Daily News Briefs, January 5, 2017

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Confidential Document Details a PANYNJ "Quid Pro Quo Capital Plan"

The Record reports that the newspaper has obtained a confidential document that “shows how interstate jealousies over funding are defining how $30 billion will be spent on transportation in the region over the next 10 years.” The Record hits this “quid pro quo” approach to planning as PANYNJ commissioners prepare to vote on the agency’s draft of a ten-year capital plan today. The report adds, “The last time they met, in December, several commissioners refused to sign off on the document, citing reservations about the necessity of certain projects and their long-term financial viability.”

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ)


Officials Continue to Eye $1.2 billion to $4 Billion Elevated Toll Lanes P3 for California's Highway 37

The American Canyon Eagle covers a recent update on Highway 37’s status presented to Napa County supervisors. The newspaper reports that officials in Napa, Solano, Sonoma and Marin counties are continuing to work with Caltrans “to look at such possibilities as teaming up with a private company to build Highway 37 toll lanes” with a price tag of anywhere from $1.2 billion to $4 billion. The proposed P3 project includes elevating a segment of the highway that is threatened by the rising water level of San Pablo Bay.

California Caltrans (CA Department of Transportation) P3 & Privatization


San Diego County’s First Toll Road Turns 10

KGTV reports that the South Bay Expressway (also known as the 125 Toll Road) is now in its tenth year of operation, and usage has continued to increase since the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) reduced toll rates in 2012. SANDAG tells the station it has no current plans to add ramps to the tollway’s partially-completed San Miguel Ranch Road exit, but it will do repaving work this year, update the tolling system in 2019 and eventually complete the highway’s connections to State Routes 905 and 11 in Otay Mesa.

California San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG)


IN House Republicans Back Gas Tax, Registration Fee Increases for Transportation Funding (Tolling Remains a Possibility)

The Indianapolis Star reports, “House Republicans proposed a plan Wednesday [January 4] to raise about $800 million in new funds for state roads and bridges over the next two years, mostly by hiking gasoline taxes.” The report adds, “In the long run, House GOP leaders say the plan — along with potential new highway tolls — is expected to generate the projected $1.2 billion per year needed to maintain state and local roads and fund expansions. Under the plan, gasoline taxes would see an initial boost, and then regularly increase with inflation and Hoosier income growth.”



Delaware River and Bay Authority Approves ETC Improvements for Delaware Memorial Bridge

Delaware Business Times reports on the Delaware River and Bay Authority’s recently-adopted 2017 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) and Five Year Strategic Plan. The plan includes Delaware Memorial Bridge toll plaza improvements and an ETC installation project. According to the newspaper, DRBA will replace “system hardware and software with a new advanced ETC system that will safeguard against having unplanned interruptions and provide for more reliable toll collection. Construction on the new toll system started in 2016 and is expected to total $5.9 million in 2017.”

Delaware Delaware River and Bay Authority


Colorado DOT Partners with Data Scientists to Work on Traffic Congestion

The Denver Post reports that the Colorado Department of Transportation is “teaming up with the data scientists at Denver-based Galvanize, a tech educator and startup space for entrepreneurs. [Link added.] In a unique partnership announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on [January 3], CDOT employees are expected to gain data-science skills while Galvanize professors and students pour through state transportation data to figure out better ways to attack Colorado traffic congestion — at no cost to taxpayers.”

Colorado Colorado Department of Transportation


MD Lawmakers Will Push Bill to Expand Use of Hatem Bridge E-ZPass Commuter Transponder

Cecil Whig says one of the stories it will be watching in 2017 involves the effort by county officials and state legislators to enact a law “to allow the special commuter Hatem Bridge E-ZPass transponder to be accepted on the Tydings (Interstate 95) Bridge during rush hour hours only.”

E-ZPass Maryland Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA)


Effect of Colorado DOT's Increased HOV Requirements for Express Lanes Remains to Be Seen

CBS News Denver reports that the true effect of CDOT’s decision to raise the vehicle occupancy requirement on I-25 and US 36 Express Lanes to HOV-3 won’t be known until the winter vacation period ends next week. The network adds, “The I-70 Mountain Express Lanes as well as the new C-470 Express Lanes will be toll-only and not have an HOV option. Current HOV lanes which do not have a toll like the ones on [US 85/Santa Fe Drive] will remain HOV 2+ and will not require a transponder to ride for free.”

Colorado Department of Transportation Express Lanes


OTA Sued Over Expansion Project. Again.

KWTV News 9 reports that Lawyer Jerry Fent . . . is at it again. Fent has filed another lawsuit against OTA over its planned eastern Oklahoma County turnpike project. Fent claims “the OTA took out a $90 million loan for work on the project before $480 million in bond money was officially authorized [in December 2016].” OTA tells the station it has a strong legal position and “is prepared to let the judicial proceedings continue.”

Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA)


Bestpass Clears Significant Milestones in 2016

Bestpass announces that it “reached several significant milestones in 2016, including expanding toll coverage to include Oklahoma and completing the first truly national tolling solution for commercial fleets; hiring 13 new employees; and adding more than 1,000 new accounts and more than 100,000 new active transponders. The company, now with 50 employees, processes more than $1.2 million in tolls per day for more than 3,700 customers in the United States and Canada with more than 295,000 active transponders. Total toll volume processed in 2016 surpassed $450 million.”


NCDOT to Hold Meetings on I-485 Express Lanes Project

WSOC reports, “A plan to put a toll lanes on I-485 in south Charlotte has been in the works for years, but the North Carolina Department of Transportation wants to know if the public supports the plan.” NCDOT has scheduled two meetings in January on the proposal, which involves opening one express lane in each direction on I-485 between I-77 and U.S. 74.

Express Lanes North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT)


Longmeadow Parkway Project Construction Could Start in Spring

Northwest Herald provides an update on the Kane County (IL) Longmeadow Parkway project, which received environmental approval from the Federal Highway Administration in November. A county transportation division official tells the newspaper that construction of one phase of the road and toll bridge project “could start as early as this spring and be completed by the end of the year.”

Illinois Kane County (IL) DOT


Bridgegate Defendants are Relying on New Federal Court Ruling for Reversal of Their Convictions

Associated Press reports that Bridgegate defendants Bill Baroni and Bridget Kelly are relying on a recent federal court ruling in Massachusetts to help them obtain a reversal of their convictions. They claim, according to AP, the government improperly applied federal criminal law to conduct (realigning George Washington Bridge lanes) that was, at worst, “ill-advised or perhaps even unethical,” and they cite the December 19, 2016, court of appeals decision in US v. Tavares as support for their argument.

Issues of Law Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ)


MDX Set to Open Enrollment Period for Toll Dividend Program

WSVN reports that the next open enrollment period for MDX’s Cash Back Toll Dividend Program will run from January 11 to March 31, 2017. The report adds that “MDX expects to issue refund checks to 54,000 customers” through the program.

Florida Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX)


Fitch Rates New York MTA Bridges and Tunnels Bonds

Fitch Ratings “has assigned a ‘AA-‘ underlying rating to the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority [MTA Bridges and Tunnels] . . . approximately $300 million general revenue bonds, series 2017A and general revenue refunding bonds, series 2017B (amount subject to market conditions). The Rating Outlook is Stable.”

Investment Ratings Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)