Daily News Briefs, March 22, 2017

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Six Companies in the Running for Rhode Island AET Contract

WPRI  reports, “Six companies are vying for the contract to handle Rhode Island’s new electronic system to toll large trucks, a central piece of Gov. Gina Raimondo’s RhodeWorks infrastructure plan.” A RIDOT spokesperson identified the contenders for the design, build and operate contract as Raytheon, Kapsch TrafficCom, SICE, Emovis Technologies US, TransCore and Conduent. The contract will be awarded in May, WPRI reports.

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


PA Turnpike Stops Work on $1.6 Billion Mon-Fayette Expressway Project

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission announced “it will stop engineering-design activities on the 14-mile Mon-Fayette Expressway project in Allegheny County in light of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission’s recent decision to table the project. [Link added.] ‘The PA Turnpike has a legislative mandate to develop the Mon-Fayette Expressway, but our role is not to serve as an advocate for the project,’ said PA Turnpike CEO Mark Compton. ‘This is a regional project, and the decision as to whether it is of value to the region should be made by those who live there. If the region does not want to move forward with the expressway, we will certainly respect their decision.’”

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC)


Lawmaker Gives MDTA Time to Make Some Needed E-Tolling Improvements

MarylandReporter.com reports, “A Senate bill [and related House measure] to address ‘predatory’ toll penalties, technical problems with transponders and poor customer service at E-ZPass will die in the Senate Finance Committee this session. . . . Instead, Senate Finance Committee Chair Thomas “Mac” Middleton said he is holding off legislation for a year to give the Maryland Transportation Authority time to improve customer service and pursue new contracts with vendors to operate Maryland’s toll system.” Middleton adds that his committee has received an letter from MDTA “spelling out the agency’s action plan.”

Maryland Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA)


Trial Starts Today on Environmentalists' Lawsuit to Stop Austin Toll Projects

Austin American-Statesman reports that trial begins this morning on an environmental challenge to three CTRMA and TxDOT highway projects, including the SH 45 SW tollway and the South MoPac express lanes. Reporter Ben Wear’s article has the lowdown on the parties, the legal issues, and the stakes.

Austin (TX) Metro Area Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)


TX Bill Would Subject Mobility and Toll Authorities to Administrative Sunset Review

Streetsblog TX (scroll down to “4. Sunset review for local transportation agencies”) notes that two bills pending in the Texas legislature would bring Regional Mobility Authorities and Regional Tollway Authorities under review by the Texas Sunset Commission.

Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA) North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) Texas


CT Newspaper Backs Tolls, If Lawmakers Also Create a Transportation Money Lockbox

The Day’s editorial board writes, “When it comes to raising the money necessary to repair and upgrade the state’s aging transportation infrastructure, there is no practical alternative to reinstalling tolls on some of Connecticut’s highways. But state leaders should not ask residents to pay tolls until they have a guarantee the resulting revenues will be used strictly to meet transportation needs.”



PA Lawmaker Proposes State Income Tax Credit for Tollpayers

BucksLocalNews.com reports, “State Rep. Perry Warren introduced legislation on March 21 to establish a commuter and commerce toll tax credit program. House Bill 926 [link added] . . . would offer an annual state income tax credit of 50 percent of tolls paid, with a $500 cap per filer. Eligible tolls would include those on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and bridges across the Delaware River. Individuals, corporations and small businesses with tax liability would be eligible.”

Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC)


Maryland County Sees I-95 Interchange Construction Project as a Potential P3

Cecil Whig reports that Cecil County has submitted a transportation project priority list for fiscal year 2018 to Maryland’s transportation secretary. One prospective project, construction of a new I-95 interchange, would likely be a P3, a county official tells the newspaper. “Toll discounts [on MDTA facilities] for citizens, and especially for businesses, is another oft-talked about goal of local officials,” the Whig notes.

Maryland Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA)


ERC Fields More Complaints about Toll Billing

WAVY reports on a Portsmouth motorist’s complaint that Elizabeth River Crossings mistakenly blocked him from renewing his vehicle registration. The station also covers a complaint from a motorist who was tolled for using a tunnel access road when he didn’t actually drive through the tunnel. In both cases, ERC makes things right after the station intervenes on behalf of the motorists.

Elizabeth River Tunnels Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)


US 101 to I-580 Connector May Make Marin County's Wish List for MTC

Marin Independent Journal reports that a northbound Highway 101 to eastbound I-580/Richmond-San Rafael Bridge connector is one project Marin County might fund with money from a potential Bay Area bridge toll hike. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission “is considering a ballot measure to raise tolls to pay for projects in 2018,” the newspaper reports, and Marin’s transportation authority is working out a project wish list for MTC consideration.

The same article notes that MTC “has paused their effort on the toll [increase] while the Legislature deals with Senate Bill 1 [link added], which would generate about $6 billion annually for state transportation needs through an increase in the gas tax and other fees. ‘Right now the commission is fully engaged on getting SB 1 through,’ said Randy Rentschler, the MTC’s director of legislation and public affairs.”

California Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) San Francisco Bay Area (CA)


WV Senate Advances Part of WV Governor's Transportation Funding Proposal (but Not the Toll Increase Part)

Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that West Virginia Governor Jim Justice’s proposal to raise the state’s gasoline excise tax and add new motor vehicle fees moved out of committee to the Senate floor on March 21, but there was no action on the toll increase part of his transportation funding plan.

West Virginia


Oregon Lawmakers Debate Boost in Transportation Funding (and Tolling May Be in the Picture)

East Oregonian reports, “A subgroup of the legislative committee crafting a statewide transportation package has recommended an increase of $255.6 million to $312.4 million in annual spending to upgrade roads and bridges,” but it is still working out a consensus on the exact amount of funding to suggest. Although the group has not publicly identified potential revenue sources, the newspaper suggests that tolling could be an option.



Nova Scotia Eyes Pay Off of Cobequid Pass Toll Bonds

Cape Breton Post reports that Nova Scotia transportation officials, meeting with local government and business representatives, said the province’s construction debt for the Cobequid Pass toll highway could be paid off as early as 2019 or 2020, at which time the province could remove tolls. The meeting was arranged to address the locals’ concerns about the government’s decision to stop making pre-payments to bond holders. CBC News covers a subsequent government statement about its pay off of the toll bonds.

Canada Nova Scotia


Group Opposed to Maine Turnpike Toll Plaza Relocation Fails to Meet Fundraising Goal

Seacoastonline.com reports that Think Again, the group opposed to the Maine Turnpike Authority’s plan to relocate its York toll plaza, fell short of its fundraising goal and is appealing for donations. “The group is facing an April 7 deadline to pre-file the testimony of witnesses that will be called during a [May 22] Maine Department of Environmental Protection public hearing on the plaza project.”

Maine Turnpike Authority


Toronto Growth and Its Impact on Transportation

UrbanToronto.ca writer Andrew Johnson looks at the effect Toronto’s “unprecedented growth” is having on the city’s transportation and transit systems, and charts the difference in impact between “building out” and “building up.”

Canada Ontario