Daily News Briefs, February 2, 2017

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RiverLink Reports Two Million-Plus Crossings, Transponder Usage Climbing

Courier-Journal reports, “RiverLink officials said Wednesday [February 1] that more than 2 million people crossed Kentuckiana’s three tolled bridges during the first month of tolling, with the number of crossings with transponders increasing each week.” Click here to read a RiverLink news release detailing performance metrics.

Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges


New Commissioner Appointed to CFX Board

Orlando Sentinel reports, “Lake County has appointed a commissioner to represent the region on the Central Florida Expressway Authority. . . . Sean Parks was chosen to fill the slot vacated by former Commissioner Welton Cadwell, who was the chairman of the tollway board.”

Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX)


FDOT Proposed Budget Includes $103 Million for First Coast Expressway

Jacksonville Business Journal reports that FDOT’s proposed budget includes “$103.9 million to acquire right of way for the First Coast Expressway [a planned AET facility] in Clay County. This funding enables the department to complete land acquisition in this county, thereby ensuring construction continues.”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Florida


Thruway Chief Predicts Tappan Zee Bridge Tolls Will Increase

The Journal News reports, “Just how high will tolls go on a new Tappan Zee Bridge? Bill Finch, the newly-appointed executive director of the New York State Thruway Authority, says it’s too soon to say.” However, Finch commented during a February 1 public meeting, “I think it’s safe to say that they won’t be what they are now. And that we will do everything we possibly can to keep them as affordable as possible.”

Governor Mario Cuomo Bridge (Tappan Zee Replacement Bridge) New York State Thruway Authority


IL Tollway Publishes "Super Scofflaws List" Sparking Claim that Tolling Is a "Frigging Scam"

Naperville Sun (via Chicago Tribune) reports, “Ten Naperville businesses are among the state’s ‘super scofflaws,’ identified as among those owing the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority a total of nearly $12 million in unpaid tolls. The owners of two of those companies protested they were being targeted, with one saying she owed only $85 and the other calling the toll collection system ‘a big, frigging scam.’”

Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (IL Tollway) Scofflaws


CTRMA's Plan for Park-and-Ride Lots Stalls Again

Austin Monitor reports, “The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority’s proposed financing scheme to build up to eight new park-and-rides along its toll roads is going nowhere fast. [Link added.] On Tuesday [January 31], the Travis County Commissioners Court once again stopped short on a vote to direct $2.6 million to the plan.”

Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA)


Oregon DOT Needs $1.3 Billion Annually in New Revenue for Roads and Bridges

The Register-Guard reports, “The Oregon Department of Transportation and the state’s cities and counties estimate they need an extra $1.3 billion a year to preserve roads and bridges, ease congestion and bolster public transportation, according to an analysis state lawmakers released [on February 1].” As for funding options, “Along with the usual suspects — higher gas taxes and vehicle registration fees, plus studded tire fees — the list includes ideas new for Oregon: toll roads, registration fees for electric vehicles, higher regional gas taxes, local registration fees, taxes on bicycles, a per-mile road user fee, a statewide property tax or even a carbon tax,” according to the report.



Houston's Grand Parkway Is Delivering Congestion Relief

Community Impact Newspaper reports, “A year after segments F-1, F-2 and G opened to traffic in early 2016, officials said the Grand Parkway toll road (SH 99) [link added] has noticeably reduced through traffic in the Greater Tomball area. ‘In terms of congestion relief, [the Grand Parkway] has accomplished exactly what everyone hoped that it would,’ said Marlissa Briggs, executive director of the North Houston Association.” The article adds, “The new tollway segments have also brought in significantly more toll revenue to the state.”



US House Transportation Committee Hearing on Funding Boils Down to "Same Rhetoric"

The Washington Post staffs the February 1, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on President Trump’s call for infrastructure investment and reports that, well, it’s about the money. According to The Post, “Finding any additional revenue, let alone the $3.7 trillion estimated to meet infrastructure needs by 2020, has been the congressional challenge since the existing source, the gas-tax-funded Highway Trust Fund, began to run below meeting the need. The funding for the current transportation bill was bolstered in 2015 from sources described [during the hearing] as ‘gimmicks’ and ‘funny money.’” (No mention of tolls in the article.)


AAF Study: Trump Approach to Infrastructure Could Favor Urban Over Rural Roads

The Hill reports, “Urban roads are far more likely to benefit from private sector funding than rural areas, according to a new study released by the American Action Forum (AAF).” [Links added.] The Hill quotes AAF’s report as stating, “The most likely candidates for increased private sector participation are the urban roads bearing the most vehicle traffic, and thus having the potential to generate enough toll or congestion-pricing revenues to offset costs.” AAF is a self-described center-right policy organization.


Legislation to Give State Control over Dulles Greenway Toll Rates Dies

Loudoun Now reports, “Although identified as one of the simplest fixes to the long-running debate over the annual rate hikes on Loudoun’s toll road, a bid to amend the law governing the Dulles Greenway isn’t gaining traction in Richmond.” A senate bill (SB 1209) that would have given Virginia’s State Corporation Commission discretion to approve or deny toll increases, recently died in committee. Committee action on a similar house bill (HB 1715) is pending.

Dulles Greenway Virginia


Wynne's Decision to Kill Toronto Toll Plan Puts Billions of Dollars in Jeopardy

The Globe and Mail reports that Toronto’s top civil service official, City Manager Peter Wallace, has warned that “billions of dollars earmarked for transit, roads and other infrastructure in Toronto is in jeopardy . . . in the wake of the province’s decision to veto a city plan for road tolls on the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway.”



Ontario Opens Next Round of Permit Applications for Canada's First HOT Lanes

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation announced it has “opened the third round of permit applications and renewals for Canada’s first High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes. . . .” The HOT lanes are in operation on approximately ten miles of the Queen Elizabeth Way in the Greater Toronto Area.



Italy’s Atlantia Working on Bid for Majority Stake in Mexican Toll Road Operator RCO

Reuters reports, “Italy’s Atlantia is working on a bid to buy a majority stake in a Mexican toll road operator,” Red de Carreteras de Occidente (RCO), “as the infrastructure group presses ahead with plans to grow outside its home market, three sources close to the matter said.”


PANYNJ Police Stop School Principal with $14,000 in Unpaid Tolls and Fines

New York Post reports that an assistant principal at a Harlem charter school was spotted allegedly avoiding the George Washington Bridge toll, and when port authority police stopped her, they discovered she has more than $14,000 in unpaid tolls and fines.

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ)


Wild Elephant Strolls Along Chinese Tollway

Associated Press provides a video report on a wild elephant strolling along a tollway in China’s Yunnan Province over the weekend. “After being informed of the situation, police took traffic control measures and asked onlookers to leave the road or stay in their cars.” (We vote for leaving.)