Daily News Briefs, December 16, 2016

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IL Tollway Approves 2017 Budget, Including Funds for Study of Route 53 Extension

Chicago Daily Herald reports, “Illinois tollway leaders are committed to studying an extension of Route 53, and the 2017 budget reflects that with $10 million slotted for the project. Board members approved a $1.38 billion budget Thursday [December 15]. It includes more funding to train minority businesses and workers and continued construction of the Route 390/Elgin-O’Hare Expressway eastward.” In a news release, Illinois Tollway Executive Director Greg Bedalov, said “This budget represents our best efforts to deliver strategic investments in infrastructure improvements, state-of-the art technology and the diverse communities we serve. The Board’s action today reinforces our commitment to working within a balanced budget, providing strong fiscal management as we support a larger system with the addition of the new Illinois Route 390 Tollway and completion of the widening of the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90).”

Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (IL Tollway)


NY, FHWA Officials Huddle on Sign Flap, Agree to Keep Talking

Associated Press reports, “A meeting between state and federal highway officials regarding New York’s ‘I Love NY’ highway signs ended with no resolution to the dispute. Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau met with state Transportation Commissioner Matthew Driscoll in Washington on [December 13] to discuss New York’s refusal to take down the 514 tourism signs. Both parties opted to create a ‘working group’ that will examine the issue at some undetermined point in the future.”

New York New York State Thruway Authority US Department of Transportation (USDOT)


IFA Extends Rebate for ITR E-ZPass Customers for Two Months

The Times of Northwest Indiana reports, “A state rebate that has provided some Indiana Toll Road users a significant discount for nearly a decade was set to expire Dec. 31 before it was given two more months of life on Thursday [December 15] by the Indiana Finance Authority. The state agency pays the Indiana Toll Road Concession Co., which leases the 157-mile road from it, a rebate for users of E-Z Pass and compatible electronic transponders.” The report adds, “ITRCC is preparing for a Feb. 28 expiration of the program, but hasn’t decided what it will do after that, a company spokeswoman said Thursday.”

Indiana Indiana Toll Road Concession Company (ITRCC)


SRTA Sets Toll Rates for I-75 Express Lanes

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, “The State Road and Tollway Authority board Thursday [December 15] approved toll rates for the new I-75 south metro express lanes that will open in late January. Motorists who use the lanes will pay tolls [dynamically priced] ranging from 10 cents to 90 cents per mile for the privilege, the board determined. The minimum price for any trip will be 50 cents.” Motorists must have a Peach Pass to use the new lanes, the newspaper adds.

Express Lanes State Road and Tollway Authority (GA) Toll Rate Changes


THEA's Selmon Extension Elevated Ramp Draws Some Criticism

WMNF talks to a civic association leader who is opposed to the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority’s proposal to build “an elevated ramp structure within the median of Gandy boulevard from the east end of the Gandy Bridge to the south end of the Selmon Expressway.” [Link added.] The station notes that THEA held its second forum for contractors interested the design-build project on December 14.

Florida Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA)


WSDOT Set to Open New SR 167 HOT Lanes

KOMO reports on tomorrow’s opening of a new, six-mile segment of dynamically priced HOT lanes on state Route 167. “The new section will complete a 14-mile stretch of HOT lanes running from Renton to Pacific. ‘This one is about a choice,’ says Department of Transportation spokesman Ethan Bergerson.” The tolled lanes will be open every day from 5 a.m. until 7 p.m., the station notes.

Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)


Port Commission Is Applying for FASTLANE Grant to Start Hood River Bridge Replacement Project

The Dalles Chronicle reports, “The Port of Hood River is poised to apply for a federal grant to study replacing the aging Hood River-White Salmon Interstate Bridge. A $5.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s ‘FASTLANE’ program would position the port and partner agencies to make pre-construction plans and assessments related to an eventual replacement of the steel bridge — a 92-year-old passenger and freight corridor spanning the Columbia River.” [Links added.]

Oregon Port of Hood River (Oregon) Washington State


Jamestown Officials Press Jurisdictional Claim over RITBA Solar Farm Project

The Jamestown Press reports, “Environmental leaders and legal experts in [Jamestown] have sparked an official decree from their elected officials asking for local control regarding the [Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority’s] solar project. The Jamestown Town Council voted . . . to send Gov. Gina Raimondo a letter opposing the approval process for the agency’s recommended 267-kilowatt solar farm,” which RITBA would construct near the western foot of the Newport Bridge. Besides environmental concerns, town officials maintain they have zoning jurisdiction over the project, but RITBA, because it is a state agency, disagrees.

Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA)


Some Small Business Owners Are Sweating Ohio River Bridges Tolls

WHAS reports on the impact new Ohio River bridge tolls are likely to have on some small, delivery-based businesses.

Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges


Triangle Expressway Tolls Head Up Along with the Number of Interchanges

WTVD Eyewitness 11 reports, “New year, new prices. A drive down the Triangle Expressway [link added] will soon cost you a little more. Toll rates along that 17-mile stretch of highway are going up on Jan 1. Rates will rise an extra 3.5 percent.” The report adds, “The hike comes as the Department of Transportation adds two interchanges to the roadway.”

An NCDOT news release explains, “A slight increase in the toll rate . . . will take effect Sunday, Jan. 1, as required by the bond covenant created for the funding of the highway. The N.C. Turnpike Authority Board adopted a schedule of annual toll rate increases based on the financing requirements of the Triangle Expressway project, which set a 3.5 percent increase for 2017.”

North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) Toll Rate Changes


WSDOT's Route 99 Tunnel Overruns Not as High as Feared

KIRO reports, “The financial hit to taxpayers for delays to the State Route 99 tunnel [due to tunneling machine Bertha’s former problems] might not be as high as the state warned last summer. On Thursday [December 15], the Washington State Department of Transportation revised the cost overrun estimate downward by a third, to $149 million from $223 million. The revision comes after nearly a year of successful tunneling and a new, detailed financial analysis. The state says the estimate could drop more after mining is done next year and risks drop.”

Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)


Indiana Gas Tax Hike Gains Traction with "Key Republican Leaders." Senate Appropriations Chair Is Open to Tolling.

Associated Press reports, “Key Republican leaders said Wednesday [December 14] that Indiana lawmakers must consider some kind of tax increase if they’re going to move forward on plans to improve the state’s infrastructure,” and even previously reluctant Republican legislators “are signaling that they are ready to move forward with an increase during the session that begins in January.” The report adds that Luke Kenley (R-20), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and an opponent of revenue increases last session, “said lawmakers need to ‘face up to the fact’ that more money is needed,” and he favors a gasoline tax increase or highway tolls.



Tennessee Governor's Road Funding Plan on Hold until January. (He Continues to Oppose Tolling and Debt.)

The Leaf-Chronicle reports, “It could be January before any specifics are known about any proposal from Gov. Bill Haslam to increase the state’s gas tax.” The newspaper notes that Haslam opposes both tolls and debt financing.



Toronto Mayor, City Legislators Earn Editorial Praise for Tolling Plan

Toronto Star editors congratulate Mayor Tory and the majority of city legislators who voted to approve a tolling plan that “could raise $200 million a year to help pay for transit and other projects that have been shamefully neglected for years.” The editors urge Ontario legislators, including the opposition party leaders who have been trying to scuttle the plan, to get behind Toronto and grant the approval necessary for tolling to begin.

Canada Ontario


Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge Tolls Increase

ValleyCentral.com reports, “Travelers using the Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge to enter Mexico now have a new toll price to pay in order to cross. Nearly 2,000 vehicles cross the bridge each day. Now, just before leaving the United States, travelers must pay the city a new toll price of $3.75,” which represents a twenty-five-cent increase. [Link added.]

City of Donna (Texas) Toll Rate Changes


Three NC Legislators File Bill to Cancel I-77 Express Contract, but Face "Uphill Battle"

The Charlotte Observer reports, “Three Mecklenburg County lawmakers are trying to cancel the Interstate 77 toll contract during this week’s special legislative session, though they appear to face an uphill battle.” The report adds, “The toll bill is not yet scheduled to be heard in this week’s special session. [Representative and co-sponsor Tricia] Cotham said that doesn’t mean it won’t be added before lawmakers adjourn.”

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