Daily News Briefs, July 17, 2017

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Are New Yorkers Losing an E-ZPass "Border War"

Times Union reports, “Thanks to what could be described as a vehicular border war, E-ZPass users who roam the Northeast will find a variety of fees depending on which state they are traveling through and where they register their transponder.” The newspaper adds, “New Yorkers may pay up to four times more [for] some out of state tolls.”

E-ZPass New York


Ten Years In, Tacoma Narrows Bridge Commuters Fill the Lanes, but Traffic and Toll Revenue Still Don't Match Projections

The News-Tribune reports, “The third bridge built over the Tacoma Narrows turned 10 on Saturday without the fanfare that marked its opening, and a region’s eyes remain trained on how it’s doing. The answer is mixed. The bridge’s structure remains solid . . . and commuters fill its lanes every weekday. But traffic and toll collections have fallen far short of what state officials projected before 2007.” The newspaper looks at potential consequences of the revenue shortfall.

Washington State Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)


Motorists Sue HCTRA over Administrative Fees for Unpaid Tolls

KPRC reports, “Houston drivers are contesting millions of dollars in fines and fees charged to them by the Harris County Toll Road Authority. Now, an attorney is taking the agency to court.” The report adds that “consumer attorney John Mastriani” is pressing for detail on how the authority sets its fees. HCTRA “collected more than $28 million last year from those extra administrative fees,” according to the station.

Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA) Scofflaws Texas


PA State Trooper Injured during Assault at Turnpike Rest Stop

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports, “A man from Canada is accused of injuring a state trooper during an incident at a Pennsylvania Turnpike service station in Westmoreland County.” The report adds, the 31-year-old Toronto man “allegedly attacked the male trooper by shoving, punching and gouging his eyes, police said. The trooper sustained minor injuries. [The man] is charged with aggravated assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.”

Crime Beat Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC)


VA Transportation Board Set to Approve Agreement to Allow Testing Self-Driving Cars in I-95 and I-495 Express Lanes

WTOP reports, “Cutting-edge connected and autonomous cars are set to run through the 95 and 495 Express Lanes for the next three years, including while regular toll-paying drivers and carpoolers are in the lanes. Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board is set to approve a three-year agreement Wednesday” among VDOT, Transurban (which operates the express lanes), and FHWA’s Office of Operations Research and Development that authorizes the testing to take place. [Links inserted.]

I-95 Express (Metro Washington, DC) Self-Driving Vehicles Transurban Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Washington (DC) Metro Region


HNTB's Prasad Talks about Funding, Technology, Wages and Tolling (Including FHWA's Decision to Nix I-80 Tolls in PA)

The Philadelphia Inquirer posts a Q&A with HNTB senior vice president (and former FDOT secretary) Ananth Prasad, who tackles a wide array of transportation issues. On tolling, Prasad notes, “In a few years, your car will directly communicate with dirt-cheap C-6 transmitters on the roadside: ‘I’m going under your gantry.’ You won’t need an [E-ZPass] box. The ID could be in your driver’s license, or in your plate.” Asked about FHWA’s 2010 decision to reject Pennsylvania’s application to toll I-80, Prasad says, “If Congress doesn’t want to allow states to toll, and if it won’t raise the gas tax either, what can we do?”

HNTB Infrastructure Investment Trends Intelligent Transportation Systems Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC)


Newspaper Op-Ed Column Opposes "Quiet Push" to Have OCTA or Caltrans Take Over TCA Toll Roads

The Orange County Register publishes an op-ed by a local resident and frequent user of the Transportation Corridor Agencies’ toll road network who opposes a “a quiet push by some to have the Orange County Transportation Authority or the California Department of Transportation take over the Toll Roads,” noting that, “We pay the tolls. Let’s keep that revenue here in South Orange County and maintain local control of our toll road system.”

California Caltrans (CA Department of Transportation) Orange County Transportation Authority (CA) Transportation Corridor Agencies (CA)


In NYT Op-Ed, a Former USDOT Secretary and an AECOM SR VP Back "Private Financing of Public Works"

The New York Times publishes an op-ed column co-authored by former USDOT Secretary Mary Peters and AECOM senior vice president Samara Barend, who write, “Critics of partnerships have one fact right: Private financing can never fully replace the need for federal and state funding. Private investment, however, can help leverage limited but essential public dollars into successful projects that are completed ahead of schedule, at lower cost and with greater accountability.”