Daily News Briefs, February 15, 2017

FDOT Faces New Lawsuits over Delineators Breached by 95 Express "Lane Divers"

Miami Herald reports that FDOT and contractor DBI Services are facing two new lawsuits brought by accident victims who claim they were injured because Miami-Dade 95 Express “lane divers” crashed through the plastic dividers originally used to separate the general and toll lanes. Neither FDOT nor the contractor had any immediate comment.

Express Lanes Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)

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Do I-95 Lane Diving Suits Really Present a "Potential Roadblock" for the TBX Project?

WFTS reports, “The promotional video for the TBX project in Tampa features the same plastic dividers” claimed to be deficient in the Miami-Dade 95 Express accident litigation. The station speculates that the lawsuits represent “yet another potential roadblock for the controversial TBX toll project.”

Express Lanes Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Tampa Bay Express

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Trump Taps Australian Government Expertise on Infrastructure Funding, Giving Aussie Companies a Foot in the Door

The Australian Financial Review reports that Australian government officials are “in discussions with the White House on potential funding models for Donald Trump’s $US1 trillion ($1.3 trillion) infrastructure plan by sharing policy experiences in Australia,” and, at the same time, helping “local firms identify opportunities in the United States.” The newspaper adds, “Big local-listed infrastructure businesses such as Macquarie Group, property group Lend Lease and toll-road operator Transurban, as well as investment and superannuation funds, are among the Australian firms liaising with a team of officials at the Washington Embassy who are communicating with the White House and US lawmakers.”

P3

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Traffic Rises Slightly on McAllen, TX, International Toll Bridges, despite Peso Valuation and the "Trump Factor"

The Brownsville Herald reports, “Despite recent boycotts in Mexico and a flurry of rhetoric about our southern neighbors from Washington D.C., crossings are up [two percent for vehicles] over last year at the Anzalduas and Hidalgo International Bridges.” On a down note, the newspaper adds that “businesses are still hurting, according to Steve Ahlenius, president and CEO of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce.” The cause, he says, is a combination of the peso’s valuation and the “Trump factor.”

City of McAllen

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Bay Area Bridge Tolls Increase Is under Consideration, and BART Wants a Major Share of the Proceeds

San Francisco Chronicle reports, “Fresh from winning voter approval of a $3.5 billion bond measure, BART is looking at asking for another $1.5 billion as part of a bridge-toll increase that could go on Bay Area ballots as early as next year. The idea being pushed by BART and other transit agencies is to raise tolls on the Bay Area’s seven state-owned toll bridges — that’s every one of them except the Golden Gate — by $1 to $3.”

Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) San Francisco Bay Area (CA)

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BC Government Gives Environmental OK for $3.5 Billion Bridge to Replace the George Massey Tunnel

Vancouver Sun reports, “The B.C. government has granted itself environmental approval for a planned $3.5 billion [US$2.68 billion] 10-lane bridge to replace to George Massey Tunnel.” The Sun adds, “Construction on the bridge is expected to begin this year, between Delta and Richmond. . . . The current tunnel, which goes under the river, will be removed. The new bridge is expected to be open by 2022.”

British Columbia Canada

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NET RMA To Start Issuing Bids for Safety Improvements

KLTV reports that NET RMA is closer to making safety upgrades to Toll 49 in Smith County because its board has “approved putting out bids for the improvements.” The article adds, “The calls for safety upgrades come after deadly wrecks which killed six people on the toll road in 2016.”

NET RMA

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Kane County Approves "Quick Take" Procedure for Acquiring Longmeadow Parkway Toll Project Property

Daily Herald reports that the Kane County (IL) county board “voted 19-5 in favor of giving county transportation officials the power to seek ‘quick take’ authority,” an eminent domain procedure for obtaining additional property for the Longmeadow Parkway toll bridge and road project.

Kane County (IL) DOT

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TxDOT Pushes Ahead with Highway 281 Expansion Project (No Longer a Toll Road)

KSAT reports, “An expansion of Highway 281, north of Loop 1604, should provide relief when it’s done, but is expected to create headaches for at least the next four years.” The station adds, “The project started off in 2005 as a toll road. Plagued by lawsuits, the toll is now gone, and for the last two years, TxDOT said it’s been able to go full throttle in planning.”

TxDOT

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Traffic Volume, Accidents on Brent Spence Bridge Reach Record Levels

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports, “Data obtained by The Enquirer shows that the number of vehicles on the 53-year-old span is reaching record numbers as of late. And, on average, you can count on two crashes or more per week.” The newspaper adds, “On top of the traffic issues, the most recent inspection reports show rust, cracks and decay worsening on the span that carries nearly 186,000 vehicles a day on Interstates 71 and 75 over the Ohio River between Covington and downtown Cincinnati.” The bridge is gaining national attention as a poster child for infrastructure investments.

Brent Spence Bridge Kentucky Ohio

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OK Lawmakers Kill Bill to Give Legislators Control over OTA Tolls

Tulsa World reports, “A Senate panel on Tuesday [February 14] killed a bill that would put the Legislature in charge of toll rate increases instead of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority. The Senate Transportation Committee killed Senate Bill 201 [link added], by Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow. The vote was two in support and seven opposed.”

Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA)

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VA Lawmakers Kill Bill to Deliver More Funds for Hampton Roads Projects

The Virginian-Pilot reports, “A bill that would’ve brought an additional $21 million a year in gas tax revenue to Hampton Roads for major interstate projects died in a General Assembly committee Monday morning [February 13]. The bill aimed to establish a ‘floor’ for the regional gas tax, meaning there would be a minimum level of revenue no matter the price of gas.” The sponsor, Senator Frank Wagner (R-Virginia Beach) says the vote to kill the bill means the region will see higher toll rates.

Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)

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Michigan Governor's Infrastructure Wish List Includes Gordie Howe Bridge Customs Plaza

The Detroit News reports that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s “infrastructure aid wish list for President Donald Trump” includes, among other projects, a customs plaza for the future Gordie Howe bridge. The Michigan list was submitted to the White House through the National Governor’s Association.

Canada Gordie Howe Int'l Bridge Michigan

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Deadline for VDOT Toll Discount Program Is Today

WAVY has a reminder that today, February 15, is the deadline for Norfolk and Portsmouth residents to register for a VDOT toll relief program for local commuters.

Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)

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Investors Pour Money into Infrastructure Mutual Funds, ETFs

Bloomberg reports, “It’s not just U.S. President Donald Trump who’s bullish on infrastructure investing. Mutual and exchange-traded funds dedicated to building and upgrading roads, bridges, airports and other projects attracted more than $450 million from November through January, the biggest three-month period in almost two years, according to Morningstar Inc.”

Infrastructure Investment Trends

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