Daily News Briefs, January 10, 2017

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Cuomo Proposes to Make Verrazano-Narrows Bridge Discount for Staten Islanders Permanent

SILive.com reports, “Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed making the resident toll discount permanent on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge during the first of six regional State of the State addresses [on January 9]. Cuomo mentioned the proposal almost in passing . . . , offering no details or background about his plan before moving on to the next point in his address.” Staten Island residents with E-ZPass accounts have paid a discounted toll rate since 2014.

E-ZPass Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) New York City


Work on New 15.5-Mile Houston Toll Road Advances

Houston Chronicle reports, “Construction crews recently began drilling shafts at the intersection of Beltway 8 and Texas 288, prepping the site to construct a bridge that will become part of a new 15.5-mile toll road linking the Pearland and Manvel areas to Houston’s Texas Medical Center. [Link added.] A long-time-in-the-making plan to turn Texas 288’s median into a tollway finally got underway Oct. 25 with work crews starting construction at two sites along the proposed toll road.”

Texas Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)


Houston Chronicle Looks at the City's "Massive Infrastructure"

Houston Chronicle provides a special report, “Dissecting Houston’s Massive Infrastructure,” which notes that, “As the city slowly approaches the No. 3 spot on the list of biggest U.S. cities, Houston’s capacity will need to grow as the population continues to swell.” The report adds, “With 44 of the state’s 100 most congested roads and six of the top 10, more roadwork should come to no surprise.”

Houston Metro Area Texas


I-77 Mobility Partners Chooses Kapsch as Its Toll System Provider

Kapsch TrafficCom announced that I-77 Mobility Partners awarded it a contract to be the toll system provider and system integrator for the I-77 Express Lanes project in North Carolina. Kapsch will design, deploy and maintain “all tolling and traffic management hardware and field systems, including the Toll Collection System (TCS), Intelligent Transportation System (ITS), and Network Communication System (NCS)” for the 26-mile-long facility. Kapsch adds, “As part of a fully-automated managed lanes setup, these integrated components will create a ‘market effect’ on the roadway by enabling the price of the express lanes to adjust according to traffic volume.”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) I-77 Express Lanes (NC) North Carolina


MTA Is Scheduled to Start Work on Verrazano-Narrows Bridge Cashless Tolling Infrastructure Today

SILive.com reports that MTA is already starting work on next summer’s conversion of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to cashless tolling. According to the website, Staten Island Borough President James Oddo issued a statement saying, “I was informed by the MTA that construction to set up the Cashless Tolling gantry and systems at the Verrazano Bridge . . . has been scheduled to start [today, January 10].”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) New York City


IDOT's Pitch to Add Express Lanes to I-290 Hinges on Reduced Travel Time, Convenience

Daily Herald weighs the prospects of IDOT’s proposal to add express lanes to Chicago’s Eisenhower Expressway (I-290). “IDOT is selling the HOT lane with estimates that it could reduce travel times by 50 percent and ensure speeds of 45 mph,” the newspaper reports. It adds that “without a state capital plan or federal funding, tolling is the only way to fund the I-290 project, experts think. ‘Motorists are always skeptical at first, but they quickly find when in a pinch that paying a few dollars for convenience is a very smart investment,’ DePaul University transportation professor Joseph Schwieterman said.”

Chicago Metro Area Express Lanes Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT)


Louisiana Funding Task Force Pushes P3s, Tolling and Borrowing in Addition to Gas Tax Increase

WWL reports on the Louisiana Transportation Task Force’s final report on improving transportation infrastructure. Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn Wilson, the task force co-chair, tells the station that lawmakers have to find new revenue sources to fund the $700 million in annual construction and maintenance expenditures recommended by the task force. Wilson calls a gas tax increase “part of whatever the solution is,” but he adds that the state will also have to look at bonds, tolling and public-private partnerships.

The Advocate (Baton Rouge) reports that the answers to three key questions will determine whether the Louisiana task force’s recommendation will become a reality.

Louisiana Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD)


Maine Turnpike's Conversion to ORT Continues

Portland Press Herald reports that the Maine Turnpike Authority will stop traffic on the Falmouth spur at the toll plaza several nights this week “to allow workers to erect overhead signs as part of the conversion of the plaza to an open road toll plaza.” The report adds that the “project is part of the Turnpike Authority’s overall plan to convert all of the toll plazas to open road toll plazas.”

Maine Turnpike Authority Open-Road Tolling


Local Officials Will Invest $25,000 in Battle against Maine Turnpike's York Toll Plaza Plans

Seacoastonline.com reports that members of Think Again (the group opposed to relocation of the York toll plaza) “burst out in applause Monday night [January 9] after selectmen agreed to take $25,000 from their contingency account to prepare to take on the Maine Turnpike Authority at an upcoming state hearing on the York toll plaza.” The report adds, “The town has long held that the Maine Turnpike Authority has not provided enough evidence against the viability of a cashless, or all-electronic, tolling system. Instead, it’s building a plaza that includes electronic and cash booth tolling. . . .”

Maine Turnpike Authority Open-Road Tolling


NJ Motorists Are Frustrated by Coin Basket Snafus on the Garden State Parkway

The Press of Atlantic City reports, “Tolls are a frustrating part of driving on highways in New Jersey. Now imagine paying your toll but still ending up with a fine.” The newspaper spotlights a Facebook video post that shows a Garden State Parkway motorist dropping exact change into a coin collection bin without the toll payment registering. With no one at the plaza to complain to, the motorist “grumbles, curses and drives through, knowing in a few days a letter informing him of a $51.50 fine will be in his mailbox. ‘I’m getting ticket after ticket,’ he says in the video.” And, as the newspaper discovers, the motorist isn’t alone.

New Jersey New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA)


OTA's First AET Interchange Earns Editorial Props

Tulsa World editors like OTA’s new Creek Turnpike AET interchange, the first in Oklahoma. They write, “If the system is successful at the Jenks site, turnpike officials say they might try it elsewhere on the Creek Turnpike and on other urban toll roads. We see it as a sign of things to come and a more efficient way to handle a necessity of urban life: Pay-to-play highways.”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA)


With OH River Bridges Tolls Live, What of the Brent Spence Bridge?

WCPO looks at the long, long debate (did we say long?) over replacing the “functionally obsolete” Brent Spence Bridge, reporting that, “Using tolls to pay for improvements to the bridge and the stretch of Interstate 71/75 to its south has been one of Northern Kentucky’s hottest political potatoes in recent memory, a discussion that Louisville’s newly opened bridges have re-ignited here.”

Kentucky Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges Ohio


San Francisco Company Develops Internet-Connected, Message-and-Image-Flashing (but Not at All Distracting) License Plate

San Francisco Chronicle reports that a San Francisco company called Reviver wants to reinvent the metal license plate as “an interactive digital display called rPlate that can automatically update DMV registration, display messages and images and handle vehicle and fleet tracking.” The newspaper adds that “the rPlate looks like a traditional license plate, albeit somewhat brighter. . . . But when a car is stopped, the rPlate can swing into action, displaying a host of other information. It is Internet-connected and can show Amber alerts and weather warnings, as well as custom messages from the driver, such as ‘Go Warriors!’ or ‘Happy New Year!’ — along with images such as Stephen Curry making a jump shot.”


Police Nab NYC Scofflaws, Including a NJ Man with $94,000 in Unpaid Toll Violations

CBS New York reports, “Questions were mounting Monday evening about how a man from Monmouth County, New Jersey, allegedly did not pay for tolls so long that he racked up $94,000 in violations.”

New York Post reports, “MTA cops busted a woman who had racked up nearly $6,500 in unpaid tolls on just the second day that the Hugh Carey Tunnel went cashless and authorities started running all license plates. . . . The woman allegedly went through tolls booths without paying 79 times during 2016, cops said.”

Crime Beat Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) Scofflaws


Dumbbell Crashes Through Windshield on NJ Turnpike, Driver Hospitalized

SNJ Today reports, “State police are trying to determine how a dumbbell came crashing through a vehicle’s windshield on Monday morning [January 9] on the New Jersey Turnpike. According to police, a 50-pound dumbbell crashed through the vehicle’s windshield . . . injuring a motorist.”

New Jersey New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA)


The Christian Science Monitor Asks: Why Is Uber Giving Away Traffic Data?

The Christian Science Monitor reports, “Uber knows how a baseball game, a shutdown of the Metro, or a holiday weekend affects traffic. Now, the ride-hailer wants to share that data with city planners and the public. Uber plans to display data of anonymized travel between points in cities in a public website called Movement.” [Link added.] The report adds, “Movement represents an Uber goodwill effort to work with cities and regulators, not against them. Uber and its competitors including Lyft have clashed with governments over rules and regulations. . . .”