Daily News Briefs, March 20, 2017

Connecticut Toll Bill Approved by Transportation Committee on Party-Line Vote

Hartford Courant reports, “After years of discussions, the legislature’s transportation committee voted [on March 17] to approve installing electronic tolls on Connecticut highways. . . . But lawmakers said the bill [HB 6058] still has a long way to go before Connecticut residents would be paying tolls on the highways.” The newspaper notes, “Tolls could raise as much as $18.3 billion in revenue by 2040 – with at least 30 percent paid by out-of-state drivers and 24 percent paid by heavy trucks, according to estimates by a special panel that studied the issue.” (Link added.)

AET Connecticut

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VDOT Secretary's Letter Admonishes ERC over Unpaid Toll Fees

The Virginian-Pilot reports, “Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne sent a letter to Elizabeth River Crossings CEO Gregory Woodsmall Friday [March 17] admonishing the toll operator for punishing motorists with what he described as unreasonable fees and urging the company to trim large debts. Even though ERC has agreed to a $2,200 cap for first-time court convictions, the company is socking some drivers with five-figure bills.” See Secretary Layne’s letter.

Elizabeth River Tunnels Virginia Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)

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A New Toll Road May Be Coming to Hood County, Texas

Hood County News reports that the Granbury City Council will receive a presentation about “a possible toll road connecting Granbury to the Chisholm Park Trailway” during a March 21 public workshop scheduled for 5 p.m. in City Hall.

A meeting agenda posted on the city’s website mentions the workshop, but no further information is provided by the city or the newspaper article.

Texas

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New Hampshire Lawmakers Review AET Bill with Provision for Anonymous Transponder Accounts

Associated Press reports the House Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on March 22 on SB 134, a bill already passed by the Senate permitting the conversion of the Hooksett, Dover and Rochester interchanges to all-electronic tolling. The three locations currently have E-ZPass lanes and cash tolling. AP notes that the bill would allow users with privacy concerns to “anonymously use and buy transponders,” but it is “unclear exactly what information would be collected to administer the program. . . .”

AET New Hampshire New Hampshire Department of Transportation NHDOT)

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The Lowdown on the New 91 Express Lanes Opening Today

The Press-Enterprise offers a primer on driving the 91 Express Lanes in Riverside County that will open for the first time this morning. More information is available on the 91 Express website.

California Express Lanes Riverside County (CA) Transportation Commission (RCTC)

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ITR Toll Rates Are Likely Headed Up for Transponder Account Holders

WNDU reports, “A drop dead cut-off date has been set for Indiana’s toll road rate freeze. When the toll road was leased to a private company in 2006, a 10-year rate freeze was imposed for passenger cars using electronic transponders. On [March 16], the program was extended for the last time, and it’ll run through the end of May. After that, it’s likely that transponder users will pay the same rates as cash customers.”

Indiana Indiana Toll Road Concession Company (ITRCC)

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Florida County Cuts Bob Sikes Bridge Annual Toll Rate for SunPass Holders

Pensacola News Journal reports, “Escambia County has slashed the price of an annual pass to Pensacola Beach.” At its March 16 meeting, county commissioners voted to reduce the fee for an annual Bob Sikes Bridge SunPass account from $50 to $20. The newspaper adds that the costly move is intended to get more cash-paying motorists to switch to using SunPass in hopes that will reduce toll plaza traffic congestion. See this county news release for more information.

AET Florida

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WDRB Looks at Who's Exempt from Paying ORB Tolls

WDRB reports that the bi-state agency overseeing Ohio River Bridges tolling has “quietly expanded who can receive toll-free crossings by amending earlier rules voted on by the tolling body, according to documents obtained under public records requests.” The station also provides a list of “government accounts” that are exempt from keeping minimum, prepaid RiverLink account balances.

Indiana Kentucky OH River Bridges Ohio

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Illiana Expressway (Whether or Not It's Built) Impacts Illinois County's Long-Range Transportation Plan

The Herald-News reports that the Will County Board approved a new long-range transportation plan, “Will Connects 2040,” on March 16. “The plan looks at two different scenarios – one with the Illiana Expressway and one without it,” the newspaper notes. As to the proposed 50-mile toll road, “the plan states the Illiana would improve regional east-west mobility and accessibility, and offer an alternative route for truck traffic from Interstate 80.” The final plan will be posted on the willconnects2040.org website.

Illiana Expressway Proposal Illinois India

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Newspaper Urges Cautious Approach to Gilcrease Project's Private Financing

Tulsa World editors comment that the private financing piece of the tollway extension plan is new in Oklahoma’s experience, and, “State leaders need to study the recent history of private toll road financing in Texas and Indiana carefully . . . and make sure the Gilcrease experiment takes advantage of lessons learned.” They add a positive note, “Oklahomans are well acquainted with toll roads and, by and large, have accepted them as a fair way to finance highway construction.”

Oklahoma Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA) P3

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Turnpike Bridge Shutdown Boosted New Jersey Bridge's Traffic and Revenue

Bucks County Courier Times (subscription required) reports that the Burlington-Bristol Bridge absorbed much of the traffic detoured by the Delaware River turnpike bridge closure. Between January 20 and March 9, traffic increased by more than 129,000 vehicles and revenue by $725,000 compared with the same period of 2016, according to a Burlington County Bridge Commission spokesperson.

Burlington County (New Jersey) Bridge Commission New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA) Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC)

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PA Turnpike Begins Replacement of E-ZPass Lane Signals

PennLive.com reports, “The Pennsylvania Turnpike will be getting rid of the familiar red, yellow and green traffic lights used to tell E-ZPass drivers that their transponders are working correctly. Starting March 17, the Turnpike Commission will gradually replace the lights with more simplified signage due to a change in federal guidelines.” A PTC news release has more information.

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC)

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Congressman Asks MTA for Study of Verrazano Narrows Two-Way Tolling Proposal

SILive.com reports that Congressman Daniel Donovan (R-11) has written MTA requesting a study of the traffic and revenue implications of restoring two-way tolling on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. Some people and groups in Manhattan and Brooklyn advocate the change as a solution to traffic problems they blame on toll avoiders. Donovan, concerned about possible harm to his Staten Island constituents, wants to see data before he goes along with the proposal.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) New York City

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Mid-Currituck Toll Bridge Opposition Group Suggests Alternatives

The Virginian-Pilot publishes a guest column in which a group opposed to NCDOT’s Mid-Currituck toll bridge project (which they characterize as “environmentally harmful and fiscally irresponsible”) presents a “fresh look at alternative solutions” proposed by their engineer. (There’s no toll bridge in that picture.)

North Carolina North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT)

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Publisher Says Missourians Need to Cure Their Anti-Toll-Road Fever

Washington Missourian’s publisher, Bill Miller, thinks it’s time for his state to get over its aversion to tolling. He writes, “The fact is that if I-70 is to be upgraded and expanded, there may be no other practical and acceptable plan except for making it a toll road.  As long as Missourians oppose toll roads, the worse I-70 is becoming.”

Missouri

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