Daily News Briefs, February 1, 2017

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Michigan Moves to Quash Moroun's Attempt to Block Gordie Howe International Bridge Project

Detroit Free Press reports, “The State of Michigan is seeking an expedited ruling to quash the latest attempt by businessman Manuel (Matty) Moroun to delay or block construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge project. The dispute in the Michigan Court of Claims in Lansing stems from the attempt by the Michigan Department of Transportation to use its eminent domain powers to take some Moroun-owned land in southwest Detroit’s Delray district for the Gordie Howe Bridge project.”

Canada Gordie Howe Int'l Bridge Michigan


NJ Turnpike Awards $9 Million in Contracts to Begin Repairing the Delaware River Bridge

NJ.com reports, “More than $9 million in contracts were awarded Tuesday [January 31] to prepare the Delaware River Bridge between the New Jersey and Pennsylvania turnpikes for permanent repairs after it was closed two weeks ago when a crack was found in a piece of support structure.” New Jersey Turnpike Authority commissioners approved contracts with two firms — Moretrench American Corp. of Rockaway Township and Cornell and Company Inc. of Woodbury — “to build foundations and eight towers to jack up the bridge in preparation for repairs.” NJ.com adds that the work will not directly address the crack found in a bridge truss “‘because we don’t know what the repair will be,’ [NJTA chief engineer Robert] Fischer said.”

New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA) Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC)


Governor Cuomo Names Ronnie Hakim Interim Executive Director of MTA

Times Herald-Record reports, “Veronique ‘Ronnie’ Hakim will serve as interim executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority until a seven-person committee [link added] appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo conducts a search for a new chairman and CEO for the agency. Hakim returned to the MTA in December 2015 as president of New York City Transit after spending 18 months as executive director of NJ Transit and four years as executive director of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority. A lawyer, she had previously served in various counsel positions within the MTA for 23 years.” The report adds that Cuomo named MTA board vice chairman Fernando Ferrer to serve as acting chairman during the search for a replacement for Tom Prendergast, who retired as chairman and CEO yesterday, January 31.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) New York City


Queens Residents Support Tolling Queensboro Bridge

Long Island City Post reports, “Queens residents support the placement of a toll on the Queensboro Bridge — and three other bridges — as a means to generate funding to bolster the transit system and improve roadways, according to poll data released by the activist group Transportation Alternatives.” The report adds, “The plan to raise tolls, which was hatched by the transportation lobby group Move NY, aims to raise revenue, decrease traffic congestion while creating a more equitable tolling structure.”

New York City


Advocates "Are Fighting Like Hell" Against the $6 Billion TBX Project

Streetsblog USA reports, “Grassroots advocates in Tampa are going up against Florida DOT in a standoff with huge implications for the future of the city. FDOT is pushing a massive regional highway expansion scheme, known as Tampa Bay Express, that would add 90 miles of tolled lanes over five counties. The plan contains nothing for transit, nothing for walkability. It’s a cars-only mega-project dreamed up 20 years ago that will uproot local residents — mostly in black and Latino neighborhoods.” The piece highlights advocacy work by Sunshine Citizens, and notes, “Advocates have made breakthroughs and suffered setbacks in the past year. In June, the Tampa City Council voted to remove the highway expansion from the list of projects in the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Organization’s long-range plan.”

Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Tampa Bay Express


Connecticut Lawmakers Urged to Kill State's Participation in Federal VMT/RUC Pilot

Record-Journal reports, “Critics of a mileage tax urged the legislature’s Transportation Committee on Monday [January 30] to block $300,000 set aside for the state’s participation in a federal study to see if such a tax is feasible in Connecticut.” Opponents, including the state trucking association and Republican legislators, are backing PB 76, a bill to kill the study.

Connecticut RUC & VMT Programs


Tolling Scheduled to Begin on Chesapeake City's Veterans Bridge

The Virginian-Pilot reports, “A date finally has been set for tolls to begin on the new Veterans Bridge. Starting at 12:01 a.m. on Feb. 9, drivers can expect tolls to be taken using a photographic system assessing license plates, according to a city news release. City officials encourage frequent users to buy an E-ZPass transponder. . . .” The bridge is a part of the city’s Dominion Boulevard Improvement Project.

City of Chesapeake (Virginia)


No More Free Rides on MnPASS I-35E Lanes

Star Tribune reports, “The free rides are over for drivers using the MnPASS lanes on I-35E in the east metro. Starting [today, February 1], the Minnesota Department of Transportation will charge solo drivers who have a MnPASS account and a tag and use the lanes during peak periods, the agency said.” The newspaper adds, “Motorists caught using the MnPASS lanes during peak-travel times without at MnPASS tag are subject to a citation and a fine up to $200.”

Express Lanes Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) (MnPASS)


Ontario Initiates Tolling on Highways 407 and 412

GlobalNews.ca reports, “Drivers using Highway 407 and Highway 412 for free during the past seven months will finally have to come to grips with tolling. The province [of Ontario] says tolling infrastructure has finally been installed and motorists will have to pay to use the stretch of highway beginning [today, February 1]”.

Canada Ontario


SRTA and GDOT Officials Are Confident the I-75 Express Lanes Will Deliver

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that, despite evidence of light traffic during the opening days of the I-75 express lanes, “state officials are confident that will change over time. One thing that gives them confidence: their experience with the I-85 express lanes in Gwinnett County. In 2011, when they opened, drivers took only about 7,000 trips on the I-85 lanes on an average weekday, according to Chris Tomlinson, executive director of the State Road and Tollway Authority. Today, drivers take nearly 29,000 trips on an average weekday.”

Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) State Road and Tollway Authority (GA)


Proposed FDOT Budget Includes a $169 Million Toll Road in Central Florida

Orlando Business Journal reports on Governor Rick Scott’s proposed FDOT 2017-18 budget of $10.8 billion. Central Florida projects funded include “$169.5 million for 3.53 miles of limited-access toll road along State Road 46 from east of Wekiva Park Drive to Orange Boulevard in Seminole County.” Click here for the governor’s news release with links to the budget document and reference material.

Florida Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)


Chao Confirmed as US Transportation Secretary

The Washington Post reports, “On Tuesday [January 31], [Elaine] Chao was confirmed as transportation secretary, bringing extensive government experience to a Trump administration seeking to spur a major infrastructure effort and shake up Washington’s ways. It was a big step for a familiar Washington figure with friends on both sides of the aisle.”

US Department of Transportation (USDOT)


The Boston Globe Takes a Deep - and Somewhat Grim - Look at Roads, Bridges and Lack of Investment

The Boston Globe (in a piece sponsored by Rockland Trust) kicks off a series about infrastructure with a grim look at the state of roads and bridges, noting that “fuel efficient cars, plummeting gas prices, and a political aversion to tax increases, have wreaked havoc on the Highway Trust Fund, which is facing a $1 trillion backlog just in repairs and maintenance, not to mention new and needed projects, the DOT says.” On tolling, the report adds, “Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, who co-chairs a bipartisan coalition of elected officials dedicated to encouraging investment in infrastructure called Building America’s Future, estimated that perhaps only 1,000 of the nation’s 60,000 structurally deficient bridges would have the potential to produce tolls that would produce enough revenue to interest the private sector.”



FDOT Hosts Meeting on $61 Million North Causeway Bridge Project

Tcpalm.com reports, “Construction is expected to start in 2020 and last for 2½ years on the new $61 million, 86-foot-tall North Causeway bridge. [Link added.] More than 100 people on Tuesday [January 31] attended the Florida Department of Transportation’s two-hour meeting on the project. FDOT wants to replace the 55-year-old drawbridge, which connects the barrier island to the [Ft. Pierce] mainland, because it is ‘structurally deficient,’ meaning the bridge is safe for travel but is past its 50-year life cycle.”

Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)


County Officials Make Their Case for a Fifth International Bridge

KGNS (Laredo) reports, “Two county leaders attend[ed] a meeting with U.S. and Mexico representatives pushing for a fifth international bridge. According to Webb County Judge Tano Tijerina, the Mexican government invited him to the Bi-National Bridges and Border Crossing Committee [link added] meeting to present information on the fifth international bridge project.”

Mexico Texas


NJ Turnpike to Hold Meeting on Newark Bay-Hudson County Extension

NJ.com reports that the New Jersey Turnpike Authority scheduled a public meeting to discuss “the upcoming project on the Newark Bay-Hudson County Extension of the Turnpike in Downtown Jersey City.” Proposed is “deck reconstruction, structural strengthening and repairs, repainting, lighting, and drainage improvements on a 1.1-mile stretch of the eastbound side of the roadway. . . .”

New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA)