Daily News Briefs, April 7, 2017

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Florida House Advances Bills to Give MDX Electronic Toll Payers a Rebate and a Temporary Reprieve from Toll Hikes

Miami Herald reports, “Miami-Dade County drivers facing toll fatigue would get a 3 percent rebate and a temporary reprieve from toll increases on county expressways under two proposals that cleared their final House committees Thursday [April 6]. Sponsored by Rep. Jeanette M. Nuñez, R-Miami, HB 961, would give anyone who uses a SunPass or toll-by-plate to pay tolls to the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority electronically to receive a 3 percent rebate this year — a cost to MDX of about $7 million. Another bill, HB 1049, “would impose a ban on any toll increase until MDX has conducted an independent traffic and revenue study, unless the increase is needed to adjust for inflation.”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Florida Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX)


FL Turnpike Uncollected Revenue Hits $60 Million in 2016

WKMG reports, “The Florida Turnpike records more than 2 million transactions every day, and most drivers pay the tolls when they travel. But News 6 found more than $60 million went uncollected last year,” which the newspaper compares with the FY 2013 uncollected total of just $35.4 million. Turnpike officials say they are “always trying to recoup the uncollected money,” and they point out that “growth in the Turnpike’s revenue, due to growth in traffic during the past few years, has ‘significantly outpaced the increase in violations.’”

Florida Florida's Turnpike Enterprise (FTE)


New Board Member Joins CTRMA

Community Impact Newspaper reports that the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority has a new board member, Mark Ayotte, an appointee of the Williamson County Commissioners. Ayotte, a former Dell, Inc., manager and a business owner, serves on other local government and non-profit boards. He replaces John Miri, whose full-time job disqualified him from sitting on the CTRMA board.

Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) Texas


Legislation to Extend and Raise WV Turnpike Tolls Dies

MetroNews reports that a bill to extend the termination date on collection of West Virginia Turnpike tolls and to increase tolls to fund other highway projects died when the House Finance Committee failed to consider the measure. SB 482, introduced at the request of Governor Jim Justice, received Senate approval last month by a wide margin of votes.

West Virginia West Virginia Parkways Authority (West Virginia Turnpike)


Democrats Are Raising Red Flags over Trump Infrastructure Plan

Associated Press reports, “Democrats had hoped the one big policy area they could find common ground with President Donald Trump on was infrastructure, but they don’t like what they’re hearing from administration officials about the transportation portion of the plan that’s still in the works.” AP adds that some Democrats are expressing concern “that Trump’s plan will focus on trying to entice more private investment in transportation projects and reduce regulations that require environmental reviews and community consultation on projects rather than providing more government money to repair, replace and expand the nation’s transportation network.”

Infrastructure Investment Trends


CA Lawmakers Pass Massive Highway Funding Bill

San Francisco Chronicle reports, “California drivers will pay more to drive in the state under a bill the Legislature passed [last night, April 6] to raise $52 billion from new taxes and fees to repair roads and bridges. That bill, SB1, will be sent to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has said he will sign it.”



The Prospect of a Tolled, Elevated Solution for Highway 37 Flooding Dominates Town Hall Meeting

Sonoma Index-Tribune reports, “The future of Highway 37 includes an elevated roadway – and possibly tolls. Both concepts surfaced more than once Wednesday [April 5] during a town hall meeting hosted by 1st District Supervisor Susan Gorin.” The report adds, “Suzanne Smith, director of the Sonoma County Transportation Authority, [told the gathering], ‘tolling is a real aspect we may have to consider.’” Another local official is quoted as saying the project to elevate the highway could cost “somewhere between $1.4 billion and $4.2 billion.”

California Caltrans (CA Department of Transportation) San Francisco Bay Area (CA)


OK Official Says License Plate Policy Costs Turnpikes "Millions" in Lost Revenues

KRMG reports, “Oklahoma is one of only eight states where a license plate stays with the vehicle, rather than the original owner, when it’s sold,” and that policy is costing the state millions of dollars, says a state motor vehicle official. He tells the station one effect is “the Oklahoma turnpikes lose millions of dollars a year, because drivers whose tags aren’t registered under their names are much more likely to ignore tolls. That’s also a problem in Kansas and Texas, whose toll road systems are tied in with Oklahoma’s.”

Kansas Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA) Scofflaws Texas


Fatal, Wrong-Way Crash Occurs Near Bay Area Toll Bridge Plaza

KGO reports that one person was killed and another injured in a head-on collision involving a wrong-way driver that occurred “just before” the Dumbarton Bridge toll plaza earlier this week. The accident caused a temporary closure of all westbound lanes of Highway 84 in Fremont.



Small Plane Makes Emergency Landing on Texas Tollway Service Road

WFAA reports, “A small plane made an emergency landing on the Sam Rayburn Tollway service road in Allen Thursday morning [April 6]. The pilot of the single-engine Cessna reported losing engine power before landing on the service road, according to Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson Lynn Lunsford.”



A Look at "Mixed Results" for P3 Projects in Texas

NBC News Dallas-Ft. Worth reports, “Texas has produced mixed results with the public-private partnerships that President Donald Trump wants to use to quickly produce jobs and infrastructure improvements across the nation.”

P3 & Privatization Texas


CT Tolling Debate Continues as Senate Republican Leader Calls for a Study

Record-Journal reports, “Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano said Thursday [April 6] the state should pump its breaks on tolls and instead allow the Department of Transportation to study the best path forward. Democrats are increasingly backing tolls as the best way to fund improvements to the state’s infrastructure, saying tolling would replenish the Special Transportation Fund . . . and shift some of the burden to out-of-state drivers.”



Boston Herald Hammers Lawmakers Who Want to Expand Tolling

The Boston Herald editorial board hammers lawmakers who are backing bills to expand tolling, writing that “the fear here is that revenue-hungry lawmakers in Massachusetts will seek an opening to toll every existing highway and country lane to fund their wildest spending dreams.”



NOLA Causeway Manager Insists Toll Hikes Will Take Effect, Despite Lawmaker's Attempt to Block Safety Project

WVUE reports that Carlton Dufrechou, General Manager of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, “insists that toll increases of as much as $2 a trip will begin one month from today” despite a legislator’s attempt to block the $103 million in safety improvements the toll increases are meant to fund. “When [WVUE] asked Dufrechou if Hollis’ effort would have any impact, he replied, ‘No, toll increases will go in place May 6.’”

Lake Pontchartrain Causeway (Metro New Orleans) Louisiana


RITBA Finishes $100 Million Newport Pell Bridge Project

The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority announced “the completion of the full rehabilitation of the Newport Pell Bridge steel superstructure. This project started in 2009 and cost nearly $100 million dollars to complete.” RITBA notes that the project “was completed on time, within budget and with minimal disturbance to the public by the general contractors. . . .”

Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA)


Rare Photos of Bay Bridge Construction Are Up for Auction

SFGate.com reports, “Although the lesser-loved bridge in the Bay Area, the Bay Bridge too has its photogenic moments, rarely better captured than in a new lot of images going up for auction. The lot of 85 photos show the Bay Bridge under construction in the 1930s and is being sold at auction by Swann Auction Galleries on April 20.”

California Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) San Francisco Bay Area (CA)