Daily News Briefs, April 24, 2017

This is a Subscribers-Only area. If you are a subscriber, please login. If not...

Become a Subscriber Today »

New ERC Boss Is Delivering "Visible Changes"

WAVY reports, “With the hiring of transportation administrator Philip Shucet as the company’s new CEO, there are visible changes to ERC. Shucet is opening up about ERC and what he is doing to right the ship. He began with customer service, and for the first time, [WAVY’s] 10 On Your Side was allowed into the customer service center on [April 21] to see how settlements to toll accounts are handled.”

Elizabeth River Tunnels Virginia


Indiana Lawmakers Finally Approve Funding Bill That Opens the Door to Tolling

The Journal Gazette reports, “Hoosiers should start smelling asphalt soon under a bill [HB 1002] that passed the House and Senate very late Friday night [April 21]. The Republican-led legislature voted on a long-term road funding plan, giving $870 million in new money for state roads and $340 million for local infrastructure by 2024. The money comes from increased gas taxes and fees – and possibly tolling in the future.”

Indiana Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT)


Next up in Indiana: Battle over Tolling

WIBC reports that Indiana House Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City), responding to the passage of HB 1002, “warns there’s a tougher battle looming in the next decade, when legislators talk about tolls. He says that’s a cost that stirs stronger emotions because drivers feel its impact instantly.”

Indiana Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT)


TX Lawmakers Advance Bill to Permit New Tolling Projects

Houston Chronicle reports, “Texas is spending record amounts on transportation, but lawmakers worried it is not enough are considering extending a controversial program that’s helped spread tollways through some of the state’s largest areas. A bill [HB 2861] approved this week by a House committee would give the Texas Department of Transportation a chance to add six additional projects” that would take the form of comprehensive development agreements with the potential for tolling.

Texas Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)


Illinois Tollway's Controversial Route 53 Extension Proposal Gets Renewed Attention

Daily Herald reports that “separate events last week — a survey showing support for extending the road north and a public protest against it –” have thrust the Illinois Tollway’s proposed Route 53 extension project back into the news. The article asks, “Is the tollway all-in or getting cold feet?”

Illinois Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (IL Tollway)


Tolling at Issue in Proposal for New Salem, OR, Bridge

Statesman Journal reports that tolling “is proving to be a vital part of the ongoing argument over whether the city should move forward with plans for a third traffic bridge connecting Salem’s east and west sides.” The article adds that the bridge debate “will reach a turning point” tonight, April 24, when the city council votes on a proposed intergovernmental development agreement with a state agency, under the terms of which the city must include a congestion pricing analysis in its bridge funding plan.



Former PANYNJ Board Vice Chair Says It's Time to "Take an Axe" to the Agency

Crain’s New York Business (may require subscription or registration) reports, “Scott Rechler, a former Port Authority vice chairman, declared on [April 21] that it’s time to take an axe to the massive organization that operates most of the region’s bridges, tunnels and airports. ‘We have to ask ourselves whether the Port Authority, a terrific agency for the 20th century, is the right one for the 21st,’ said Rechler. ‘I don’t think it is.’”

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ)


WV Newspaper: Not a Single Good Reason on "God's Green Earth" to Nix WV Turnpike Tolls

The Register-Herald editorial board writes, “Why on God’s green Earth has the state legislature dawdled on the question of whether or not to extend tolling on the West Virginia Turnpike? Seriously. We have looked all around the issue for the past few years and have not found a single, solitary good reason the $2 fee shouldn’t be continued once the bonds are paid off in May 2019.”

West Virginia West Virginia Parkways Authority (West Virginia Turnpike)


Washington Post: "Virginia Wants to Steal Some of California’s Driverless Thunder"

The Washington Post reports, “Gov. Terry McAuliffe bounded into the spare offices of a start-up incubator to make a rapid-fire pronouncement: He will spend the last nine months of his term trying to make Virginia ‘the capital of automated vehicles.’ It was his economic development-meets-standup routine, and the commonwealth’s salesman in chief had industry leader California and other rivals in mind.”

Self-Driving Vehicles Virginia Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)


TX Columnist Knocks Well-Known Tolling Opponent for Telling a "Stretcher"

Austin American-Statesman columnist Ben Wear catches “indefatigable toll road opponent” Terri Hall in, well, let’s be charitable and call it a counting error. She told a “tea party” rally at the Texas Capitol last week that TxDOT is working on 500 toll road projects. Wear questioned Hall about her data, and it turns out the number of potential projects is a mere fraction of 500 (even if one uses Hall’s method of counting each segment of a single toll road as a separate project). Wear concludes, “The truth can be stretched only so far before it snaps.”

Texas Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)


Massachusetts Awards Another Tollbooth Demolition Contract

East Boston Times-Free Press reports that MassDOT announced last week that it has awarded S&R Construction a contract to “revamp” the Sumner Tunnel toll plaza. Removal of the tollbooths (made redundant by the installation of an AET system) will take place early next month, followed by several months of access road modification work.

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Massachusetts Turnpike


I-77 Ramp Closure Figures in NC Express Lanes Project

WFAE reports, “The LaSalle Street on-ramp to I-77 northbound will be closed for up to a year” beginning this week. The closure is part of a ramp extension and expansion that I-77 Mobility Partners is undertaking for the I-77 Express project.

North Carolina North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT)


FDOT to Host Open House on I-95 Express Lanes Project

The Florida Times-Union reports that FDOT has scheduled a public workshop for Wednesday evening, April 26, in Jacksonville “to provide information on a Development and Environment Study on proposed Interstate 95 Express Lanes from Butler to Atlantic boulevards. . . .”

Express Lanes Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)


Atlantia's CEO Says Abertis Takeover Must Be Friendly and with Assets Intact

Reuters reports that Atlantia’s CEO announced on April 21 that his company is only interested in acquiring Abertis if the takeover is friendly and does not require a sale of Abertis assets to provide funding. “A tie-up between Abertis and Atlantia . . . would create one of the biggest infrastructure groups in Europe with a total market value of around 36 billion euros ($38.5 billion),” Reuters notes.

Acquisitions and Mergers


Utah Engineering Study Recommends Variable Tolling System for Access to Big Cottonwood Canyon

Deseret News reports, “A University of Utah engineering study probing the problems of unmanaged access at [the Big Cottonwood Canyon scenic area] recommends a variable tolling system . . . . That recommendation is accompanied by the call for free public transit to provide year-round access to popular recreation sites within the highly used canyon.” The Salt Lake Tribune also reports.



European Commission Eyes Toll Road Rules, Including Toll Rates Based on Vehicles' CO2 Levels

Reuters reports, “The European Commission is to propose making cars, trucks, buses and vans pay higher road toll charges the more CO2 they emit as it seeks to cut road transport’s carbon footprint, two EU officials said. The proposal, which has not yet been finalised, will for the first time set some EU-wide principles for road tolls for cars, including one that motorists must pay according to the distance traveled, and include buses and coaches, the people said.”