Daily News Briefs, December 30, 2016

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Couple Who Emerged from Bankruptcy Sues NTTA after Agency Continued to Pursue $26,000 in Unpaid Tolls, Fees

The Dallas Morning News reports, “After emerging from bankruptcy in 2014, an Allen couple thought they had a fresh start. But the North Texas Tollway Authority continued to try to collect $26,000 in unpaid tolls, fees and other charges from Janice Wood and her husband, Jeff Margheim, court records show.” The couple has sued NTTA in federal court claiming that the unpaid tolls were a debt discharged in bankruptcy. NTTA has not yet filed an answer or commented on the case, but the newspaper explains, “Not everyone agrees on whether toll charges can be wiped clean in bankruptcy.”

Issues of Law North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA)


Caltrans Proposes to Amend AVI Protocol Used for Electronic Toll Collection (ETC)

Caltrans announces that it “proposes to amend the California Code of Regulations, Title 21, Division 2, Chapter 16, concerning the automatic vehicle identification (AVI) protocol used for electronic toll collection (ETC) in California. Specifically, Caltrans is proposing to amend the regulation to define the 6C protocol as the AVI protocol for ETC effective January 1, 2019. It also will establish a sunset date of January 1, 2024 for the existing AVI protocol for ETC, known colloquially as ‘Title 21.’ Follow the link above for more information.

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Caltrans (CA Department of Transportation)


RI Truck Toll Revenue Will Fund Project to Widen Providence Bottleneck

Providence Journal reports, “The chaotic convergence of automobiles where Route 95 North crosses the Woonasquatucket River and Northeast Corridor train tracks in downtown Providence pushes rush-hour congestion miles to the south on a daily basis. . . . State transportation officials have sought to widen this bottleneck for years. Now, after rebuilding the southbound Route 95 bridges and winning permission to toll large trucks for construction money, the state has an ambitious $226.1-million reconstruction plan.”

Rhode Island


RIDOT COO Garino Is Moving On

Rhode Island Public Radio reports, “Peter Garino, the chief operating officer at the state Department of Transportation, is leaving state employment after less than two years with RIDOT.” The report adds, “Garino said he hopes to land a private sector job on the West Coast after ending his tenure at RIDOT in January.”

Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT)


NJ.com Has Advice for Commuters Whose E-ZPass Discounts Stop at the State Line

NJ.com reports, “In the early days of E-ZPass, toll agencies and authorities offered discounts to entice drivers to use it, regardless of what state they were driving in. Now, with more than 80 percent of drivers paying tolls electronically, those discounts usually stop at the state line. To get them, a driver must have an E-ZPass account in that state. So, what’s a driver supposed to do when they work in one state and want to get the E-ZPass discount offered in a neighboring state?” NJ.com has an answer, one that will at least satisfy some metro New York commuters.

E-ZPass New Jersey


Toll Interoperability Proves Elusive

Pioneer Press notes that MnPASS is still not accepted for toll payments outside the Twin Cities, reporting that “the federal government’s October deadline for states to synchronize their toll systems came and went with no action. So even though MnPASS is finally technologically ready to sync with I-PASS, FasTrak and other toll systems, inter-operability remains years down the road.” “In the meantime,” the newspaper advises, “Minnesotans who want to pass through other states’ tolls without extra transponders can sign up for a third-party product such as NATIONALPASS, which works with multiple networks.”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) (MnPASS)


RiverLink Tolling Starts, and Lines at Customer Service Centers Continue

Courier-Journal reports “Drivers at RiverLink customer service centers on both sides of the river [on December 28] waited for help — many for at least an hour — to either open an account or troubleshoot a problem with their account. Some customers said they also experienced long wait times when they called RiverLink to set up or ask a question about their accounts.”

WDRB reports, “Drivers flocked to the two RiverLink offices in Jeffersonville and downtown Louisville on Thursday night [December 29] to sign up in person before tolling begins. . . . The Jeffersonville office had a two-hour wait and a line out the door. One woman in line said she didn’t realize tolling started so soon.” (We knew that excuse was coming.)

WAVE reports, “Tolling on the Kennedy, Lincoln and East End Bridges began at 4 a.m. [today, December 30].”

Courier-Journal provides a “here’s what to expect” guide for RiverLink customers.

Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges


WI Governor Walker Stands Firm on No-Tax Pledge for Road Improvements

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel gets Governor Scott Walker’s reaction to the WisDOT report citing the need for Wisconsin to raise its transportation infrastructure investment, possibly by collecting tolls on interstate highways. According to the newspaper, “Walker spokesman Tom Evenson said the tolling report would help guide officials as they consider their options. He downplayed the long-term findings of the report on the condition of the state’s road fund and said it did not change Walker’s position on the issue. ‘The governor will not go back on his promise to voters to not increase taxes without a commensurate reduction in taxes elsewhere,’ Evenson said in a statement.”



NY Thruway, MADD Continue Red Ribbon DWI Prevention Effort

Times Union reports, “Red ribbons, a reminder of the importance of staying sober as the big weekend of revelling nears, are being distributed at several [New York] Thruway toll plazas. The state Thruway Authority, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and State Police Troop [T] kicked off the 30th annual Red Ribbon DWI Prevention effort [on Wednesday, December 28].”

New York State Thruway Authority


VDOT's Layne: Trump's Infrastructure Plan "Is No Magic Bullet"

The Virginian-Pilot publishes an op-ed by VDOT Secretary Aubrey Layne, who takes on P3s, tolling and President-elect Trump’s anticipated infrastructure renewal plan. On P3s and tolling specifically, Layne writes, “Tolls do not work for the vast majority of transportation projects in which funds are needed to repair or upgrade existing facilities. Only a limited number of projects in the United States would support a revenue stream necessary to entice private investment.”

P3 & Privatization Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)


Staten Island Columnist Hammers MTA

SILive.com opinion writer Tom Wrobleski has some harsh words for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority: “They simply don’t care. How else can you explain the decision . . . to close travel lanes on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in order to do some paving work this week? During the daytime? The entire Brooklyn-bound upper level of the bridge was closed on Tuesday [December 27] between 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.,” resulting in “colossal” traffic jams. Wrobleski adds, “When traffic is caused by agency action, the blood just boils. It makes you believe the conspiracy theories that government in New York is engaged in deliberately making driving a nightmare in this city in order to get people to forsake their cars.”

Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)


Bay Area Ferry Service Rides "Wave of an Economic Boom"

San Francisco Chronicle reports, “Ferry service on the bay, which was revitalized by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, is now riding the wave of an economic boom, and these days public transportation by water is thriving. The two major carriers, Golden Gate Ferry and San Francisco Bay Ferry, have seen ridership surge by more than a million passengers in the past four years to just over 5 million passengers a year.” The newspaper adds that both ferry services have significant operating deficits paid for by bridge tolls.

California San Francisco Bay Area (CA)


"Political Gamesmanship" and Toll Project Objections May Be Delaying a TX Bridge Project

San Antonio Express-News reports that “political gamesmanship” is behind the delay of a bridge widening project that Harris and Montgomery Counties have jointly undertaken. The newspaper explains that the nub of the problem may be Montgomery County Commissioner James Noack’s objections to toll road projects proposed by other officials in both counties.



Toronto Mayor Tory Says Tolling Plan Will Define His Administration

GlobalNews.ca has a year-end conversation with Toronto Mayor John Tory, who acknowledges that his proposal to toll two GTA highways will define his administration. “I hope it will define it as being one that’s about honesty in terms of saying to people, ‘If you want the transit which we so desperately need to fix traffic and you want the transit plan that I put forward, we have to pay for it,’” Tory said.

Canada Ontario