Daily News Briefs, July 6, 2017

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MassDOT's Tom Tinlin Resigns

The Boston Globe reports, “The state’s top highway official announced his resignation Wednesday [July 5], about two months after he went on medical leave. Thomas Tinlin, administrator of the Highway Division at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation since 2015, went on leave May 1 after surgery for a brain aneurysm. He had been expected to return to work this week, according to MassDOT. But Tinlin decided last week that he would end his tenure so he could spend more time with his wife and children, he said.”

Massachusetts Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Massachusetts Turnpike


PA Turnpike Sends 10,000 Scofflaws a Warning, Offers Limited Amnesty Program

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports, “Pennsylvania Turnpike toll [scofflaws] have been warned. If 10,611 drivers with six or more outstanding violations or unpaid tolls that totaled $500 or more don’t pay their overdue violations by Aug. 4, they risk having their vehicle registration suspended under a law that goes in effect that day. But if they pay up now, the state will grant partial amnesty,” the Turnpike Commission announced on July 5.

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) Scofflaws


US News & World Report: "The 10 States with the Best Transportation"

“U.S. News & World Report” offers a look at the ten states with the “best transportation” based on the magazine’s evaluation of each state’s “transportation infrastructure, including bridge quality, commute time, public transit usage and road quality.”


Legal Scholars Argue NYC Already Has Tolling Authority

Crain’s New York Business publishes an op-ed column in which three law school academics, one of whom is New York City’s former corporation counsel, assert that state law authorizes the city council to toll roads and bridges, a position contrary to the one Mayor  Bill de Blasio takes. The lawyers fault the city for dismissing “out of hand” a proposed congestion-pricing plan.

Congestion Pricing Issues of Law New York New York City


Not All New Yorkers Love the New Tappan Zee Bridge Name

The Hudson Independent reports, “Rivertown residents who entered this newspaper’s ‘Name the Bridge Contest’ have opinions contrary to those of the New York State legislature when it comes to attaching a label to the new span replacing the old Tappan Zee Bridge.” A plurality of respondents favored keeping the present name, and “The Peter Seeger Bridge” was the next most popular contest entry.

New York New York State Thruway Authority


Oregon House Passes Funding Bill Despite Opposition to Its Tolling Provisions

KUOW reports, “A big transportation bill aimed at improving roads, bridges and public transit in Oregon cleared a critical hurdle Wednesday [July 5] when it passed the state House on a 39-20 vote.” The report adds, “The size and scope of the tax hikes drew opposition from some legislators. Rep. Julie Parrish, R-West Linn, said that Oregonians ‘aren’t interested in toll roads. Maybe it’s something deep in our DNA.’ That’s a reference to the bill’s directive to develop plans for tolling to help manage congestion.”

Congestion Pricing Oregon


Marin County (CA) Residents Face "Triple Whammy" of Vehicle Fee, Toll and Tax Hikes for Transportation System Improvements

Marin Independent Journal reports, “Marin County residents are facing a triple whammy of fees, tolls increases and taxes as local, regional and state transportation planners look to make the transportation system more functional. While that is a lot for residents to digest, Dianne Steinhauser, executive director of the Transportation Authority, said all three measures provide for different needs in Marin.”

California San Francisco Bay Area (CA)


FDOT Conducts Underwater Surveys to Ensure that Ships Sunk in 1559 Aren't Impacted by Pensacola Bay Bridge Project

WUWF reports, “Four hundred and fifty eight years after being sunk by a hurricane in Pensacola Bay, archeologists are working to make sure some undiscovered ships in Tristan de Luna’s fleet won’t face a new, twenty first century threat. Three of de Luna’s vessels, of the six scuttled by the hurricane in 1559, have been discovered and are under investigation. . . .” FDOT says the ships are outside of the project’s “area of potential effect.” [Link inserted.]

Florida Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)


Short-Selling Investor Contends Trump Infrastructure Plan Won't Deliver Economic Growth

CNBC interviews Jim Chanos, “founder and managing partner of Kynikos Associates, one of the largest short selling investment firms in the world,” who contends that the Trump infrastructure plan “will not lead to big economic growth because of the way it is structured.”

Infrastructure Investment Trends Trump Administration Infrastructure Plan


MTA Draws Criticism for Congestion Sparked by "Short-Sighted" AET Bridge Conversion Plan

CBS News New York reports, “The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said all seven bridges and tunnels will have cashless tolls by the end of the year, but much of that construction is happening on several bridges at the same time. That means big traffic back-ups over the East River. As CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported, commuters are demanding to know who created the short-sighted plan.”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) New York City


Preservationists Contend I-66 Widening Project Threatens the Character of the Highway's Inside-the-Capital Beltway Stretch

ARLnow.com reports, “A plan to revamp Interstate 66” — VDOT’s Transform 66 project to widen the interstate from the Dulles Connector Road to Ballston — “is threatening the character of the Custis Memorial Parkway, the highway’s name inside the Capital Beltway, historic preservation advocates said [on July 5].”

Virginia Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)


Maine Turnpike Holiday Travel Looks Strong

Bangor Daily News reports, “Early tallies by the Maine Turnpike Authority indicate particularly good signs for holiday tourism over the Fourth of July. . . . And the traffic remained manageable. ‘Perhaps every national holiday should fall on a Tuesday,’ wrote Turnpike Authority Director Peter Mills in [a July 5 email].”

Maine Maine Turnpike Authority


Canada's Infrastructure Minister Visits Australia, Learns Some Lessons on Attracting Private Investment

The Globe and Mail reports, “After spending four days in Sydney, Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi says he’s convinced Canada can attract private infrastructure investors while avoiding some of the fallout that similar efforts have faced in Australia. But as Canada follows its Commonwealth ally’s lead, Australia is showing signs of softening its full-throated embrace of privatized infrastructure.”

Australia Canada P3 & Privatization


Jackknifed Truck Gets Stuck at KTA Tollbooth

KVOE reports that a truck “got stuck” at the Kansas Turnpike Authority’s Admire tollbooth “when the driver attempted to turn around and jackknifed on the shoulder. . . . Authorities were able to quickly get the semi unstuck.” KTA says there were no injuries and the tollbooth was not damaged.

Kansas Kansas Turnpike Authority (KTA)


PANYNJ Police Arrest Scofflaw Who Owes $27,000

NBC News New York reports that Port Authority police stopped a 42-year-old George Washington Bridge toll jumper and discovered he owes $27,000 in tolls and fees. Police charged the man with theft of service and toll evasion.

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) Scofflaws


Debt Rating Announcements

Kroll Bond Rating Agency assigned a BBB- preliminary rating to the Orange County (California) Transportation Authority’s Toll Revenue Senior Bonds, 2017 TIFIA Series.

Fitch Ratings assigned an ‘A-‘ rating to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s approximately $385 million turnpike subordinate revenue bonds, sub-series B-1 of 2017 and $322 million turnpike subordinate revenue refunding bonds, sub-series B-2 of 2017. Fitch also affirmed the PTC’s outstanding $4.9 billion in senior lien turnpike bonds at ‘A+’ and $4.7 billion in subordinate lien turnpike bonds at ‘A-‘. The Rating Outlook on all the bonds is Stable.

Fitch Ratings assigned a BBB–(EXP) rating in a presale report to a senior lien TIFIA loan for up to $152.5 million that Riverside County (CA) Transportation Commission expects to obtain to help fund the design and construction of an I-15 express lanes project.

Investment Ratings Orange County Transportation Authority (CA) Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) Riverside County (CA) Transportation Commission (RCTC)