Daily News Briefs, February 17, 2017

Indiana Finance Authority Extends ITR Rebate for E-ZPass Users

The Times of Northwest Indiana reports, “A state rebate paid to the operator of the Indiana Toll Road to keep tolls low for motorists with an electronic transponder has been extended until April 30. The Indiana Finance Authority decided Thursday [February 16] to continue paying the rebate, which keeps tolls at their 1985 rate for users of [E-ZPass] and compatible transponders. The rebate had been set to expire Feb. 28.” An ITRCC spokesperson tells the newspaper the company is “still assessing what to do when the rebate expires.” It has the discretion to charge full toll rates.

AET E-ZPass Indiana Toll Road Concession Company (ITRCC)

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San Francisco Supervisor Proposes to Toll Lombard Street (Yes, the Crooked One)

San Francisco Chronicle reports, “Driving down the crooked stretch of Lombard Street, a destination for tourists from around the world, is one of the most thrilling free attractions anywhere. But maybe not for long. . . . Supervisor Mark Farrell wants to impose the first toll on a city street in California.” The newspaper adds that Farrell’s proposal is based on a recommendation made by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority in its study of the street’s visitor access and traffic problems. The study’s draft final report was released on February 16.

California San Francisco Bay Area (CA) San Francisco County Transportation Authority

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Colorado DOT's I-70 Widening P3 Project (Including Managed Toll Lanes) Draws Heavy Criticism at Public Hearing

The Denver Post staffs a CDOT hearing on the plan to widen a stretch of I-70 through northeast Denver and reports, “Opponents of [the] controversial project . . . made clear to state officials Thursday [February 16] that they don’t plan to back down now that the $1.2 billion project has won federal approval. [Link added.] The newspaper adds that a “potential new legal challenge is brewing,” and one organizer of the opposition told officials “whichever contracting team CDOT chose for a private partnership in coming months had ‘better be prepared to lose time, money and credibility’ as protests persist.”

Colorado Colorado Department of Transportation Metro Denver

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Indiana House Approves Bill Calling for Tax Hikes, "Potential Highway Tolling"

The Times of Northwest Indiana reports, “Led by state Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, House Republicans on Thursday [February 16] approved a package of tax hikes, vehicle registration fees and potential highway tolling to fund state and local road improvements over the next two decades. House Bill 1002, which now goes to the Republican-controlled Senate, was approved 61-36, with no Democrats supporting the proposal and seven Republicans also voting no.” [Link added.]

Indiana

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VA Officials Green Light Plans to Extend 95 Express Lanes

WTOP reports, “Virginia transportation officials Thursday [February 16] approved plans to extend the 95 Express Lanes north to the D.C. line and south beyond Garrisonville Road.” The report adds, “The Commonwealth Transportation Board gave Virginia Department of Transportation Commissioner Charlie Kilpatrick permission to alter an agreement with the Federal Highway Administration to cover the expansion of tolling, and also approved the official designation of the new portions of the lanes as high occupancy or toll lanes.” [Links added.]

I-95 Express (Metro Washington, DC) Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Washington (DC) Metro Region

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Push to Return Two-Way Tolling to Verrazano-Narrows Bridge Gains Traction

SILive.com reports, “As the MTA rolls out its cashless toll system, some New Yorkers are pushing the return of a two-way toll on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, hoping it will divert traffic from their neighborhoods. Community Board 6 in Brooklyn penned a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month, asking to bring back the two-way vehicle fee, giving trucks less of an incentive to take the free bridge to Brooklyn.” However, since any change will require congressional action, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan) is also involved, and he needs the support of fellow lawmaker Daniel Donovan (R-Staten Island). “Donovan said he won’t support the idea until it’s clear it would help, not hurt traffic,” according to SILive.

AET Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) New York City

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Cuomo Says Cashless Tolling Will Be Phased In Across New York State

WGRZ presses Governor Andrew Cuomo on the potential for rollout of all-electronic tolling on the entire New York Thruway system and reports, “Cashless tolls can already be seen in parts [of] downstate, and Governor Cuomo says that cashless tolls will be coming to the Thruway and that it will be phased in.” Cuomo adds that officials are working on a plan, but no timeline for action has been set.

AET New York State Thruway Authority

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Buffalo News Makes Hard Sell for Cashless Tolling in Upstate NY

The Buffalo News editorial board wants the New York Thruway to expand cashless tolling across the entire system and if not, they want Albany to step in. “There is no way that upstate drivers should be left to subsidize an antiquated, inefficient and frustrating toll system while commuters using the Tappan Zee Bridge and Manhattan crossings benefit from its advantages. Those benefits are obvious and can be sampled simply by driving on the Massachusetts Turnpike. With overhead monitors reading either transponders or license plates along the highway, no toll barriers slow or stop traffic. Instead, traffic moves. That’s safer, faster and cleaner with no idling cars and trucks spewing exhaust as they wait to pay the toll,” the editors contend.

AET New York State Thruway Authority

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PANYNJ Capital Plan Approved after Months of Delay

NJTV reports, “The Port Authority’s $32 billion capital plan is moving forward after months of delay and more than a little controversy. ‘This is the largest ever commitment of capital by the Port Authority to the region in its 96-year history,’ said Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye.”

PANYNJ

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Judge Rules (Again) that Misconduct Complaint Against Christie over GWB Lane Closings Can Move Forward

NBC New York reports, “A municipal court judge ruled for the second time Thursday [February 16] that the citizen’s misconduct complaint against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stemming from the closures at the George Washington Bridge in 2013 has probable cause to move forward.”

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

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Motorists Complain about Conflicting TX SH 71 Express Lane Signs

KXAN reports that some motorists are complaining about the new SH 71 express lanes signage, and notes, “One . . . two . . . three signs. We counted several new overhead signs alerting drivers to the new State Highway 71 Express toll lane. Each sign saying something different about whether the ramp is open or closed.” The report adds, “Construction on the SH 71 Express Project started in 2015 and was scheduled to be complete in October 2016. The ribbon cutting has now been pushed back to Feb. 28.”

Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) Express Lanes TxDOT

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I-405 Tolls Appear Here to Stay

MYNorthwest.com staffed this week’s legislative hearing on the bill to eliminate I-405 Express tolls. Despite some legislative and motorist opposition, the website reports, “the tolls are not going anywhere, at least until September — if ever. That is the deadline for the project to meet two benchmarks. . . .”

Express Lanes Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)

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WV Governor's Advocates Make Push for Infrastructure Funding Plan

MetroNews reports, “A big push for Gov. Jim Justice’s ambitious infrastructure plan has been underway at the state Capitol. [On February 16], the new state Transportation secretary,” Tom Smith, “and advocates for infrastructure projects gathered to tout a report that spotlights West Virginia’s crumbling highways and bridges.” According to MetroNews, possible funding measures the governor is touting include “increasing Turnpike tolls from $2 to $3 (although the governor wants to let West Virginians avoid the tolls with an E-ZPass) and seeking legal permission to expand what roads can be tolled. . . .”

West Virginia West Virginia Parkways Authority (West Virginia Turnpike)

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NC Governor Cooper's Infrastructure Wish List Includes Toll Projects

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, responding to the request of the National Governor’s Association, has submitted several “shovel ready” infrastructure projects to be considered by the federal government, including two toll projects in Mecklenburg County: one would widen US 74 by adding new general purpose and express lanes, and the other widen I-485 with one express toll lane in each direction from I-77 to US 74 (Independence Boulevard).

Express Lanes North Carolina

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SC Governor Pans Gas Tax Hike, but Is OK "Exploring the Use of Tolls"

The Greenville News reports, “Gov. Henry McMaster says lawmakers should look at existing revenues to pay for road repairs, saying he wants to spare citizens any tax or fee increases except in a case of ‘last resort.’” Although the governor strongly disfavors a gas tax increase, the newspaper notes that he “mentioned the use of tolls, which can only be applied toward new construction under federal highway rules, or using some of the money lawmakers approved last year for funding road projects with bond revenue, as among the [funding] ideas that could be explored.”

South Carolina

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Texas A&M Transportation Institute, TxDOT Launch Motorist Survey on HOV, HOT, Express Lane Usage

The Bryan-College Station Eagle reports, “The Texas A&M Transportation Institute and the Texas Department of Transportation want to know how you get from Point A to B. TTI and TxDOT are seeking information on how Texan travelers plan their trips and use carpool, high-occupancy vehicle, express and managed lanes, as well as high-occupancy toll or [TEXpress] Lanes. The survey’s purpose, according to the TTI website, is “to identify what information travelers use and desire for planning trips that may use managed lanes.” Click here to check out the survey.

Express Lanes Texas TxDOT

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