Daily News Briefs, July 10, 2017

This is a Subscribers-Only area. If you are a subscriber, please login. If not...

Become a Subscriber Today »

Indiana's Top Tolling Oversight Official, Key Figure in Ohio River Bridges Project, Is Out

WDRB reports, “The Indiana Department of Transportation won’t disclose why its top official in charge of Ohio River bridge tolls is no longer on the job. Clint Murphy, who was the state’s director of tolling oversight, guided Indiana through the start of tolls late last year.” Murphy, who had been in the job since 2013, did not respond to WDRB’s request for comment.

Indiana Kentucky Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges


As Amtrak's "Summer of Hell" Project Begins, NYC Road Construction Restrictions and Overnight Truck Toll Reductions Take Effect

WPIX reports that Governor Andrew Cuomo’s order to suspend non-emergency road construction between 5 AM and 10 PM and open all lanes on major New York City roadways is in effect because of the July 9 start of Amtrak’s “Summer of Hell” rail repair project. Cuomo also ordered truck tolls reduced by 50 percent on all MTA-operated bridges and tunnels between 10 PM and 5 AMSunday nights through Friday mornings, in an effort “to reduce traffic during peak hours.”

Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) New York New York City Toll Rate Changes


USA Today Headline:, "Jesus, Take the Wheel: Minister Charged in Turnpike Road Rage Incident"

USA Today reports, “A minister in a Corvette was taken into custody after the Florida Highway Patrol said he pointed a gun at people traveling in another car on Florida’s Turnpike last week, the Florida Highway Patrol said.”

Florida Florida Turnpike Enterprise (FTE)


I-95 and I-495 Express Lanes Are Delivering for Transurban

The Free Lance-Star columnist Scott Shenk takes a quick look at Transurban’s Q1 financials and notes that the Australia-based corporation “is raking in profits from its 15 toll lane operations across the globe. And the Interstate 95 and 495 express lanes are doing quite well, according to Transurban’s first-quarter report.”

95/395/495 Express Lanes (Metro Washington DC) Transurban Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)


CTRMA Makes Progress on Two Major Projects

Austin American-Statesman has an update on Austin road construction and reports good progress on two major CTRMA projects — 183 South (a $743 million addition of six new toll lanes and several frontage roads) and SH 45 Southwest (the new, $76 million four-lane tollway). As for MoPac, CTRMA maintains it will open to traffic in September, according to the newspaper.

Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) Texas


VDOT's I-66 Widening Project Includes a Bike Path, but "Biking Aficionados" Aren't Thrilled with the Design

The Washington Post reports, “The widening of Interstate 66 outside the Capital Beltway is bringing HOT lanes to one of the region’s most congested corridors. It also will make room for bicyclists and pedestrians — literally putting them on a trail next to one of the region’s busiest and most congested highways. The bike path, part of the $2.3 billion interstate expansion project, has drawn cheers and criticism from biking aficionados who welcome the addition of the trail, but say, if built as proposed, users will be too close to cars whizzing by on the interstate and exposed to toxic exhaust fumes.”

Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Washington (DC) Metro Region


Newspaper Explains Plenary Roads Denver's Proposal to Hike I-25 and US 36 Express Lanes Toll Rates

Westword reports that “drivers traveling between Boulder and Denver using express lanes on Interstate 25 and U.S. 36 could be paying more mere weeks from now under a new proposal by Plenary Roads Denver.” With help from CDOT’s Megan Castle, the newspaper explains why toll rate adjustments are necessary to alleviate congestion.

Colorado Colorado Department of Transportation Plenary Roads Denver


PA Turnpike Earns Editorial Praise for Crackdown on Scofflaws and Limited Amnesty Program

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial board cheers the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s efforts to crack down on scofflaws by suspending vehicle registrations “of those who incur new violations while money still is owed from old ones.” They write, “The agency has every right to take a tougher stance with those who intentionally and repeatedly flout the system. Parts of the highway haven’t been upgraded since the 1940s, but funding for capital projects is tight.”

Altoona Mirror editors are on board as well, noting that, “Collecting the $17.1 million is important to the turnpike for a reason other than helping to keep the roadway in good repair and safe. The turnpike still is dealing with the effects of a 2007 state law that has required the toll road to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to the state. Those payments have eased pressure on lawmakers to find money for PennDOT.”

Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) Scofflaws


Kentucky Is Moving to a New System to Rank Highway Projects

Courier-Journal reports, “The needs are many and the available funding sparse. So [Kentucky] officials are using a new system [called SHIFT, Strategic Highway Investment Formula for Tomorrow] to rank the most worthy highway projects in the commonwealth.” Now in first place on the developing priority list is a $123 million proposal to widen the Gene Snyder Freeway to reduce congestion in the “rapidly developing corridor and the interstate” that leads to Louisville’s new Lewis and Clark toll bridge.

Kentucky Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges


Tampa Bay Next's Evolution from Previous FDOT Proposal

Tampa Bay Times looks at FDOT’s Tampa Bay Next project, where it stands today and how it differs from its forerunner, Tampa Bay Express (TBX).

Florida Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Tampa Bay Express Tampa Bay Next (TBN)


Wisconsin Budget and Tolling Debate Continues

Associated Press reports, “There is no consensus among Republican senators about whether to pursue toll roads for Wisconsin’s interstates, but they are leaning toward eliminating or phasing out a personal property tax that primarily affects businesses, the co-chair of the Legislature’s budget committee said. . . .”

WKOW reports that, regardless of its merits, a proposal submitted by Governor Scott Walker at the end of last week to close Wisconsin’s highway funding gap with federal money may have come too late to have a chance of succeeding.



Treasure Island (FL) Officials Eye Tolling or a Property Tax Increase to Fund Causeway Operation

Tampa Bay Times reports, “City officials, searching for ways to fund future maintenance and operation of the Treasure Island Causeway, seem to have only two choices: a bridge toll or a property tax increase. Neither is particularly popular,” but the city has engaged a communications firm to organize a “public engagement” program “to educate residents and solicit feedback.”



Indianapolis Newspaper: Lessons Learned from Failed I-69 P3 Include, "The Lowest Bid Isn't Necessarily the Best."

The Indianapolis Star editorial board says there are three lessons to be learned from the “fiasco” that Indiana’s P3 project on I-69 has become, writing that, “Lesson one: The lowest bid isn’t necessarily the best.” (Spoiler alert: abandoning the P3 model is not one of the lessons.)

Indiana Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) P3 & Privatization


Sydney Leads the World in Toll Roads as Some Motorists Pay 8,000 AUD a Year to Get to Work

The Daily Telegraph (subscription may be required) reports, “Sydney will have more road tolls than any city in the world by 2023, a special investigation by The Daily Telegraph reveals. Australia’s biggest and busiest­ city is already home to 135km of tolled roads across nine major roadways — with some drivers spending more than $8000 [approximately US$6,075] every year just to get to work.” The report adds, “And it’s only set to get worse with six more toll roads in the next five years.”



Enforcement of Toll Road Fines is "Clogging Up" Victoria's Courts

The Age reports, “More than seven out of 10 toll road fines end up with the driver entering the criminal justice system, an Age analysis has revealed. The courts “can no longer cope” with enforcing the infringements, say [Australian] legal advocates. Critics of the punitive system are calling for an urgent overhaul, arguing the unpaid infringements issued by private toll road operators are clogging up Victoria’s courts.”

Australia Scofflaws


Indonesian State Firms Court Foreign Pension Funds with Toll Road and Other Infrastructure Projects

Reuters reports, “Indonesian state firms are courting foreign pension funds by offering a share in future revenue from toll roads, power stations and other infrastructure projects, as part of a presidential drive to secure $10 billion. . . .” The wire service adds that the plan is to securitize investments in assets already producing revenue to reduce risk for investors, and one such asset is PT Jasa Marga, Indonesia’s largest toll road operator.

Indonesia Infrastructure Investment Trends