Daily News Briefs, June 20, 2017

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Opposition to CDOT's Proposed Expansion of I-70 through Metro Denver "Remains Strong"

KDVR reports, “Opposition to [Colorado DOT’s proposed] expansion of Interstate 70 through the metro area remains strong. Dozens of people came out Sunday [June 18] to continue fighting the expansion project they say is too expensive and won’t do much to reduce traffic congestion. The station adds that the $2 billion project [called Central 70] involves lowering a segment of I-70, adding a toll lane in each direction, and building a four-acre cover park over a portion of the highway.

Colorado Colorado Department of Transportation Denver CO Metro Region


Can Tolling Ease I-5 Gridlock in Seattle?

The Seattle Times reports, “Since its creation, I-5 has moved more people and stalled more people than any other roadway in Washington. It is a scar of concrete and exhaust running through the heart of a vibrant city. It is the lifeline of the region, with the stretch between Federal Way and Everett carrying people more than 2.5 billion miles in 2015.” The article probes current freeway conditions (frequent gridlock) and possible solutions (toll lanes).

Washington State Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)


WV Bill Awaiting Governor's Signature Allows Turnpike to Retain Independent Status and Collect Tolls

Charleston Gazette-Mail reports, “After years of uncertainty, Parkways Authority employees have reason to believe their jobs will continue beyond 2019, with the passage late Friday [June 16] of legislation to expand the authority’s ability to issue road bonds. The legislation specifically removes a section of state law that would have required the Parkways Authority to remove tolls and turn operation of the West Virginia Turnpike over to the Division of Highways once 30-year bonds issued in 1989 are paid off, something that will happen in May 2019.”

West Virginia West Virginia Parkways Authority (West Virginia Turnpike)


The $847 Million Midtown Express Project Delivers Some Relief with Euless, TX, Bridge Opening

Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports, “Drivers and business owners [in Euless, TX] can breathe a sigh of relief after the new Main Street bridge opened Sunday,” June 18. The newspaper adds that the bridge replacement is “part of the $847 million Midtown Express project to reconstruct Texas 183 from Euless to Interstate 35E in Dallas. The project . . . includes rebuilding main lanes on Texas 183, improving access roads and ramps and adding one toll lane in each direction.”

Dallas-Ft. Worth Metro Region (DFW) Texas


Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority Chair Accused of Partisan Attacks That Violate Requirement He Remain, Well, Non-Partisan

The Globe and Mail reports, “The chair of a federal Crown corporation overseeing construction of the new $4.8-billion [Gordie Howe] bridge between Windsor and Detroit has used social media to level disparaging comments at Donald Trump and the federal and Ontario conservatives. The Trudeau government appointed former Ontario Liberal finance minister Dwight Duncan to the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority in January, 2016, for a five-year term. A requirement for the job is being non-partisan.”

Canada Gordie Howe Int'l Bridge Michigan Ontario


Eastbound Bay Bridge Lanes Closed for Five Hours after Officer-Involved Shooting

KGO reports that the eastbound lanes of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge were closed for about five hours on Sunday, June 18, for an officer-involved shooting investigation. According to the highway patrol, “officers were investigating an eastbound crash about a mile from the toll plaza” when a car tried to avoid the traffic back-up by using an emergency lane where officers were standing. After the driver ignored commands to stop, an officer shot him. The driver is hospitalized and expected to recover.

California Crime Beat Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) San Francisco Bay Area (CA)


NTTA Begins Construction on George Bush Turnpike Widening Project

Community Impact Newspaper reports, “Construction on President George Bush Turnpike is expected to begin as early as June 19, and will last into late 2018. The construction will span from US 75 to SH 78 and will add an additional lane in both directions of PGBT, according to a news release from the North Texas Tollway Authority.”

Dallas-Ft. Worth Metro Region (DFW) North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) Texas


TX 249 Tollway Project Has Its Fans, but Questions over Funding, Tolls Persist

Houston Chronicle provides an overview of the Texas 249 tollway project. “While most agree the project is needed, questions surrounding who should fund the project and whether it should be tolled continue to dominate the issue.”

Houston Metro Area Montgomery County (TX) Toll Road Authority Texas Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)


Texas Lawmakers Step Up with $32 Million to Ease Commercial Traffic at Two International Bridges in El Paso

El Paso Inc. reports, “The $32 million recently approved by the Texas Legislature to ease commercial traffic at two international bridges in El Paso is the state’s biggest contribution to address the problem in decades. The funding is for an ‘Intelligent Transportation System’ that’s designed to lower wait times for commercial cargo at the Bridge of the Americas and Zaragoza Bridge.”

El Paso (TX) International Bridges Department Texas


Tolls on WSDOT's SR 520 Bridge to Increase

Maple Valley Reporter notes that “Drivers who use the State Route 520 Bridge will see toll rates increase beginning Saturday, July 1. Toll payers will see a 5 percent increase in weekday and weekend toll rates, and nighttime tolling will begin at a flat rate of $1.25 per crossing. Toll revenue is required and on track to generate $1.2 billion to cover a portion of the new bridge’s cost.”

Toll Rate Changes Washington State Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)


Trump Proposal for $1 Trillion in Infrastructure Spending Sparks Rush into "Highly Specialized Investment Niche"

“National Real Estate Investor” reports, “President Trump’s campaign promise to leverage private capital to spur $1 trillion in new infrastructure spending over the next decade is thrusting this highly specialized investment niche into the spotlight. Government real estate has exploded into a broad investment category that includes everything from toll roads and water treatment plants to single-tenant leased commercial buildings. Capital has been pouring into the space . . . .”

Infrastructure Investment Trends Trump Administration Infrastructure Plan


Cal State Professor Makes Case for Tolling Existing Interstate Highways

The Fiscal Times publishes an op-ed by Robert Krol, an economics professor at California State University, Northridge, who writes, “The president was elected in part because he convinced voters he was a dealmaker who could get things done in Washington. He now needs to sell the idea that tolls can play a key role in making U.S. infrastructure great again. If Congress listens, the drive home from work each night won’t take so long.”

Trump Administration Infrastructure Plan


Businessman, Environmentalist Make Case for Congestion Pricing in Portland

The Oregonian publishes a guest column co-authored by a business man (a pro soccer team owner) and a member of The Nature Conservancy’s Oregon Board of Trustees, who write, “Building more roads alone won’t solve our traffic problem. But putting a price on using road during peak hours of the day will. . . . With today’s technologies, we can collect tolls without interrupting the flow of traffic and design systems to ease the financial burden for low-income Oregonians.”

Congestion Pricing Oregon


Gantry Vandalism, Lost Toll Revenue on Ireland's M50 Could Cost Government as Much as (US)$560,000

The Irish Times reports, “The vandalism of the M50 toll gantry last weekend could cost [Ireland’s government] up to €500,000 [approximately US$560,000]. . . . [A] man climbed on to the gantry over the northbound lanes and smashed cameras and cut cables, damaging the system.” The toll system was restored by Monday morning, June 19, but the newspaper reports that revenue loss from uncollected weekend tolls plus the cost of repairs and security enhancements at the site are likely to amount to €300,000 to €500,000.

Crime Beat Ireland


UK's Pension Protection Fund to Invest in the M6 Toll Road

Sky News reports that the UK’s Pension Protection Fund (often referred to as “the pensions lifeboat”) will be investing in the M6 toll road operating company, “just days after it was sold to IFM Investors. . . .” The newspaper adds that another investor will be the Allianz Global Investors infrastructure fund of Germany. A deal is expected to be announced as early as today.

Infrastructure Investment Trends United Kingdom