Daily News Briefs, February 6, 2017

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PA and NJ Turnpikes: Delaware River Bridge Will Be Closed at Least Eight More Weeks

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports, “The Delaware River turnpike bridge, shut down after a fracture was discovered in a steel truss two weeks ago, will be closed for at least eight more weeks, officials announced Friday. The 60-year-old structure, which connects the Pennsylvania Turnpike with the New Jersey Turnpike and is used by 42,000 vehicles a day, could be reopened in April in a ‘best-case scenario,’ officials said.”

Click here to read a PTC news release with an “Approximate Bridge Construction Timetable.”

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


FDOT Announces Delayed Opening for $481 Million I-75 Express Lanes

Sun-Sentinel reports, “The opening of the first phase of I-75 express lanes has been moved from spring until some time in the summer. [Link added.] Planners blamed the delay on weather, including preparations for Hurricane Matthew. The new lanes . . . will be the first to open in South Florida since toll lanes were added to Interstate 95 in 2008 and I-595 in 2014.”

Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)


American Bus Association Follows ATA and Sues NY Thruway over Use of Toll Dollars for Canal System

“Land Line” Magazine reports, “One week after the New York State Thruway argued against a ruling in favor of the American Trucking Associations’ claim that truck tolls used for the canal system were unconstitutional, another wrench has been thrown into the mix. [Link added.] On Wednesday, Feb. 1, the American Bus Association, the largest national trade association for the bus and motorcoach industry, filed a similar class action lawsuit against the Thruway. Citing ATA’s victory last week, ABA claimed bus companies were similarly affected.”

Issues of Law New York State Thruway Authority


CA Highway 37 Is Disappearing Underwater, but an Elevated Tollway P3 Proposal "Appears Stalled"

Sonoma Index-Tribune reports that Fraser Shilling, co-director of the Road Ecology Center at UC Davis, says there is less time than he initially predicted for saving Highway 37 from disappearing underwater: “Delaying action could be catastrophic, he said, predicting that one day water will push over embankments and levees and the highway will be ‘gone.’” The article lays out possible solutions and funding, and notes that United Bridge Partners’ elevated tollway P3 proposal “appears stalled.”

California Caltrans (CA Department of Transportation)


NY Times Visits Breezewood, PA, a Town "At the Junction of Politics and Policy"

The New York Times visits the “notorious choke point” of Breezewood, where I-70 and the PA Turnpike come together, but, well, don’t, because “no ramps join these two huge highways at their crossing. Instead, drivers travel an extra two-mile loop that brings them out of rural Appalachia and into several suddenly urban blocks with traffic lights and a dense bazaar of gas stations, fast food restaurants and motels.” As to why, The Times explains, “The answer lies at the intersection of politics and transportation policy. At a time when President Trump wants to spend a trillion dollars on infrastructure, the story of Breezewood offers a vivid case study in governance over such projects. It shows how legal quirks, powerful politicians and opaque bureaucratic procedures can influence decisions about how to spend taxpayer dollars.”

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC)


New President of the Golden Gate Bridge Board Faces Wide Range of Major Projects

Marin Independent Journal reports, “Novato’s Dietrich Stroeh finds himself as the new president of the Golden Gate Bridge Board of Directors just as span officials begin work on a major project aimed at saving lives.” [Link added.] The report adds, “Bridge general manager Denis Mulligan said the district is fortunate to have Stroeh leading the board as work on the [suicide] barrier, seismic retrofit, bus fleet replacement and other projects move forward.”

Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District (GGBHTD)


Yorba Linda City Council Changes TCA Rep

The Orange County Register reports that Yorba Linda City Council has changed its representation on several intergovernmental agency boards, and “[a] key change is on one of two boards providing public oversight for the four toll roads stretching through the county. Peggy Huang replaces Craig Young, who chaired the 15-member panel overseeing the three Foothill/Eastern roads – the 133, 241 and 261.”

California Transportation Corridor Agencies (CA)


One Year in, WSDOT's I-405 Express Lanes Are Delivering as "Kinks Are Still Being Worked Out"

The Seattle Times transportation columnist, Mike Lindblom, assesses the I-405 express lanes after their first year, reporting that, “Even drivers who don’t use the toll lanes save an average of five minutes in the morning for the 17-mile trip from Lynnwood to Bellevue, and the freeway serves more people than ever before, official reports show.”

Express Lanes Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)


IL Tollway Interchange Pays Dividends for Host Municipality

Journal & Topics Newspapers reports, “A now five-year-old off-ramp on the northbound Tri-State Tollway (I-294) at Balmoral Avenue in Rosemont has more than paid for itself, village and tollway officials said.” Toll receipts are so good, the tollway authority made an early payoff of its $8 million construction obligation to the village, according to the report.

Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (IL Tollway)


Construction to Start on Next Phase of TxDOT, HCRTA Highway 249 Project this Month

Community Impact Newspaper reports, “Nearly two years after the opening of Phase I, construction will begin this month on the next phase to bring Hwy. 249 into Montgomery County.”

Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA) Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)


NCDOT Urged to Consider Alternative to $600 Million Mid-Currituck Bridge Project

Coastal Review Online reports that some area residents and environmentalists are urging NCDOT to consider a plan they endorse as an alternative to the $600 million Mid-Currituck Bridge toll project. For a copy of the group’s letter to Secretary Jim Trogdon and more details on its proposal, see this Southern Environmental Law Center news release.

North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT)


Indiana Governor Holcomb Is Open to Managed Lanes, Bridge Tolling and More P3 Projects

Daily Journal looks at the ongoing debate over tolling in Indiana and reports that Governor Eric Holcomb is not a fan of tolling the existing interstates, but is open to bridge and managed lane tolling. The governor is also “interested in the idea of public-private partnerships for new projects, similar to the partnership under former Gov. Mitch Daniels that leased the Indiana Toll Road in northern Indiana to a private company for 75 years, bringing in $3.8 billion to the state for road projects — money that has been stretched out for years,” the report adds.

Indiana P3 & Privatization


Will Indiana Lawmakers Back More Tolling?

News and Tribune takes a deep look at the prospects for more tolling in Indiana, leads with the upside of AET, and notes, “A 2015 study by Massachusetts-based research firm Cambridge Systematics estimated the state could receive up to $1 billion every year, if it implemented tolls on all lanes of Interstate 65 and Interstate 70 and on a new Interstate 69 bridge.” [Link added.]

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Indiana


San Bernardino County (CA) Planner Sees I-10 and I-15 Managed Lanes Bringing Congestion Relief

Champion Newspapers reports that Ray Wolfe, a San Bernardino Associated Governments transportation official, discussed highway project priorities (including possible I-10 and I-15 managed toll lanes) at a recent chamber of commerce event.

California Express Lanes


Public Is Asked to Weigh In on the Bob Sikes Bridge

Pensacola News Journal reports that Escambia County will hold a public meeting on February 23 “to discuss and seek input from the public regarding the Bob Sikes Bridge Toll Plaza, the newly instituted SunPass System and Pensacola Beach Annual Pass System, toll budget, future demands for the Bob Sikes Bridge and the Pensacola Beach Congestion Management Plan.”



Working Out RiverLink Kinks

WAVE reports, “The new Ohio River bridges are big and beautiful but some drivers say the tolling system is bogged down with problems. Drivers complain of apparent gaps in the system and the aggravation that comes with getting mistakes corrected.” The report adds, “Spokesperson Mindy Peterson blamed the issues on the fact that this is a new system, still working out the kinks. ‘If there’s any question they’re always going to err on the side of the driver,’ Peterson said of RiverLink’s toll workers.”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges