Daily News Briefs, June 8, 2017

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RIDOT and Kapsch Sign $68.9 Million Contract for RhodeWorks Toll System

Providence Journal reports that Rhode Island officials executed a $68.9 million contract with Kapsch Traffic Com IVHS to build, operate and maintain the state’s truck-only toll system. “The contract . . . will cover 10 years of operations and maintenance of the 14-toll network with two five-year extension options, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation announced in a [June 7] news release. . . .” The Journal adds that construction will cost $30.6 million, software $11.2 million, and operations and maintenance $27.1 million. [Link inserted.]

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT)


Wisconsin Republicans Approach Consensus on Introducing Highway Tolls

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Governor Scott Walker “laid out a framework [yesterday] for accepting Wisconsin’s first-ever use of tolling, saying any plan would have to bring in money from out-of-state drivers and then use that money to lower gas taxes for state residents. Republicans have fought for months over whether to raise new money for state highways. Tolling may be the only approach Walker and the other GOP leaders can all accept. Walker’s framework provides a possible way to restart budget talks that have stalled in large part because of Republicans’ road funding squabbles.”

La Crosse Tribune notes, “Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said separately that a highway tolling plan could be a key part of a broader deal for the state’s next transportation budget. . . .”

Wisconsin Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT)


Minnesota Legislature Orders Comprehensive Tolling Study

ABC 6 KAAL reports, “Tucked into [HF 3, Minnesota’s recently adopted omnibus transportation bill] is a small provision that could cause a big debate. It calls for a study of potential toll roads in Minnesota.” According to KAAL, the bill directs the state transportation commissioner to study “how existing ‘MnPASS’ toll lanes currently work,” and the possibility of an “expansion of toll highways, including a review of how they’ve worked in other states and how much revenue they’ve raised.” A report to the legislature is due by January 2, 2018.

No surprise, the Minnesota Trucking Association immediately dives in and offers KAAL some skeptical comments about tolling.

Express Lanes Minnesota Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) (MnPASS)


Four Firms Enter Design Competition for Lake Pontchartrain Bridge Safety Improvement Project

The New Orleans Advocate reports on the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Commission’s June 7 launch of a competition to design an estimated $50 million in toll bridge safety improvements. The commission has given four firms– each of which received a $20,000 participation stipend — “90 days to draw up preliminary designs for adding segmented shoulders to the outside of each of the two 24-mile-long spans. . . .” The competing firms are AECOM, Modjeski and Masters, Volkert, and Design Engineering, Inc.

Lake Pontchartrain Causeway (Metro New Orleans) Louisiana


Express Mobility Partners Prepares to Unveil Revisions to I-66 Managed Lanes Plan

WTOP reports that “newly revised plans” for I-66 outside-the-beltway express lanes will be made public next week. “Express Mobility Partners — a group including Spanish company Ferrovial Agroman, investment group Meridiam and large construction company Allan Myers — has added a number of on-ramp or off-ramps to the initial plans the Virginia Department of Transportation outlined last year along with a number of other tweaks.”

Express Lanes Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Washington (DC) Metro Region


President Trump Rallies Support in Ohio Speech on Infrastructure

The New York Times reports, “President Trump, delivering a forceful ‘America first’ message as he promoted his infrastructure plan, used a rally [in Cincinnati, OH, on June 7] to muster support from his base ahead of a nail-biting day in Congress.” The newspaper notes that Mr. Trump’s proposal is “thus far little more than a blueprint.”

The Cincinnati Enquirer leads its coverage of the event with the observation that Mr. Trump “spoke on the Ohio River out of sight of the Brent Spence Bridge. He didn’t mention the bridge by name, instead focusing on locks, dams and rivers. It continued a ‘will he or won’t he’ relationship Trump has had with the city’s biggest transportation need. Trump promised in his campaign to pay for a new bridge.”

Brent Spence Bridge (Cincinnati OH-Northern KY) Ohio Trump Administration Infrastructure Plan


High Construction Costs Force Sault Ste. Marie Bridge to Defer or Extend Maintenance Projects

Sault Star reports that Peter Petainen, general manager of the International Bridge Authority, told a June 6 meeting of local government officials that “more than $34 million in planned projects have been deferred or stretched over more than 20 years as a result of the increasing cost of construction.” Petainen added that tolls are the sole funding source for bridge projects, including two the authority plans to undertake this season, a replacement of bridge components and the painting of the Canadian arch.

Canada Michigan Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Authority


Columbine Express Lanes Are under Consideration by Colorado DOT

Columbine Courier reports, “The Colorado Department of Transportation continues to consider options that would improve traffic along C-470 from Kipling Parkway to Interstate 70. CDOT and the WestConnect Coalition, a collaborative effort led by local and state agencies, are in the midst of conducting a ‘planning and environmental linkages,’ or PEL, study. . . .” Possible improvements undergoing review include “the addition of managed lanes, or express lanes like those now in operation on the U.S. 36 corridor between Denver and Boulder,” and peak-period shoulder lanes.

Colorado Colorado Department of Transportation Express Lanes


Mackinac Bridge Tolls Now Payable by Credit Card

WLNS reports, “When you roll up to a toll booth at the Mackinac Bridge you’ll be able to decide if you’ll pay with cash or credit card. The Mackinac Bridge Authority began testing a credit card acceptance system on May 23,” and the authority says it’s now confident the new system is operating “reliably and securely.”

Mackinac Bridge Authority of Michigan Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT)


E-470 Authority's New EV Chargers Advance Customer Service and Sustainability Policies

Denver Business Journal reports, “The E-470 Public Highway Authority will unveil two fast-chargers for electric vehicles [today, June 8] at its headquarters. . . .” The article adds that the two “DC Fast Charge” units, which motorists may use for free, can charge a total of four cars at the same time and bring a battery from zero to about 80 percent of capacity in approximately 30 minutes.

Colorado E-470 Public Highway Authority Electric and Hybrid Vehicles


PANYNJ Police Turn a Double Play on Scofflaws

NJ.com reports, “Port Authority police arrested one motorist and then a second minutes later Tuesday morning [June 6] after both tried to cross the George Washington Bridge without paying the toll, agency spokesman Joseph Pentangelo said.” The rear license plate on one of the vehicles, a truck, “had been altered to defeat E-ZPass cameras, according to police.”

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


Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Toll Collector Convicted of Theft

The Times-Picayune reports, “A toll-taker for the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway,” an employee since 2006, “pocketed $4,400 during the fiscal year ending Oct. 31, 2016, according to an audit released this week by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor.” The woman has already pleaded guilty to theft. She was sentenced to pay restitution and a fine, and undergo a period probation.

Crime Beat Lake Pontchartrain Causeway (Metro New Orleans) Louisiana


Cape May County (NJ) Plans to Reopen Repaired Toll Bridge by Independence Day

The Press of Atlantic City reports, “After more than two months of emergency work, and several delays, [Cape May] county officials plan to open the Ocean Drive bridge linking Sea Isle City and Avalon by the July 4 weekend. . . . The county closed the Townsends Inlet toll bridge to vehicle traffic in early April after a crack was found 30 feet below water in two of the supporting piers.”

Cape May County (NJ) Bridge Commission New Jersey


Resurfacing of RITBA's Newport-Pell Bridge Advances

Providence Journal has an update on a major RITBA project, the $8.1 million resurfacing of approximately 2,000 feet of the Newport-Pell Bridge. Progress is reported “on two fronts . . . , with concrete pouring completed on the north side of the bridge and rush-hour traffic delays into Newport down, at times, to about 35 minutes, a Rhode Island Bridge and Turnpike official said.”

Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA)


New Zealand Officials Launch Auckland Tolling Study

The New Zealand Herald reports that the national government and Auckland Council “have started a new project to investigate ‘smarter transport pricing in Auckland’, three years after the council did extensive work on a tolling scheme that would have seen motorists pay $2 each time they used the motorway.” The newspaper adds, “The Smarter Transport Pricing Project [a collaboration of several national and local agencies] will undertake a thorough investigation to support a decision on whether or not to proceed with introducing pricing for demand management in Auckland.”

Congestion Pricing New Zealand