Daily News Briefs, February 28, 2017

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WV Governor Pitches New Budget Plan That Doubles Original Toll Hike Proposal to Pay for Other Road Projects

Charleston Gazette-Mail looks at West Virginia Governor Jim Justice’s second run at a 2017-18 budget, reporting that, “Justice’s new plan lowers a proposed increase in the state gas tax . . . but would increase tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike by $2 per toll instead of the $1 increase originally proposed.” The newspaper adds, “Under the proposal, the state would offer E-ZPass annual passes for $8 a year that would provide free travel on the Turnpike as well as any other newly constructed highways the state may decide to operate as toll roads.”

West Virginia West Virginia Parkways Authority (West Virginia Turnpike)


Potential Bay Area Bridge Toll Hikes Could Fund New Marin-East Bay Connector

Marin Independent Journal reports, “Discussions on building a connector in San Rafael from northbound Highway 101 to eastbound Interstate 580 are underway and could get funding from a toll hike being considered by regional transportation officials.” The newspaper adds, “The Metropolitan Transportation Commission . . . is considering a ballot measure to raise tolls to pay for projects, and Marin officials are lining up plans to submit if called upon. The connector is one being looked at.”


Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) San Francisco Bay Area (CA)


Marin Transportation Authority Will Poll Voters on Extending and Raising Sales Tax for Transportation Projects

Marin Independent Journal reports, “Marin transportation officials will conduct a poll to gauge willingness among voters to extend and possibly increase a half-cent sales tax first approved more than a decade ago.” The report adds, “At a half cent, the tax brings in close to $25 million annually. Another one-eighth would bump that up by $5 million annually, with a one-fourth cent increase adding another $11.5 million, transportation officials say.”

California San Francisco Bay Area (CA)


Ohio Lawmaker Suggets Planners Consider Tolling to Pay for Route 30 Extension

The Times-Reporter covers the initial meeting of a new multi-county entity that seeks to extend US Route 30 in northeast Ohio. On funding, State Representative Kirk Schuring proposed, among other things, that the group consider “making the Route 30 extension a toll road and inviting investors to contribute some of the funding to construct it in return for a share of future toll revenue.”



Local Officials Seek Additional $17 Million from Atlanta Regional Commission for Ramp to I-75 Reversible Toll Lanes

Marietta Daily Journal reports, “Officials with the Cumberland Community Improvement District say they intend to apply for an additional $17 million in funding from the Atlanta Regional Commission for the ramp at Akers Mill Road onto the Interstate 75 reversible toll lanes.” The Cumberland CID is trying to line up ramp construction funds “to give drivers commuting through the area access to the toll lanes.”

Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT)


Cape May (NJ) Bridge Commission's E-ZPass Plan Includes Toll Hikes in the Form of "Seasonal Fees"

NJ.com reports that the Cape May County Bridge Commission’s adoption of E-ZPass tolling will be accompanied by an increase in toll rates “in the form of seasonal fees, which the commission said should lessen the burden on year-round residents. The proposal would see a one-dollar seasonal increase between Memorial Day and Columbus Day and a 50-cent off-season increase. A public hearing will be held on April 27 about the toll increase.”

Cape May County (NJ) Bridge Commission E-ZPass New Jersey Toll Rate Changes


Bill to Prohibit MDTA from Charging the Key Bridge Toll to Trucks That Don't Actually Cross the Bridge. (Yes, It Happens.)

MarylandReporter.com reports that a state senate bill (SB 536) would prohibit MDTA from charging the $12.00 Francis Scott Key Bridge toll to commercial trucks that use the bridge’s three-mile approach road but don’t actually cross the bridge. “For years now,” the website reports, “southbound trucks working the Port of Baltimore have inundated residential neighborhoods in Dundalk to avoid the toll. . . .” One purpose of the bill is to improve the prospects for area economic redevelopment. The article adds that MDTA has several objections to the bill.

Maryland Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA)


Connecticut Legislative Hearing on Highway Tolls Features "Spirited Debate"

Hartford Courant reports that the February 27 Transportation Committee hearing on highway tolls featured “[a] long line of speakers [who] agreed the transportation network needs plenty of improvements, but virtually nobody — not truckers, commuters, border-town residents or others — [who] is interested in paying more. Lobbyists and lawmakers dominated the debate, but one resident . . . showed up to endorse tolls.” The article adds, “The committee will decide in March whether to advance a toll proposal to the full General Assembly. Some Democrats endorse the idea, but others — and the vast majority of Republicans — have been leaning against it.”

WTNH reports, “What seems to be gaining traction among some lawmakers is a plan to reduce the ‘Gas Tax’ and allow commuters an ‘Income Tax‘ credit for the amount they spend on tolls for commuting to work. ‘Maybe we should get rid of the ‘Gas Tax‘ all together and look at tolls as a source of revenue for the future,’” a local official tells the station.



Governor Christie Nominates Senator "with Bridgegate Ties" to PANYNJ Board

The Record reports that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has nominated State Senator Kevin O’Toole, “a close political ally,” to fill a PANYNJ board vacancy left by the resignation of former Bergen County Executive William ‘Pat’ Schuber. The newspaper adds that while O’Toole was not accused of playing a role in the George Washington Bridge lane closure scheme, his name “came up several times last year” during the Bridgegate trial.



Louisiana Risks Losing Federal Highway Aid for Lack of Matching Funds

The Advocate reports that Louisiana transportation secretary Shawn Wilson is warning that his state could begin to lose federal highway aid as early as next year unless it raises more revenue for project matching funds. State House Transportation Committee Chairman Kenny Havard (R-St. Francisville) tells the newspaper, “I don’t think it is a scare tactic. I think it truly is a reality.” The article adds that Louisiana has recently relied on bridge toll credits to meet federal matching requirements, but “that funding source is expected to soon fall short, leaving the state without the needed revenue.”

Louisiana Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD)


VDOT Gives Up FHWA Tolling Pilot Slot as Oregon Gets in Line

WTOP reports, “Virginia has given up its special federal exemption that would have allowed toll booths on Interstate 95 between Fredericksburg and the North Carolina line.” The report adds that VDOT Commissioner Charles Kilpatrick told FHWA in a letter that “based on changes in law and our new project development and rating process we are no longer considering the I-95 corridor for tolling under this program.”

As TRN noted yesterday, The Oregonian reports that Oregon DOT is expressing interest in taking one of the three pilot program slots.

Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) Virginia Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)


Five Things to Know about the Texas 71 Toll Lanes, Set to Open Today

Austin American-Statesman offers a primer on using new $140 million Texas 71 toll lanes, set to open today, February 28.

Texas Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)


Vancouver Mayors’ Council Pushes Ahead with Mobility Pricing Policy

CKNW reports, “The Metro Vancouver Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation is moving ahead to the next phase when it comes to ‘mobility pricing.’ A task force under the Council has formed a sub-group to consider the definition of mobility pricing and to develop the terms of reference.” A council official tells the station “the next step will be to set up an independent commission that’s at arms-length from government to undertake the research and public consultation.”

British Columbia Canada


Canadian Columnist Takes a Dim View of Tolling, P3s

The Province columnist Gordon Clark, who views tolling as a failure in British Columbia, makes a populist-style argument against tolls and P3s, writing, “As is done in the rest of the province, Lower Mainland roads and bridges on major routes should be funded by [the provincial government] through general revenue, including fairer progressive income taxes, and through the cheap financing only available to government.”

British Columbia Canada P3 & Privatization


PANYNJ Police Nab Alleged Scofflaw with 21 Accounts, 206 Violations and a Tab of Almost $13,000

NJ.com reports that PANYNJ police arrested a man they describe as a “habitual toll violator” at the Lincoln Tunnel toll plaza. A police spokesperson tells NJ.com the man has 206 alleged toll violations across 21 accounts amounting to almost $13,000 in unpaid tolls and fines.

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