Daily News Briefs, December 22, 2016

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NY State Is Going Cashless

The Buffalo News reports, “A cashless toll system is coming to New York State — but for now the Cuomo administration is only saying the electronic collection efforts will be based at bridges and tunnels in New York City. Given the move by other states to cashless toll collections — most recently New York’s neighbor Massachusetts on its turnpike system — transportation advocates have said it’s only a matter of time before collection methods move to the Thruway as a way to bring high-speed toll collection zones statewide.”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) New York New York State Thruway Authority


Cuomo Promises Tough Toll Enforcement Next Year when MTA Goes Cashless and New Enforcement Law Takes Effect

New York Daily News reports, “Scofflaws won’t be getting a free ride when toll booths come down at MTA bridges and tunnels, Gov. Cuomo said Wednesday [December 22]. Under the ‘open road’ tolling system that’ll be in place next year, cameras will scan every license plate that goes through a crossing and check them against a continuously updated DMV list of cars with suspended registrations due to toll violations. Waiting troopers will get an alarm notifying them when scofflaws pass and pull them over, according to State Police Superintendent George Beach.”

New York Post notes that under Cuomo’s plan “scofflaws will be ticketed immediately. Toll collectors will be reassigned to work with State Police in enforcing the ticketing.”

Times Union reports, “Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday [December 21] that as of January, the state Department of Motor Vehicles will begin suspending the registration of scofflaws who rack up three toll violations over five years. The new regulation comes as State Police step up scofflaw enforcement at the MTA crossings, which are all being transformed to use open road tolling. . . .”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)


TransCore Selected for PA Turnpike Cashless Initiative

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (scroll down to page 8, item 9b) approved the award to TransCore LP of a Cashless Tolling System Implementation and Maintenance Services contract and authorized negotiation of an agreement with the company. The contract RFP was issued in February 2016. The PTC introduced its first-ever cashless tolling facility in January 2016 at the PA Turnpike Bridge over the Delaware River in Bucks County at the eastern end of the state. The PTC plans to convert the Beaver Valley Expressway (Toll 376) in western Pennsylvania to cashless toll collection in April 2017.

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC)


The Back Story on the Mackinac Bridge Authority's Failed Push to Accept Credit Cards at Tollbooths

MLive.com has obtained public records that explain why the Mackinac Bridge Authority is still unable to accept credit card payments at its tollbooths, a service it said two years ago it would initiate. The article details how “technical glitches, stalled contract negotiations and a near-six month unexplained absence of the primary subcontractor have seriously delayed the project, which is now several hundred thousand dollars over the initial budget.” MLive adds that deploying a swipe-and-go payment option for Mackinac Bridge customers is “one of the final hurdles” in completing a multiyear software upgrade project that also involves the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge and the Blue Water Bridge.

Mackinac Bridge Authority of Michigan


Golden Gate Bridge Suicide Net Project Is Back on Track, Despite "Spiraling Costs"

San Francisco Chronicle (scroll down to the heading “Net gain”) reports, “The Golden Gate Bridge suicide net, which was in danger of collapsing under the weight of spiraling costs, is back on track — thanks to a sleight of hand play by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission that brought $40 million in Bay Bridge toll money into the mix.”

Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District (GGBHTD) Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC)


Change Order for TX 249 Toll Road Project Raises Objection of "Unethical Practices"

San Antonio Express-News reports, “[Montgomery County] Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack said he is fed up with what he believes are unethical practices by County Judge Craig Doyal, and made his stance known via a Commissioners Court vote Tuesday [December 2o] as well as comments afterward. Noack was the lone ‘nay’ in a 4-1 vote approving a change order that added $385,000 to the county’s $1.987 million contract with Halff Associates Inc. for work on the Texas 249 toll road project. The change order calls for additional services needed for the right-of-way acquisition assistance, storm drainage design and off-site detention pond analysis and design. . . .” The report adds, “While Noack doesn’t question Halff Associates’ qualifications, he said due to Doyal’s personal and business relationship with Bobby Adams, a vice president with Halff Associates, the county judge should recuse himself from the discussion and vote.” The newspaper notes that Doyal and Adams, longtime friends, are co-owners of a holdings company and part owners in another business venture. “Doyal has been involved in every vote regarding Halff Associates’ approximately a dozen contracts worth around $3 million since [2010].”



TCA Selling Holiday Gift Certificates

Daily Pilot (via LATimes.com) reports, “Orange County’s toll road agency wants you to give the gift of a speedier commute this holiday season. No, the Transportation Corridor Agencies isn’t suggesting anyone break the law. It’s selling gift certificates that can be used on any new or existing FasTrak or ExpressAccount for the less-congested highways.”

Transportation Corridor Agencies (CA)


Alaska Development Agency Plans $300 Million Gravel Toll Road in Remote Mining District

Alaska Journal of Commerce reports on the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority’s plans to build a 220-mile “gravel industrial access road” into the state’s remote Ambler mining district. The state has already spent $26.2 million on project studies, but construction costs, “which AIDEA estimates at between $305 million and $346 million, would be financed by the authority and recouped through tolls paid by Trilogy Metals or any other companies that develop resources in the area.”



KTA Eyes Potential Loss of Revenue Due to New South Lawrence Trafficway

Lawrence Journal-World reports, “Officials at the Kansas Turnpike Authority said Wednesday [December 21] that they’re keeping a close eye on traffic volume between Kansas City and Lawrence, fearing that the newly completed South Lawrence Trafficway could take a significant volume of traffic, and thus revenue, off of the Turnpike.” The report adds, “‘We have noticed traffic changes, both increases and decreases at toll plazas in that area,’ KTA spokeswoman Jeri Biehler said. ‘Any time there is a major traffic change, it takes three to four months for traffic to normalize. At this point in time, we are waiting to see what that traffic does and how things shift.’”

Kansas Turnpike Authority (KTA)


MassDOT Moving to Next Phase of Turnpike Plaza Reconstruction

MassLive.com reports, “The first phase of the state’s move to remove all toll plazas and implement all-electronic tolling on the Massachusetts Turnpike finished ahead of schedule in November. But the work isn’t over yet. MassDOT will hold four public meetings in January and February across the state to update the public on the ongoing reconstruction of all 23 Mass. Pike interchanges where the toll plazas once stood.”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Massachusetts Turnpike


Orlando Sentinel Editors Hammer FDOT on Wekiva Parkway Project

The Orlando Sentinel editorial board writes that it’s time to finish the Wekiva Parkway, noting that the Central Florida Expressway Authority has stepped up and it’s now FDOT’s turn. The editors contend, “It defies logic and belief that state transportation officials, who manage billions of dollars in projects across Florida, can’t tweak their priorities and accelerate their schedule for completing their portion of the parkway — especially after a $151 million windfall from the authority.”

Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX) Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)


New Law Allows Infrastructure and Staffing Investment at TX International Toll Bridges

The Texas Tribune notes the recent enactment of the Cross-Border Trade Enhancement Act, “which allows private businesses and local governments to pay for beefed-up staffing and infrastructure improvements at the ports of entry on Texas’ southern border by entering into agreements with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.” The program is already in effect as a pilot project at several Texas international border toll bridges (for example, in Laredo, Cameron County, Pharr and McAllen).



Construction Starts Next Month to Relieve Bottleneck in Palm Beach County

Sun-Sentinel reports, “Relief is coming to one of southern Palm Beach County‘s worst traffic bottlenecks, the intersection of Glades Road and Florida’s Turnpike, but it may take two years to deliver. Construction begins Jan. 3 to add lanes to the heavily traveled junction west of Boca Raton, which frequently becomes clogged with commuters during morning and evening rush hours.”

Florida Turnpike Enterprise (FTE)


Washington State Lawmaker Files Bill to End I-405 Tolling

KING 5 reports, “Rep. Mark Harmsworth, R-Mill Creek, a frequent critic of I-405 tolling, has put forward a bill to end tolling on the Eastside highway, and return the road to its previous configuration. [Link added.] It’s not the idea of tolling that fuels Harmsworth’s criticism.  It’s how it has been implemented on Interstate 405, the cost, and the congestion it has created which led to a bill he has already filed for the 2017 legislative session. ‘If this is the experience we’re having every single day, then we’re doing it wrong,’ said Harmsworth while sitting in Wednesday afternoon traffic.”

Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)


WI Governor Nixes Tolling as a 2017 Funding Option

Wisconsin State Journal publishes a year-end interview in which Governor Scott Walker says he will not include tolling in next year’s transportation budget proposal. However, Walker “didn’t close the door on that option for future budgets if Congress acts to allow tolls in the state. He said borrowing for roads will not exceed the $500 million included in the Transportation Department’s budget request. He has previously said he doesn’t support increasing the gas tax and other fees to pay for roads.” (Bake sales? Magazine subscription drives?)



A Path to AET? India's Demonetisation of Some Notes Spurs ETC, Sale of FASTags

The Economic Times of India reports, “Demonetisation of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes has pushed toll payment through electronic mode rather than in cash, something the highways ministry failed to do in the past two years. In the past 20 days, toll collection through electronic mode increased by at least 540 times, according to NHAI data. Even the sale of FASTags, a common tag that can be used across all toll plazas on [national highways], has increased from only 1,462 on December 1 to 5,635 on December 20.”