Daily News Briefs, December 23, 2016

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Motorists Using New Garden State Parkway AET Exit Will Need E-ZPass or Face a $25 Toll Violation

NJ.com reports, “When the new exit 125 ramp” — it’s currently under construction — “opens off the Garden State Parkway south in 2018, drivers will be required to use E-ZPass to pay the toll. . . . Drivers who want to pay with cash either have to detour to the next exit or face a $25 toll violation, officials said.” The New Jersey Turnpike Authority (the Garden State’s operator) tells NJ.com there’s no room to build a toll plaza at the exit and some eighty-to-ninety percent of Garden State motorists (the percentage depends on the time of day) are already using E-ZPass.

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA)


PA Turnpike Rolls Out Emergency Notification System for Motorists in Accident Backups

Associated Press reports, “Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission are rolling out an emergency notification system to let motorists stranded in accident backups get updates to their cell phones about aid and cleanup efforts. Turnpike CEO Mark Compton said Thursday [December 22] that he believes the system is the first of its kind in the nation. He also says communication gaps are a major problem during such backups. People in the vicinity of a potential long-term accident stoppage on a roadway with limited access will get an emergency notification allowing them to register for the updates.”

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission


AP Takes an In-Depth Look at Tappan Zee Replacement Bridge Project

Associated Press provides an in-depth report on the Tappan Zee replacement bridge project and notes, among other things, “The bridge is one of the largest public infrastructure projects underway in the U.S. When complete, it will be both a monument to engineering and a successful restoration of a vital link in the Northeast U.S. highway system.” The report adds that some traffic could start rolling across the bridge in the summer of 2017, but it “will be at least another year before it’s fully open to traffic.”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Governor Mario Cuomo Bridge (Tappan Zee Replacement Bridge) New York State Thruway Authority


Toronto Isn't Alone in Eyeing Tolls

YorkRegion.com reports, “If you’re a commuter who thinks toll roads coming to Toronto are highway robbery, brace yourself. While the issue doesn’t have the same traction as it does in Toronto . . . , it is slowly percolating, mainly out of the public eye, in York Region.” A local public transit advocate tells the website, “We’ve been working behind the scenes (to make it happen here).” His organization is lobbying local lawmakers and transportation officials to toll Highways 400 and 404, “with revenues being earmarked for transit and transportation projects in the region.”

Canada Ontario


Facial Recognition Cameras to Be Part of NYC Cashless Tolling

Associated Press reports, “Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced that a new system of automated toll booths on all bridges and tunnels in the New York metropolitan region will be completed by the end of next year. The cashless system is part of the Democrat’s New York Crossings Project, which will also bring color LED lights to all Metropolitan Transportation Authority bridges as well as driver facial recognition cameras.” Click here to read the governor’s news release, which has more information about the project’s security and aesthetics.

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


Ohio River Bridges Toll Enforcement Rules Undergo Public Scrutiny

WDRB reports, “Under Kentucky’s plan to crack down on drivers who don’t pay their RiverLink toll bills, the state is giving vehicle-enforcement officers the power to order commercial trucks with unpaid tolls off the road.” At a December 22 public hearing on RiverLink toll system regulations, a Louisville trucking company executive questioned the practicality of the stop-and-detain rule in enforcing toll payment by truckers from states other than Kentucky and Indiana. WDRB gets the response of Kentucky officials and looks at other enforcement and collection procedures set out in the regulations, as well as Kentucky’s plans for entering into reciprocal enforcement agreements with other states.

Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges


Treasure Island Officials Grapple with Causeway Bridge Costs and a No-Tolls Pledge

Tampa Bay Times columnist John Romano writes that Treasure Island, Florida, officials are struggling to manage the cost of maintaining their causeway bridge. Imposing tolls may be a practical and reasonable solution to the problem, Romano says, except for the fact that it involves going back on a no-tolls pledge the city made in order to get funds to build the bridge in 2003.



MoPac Traffic Is Steadily Increasing

Community Impact Newspaper reports, “Usage of the northbound MoPac express lane between RM 2222 and Parmer Lane has steadily increased since it opened in October, according to data released Wednesday [December 21] by the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority. Steve Pustelnyk, the Mobility Authority’s director of community relations, said in a briefing to the agency’s board of directors that the Northwest Austin toll lane now sees between 18,000 and 19,000 transactions on a weekly basis.”

Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA)


MDX Cashback Program Hits $5.5 Million Mark

Miami’s Community Newspapers reports, “Good news for the more than 54,000 drivers who registered for this year’s MDX Cash Back Program – the agency is sending you a 30 percent refund on the tolls you paid on the five MDX expressways. MDX will distribute cash back checks in December totaling $5.5 million, which means loyal customers who frequently traveled on MDX expressways can expect a check for about $100.”

Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX)


Escambia County Commissioners Consider Cutting the Cost of Bob Sikes Bridge Annual Pass

Pensacola News Journal reports, “Annual pass holders for the Bob Sikes Bridge may want to wait to renew their passes until county commissioners decide how they’ll address the traffic problem on the bridge. One option could see the price for annual passes cut by more than half.” In November, Escambia County officials came up with a tolling plan that required the bridge to be converted to an AET collection system, but that plan was withdrawn after citizens complained about losing the cash payment option, and the search for a solution continues.



US 36 Express Lanes HOV Minimum Will Increase in 2017 to Boost P3 Revenue

Daily Camera reports, “Starting New Year’s Day, the express lanes of U.S. 36 [between Boulder and Denver] will require cars to carry three passengers — up from the current two — to qualify as high-occupancy vehicles and enjoy the toll lane for free. But the switch from HOV 2 to HOV 3, which also applies to express lanes on Interstate 25, is not a response to any particular problem on the highway.” Instead, as the newspaper reports, Plenary Roads, CDOT’s P3 collaborator in the US 36 express lanes project, “has about $300 million in debt left to pay off on the project, and the company believes raising the HOV requirement will lead to more people paying the toll.”

Colorado Department of Transportation Express Lanes Plenary Roads Denver


The Bond Buyer Looks at MTA's $500 Million Conversion to Cashless Tolling

The Bond Buyer (subscription required) reports on “New York State’s $500 million automatic tolling initiative at Metropolitan Transportation Authority-operated bridges and tunnels.”

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


Prosecutors Agree to Unseal Some Bridgegate Documents

The Record reports, “The public may learn more about the case that led to the convictions of Gov. Chris Christie’s allies for their part in the 2013 lane closings at the George Washington Bridge now that federal prosecutors have agreed that some documents in the case should be unsealed. But there are some documents that are likely to remain sealed at the government’s request.” Prosecutors maintain that even though the trial has ended “the criminal matter is not final because post-trial motions have not been decided, and defendants have stated their intention to appeal.”

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ)


Marin Newspaper Says MTC Toll Plan "Should Not Be a Blank Check"

Marin Independent Journal’s editorial board writes, “The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Bay Area’s regional transportation agency, is talking about putting a toll increase on the ballot to raise money for transportation improvements. It should not be a blank check, either for how high tolls could be raised or how the money might be spent.” The editors suggest that MTC might be wise to include in its proposal “a publicly transparent process for its decision-making in spending the revenue generated by the toll increases.”

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


Lincoln Tunnel Turns 79

CBS News New York reports, “Seventy-nine years ago Thursday [December 22], the very first tube of the Lincoln Tunnel, connecting New Jersey and New York City, opened to traffic.”

New York City Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ)


KTA Releases Annual Report

KFDI reports that the Kansas Turnpike Authority has released its annual report, which shows “there has been a 5.8% increase in traffic on the turnpike over the past year.  It also details improvements that have been made across the turnpike.”

Kansas Turnpike Authority (KTA)