Daily News Briefs, March 16, 2017

NCDOT Secretary Announces New Review of the I-77 Mobility Partners Contract

WBTV reports, “North Carolina Secretary of Transportation Jim Trogdon announced his agency would undertake a new review of the contract to build and operate tolls on I-77 at a meeting [on March 15]. Trogdon told the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization that the review would be conducted by a private firm that has not previously been involved in the I-77 toll lanes project.” The article adds, “Trogdon did not specify which firm would be hired for the project but said the contract to conduct the review should be finalized next week.”

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

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LINK 427 Team Inks Contract to Expand Ontario's Highway 427, HOT Lanes Included

UrbanToronto.ca reports that the Ontario government “announced that the LINK 427 consortium has signed an approximately $616 million [US$463.2 million], fixed-price contract to design, build, finance, and maintain (DBFM) an expanded and extended Highway 427” north of Toronto. The website adds, “The entire length of the highway, expansion and extension, will feature High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes.” The consortium members include ACS Infrastructure Canada Inc., Brennan Infrastructures Inc., Dragados Canada Inc., Bot Infrastructure Ltd., MMM Group Ltd. and Thurber Engineering Ltd.

Canada Ontario

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Virginia Selects TransCore for Tolling of New I-64 HOT Lanes

The Virginian-Pilot reports that the Commonwealth Transportation Board “has selected TransCore to operate the new [reversible] High Occupancy Toll lanes on I-64 in Norfolk. [Link added.] The board unanimously approved the five-year, $20 million contract at its [March 15] meeting. The Virginia Department of Transportation retained an option to extend the deal for two more five-year terms.” The newspaper adds, “TransCore will be responsible for installing the equipment including gantries and E-Z Pass readers. It will also be in charge of creating the dynamic tolling algorithm and software. VDOT would be in charge of billing through the E-ZPass office.”

Express Lanes Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)

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OK Turnpike and Partners Launch Gilcrease Expressway Toll Project on a Unique Course

Tulsa World reports, “The gears are already turning on the unique intergovernmental engine that will fund completion of the Gilcrease Expressway through a tollway. But even as the engine kickstarts into action, there’s a lot left to be figured out.” The newspaper charts the (unique to Oklahoma) planning and financing process that lies ahead of OTA, the project’s five other collaborating jurisdictions and their future private partner.

Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA) P3

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OK Turnpike Toll Increase Complaints Are Unlikely to Trigger a Legislative Response

Tahlequah Daily Press reports that despite some grumbling over the toll increases the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority implemented this month, the legislature is unlikely to consider assuming control of toll rate decisions. As a lawmaker tells the newspaper, many of OTA’s collections “come from out-of-state drivers, so there is not a lot of gripe about it. The OTA is also pretty much self-sustaining. They always made enough money to make repairs without asking us for anything.”

Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA)

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Proposed Colorado Tax Increase Would Add $677 Million Annually to Transportation Infrastructure Budget

Colorado Springs Independent columnist Ralph Routon touts House Bill 1242, a measure supported by the leaders of the Senate and the House, that “proposes a statewide ballot issue for the November 2017 election, asking voters to raise the state’s portion of the sales tax from 2.9 percent to 3.52 percent, starting in January 2018 and continuing for 20 years.” The projected $677 million a year in additional revenue would be used exclusively to fund transportation infrastructure projects.

Colorado Colorado Department of Transportation

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NCDOT Secretary and NC Governor See Possibility of Future Toll Projects

WBTV reports that North Carolina Secretary of Transportation Jim Trogdon told senators during his confirmation hearing that neither he nor Governor Roy Cooper have ruled out the possibility of funding future transportation projects with toll revenue. Trogdon told transportation committee members, “As a 30-year transportation professional, my opinion is we have to have every tool available to us and tolls are one of those tools that we use to fund innovative financing and fund the acceleration of projects so we don’t have to wait a long period of time.”

North Carolina North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT)

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Proposed Austin TIP Changes Include Addition of Two Toll Projects

Community Impact Newspaper reports that the Austin region’s Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) is inviting the public “to provide feedback through April 14 on changes to a four-year regional construction planning document. . . .” The proposed additions to the document include a $500 million 183 North express toll lanes project and a $179 million Toll 183A four-lane extension.

Austin Metro Area Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) Express Lanes Texas

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Newspaper Reveals Impact of ERC Fees on Low-Income Commuters

The Virginian-Pilot looks at Elizabeth River Crossing late- and non-payment fees, and their impact on three low-income motorists who “were wrong to ignore [ ] mounting tolls, but the punishments for those bad decisions are five-figure debts they’ll never be able to afford.” An ERC spokesperson tells the newspaper its charges are authorized, and adds, “The majority of our customers are using E-ZPass or paying their invoices. They don’t pay these fees at all.”

Elizabeth River Tunnels

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VDOT Secretary Layne Will Press ERC to Reduce Late Fees

The Virginian-Pilot’s article on ERC fees drew a quick response from state transportation secretary Aubrey Layne. He told the Commonwealth Transportation Board he is “disappointed by ERC’s business practices,” and will ask lawyers “to scour a public contract with Elizabeth River Crossings to pressure the company to scale back its late fees on tunnel tolls.” He added, “I’m not trying to make any excuse for anyone that doesn’t pay their bills. But come on – $14,000 for tolls?”

Elizabeth River Tunnels Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)

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Follow-Up Report on PA Turnpike Efforts to Collect Unpaid Tolls

WPMT FOX43  follows up on the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s efforts to collect from 24 “egregious commercial toll violators”. The station notes that the difficulty of enforcing toll payments is the reason why a new law (Act 165 of 2016) that takes effect in August “allows the Turnpike to put a lien against the registration of a vehicle that either has six toll violations or owes the turnpike more than $500.”

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission Scofflaws

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DRPA Board Officers Get New Three-Year Terms. Bi-State Agency Will Try Recruiting More Employees from PA.

Courier-Post reports that Delaware River Port Authority commissioners elected their current board officers — including Chairman Ryan Boyer of Pennsylvania and Vice Chairman Jeffrey Nash of New Jersey — to new three-year terms, and notes that all of the current New Jersey commissioners “have been holdovers for years.”

The newspaper also reports that commissioners asked executives of DRPA and its PATCO transit subsidiary to expedite a search for “future employees who live across the river in Pennsylvania.” About seventy-five percent of the bi-state toll agency’s combined staff presently live in New Jersey.

Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) New Jersey Pennsylvania

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Latest ASCE Infrastructure Report Card's GPA Is "D+"

“Engineering News-Record” looks at the American Society of Civil Engineers’ latest “report card” on the state of the nation’s fixed infrastructure assets. The dismal overall grade of “D+” indicates no improvement has occurred since the last ASCE evaluation. The article notes that the society (like the rest of us) is awaiting details of the administration’s infrastructure spending proposal, but wants to see “increased infrastructure funding—to 3.5% of the gross domestic product by 2025, up from 2.5% currently—from federal, state and local government and the private sector.”

Infrastructure Investment Trends

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Fitch Affirms Its 'AA' Rating of Florida Turnpike Bonds

Fitch Ratings has affirmed its ‘AA’ rating of the Florida Turnpike Enterprise’s $2.76 billion outstanding turnpike revenue bonds. Fitch’s Rating Outlook is Stable.

Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Florida Turnpike Enterprise (FTE) Investment Ratings

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Bus Slides on Ice, Crashes into NY Thruway Tollbooth

WKBW reports that a transit bus slid on ice in a Grand Island Bridge E-ZPass lane and crashed into an unoccupied tollbooth. The driver, the only occupant of the bus, was uninjured, and tollbooth repairs are underway.

New York State Thruway Authority

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