Daily News Briefs, July 20, 2017

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NCDOT Consultant Hired to "Ease Outrage" over I-77 Express Project is Exploring Frequent User Discounts, Eliminating Some Planned Toll Lanes

The Charlotte Observer reports, “A North Carolina Department of Transportation consultant is exploring several ways to ease outrage over the Interstate 77 toll lane project, including letting carpools with only two people use the lanes for free and converting some of the planned toll lanes into free lanes.” The consultant, Mercator Advisors, gave a preliminary report to the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization Wednesday night. Click here to view an advance copy of Mercator’s presentation.

FOX 46 WJZY adds, “So far, [Mercator] has listed several policy options for the board to consider, including: looking at terminating the agreement, eliminating toll lanes on certain segments, allowing HOV-2 lanes or establishing frequent toll lane user accounts.”

I-77 Express Lanes (NC) North Carolina North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT)


Proposed $199 Million State-Funded Road Near Charlotte has I-77 Express Lanes Critics Seeing Red

WSOC reports, “Gaston County is pushing for the creation of a new, state road that would link them to the new River District and Charlotte. While North Carolina Department of Transportation officials could ask the developer to pay for side streets, Channel 9 learned taxpayers are still on the hook for the major new road.” The report adds that the developer will not have to pay any part of the $199 million price tag for the road, which has some local officials and residents less than pleased, because they were told the I-77 widening project could not be accomplished without private funding — that is, tolls. [Link inserted.]

I-77 Express Lanes (NC) North Carolina North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT)


40 Miles of New Toll Lanes "Are Likely" Coming to Hampton Roads (VA) along the I-64 Corridor

The Virginian-Pilot reports that under VDOT Secretary Aubrey Layne’s new “transformational plan,” 40 miles of high-occupancy toll lanes “likely are coming” to I-64 in Hampton Roads by 2024. The report adds, “Creating a HOT lane network is the best solution under current conditions, Layne said. As the region’s need for more infrastructure grows, there continues to be less money flowing in from the federal government. Plus, there’s no room for expansion without displacing hundreds or thousands of homes and businesses, a move decision makers are not willing to make,” Layne added.

Express Lanes Virginia Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)


Interoperability "Glitch" Causes Tens of Thousands of TX Toll Tag Holders to Receive Erroneous Bills

The Austin American-Statesman reports, “Tens of thousands of toll tag holders throughout Texas have erroneously received pay-by-mail bills in recent weeks, rather than having the tolls subtracted from their tag accounts at lower rates, officials said Wednesday.” The report adds, “The bad bills began around mid-May when the switch to a new ‘interoperability’ program began, officials said. It has affected toll transactions on a sporadic basis. . . . ” TxDOT executive director James Bass tells the newspaper, “We apologize for the experience people are having. We’ve captured all the glitches, and we’re going about correcting them as quickly as we can.”

Interoperability Texas Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)


San Clemente Will Sue TCA and Study Arterial Alternatives to 241 Toll Toad Extension

The Orange County Register reports, “[The City of] San Clemente announced Tuesday, July 18, that it will sue the Transportation Corridor Agency, challenging a lawsuit settlement in which the TCA agreed to never try to build or fund a road near Trestles Beach.”  TCA chief executive Mike Kraman wrote in the agencies’ response to the announcement, “It’s unfortunate that the City of San Clemente is choosing litigation over collaboration. This isn’t the way the public expects government agencies to solve issues.”

California Issues of Law Transportation Corridor Agencies (CA)


Kapsch Receives $8 Million Contract to Provide Louisiana's TMCs with Management and Staffing Services

Kapsch announced that Louisiana’s Department of Transportation and Development has selected Kapsch TrafficCom to provide management and staffing services for the state’s Traffic Management Centers. “DOTD currently operates five TMCs and provides Motorist Assistance Patrol (MAP) services in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport, and Lake Charles areas, as well as MAP services for various construction projects statewide.” The three-year contract with an option for extension is valued at $8 million.

Kapsch Louisiana Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD)


Toll System Integration Project Documentation: What’s the Right Balance?

RS&H Tolls Technology Leader Kevin Palmer writes in a sponsored article about toll system integration procurement, “Proper documentation is certainly essential, but overly detailed materials that have no true use only add an unneeded burden to already complex projects. Owners would be wise to consider a streamlined approach to project documentation and review when considering their next system integration contract.”

Procurement of Tolling Equipment & Services


CDOT Raises I-25 and US 36 Express Lane Toll Rates

FOX 31 KDVR reports, “A Colorado Department of Transportation board unanimously approved a plan Wednesday to adjust rates to ride in the express lanes that run between Denver and Boulder. CDOT said they don’t want it priced so low that too many people crowd into the express lane and turn it into an additional lane of gridlock.” The new rates take effect Monday, July 24.

Colorado Colorado Department of Transportation Denver CO Metro Region Express Lanes Toll Rate Changes


DC Regional Transportation Planning Board Votes to Study New Potomac River Bridge over "Strong Objections"

WTOP reports, “Over strong objections from Maryland, Montgomery County and other leaders, the region’s Transportation Planning Board voted Wednesday to study a new Potomac River crossing north of the Beltway’s Legion Bridge. It is part of a broader effort to identify big-ticket, regionwide projects that could improve the region’s terrible traffic.”

Maryland Virginia Washington (DC) Metro Region


Trump Plan Could Leave His Rural Supporters Out of a "Potential Infrastructure Boom"

American Public Media reports, “An analysis by APM Reports has found that at least 46 transportation and water-related projects in 23 states and the District of Columbia presented to the White House could rely on private money to be completed,” and those projects “serve high population, urban centers. That means rural voters, who helped elect Trump, could be left out of the potential infrastructure boom unless he either directs a significant amount of taxpayer money to rural projects or convinces investors to steer money there.”

P3 & Privatization Trump Administration Infrastructure Plan


Illinois Tollway's Chair Reports Progress on the Elgin O'Hare Western Access Project

WGN catches up with Illinois Tollway board chair Bob Schillerstrom about the Elgin O’Hare Western Access Project. The chairman notes that the tollway is still in talks with the Canadian Pacific Railway over access to railroad land that is needed for the project.

Illinois Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (IL Tollway)


TX Veteran Battles "Complicated Policy" for Reduced, Free Tolls

KLTV reports, “An East Texas veteran has been fighting a different battle, over Toll Road 49. The issue, a complicated policy concerning reduced and free tolls offered to some, but not all, veterans.” According to the station, the veteran, a Purple Heart recipient “with a specialty license plate to show that . . . thought that plate would exempt him from [Toll 49 fees,] but according to NET- RMA, it does not.”



NET RMA Announces Toll 49 Safety Measures

CBS 19 reports, “After multiple deaths on a portion of Toll 49 in Smith County, the director of the North East Texas Regional Mobility Authority (NET RMA) announced they’re making moves to improve safety. Concerns from drivers include a lack of passing lanes and hard-to-see medians.”



Monroe County (FL) Briefly Postpones Launch of AET at Card Sound Bridge

Miami Herald reports, “Monroe County has postponed the closing date for the last hand-collected toll on Card Sound Road from Aug. 1 to Sept. 1. The reason for the delay is to allow Florida Power & Light time to relocate its power lines before the construction of the new all-electronic tolling booth at the north end of Card Sound Bridge. . . .”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Florida Monroe County, Florida


Are Express Lanes and Toll Roads "Economically Fair?"

Capital & Main reports that pricing access to express lanes and toll roads can be an effective means of alleviating traffic congestion and some of its side-effects like exhaust pollution, but the question remains, “Is it economically fair.” Many Americans believe road pricing is unjust and favors the well-to-do, but this article contends that “recent research has found little evidence of that split.”

Express Lanes Road Use Charging (RUC-MBUF-VMT)


New Australian Accounting Rule Aimed at Cleaning Up a "Black Hole" in P3s (Toll Roads Cited)

The Australian Financial Review reports, “Governments will be forced to bring billions of dollars of infrastructure projects on to balance sheets” under a new accounting standard that takes effect in Australia in January 2019. The rule “aims to clean up a ‘black hole’ in public private partnerships,” the newspaper explains, by requiring governments “to recognise their financial exposure to PPP developments.” The article notes, “Toll roads are among the assets that have typically not been recognised by governments [in Australia].”

Australia P3 & Privatization