Daily News Briefs, July 1, 2024

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Kansas Turnpike Went Cashless Early Today

The Kansas Turnpike Authority (KTA) issued a news release announcing that its transition to a cashless collection system got off to a smooth start early this morning. “We’re pleased with how quickly the task of converting the roadway occurred,” said Bruce Meisch, KTA’s cashless tolling project manager and technology director. “As planned, converting our back-office and preparing the new toll payment system, DriveKS and its accompanying mobile app, will take just a bit more time.” Until July 8, authority customer service centers are closed and the KTAG websites and mobile app are unavailable as technicians complete June billing in the old system and transfer data to the new DriveKS system. By the end of this month, tollbooth demolition and lane reconfiguration work — an 18-month-long process to make travel even more convenient and safer — will begin. KTA chief executive Steve Hewitt thanked the authority’s manual collection staff, commenting, “They not only collected tolls but were a friendly face for many customers” over the past 68 years. “Their legacy of kindness and outstanding service will live on in many ways here at KTA,” he said.

Yesterday, in an op-ed column provided to The Topeka Capital-Journal, Mr. Hewitt explained why cashless conversion is a necessary “risk” that KTA has worked long and hard to undertake. He said safety — the elimination of stop-and-go traffic at tollbooths — and the advance of tolling technology were prime considerations, but timing was also a decisive factor.

WIBW covers today’s collection system transition.

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) ETC Systems Highway-Tunnel-Bridge Maintenance Highway-Tunnel-Bridge Safety (Includes COVID-19 Impacts) Kansas Kansas Turnpike Authority (KTA) KTAG


Streetsblog Graphic Tallies Impacts Of NYC Congestion Pricing Postponement

But for Governor Kathy Hochul’s recent postponement decision, MTA central business district tolling would have started early yesterday. Streetsblog NYC is displaying a dynamic graphic to illustrate, second-by-second, what it maintains New York City motorists and residents would be gaining in congestion reduction, air quality improvement and public transportation funding if the governor hadn’t intervened. The feature encourages readers to share the data with friends and state legislators.

(New York) Daily News contributed to the chorus of regret for the governor’s action in a Sunday editorial that called her decision unlawful and ultimately futile. In addition to castigating Ms. Hochul, the editors wrote, “Despite the carping critics, [congestion pricing] is not ‘a money grab.’ It is a fee for using a limited public resource: the roads. The roads aren’t free, the bridges aren’t free, the subways and the buses aren’t free. Someone has to pay for them. [A Daily News feature counting down the days until the start of tolling] was due to end today. Instead, thanks to Hochul, it will continue until the tolling starts. Hopefully soon.”

Congestion Pricing Environmental Protection Policies Procedures And Initiatives Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) New York New York City Transit and Toll Roads


Veto Override Enables North Carolina Turnpike To Raise Unpaid Toll Fees

WCNC reports, before recessing last Thursday, June 27, the Republican-dominated North Carolina General Assembly voted to override three vetoes issued by Governor Roy Cooper (D). One the votes passed into law House Bill 198, which includes a variety of transportation law amendments. Among other things, the statute allows the North Carolina Turnpike Authority (NCTA) to raise its current unpaid invoice processing fee of $6.oo per month to as much as $9.00. The measure also raises the existing annual cap on processing fee charges to $72.00 from $48.00. NCTA has previously stated it won’t necessarily increase fees by the full authorized amount at one time.

TRN notes that the new law also gives NCTA the authority to use “digital communications and methods to obtain information for a registered owner of a motor vehicle through verification of phone numbers, connected or enabled vehicle applications, and other digital means to pursue a bill by first-class mail.”

It’s been reported recently that NCTA collected $8.6 million in late fees during the last fiscal year.

A controversial provision of the law — one that influenced the governor’s veto — makes it easier for billboard companies to prune or remove trees along roadsides.

ETC Systems Information Technology Resources and Acquisitions NC Quick Pass North Carolina North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) North Carolina Turnpike Authority Scofflaws


Crash-Damaged Hood River Bridge Reopens Under Some Restrictions

KGW reports, the bistate Hood River-White Salmon toll bridge connecting Oregon and Washington “reopened [yesterday] at 1 p.m. after being closed to all traffic through the weekend following a crash involving a semi-truck that caused ‘severe damage’ and impacted some of the bridge’s structural beams on Thursday [June 27]. The bridge reopened for all vehicular traffic except semi-trucks, any truck over 14 feet and seven inches, and any other ‘hauling’ cars.” The span’s operator, the Port of Hood River, decided to allow a limited resumption of traffic after reviewing information provided by HDR Engineering that Kiewit Infrastructure West independently evaluated.

The port agency’s website has additional information about the reopening and the resumption of tolling.

HDR, Inc. Highway-Tunnel-Bridge Maintenance Highway-Tunnel-Bridge Safety (Includes COVID-19 Impacts) Hood River-White Salmon Bridge Authority (OR & WA) Kiewit Corporation Oregon Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) Washington State Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)


Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex Cities Express Interest In Aerial Gondola System

Houston Chronicle (via Chron) reports, “While Houstonians wonder if a bullet train might finally be constructed, get angry at METRO for pausing a proposed bus line and get in more bicycle accidents than in recent years, some Texas cities are hoping to be on the cutting edge of transportation. Several North Texas cities are reportedly in discussion with transportation company Swyft Cities to install [an aerial gondola-style system called Whoosh] that could carry riders high above the streets.” The company, which is run by former Google staffers, reportedly describes Whoosh as providing “the ‘perfect Uber’ — fast, on-demand, nonstop trips with a great view.” Although Swyft Cities is marketing it, the system was designed and developed by an engineering firm, New Zealand-based Holmes Solutions.

Dallas-Ft. Worth Metro Region (DFW) Google and Alphabet Inc. Holmes Solutions Texas


These are just some of the toll industry developments TRN is following.

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