Daily News Briefs, June 29, 2017

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SH 130 Concession Company, Texas Tollway Operator, Emerges from Bankruptcy

Austin American-Statesman reports, “After more than a year in bankruptcy, the company operating the southern end of the Texas 130 tollway emerged [on June 28] under new ownership and new management, shedding about $1.4 billion in debt in what its leadership said makes the nation’s fastest highway more stable. Toll rates won’t be affected.” Strategic Value Partners, LLC, the new majority owner of the company, issued a news release introducing the leadership team headed by former VDOT executive Andy Bailey.

SH 130 Concession (TX) Texas


Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Toll Tags Sales Hit Record Pace Prior to Toll Hike

The Times-Picayune reports, “Faced with having to pay a higher toll, Lake Pontchartrain Causeway commuters bought toll tags at a record pace in the weeks leading up to and following the May 6 fee hike. Bridge officials said they typically issued about 300 new tags per month. In April, they sold 1,180 tags, followed by a hefty 4,371 tags from May 1 to June 2. During the week of May 1-7 alone, 1,305 tags were issued.”

Lake Pontchartrain Causeway (Metro New Orleans)


Summer Season Toll Reduction and $5 Million Upgrade Announced for Alabama Beach Bridge

AL.com reports, “From now through Labor Day weekend, summer travelers who take the Foley Beach Express Bridge . . . will be paying a lower toll fare. The one-way toll was lowered to $2.75 from the long-time $3.50.” Summer toll rates for Orange Beach residents have also dropped. “The temporary easing of rates,” AL.com notes, “is part of a ‘Beach Express GO!’ campaign that seeks to be more welcoming of high season traffic and take pressure off the jammed Alabama 59. Detroit-based American Roads LLC . . . is leading the campaign.” (Link inserted.)

The article adds that American Roads CEO Neal Belitsky announced a $5 million, post-Labor-Day improvement project that will add a new toll plaza lane and an all-electronic tolling system to the bridge. Restriping will “establish a special center lane that could open — flowing north or south — as demand dictates.”

WPMI has video coverage.

Alabama Beach Express (Baldwin County (AL) Bridge Co.)


CTRMA Inks Interoperability Agreement

Community Impact Newspaper reports, “The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority approved an agreement to allow TxTag and other Texas toll transponders to work on toll roads in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. . . . Tim Reilly, director of operations for the Mobility Authority, said the states’ tolling agencies will have interoperability beginning in early to mid-2018. An agreement is in place for interoperability with the state of Oklahoma, which should begin at the end of 2017, Reilly said. He said Colorado may be a possibility in the future as well.” (Link inserted.)

Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) Interoperability Texas


Tennessee Families Sue Manufacturers of X-LITE Guardrails

WZTV reports, “Tennessee families who say their loved ones were killed by dangerous guardrails have filed lawsuits against the company that makes them. Concerns over X-LITE guardrails have centered around the Volunteer State, which has had several fatalities surrounding the particular model.” The station adds, “TDOT is currently in the process of removing X-LITE guardrails and said the guardrails should be removed from Tennessee roads by mid-July.”



I-77 Toll Opponents to Run for Office

Fox 46 Charlotte reports, “Anti-toll advocates say they’re fed up with some of the state’s local politicians when it comes to Interstate-77, so much so they’re now planning to run for office themselves.”

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


FDOT Holds Public Meeting to Unveil Alternatives for $6 Billion Tampa Bay Next Project

Tampa Bay Times reports, “State transportation officials are evaluating at least a half-dozen alternatives to the controversial Tampa Bay interstate plan that they will workshop with the community for the next 18 months. The Florida Department of Transportation met with about 20 community members, politicians and planners [on June 28] for an update on Tampa Bay Next, a $6 billion project that would add toll lanes to 90 miles of the region’s interstates.”

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


Wisconsin Lawmakers Inch Toward Budget, Transportation Funding Deal

Associated Press reports, “There were halting signs of progress in Wisconsin’s stalled state budget talks on Wednesday [June 28], with Gov. Scott Walker and Republican legislative leaders expressing optimism that a deal could be in the works on road funding following a closed-door meeting.” (The report doesn’t actually cite what has sparked the optimism.)



TV Report Marks the Anniversary of the Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike Opening and the Long, Successful Battle to End Tolling that Ensued

WTVR reports, “When it comes to street parties, perhaps never has there been one in RVA like the day the Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike opened on June 30, 1958.” The report adds, “But the joy of paying faded as the tolls kept being collected long after they were supposed to stop in 1986.” The report notes, “There was a much smaller party of sorts when the last toll was paid late at night 25 years ago.”



Police Step Up Traffic Enforcement on US 20, Where Trucks Avoiding ITR Contribute to Accident Rate Spike

The Times of Northwest Indiana reports that police are once again increasing traffic enforcement on a segment of US 20 in LaPorte County, Indiana, where several fatal or injury-causing accidents have occurred. The newspaper adds, “Police blame driver inattention and a higher volume of semi trucks using the highway in recent years to avoid fees on the Indiana Toll Road” for the accident rate spike.

Indiana Indiana Toll Road Concession Company (ITRCC)


Heat Causes the Nation's Oldest Vertical Lift Bridge to Malfunction

OregonLive.com reports, “The 100-degree heat [last] weekend didn’t just frazzle area residents, it took a toll on infrastructure, too. In two separate incidents, the Hawthorne Bridge malfunctioned and rerouted more than 1,000 people, said Multnomah County (OR) spokesman Mike Pullen.” According to the county, the bridge, which opened in 1910, is “the oldest operating vertical lift bridge in the United States,” and it serves 30,000 motor vehicles per day, including 800 buses.



Missouri Road Funding Task Force Starts Work, Will Look at All Options

St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports, “A new task force will investigate all options when it comes to finding money to improve Missouri’s road system, the chairman of the panel said Wednesday [June 28]. Rep. Kevin Corlew, R-Kansas City, said the 23-member committee will spend the next six months looking at the possibility of raising the gas tax, transforming interstates into toll roads or some combination of smaller options as a way to generate revenue to maintain and upgrade roads and bridges.”



RITBA Wraps Up First Stage of Newport Pell Bridge Repairs Ahead of Schedule

Associated Press reports, “The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority have announced that the first stage of repairs to the Newport Pell Bridge has been completed ahead of schedule.”

Rhode Island Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA)


Some HCTRA Customers Are Surprised by Delayed EZ TAG Account Charges

KPRC reports, ” Several Harris County toll road users have contacted Channel 2 saying they were stunned to find hundreds of dollars of charges on their accounts over a matter of a few days.The Toll Road Authority had a system upgrade from June 8 through June 11, and said there was a delay in posting to accounts while the new system was brought online.” An HCTRA spokesperson tells KPRC it notified customers about the billing delay via email and social media.

Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA) Texas


Canada's Prime Minister Trudeau to Face Tough Questions on Confederation Bridge Tolls during Prince Edward Island Visit

The Canadian Press reports that a senator is encouraging his Prince Edward Island constituents to ask Prime Minister Justin Trudeau some tough questions about Confederation Bridge tolls and equity in the federal funding of bridge projects during an upcoming island visit. The article notes, “Trudeau made a campaign pledge during the 2015 federal election to lift the toll on the $5-billion Champlain Bridge in Montreal. Residents and visitors to P.E.I., meanwhile, must pay $46.50 to leave the province via the $1-billion Confederation Bridge.”

Canada Prince Edward Island