Daily News Briefs, April 28, 2017

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IL Tollway Approves $4 Billion Expansion of the Central Tri-State Tollway

Chicago Tribune reports, “The Illinois Tollway board on [April 27] unanimously voted in favor of a plan to widen the busy central Tri-State, an ambitious $4 billion project the agency says can be funded without tax money and without increasing tolls. The rebuilding and widening proposal, an expansion from an earlier $1.9 billion plan to just rebuild the existing Eisenhower-era thoroughfare, would add a lane in each direction and use ‘flex lanes’ on inside shoulders for buses and emergency vehicles.” The report adds that the project will be “financed through improved toll collection, excess revenue from other Tollway projects like I-390, incremental revenue from the new I-294 lanes and lower debt service costs, as well as additional bonding, Tollway staff said.”

Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (IL Tollway)


The Central Tri-State Project: A Primer and a Cautious Editorial Approval

Chicago Tribune provides a primer on the Illinois Tollway’s plan to widen a 22-mile segment of the Central Tri-State Tollway.

Daily Herald editors say the project will benefit commuters, but “tollway officials must be mindful of collateral damage on those living nearby and conscientious management of the financial resources the motoring public is surrendering to them.”

Illinois Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (IL Tollway)


NCDOT Delays Toll Projects Pending I-77 Express Contract Review

The Charlotte Observer  reports, “The N.C. Department of Transportation is delaying – again – planned express toll lanes on Interstate 485 in south Charlotte and in the median of U.S. 74 near uptown. The state has said it wants to wait for a consultant’s study of the I-77 toll lane contract, which is expected to be finished by July. Philadelphia-based Mercator Advisors is studying ways the contract could be changed, including how much money it would cost to buy the entire project from the private developer, I-77 Mobility Partners.”

I-77 Express Lanes (NC) North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT)


FBI Removes Records Related to Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority from Dannnbaum

KGBT reports that “FBI agents removed dozens of boxes from the Dannenbaum Engineering Corp. office in McAllen on [April 26] including records related to the Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority. . . . [The Authority] hired Dannenbaum to manage toll road projects designed to link the Anzalduas and Pharr-Reynosa international bridges. Dannenbaum collected nearly $7 million from the Regional Mobility Authority for management and consulting work between March 2014 to April 2017, according to a report presented to the authority board. . . .” (Scroll down to PDF page 43 to see the report.) The FBI said no arrests were made and declined comment on the subject of its investigation.

Hidalgo County (TX) Regional Mobility Authority Texas


WSDOT Advances the $1 Billion, SR 167 Toll Project

Tacoma Weekly reports, “Plans are moving forward for the extension of State Route 167 as a way to better connect the warehouse and distribution hub of the Kent Valley to the Tacoma Tideflats and ease traffic through the region.” The report adds, “The entire project will take about 16 years and come at a cost of more than $1 billion that will be paid largely through the Connecting Washington transportation package lawmakers approved in 2015 but also include local funding and millions of dollars in toll revenue that will be collected when the roadway opens.”

Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)


WSDOT to Revisit Highway 99 Tunnel Toll Rates

The Seattle Times reports, “In 2014, after two years of work and a number of false starts, the committee working to set tolling prices on the new Highway 99 tunnel in Seattle hit on a solution” calculated to cover pledged construction costs, maintenance and more. Now, based on a new investment-grade analysis, WSDOT finds it has to revisit its toll rate options. [Link inserted.]

Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)


Colorado House Committee Advances Bill Said to Jeopardize I-25 Express Lanes Project

Reporter-Herald reports that a bill “that caused consternation among Colorado Department of Transportation officials and elected leaders in Northern Colorado passed through the House Local Government Committee on Wednesday night [April 26]” by a one-vote margin and was referred for Transportation and Energy Committee consideration. The bill would reduce the HOV occupancy requirement on a section of I-25, and officials are concerned that the change will jeopardize the funding plan for a proposed express lane project.

Colorado Colorado Department of Transportation


WV Governor to Call Special Session on Budget. Turnpike Toll Continuation Remains an Objective.

Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that West Virginia Governor Jim Justice will call the state legislature into special session on May 4 to approve a fiscal year 2017-18 budget plan. Among other things, he will ask lawmakers “to approve a 4.5-cent increase in the gas tax, an increase in various DMV fees and legislation to continue tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike, and any future toll roads, to help fund a $2.4 billion road and infrastructure construction plan. . . .”

West Virginia


Express Lanes Projects Underway in Jacksonville

WJAX reports, “Two sets of Express Lanes are already under construction in Jacksonville,” and another set is on the way. The report adds that the third all-electronic toll project, proposed for a section of I-95, was the subject of an April 26 public meeting.

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Florida Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)


Maine Turnpike Loses Bid to Stop DEP Hearing on York Toll Plaza Relocation

Seacoastonline.com reports, “The commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection nixed a request by the Maine Turnpike Authority to stop an upcoming DEP hearing on the York toll plaza relocation project.”

Maine Maine Turnpike Authority


Critics of RI Truck Tolling Plan Urge Municipalities to Have RhodeWorks Signs Removed

WJAR reports that critics of RhodeWorks project signs erected by RIDOT are urging municipalities “to pass resolutions asking the state to remove the signs.” They call the 200 roadside notifications “self-serving advertisements for the program and Gov. Gina Raimondo.”

Rhode Island Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT)


FL Lawmaker Proposes State Takeover of the Authority-Owned Garcon Point Bridge

Pensacola News Journal reports that a Florida lawmaker “wants to turn the Garcon Point Bridge over to the state. . . . [He] is sponsoring a bill that includes an amendment requiring the Florida Department of Transportation to run an economic feasibility study to find out if it’s possible for the state to acquire the controversial north-south Santa Rosa County bridge currently owned by the Santa Rosa Bay Bridge Authority.” The article adds that “toll fees on the bridge have been a point of contention throughout the structure’s history, which opened in 1999 after being funded by private bond holders.”

Florida Santa Rosa Bay Bridge Authority


Toll Study Narrowly Approved by CT House Committee. Tolling's Fate in Connecticut Is "Hard to Predict" Even with Speaker's Support.

Connecticut Post reports, “Over Republican opposition to the possible return of highway tolls to Connecticut, the tax-writing Finance Committee on Thursday [April 27] approved legislation that would allow the state Department of Transportation to study future discounts for state residents. The bill, which narrowly passed the committee, next moves to the House of Representatives. It is a companion piece to the controversial legislation on allowing electronic tolling technology to be set up throughout the state. . . .”

WSHU’s senior political reporter says it’s “hard to predict” whether Connecticut lawmakers will approve highway tolling in the current session. “This year the state’s entire budget process is in flux. As a matter of fact, the budget talks within the Democratic Caucus have collapsed. In the meantime, [House Speaker Joe] Aresimowicz is indicating the toll measure might be inserted into a must pass budget bill.”



Atlantia Agrees to Sell Ten Percent of Domestic Motorway Unit as It Presses Ahead with Abertis Deal

Reuters reports, “Italy’s Atlantia (ATL.MI) has agreed to sell 10 percent of its domestic motorway unit to a series of investors including Allianz (ALVG.DE) for 1.48 billion euros ($1.6 billion) as it presses ahead with plans to bid for Spanish rival Abertis. A tie-up between Abertis (ABE.MC) and Atlantia would create one of the biggest infrastructure groups in Europe, generating around 60 percent of its core profit outside Italy.”

Acquisitions and Mergers


Louisiana DOTD Takes Hit for $20 Million Overrun, Two-year Delay on Massive Bridge Project

WWL reports that the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development “is taking responsibility for a mistake that doubled the duration of a massive [Hale Boggs Memorial] bridge repair project and added nearly $20 million to the cost, but a member of the state’s construction oversight team claims the contractor got paid extra to fix a problem of its own making.” The report adds that the repair was “the first cable-stay replacement project ever performed on a U.S. bridge,” according to a DOTD engineer, and the 1970s-era structure was the third cable-stayed bridge built in the US.

Louisiana Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD)