Daily News Brief, August 23, 2016

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

Become a Subscriber Today »

Mass Pike Rolls Out New AET Toll Rates. E-ZPass Users Are "Strongly Favored."

MassLive.com reports, “Massachusetts transportation officials on Monday [August 22] unveiled proposed rates under the all electronic tolling system set to go live in October 2016. Depending on your drive and whether you have a Massachusetts E-ZPass transponder or not, you could pay less, you could pay more or you could pay the same as you do under the current toll plaza system.” The report adds that the state has “pledged that the new rates will be revenue neutral.”

WCVB News reports, “With electronic eyes set to take the place of toll plazas, Massachusetts transportation officials have proposed a tiered payment system that strongly favors those who obtain transponders from the state.”

MassLive.com also reports that MassDOT is hosting seven public meetings on the proposed rates before the MassDOT Board of Directors votes on the plan on October 6.

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Massachusetts Turnpike Toll Rate Changes


MassDOT Releases More Information about "Tollpayer Advocate" . . . and His E-ZPass Use

MassLive.com reports, “The Massachusetts Department of Transportation on Monday [August 22] released background information on Leonard Fournier, who is serving in the unpaid position of tollpayer advocate as the state moves to all electronic tolling. An Ashland resident, Fournier is a political donor and former state transportation official.” The report adds that, “According to MassDOT, he . . . uses his E-ZPass transponder while traveling between Millbury, Auburn and Boston 10 to 15 times a month.”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Massachusetts Turnpike


MassDOT Responds to Privacy Concerns about AET System's "Hot List" Feature

WCVB News reports, “A quiet feature of the Massachusetts Turnpike’s new open-road tolling system has privacy advocates concerned, but the state argues it could end up saving lives.” The report adds, “‘The purpose of us collecting the data is to allow us to collect tolls,’ an official with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation said Monday. But privacy advocates have criticized the system’s ‘hot list’ feature, which would instantly notify police when certain license plates pass under the system’s gantries.”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Massachusetts Turnpike


SRTA's I-85 HOT Lanes Set Toll Record

Gwinnett Daily Post reports, “The first morning rush hour that the State Road and Tollway Authority raised prices on Interstate 85 in the area between Jimmy Carter Boulevard and Pleasant Hill, the toll lane hit $13.95 on Monday [August 22], a record and the maximum amount allowed under law.”

Georgia State Road and Tollway Authority (GA) Toll Rate Changes


Oklahoma Officials Eye New Toll Road

Tulsa World reports, “A proposed toll road is under consideration to finish Tulsa’s Gilcrease Expressway, transportation officials confirmed on Monday [August 22]. [Link added.] Officials have previously considered a toll bridge over the Arkansas River at a cost of about $29 million to support extension of the Gilcrease, Transportation Secretary Gary Ridley said. The initial toll bridge plan would involve Edison Street to 21st Street, Ridley said.”



Ohio River Bridges Contractors Receive OSHA Citation over Crane Collapse

WDRB News (Louisville) reports, “The companies in charge of the East End Bridge knew a crane had a broken wind gauge months before it collapsed in high winds in February, federal investigators have determined.” The station adds that the information, obtained through an open records request, “shed new light on the Feb. 19 incident, which led OSHA to issue two ‘serious’ safety violations and fines of $21,379.

Indiana Kentucky Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges


FDOT's Massive I-75 Project to Start Delivering Relief for Motorists

Sun-Sentinel reports, “At last, some relief lies ahead for drivers along Interstate 75. A new bridge will ease commutes in southwest Broward [beginning] in mid-September — one of many improvements coming in the massive project [$480 million] to upgrade I-75, a major travel route to Miami-Dade and the Florida Keys.”

Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (IL Tollway)


Pickup Smashes Toll Plaza at Richmond-San Rafael Bridge

SFBay.ca reports that a 46-year-old motorist was seriously injured when his pickup truck crashed into the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge toll plaza yesterday morning (August 22). Marin Independent Journal also reports on the incident, which closed several traffic lanes.



Washington Post Asks What Happens When Transit Wonks Gather to "Play with Traffic?" (Too Easy.)

The Washington Post staffs “Playing with Traffic,” described as “a meetup of coders, entrepreneurs, urban planners and transit professionals and enthusiasts collectively known as ‘Transportation Techies.’” The goal was to come up with ideas on how technology can be used to “improve our experience on the roads” and, the Post adds, the answers mostly “involved sharing.”


AP Takes a Deep Dive on States' Efforts to Advance Self-Driving Car Testing, Research

Associated Press looks at news that the Ohio Turnpike is moving closer to allowing the testing of self-driving vehicles and reports that, “Ohio is among several states competing to play a role in the testing and research of autonomous vehicles, which is advancing at light speed.” The report adds, “Much of the testing, up to now, has been in California along with a handful of Western U.S. states and on closed courses, such as one operated by the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.”

Self-Driving Vehicles


TxDOT's I-35 Express Lanes a Hit at Public Meeting, Except for Those Tolls

CBS News Austin staffs a TxDOT open house on the north 16-mile segment of its I-35 project, reporting that “TxDOT has big plans for I-35 from US 183 in North Austin up to RM 1431 in Round Rock. They’re thinking of spending up to $400 million on express lanes and other mobility improvements.” The station adds, “We took an informal poll of drivers up here in Round Rock and they told us they would LOVE to have express lanes on I-35 to get traffic moving. But they made it clear they’re tired of tolls.”

Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)


OTA to Consider Toll Hikes Today for Major Expansion Projects (Litigation Cited)

The Oklahoman reports, “The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority will meet [today, August 23] to consider increasing tolls in three increments, totaling 17 percent. The increase is to help pay off nearly a half-billion dollars in bond debt the authority plans to incur to fund new construction.” The report adds, “Although the toll increase is on the authority’s Tuesday agenda, there’s a chance its approval could be delayed by litigation. The revenue from the increase would pay for $480 million in bonds.”

Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA)


MDOT vs. Mouron Showdown over Land for Gordie Howe Bridge Continues

Detroit Free-Press reports, “A potential showdown could flare soon between Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel (Matty) Moroun and the State of Michigan over land in southwest Detroit needed for the Gordie Howe International Bridge. Should Moroun resist selling land he owns for the rival bridge, the Michigan Department of Transportation could go to court and take it under eminent-domain power.”

Gordie Howe Int'l Bridge Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT)


MO Senate Transportation Chairman to Push Gas Tax Next Session. Tolls? Not So Much.

MissouriNet reports, “The Missouri Senate Transportation Committee Chair [Senator Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff] indicates he’ll file another bill in January to increase the tax on fuels.” The report adds that, “Libla also admits he is ‘not a big fan’ of toll roads.” The senator tells the newspaper that, “I-70 is the only interstate that we have that you could actually toll. Now you could build a new road, but you cannot toll any of the existing interstates or any of the other existing U.S. highways.”



HCTRA's State Highway 249 Expansion Project Ahead of Schedule

Cypress Creek Mirror reports, “The Harris County Toll Road Authority is expected to start Phase II of the Texas 249 expansion in Harris County ahead of schedule.” [Link added.] The report adds, “The first advertisement for plans on Phase II will be Sept. 2, with bid openings later that month and the bid award expected in early October.”

Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA) Texas


Study Looks at "Drowsy Driving-Related Deaths" and Crash Costs

The Palm Beach Post reports, “More than 83 million people drive while sleepy every day — and last year, that led to about 5,000 drowsy driving-related deaths, estimates a [Governors Highway Safety Association study], titled ‘Wake Up Call! Understand Drowsy Driving and What States Can Do.’ The study, funded by State Farm, also clocks the annual cost of fatigue-related crashes at a whopping $109 billion.”