and Acquisitions

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