Daily News Briefs, December 28, 2016

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Thousand Islands Bridge Authority to Reject Sole Bid for Toll System Upgrades

Watertown Daily Times reports, “The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority is reconsidering its options after the sole bid for upgrades to its toll system came in millions of dollars over budget. ‘We were disappointed there was only one proposal, and certainly so far over budget it was pretty easy to make the decision the proposal was unacceptable,’ said Robert G. Horr III, executive director of the Thousand Island Bridge Authority.” He tells the newspaper that the authority and its consultant are soliciting feedback from the vendor community to determine why the RFP did not elicit more response and that closer to the anticipated project budget.

Thousand Islands Bridge Authority (TIBA)


Mass Pike's AET Conversion Is a Top Story of the Year

WAMC calls the Massachusetts Turnpike’s conversion to AET a top story of the year, reporting that, “The state switched to an open road all-electronic toll collection system on the Massachusetts Turnpike with a promise that both time and money would eventually be saved.”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Massachusetts Turnpike


Houston Area's Toll Road Expansion and Related Economic Development Tagged as a Major News Story in 2016

Houston Chronicle sees toll road expansion and the development it’s spawned as a major news story of 2016. “The Grand Parkway opened in the northwest Houston area, further drawing developers to the region, as construction began on a number of projects including the Grand Parkway Town Center in Tomball. . . . Similarly, discussions around the continued expansion of the Texas 249 toll road project that’s been dubbed ‘Aggie Expressway’ will provide tremendous commercial and residential growth along Texas 249, particularly for the Magnolia area, which expects to see homes and businesses popping up throughout the area, much like the recently opened Tomball Tollway segment has done.”



A Wrap-Up of 2016 Central TX Major Transportation Stories, from Uber to Gondolas

Austin American-Statesman provides a look at Central Texas’ top 2016 transportation stories that touches on, among other topics, the MoPac project, a Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority study of aerial gondolas, and the Texas 45 Southwest project.



TX Legislators "Appear Poised" to Move Past Highway Funding Next Year

The Texas Tribune’s Brandon Formby takes a retrospective/prospective look at the state’s transportation issues. “The cost of toll roads, the toll of urban congestion, ride-hailing battles and a high-speed train war garnered plenty of attention in Texas this year. And after the Legislature spent two sessions focusing on highway funding, lawmakers now appear poised to tackle other transportation matters next year.” Formby adds, “Disdain for toll roads continued, but that won’t be enough to get rid of them.”



RiverLink Transponders Should Be Arriving "Any Day Now"

WAVE reports that RiverLink transponders “went out last week” and should arrive “any day now.” The station adds that last-minute orders were “one reason RiverLink will have a ‘grace period’ when tolls begin at 4 a.m. on December 30. ‘If you’ve registered your account and ordered your transponder, do not worry,’ [RiverLink spokesperson Mindy] Peterson said. ‘You’re going to be paying the lowest transponder rate until your transponder arrives and you have it in hand and on your windshield.’”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges


Ohio Turnpike to Cut Back on Construction Spending in 2017

Akron Beacon Journal reports, “The Ohio Turnpike is cutting back on its construction spending next year, saying motorists complained that there were too many orange barrels on the highway this year. ‘We did hear from customers about the number and length of some of the work zones we had in 2016,’ spokesman Brian Newbacher said. ‘We want to continue the program but do so at a less aggressive pace.’”

Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission


Colorado State Patrol Requests More Funding to Police US 36 Toll Lanes

The Denver Post reports, “Speeding motorists and lane dodgers are contributing to hazardous conditions in the managed lanes on U.S. 36 between Denver and Boulder, prompting the State Patrol to ask the legislature for more than $200,000 this coming year to beef up patrols along the heavily traveled corridor.” The report adds, “The State Patrol requested and received a similar increase for patrolling along the E-470 highway corridor in fiscal year 2016-17.”

Colorado Express Lanes


DC HOT Lanes' High Toll and "Congestion Ahead" Signs Are a Red Flag

The Washington Post’s Dr. Gridlock, a self-described “fan” of metro DC high-occupancy toll lanes, writes, “But when one electronic sign tells me the toll for a trip from just north of Tysons Corner to Springfield is $29 while another warns of congestion ahead, that’s above my threshold.” Transurban, operator of the I-95 and I-495 HOT facilities, explains that a recent spike in rates and a slowdown in traffic speed is primarily a seasonal phenomenon. The doctor responds, “Although the high tolls and heavier than normal traffic may pass with the holidays . . . commuters would have been better off if the state had developed a robust system of commuter buses to take advantage of the HOT lanes, in which buses can travel free.”

Express Lanes Transurban Washington (DC) Metro Region


Maryland Awaits USDOT Response to Automated Vehicle Testing Application for I-95

The Baltimore Sun reports, “Interstate 95 and other major arteries around the Baltimore region could become a testing ground for driverless cars” if USDOT approves the State of Maryland’s recent Automated Vehicle testing and deployment area application. The newspaper adds, “The state chose the busy I-95 corridor from College Park to Aberdeen because it is well-suited for ‘real-world testing,’ Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn said.”

Maryland Self-Driving Vehicles


NY Canal Corp -- at Long Last -- to Come off Thruway's Books

Press & Sun-Bulletin reports, “A new era for the state Canal Corp. will begin Jan. 1, when it will officially become a subsidiary of the New York Power Authority. The move, which has been in the works for nine months, means the Canal Corp. — which oversees the state’s 524-mile canal system — will no longer be under the watch of the state Thruway Authority, ending a lengthy working relationship that had perplexed state officials for more than two decades.” Under the transition plan, “The $90 million-a-year canal expenses came off the Thruway’s books, while about $60 million in state police costs —  which the state had been covering in recent years — came back on.”

New York State Thruway Authority


MoDOT Secretary McKenna Talks Up "Possibility of Managed Lanes"

KBIA public radio talks with Patrick McKenna, Director of the Missouri Department of Transportation, “about why Missouri leaders and the citizens can’t seem to agree on how to fund transportation,” and his hope that 2017 will bring a better understanding of transportation’s costs and “what further investment could mean for Missouri citizens and taxpayers.” On tolling, McKenna says, “[W]e’re looking at a more hybrid approach, such as the possibility of managed lanes. We might be able to build a model where additional capacity might be tolled — existing lanes on I-70, for instance, might continue to be a freeway, while a (newly created) third lane might be tolled.”

Express Lanes Missouri


Verrazano-Narrows Bridge Carpool Discount to Continue under AET

SILive.com reports, “When the MTA switches to a cashless toll system next year, drivers taking advantage of the carpool plan for the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge will use their E-ZPass tags in order to continue getting the discount.” The report adds, “The carpool plan will continue but in a very different form, requiring participants to maintain use of an E-ZPass account and tag — no more ticket books.”

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


Australia to Become a Leader in Digital Payments Systems

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that a “$1 billion piece of infrastructure, with the uncatchy name of the new payments platform, goes live in the second half of [2017],” and it will make Australia a leader in digital payments systems. Concerning the commercial opportunities the system may open up, the newspaper talks with a bank executive who comments that “a savvy developer might invent a system could be arranged to automatically deduct payments when your car’s number plate went through toll booths, or parking fees when you went into parking stations.”



Abertis Confirms It Will Purchase Two Major Toll Roads from State Bank of India and Macquarie

Business Standard reports, “Spain’s Abertis, an international operator of toll roads, will buy stakes in Trichy Tollway Private Limited (TTPL) and Jadcherla Expressway Private Limited for $128 million, the company said in a statement on Tuesday. Abertis [link deleted] has entered into an agreement with SBI-Macquarie Infrastructure Trust and Macquarie SBI Infrastructure Investments Pte Ltd to pick up stakes in these assets.” Click here to read Abertis’ news release on the acquisition agreement.