Daily News Briefs, June 30, 2017

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Oregon Lawmakers Tee Up a Slimmed Down $4 Billion Funding Bill That Excludes Potential Portland Toll Projects

The Daily Astorian reports, “Lawmakers have halved the amount of a statewide transportation funding bill from $8.2 billion to approximately $4 billion and put a cost cap on the state’s low-carbon fuels standard in order to gain enough votes for passage.” The report adds, “The latest iteration of the package appears to exclude a specific funding mechanism for congestion projects in the Portland metro area, though talk has centered on the potential of using a combination of gas tax revenue and tolling on major thoroughfares to pay for Portland-specific improvements.”

Streetsblog USA reports that two Portland projects to add lanes on I-5 and I-205 totaling $1 billion have been eliminated from the bill.

Oregon Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT)

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SRTA and GDOT Approve I-85 Widening Project

Atlanta Business Chronicle reports, “The boards of the Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) and State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) have passed a joint resolution authorizing plans to widen I-85 from two lanes in each direction to three lanes northeast of Atlanta.” The report adds, “The DOT issued a request for qualifications in March to design and construct the initial phase of the I-85 project. Contracts for that first phase are due to be awarded in September, and that portion of the project us due to be completed in 2021.”

Georgia Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) State Road and Tollway Authority (GA)

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We Have a Winner (and a Peeved Editorial Board): New Tappan Zee Bridge Will Be Named after Former NY Governor Mario Cuomo

The Journal News reports that Mario Cuomo once told a friend he just wanted “a stickball court in a little alley in Queens” named for him. But now, “more than two years after his death, Cuomo’s name is destined for something far grander . . . thanks in large part to some late-night, closed-door deal-making at the state Capitol. The $4 billion replacement for the Tappan Zee Bridge across the Hudson River will now be known as The Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge after the state Legislature approved the naming [on June 29].”

The Journal News editorial board takes a skeptical view of the naming process.

Governor Mario Cuomo Bridge (Tappan Zee Replacement Bridge) New York New York State Thruway Authority

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Dallas Morning News: "Should Exploding Tollway Fees Be Legal? Courts Say 'Yes'"

The Dallas Morning News has a report on a US Court of Appeals decision upholding a district court ruling that “administrative fees assessed by the North Texas Tollway Authority for failure to pay its tolls are legal. The fees are assessed when drivers don’t pay their bills by the due date, but they can rapidly swell to, in some cases, hundreds or even thousands of dollars.” According to the report, “Circuit Judge Gregg Costa wrote that as ‘gated toll booths are becoming a thing of the past,’ NTTA needed to charge higher administrative fees to move to the automated TollTag system and, in some cases, to track down drivers who didn’t pay their tolls.”

Issues of Law North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) Scofflaws Texas

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State Commission Approves Plans for a Tollway Along Texas 249 with a Toll-Free Section

Houston Chronicle reports, “State officials are proceeding with plans for a tollway along Texas 249 in Grimes and Montgomery counties, but not nearly as far as first envisioned. The Texas Transportation Commission on [June 29] approved designating the project between Pinehurst and Todd Mission as a design-build toll project. Perhaps more significant is what the commission decided would not be tolled: the segment northwest of Todd Mission to Navasota.” The article adds that the commission selected Williams Brothers Construction “to build the project, including the tolled segment to the south and the northern segment to Texas 105 in Navasota.”

Houston Metro Area Texas Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) TX State Highway 249

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NTTA's Capital Plan Includes $1 Billion Investment in Plano Region to Address Growth, Congestion

Dallas Business Journal reports, “Staggered work shifts, expanded bus routes and more than $1 billion in toll road improvements are part a plan to attack escalating traffic congestion in Plano.” The report adds, “The North Texas Tollway Authority . . . is in the midst of massive expansions and improvements to meet the future traffic needs, said Elizabeth Mow, assistant executive director of NTTA. ‘We have been, behind the scenes, planning for the growth and development that we knew would come, particularly in this area,’ Mow said. ‘We currently have planned $1 billion in our capital plan for the next five years to add lanes and provide mobility for this region.’”

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

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Oklahoma Governor Fallin Names Banker to OTA Board

Tulsa Beacon reports, “Governor Mary Fallin has appointed Guy L. Berry to the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority. Berry, of Sapulpa, succeeds Albert ‘Kell’ Kelly, who resigned. Berry will serve on the board pending Senate confirmation next legislative session. Berry has worked the past 36 years at American Heritage Bank in Sapulpa, as president and vice chairman of the board.”

Appointments and Promotions Oklahoma Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA)

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Proposed Truck Fee Gains Traction as Wisconsin Lawmakers Work to Close Budget Deal

Wisconsin State Journal reports, “Assembly Republicans are supportive of a new fee on heavy trucks to help pay for roads and appear to be aligned with Gov. Scott Walker on a budget deal, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said Thursday [June 29].” The report adds that the fee, which is opposed by the state chamber and other business groups, could generate up to $250 million a year.

Wisconsin

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CTRMA to Negotiate a $120 Million Funding Agreement with TxDOT for US 183 North Toll Road Project

Community Impact Newspaper reports, “The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority will negotiate a $120 million advance funding agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation for the US 183 North toll road project.” The report adds, “The US 183 North project is scheduled to add four toll lanes, a fourth continuous nontolled lane between MoPac and RM 620, bicycle and pedestrian elements like sidewalks as well as direct connectors to MoPac express lanes and RM 620.”

Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) Texas Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)

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NCDOT Announces I-95 Expansion Projects That Won't Include Tolls

The Fayetteville Observer reports, “Two sections of Interstate 95 in the Cape Fear region — one stretching from Lumberton to Fayetteville, the other from Dunn to I-40 — will be expanded to eight lanes, the N.C. Department of Transportation announced. . . .” The report adds, “Both I-95 projects are likely to be started about a decade from now. . . . In the past, discussions of improving I-95 came along with a call for tolls. The current plan does not include making any part of I-95 a toll road.”

North Carolina North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT)

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$200 Million ITR Improvement Project Wraps Up Early and in Time for July 4th Weekend

Inside Indiana Business reports, “A major part of the $200 million project to improve the Indiana Toll Road has been completed months ahead of schedule. Granger-based ITR Concession Co. says the construction and rehabilitation of the mainline travel lanes will open to traffic Friday morning ahead of the Fourth of July holiday weekend.”

Indiana Indiana Toll Road Concession Company (ITRCC)

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KY House Speaker Appoints Committee to Study Road Funding Woes

Associated Press reports, “Kentucky’s Republican House speaker has appointed a bipartisan committee to investigate the state’s road funding woes. . . . Kentucky’s road fund has declined by nearly $78 million since 2014, with state economists projecting another $25 million drop this year. The road fund is made up mostly of a tax on gasoline. . . .”

Kentucky

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Newspaper Urges PANYNJ to Install Netting under Bayonne Bridge to Catch Hazardous Demolition Debris

SILive.com’s editorial board insists it’s time for the Port Authority to install netting under the Bayonne Bridge to catch demolition debris falling on the neighborhood below. “Somebody could have gotten killed. It’s as simple as that. That’s the worst-cast scenario that we could have seen at the Bayonne Bridge the other day, when huge chunks of concrete rained down from the sky. Luckily, it was only some cars that were damaged. . . .”

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

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Operators of SH 130 Tout P3 Structure, Lack of Risk to the Public, in Wake of Bankruptcy Proceedings

The Texas Tribune, reporting on the SH 130 operator’s emergence from bankruptcy, notes that the company’s $260 million in new financing “comes in the form of a loan, which represents the restructured company’s only current direct debt, according to company spokeswoman Kate Miller Morton. ‘One of the criticisms that you hear periodically about public-private partnerships is that they somehow put the public at risk of having to cover private sector obligations,’ [said Brian Cassidy, a lawyer who has assisted the concession company]. ‘The fact is, if the agreements are structured correctly — and this is an example of one that was — then that risk to the public sector doesn’t really exist.’”

P3 SH 130 Concession (TX) Texas

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PA Turnpike, IL Tollway Anticipate Huge Traffic Volume over Extended July 4th Weekend

The Sentinel reports, “The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission Thursday said it expects there will be about 3.5 million vehicles on the highway during the 6-day holiday period from Friday to Wednesday, July 5.”

Associated Press reports, “The extended Fourth of July weekend is expected to be one of the busiest periods of the year on Illinois’s tollway with nearly 8 million vehicles on the system.”

Illinois Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (IL Tollway) Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC)

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Elon Musk is Making Headway on his Tunnel Beneath LA's Interstate 105

Business Insider reports, “Serial entrepreneur Elon Musk is making headway on his plan to dig tunnels underneath Los Angeles. Musk tweeted [on June 28] that the Boring Company, his latest venture led by SpaceX engineer Steve Davis, had begun digging under LA’s Interstate 105.” The website, citing a Musk tweet, adds, “The Boring Company has completed the first segment of the project on SpaceX’s property.”

California Los Angeles (CA) Metro Region

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