Daily News Briefs, January 31, 2017

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Louisiana to Pursue P3 Projects, Issues RFI for I-10 Projects in the Works

The Advocate reports, “In a first for Louisiana, state transportation officials announced Monday [January 30] they will solicit input from private firms to fast track major improvements on Interstate 10 in the Baton Rouge area. Officials also said the request will make good on Gov. John Bel Edwards’ campaign promise to find innovative ways to tackle the state’s road and bridge problems, including a $13 billion backlog.” The report notes that a request for information issued by the Department of Transportation and Development is asking potential bidders “whether they have done similar work, what the initial financial arrangements would be and what would be the minimum time needed to submit such a proposal for I-10 work. Responses are due by March 31.”

Louisiana P3 & Privatization


Tolling is Becoming "A Part of Everyday Life" as Gas Tax Revenue Dwindles

“GOVERNING” Magazine reports, “As traditional sources of transportation revenue, like gas taxes, have declined, tolling has increasingly become a part of everyday life for many Americans. The miles of managed lanes with tolls on them has quadrupled since 2010. The number of drivers using toll facilities increased by 7 percent in just a single year, from 2014 to 2015. That growth could continue if lawmakers in places like Connecticut or Wisconsin move ahead this year with long-stalled plans to introduce tolling in their states.” The report focuses on Indiana State Representative Ed Soliday’s push to add toll revenue to the state’s transportation budget.


CT Lawmakers to Debate Tolling Proposals

Hartford Courant reports, “Preparing for what’s virtually certain to be a passionate debate, a legislative committee on Monday [January 30] decided there will be a public hearing this year on whether Connecticut should reinstitute highway tolls. The transportation committee agreed to raise the issue, but there’s no sign that opposition has weakened.” The report does add that “toll advocates believe the prospect of huge deficits ahead will lead lawmakers to reconsider their thinking” about tolling. The hearing schedule will be decided on in February.

The Joint Transportation Committee has teed up two “electronic tolling” bills: PHB 5458 and PHB 6058.

WTNH reports, “There is almost universal agreement at the state and local level that the state’s infrastructure needs to be rebuilt. But the idea of imposing ‘electronic highway tolls’ to pay for it is running into a huge legislative traffic jam.”



Poll Shows NYC Tolling Plan Has Legs, Lawmakers Consider Tweaking Legislation to Increase Odds of Passage

Crain’s New York Business reports, “An advocacy group’s poll found more than half of New York voters favor the idea of tolling the East River bridges while lowering charges on high-toll crossings as a way to fund transit and road projects. Supporters of a plan designed by traffic guru Sam Schwartz called [Move NY] hope the poll could give momentum to a bill in Albany that would enact it.” The report adds that the Senate and Assembly “are pondering tweaking their respective bills this session to make them identical, thus improving the plan’s viability.”

New York New York City


PA Turnpike Breaks Ground on Second Phase of $700 Million Southern Beltway

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports, “After decades of talk and planning and design, major construction will begin this week on the 4-mile section of the Southern Beltway between Quicksilver Road and Route 22 near Pittsburgh International Airport.” The report adds, “This is the first construction in the second phase of the Southern Beltway, which will cover 13 miles from Route 22 to Interstate 79 and cost about $700 million.”

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC)


DRJTBC Awards $396 Million Construction Contract for New Scudder Falls Bridge

Bucks Local News reports, “The Scudder Falls (I-95) Bridge Replacement Project took a major step forward on Jan. 30 with the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission’s approval of a $396 million construction contract award” — to the Trumbull Corporation of Pittsburgh — “and a corresponding $475 million bond authorization to finance the project. ‘With today’s approval of a construction contract and bond financing, we are on the threshold of breaking ground to replace the existing “functionally obsolete” bridge and its congestion-prone approach roadways and interchanges,’ said Joseph Resta, executive director of the Commission.” [Link added.]

Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission (DRJTBC)


CDOT Pitches Expansion of I-70 Express Toll Lane to Trump Administration

CBS Denver reports, “As President Donald Trump settles into the White House, CBS4 has confirmed his staff is considering the Interstate 70 mountain corridor as a possible future infrastructure project they want to see completed. The Colorado Department of Transportation officials confirmed Monday [January 30] that they did submit two proposals to the new administration. Those include a planned westbound expansion of a new peak time express toll lane on I-70 and new projects along Interstate 25.”

Colorado Department of Transportation


US House Transportation Committee to Hear from Business, Labor on Fixing Roads, Bridges

The Hill reports, “The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold its first hearing in the new Congress [tomorrow, February 1] in an effort to hear input from business leaders and organized labor about what it will take to upgrade U.S. roads, bridges and other public works.” [Link added.]


PANYNJ Police Catch Two Men Taping Over License Plate at GW Bridge

CBS New York reports, “Port Authority Police nabbed two men after they say they spotted them covering up a license plate in a bid to avoid paying a toll at the George Washington Bridge.” (No points will be awarded for neatness or ingenuity based on the article’s photo.)

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ)


A Zipper Lane Barrier and a Hummingbird Nest Drive Up Costs of MTC's Richmond-San Rafael Bridge Project

San Francisco Chronicle columnists Matier and Ross report that the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Richmond-San Rafael Bridge improvement project “ran into some unexpected twists.” The project plan requires MTC to purchase a $1 million zipper lane barrier mover that will be used so infrequently maintenance workers will run it once a week just to keep it from getting “stiff.” The discovery of a hummingbird nest also caused a slight delay in the project.

California Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC)


Ontario Premier Meets with Toronto Mayor but Remains Opposed to Tolling

CTV News Toronto reports that Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne remains opposed to the GTA expressway toll proposal after meeting with Mayor John Tory. “Putting a toll on existing roads without having those affordable, efficient transit alternatives just is not fair. We know what people’s budgets are stretched as it is . . . so we need to make sure that we make the investments necessary,” Wynne said.

The Globe and Mail reports that “the toll veto has cost Toronto – which has more than $30-billion in unfunded pending infrastructure projects – significantly.”

Canada Ontario


Trial Opens on LBJ Express Construction Damage Claim

NBC Dallas-Fort Worth reports, “The first of more than 150 claims that construction of the LBJ Express Project ruined neighbors’ homes is before a Dallas jury this week.”

Issues of Law Texas


Arlington County Board Endorses VDOT's I-66 Widening Plan

ARLnow.com reports, “The Arlington County Board over the weekend voted to endorse the goals of a Virginia Dept. of Transportation plan to widen part of I-66, but it also had a few questions.” Click here for the county’s news release.

Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)


I-95 Upgrades in North Carolina Make Trump Transition Team List (Tolling a Possibility)

The News & Observer reports, “Long-delayed upgrades to Interstate 95 in North Carolina would get a boost from the federal government under a draft list of 50 infrastructure projects compiled by President Donald Trump’s transition team – but details of the proposal are scarce.” The report adds that tolling could be a funding source.

North Carolina


Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Safety Improvement Project Makes Top Projects List as Cost Estimate Falls

WWL reports, “The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway enhancement project, including new segmented shoulders and guardrails, is one of 50 projects listed by President Trump’s advisers for potential federal funding.” Causeway General Manager Carlton Dufrechou, besides being thrilled with the news, says that project’s estimated cost has been lowered to $103 million from $125 million.

Lake Pontchartrain Causeway (Metro New Orleans)


Sentence for Former Orlando Expressway Authority Board Member Is Reduced

Orlando Sentinel reports that the prison sentence imposed on Scott Batterson, the former Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority board member convicted of bribery-related charges in 2014, “has been reduced to 42 months from 90 months to match other corruption punishments in Central Florida, according to the judge in the case.”

Crime Beat Florida