Daily News Briefs, March 31, 2017

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Agencies Launch Study of CA Highway 37 Flooding Problems (P3, Toll Causeway Proposal Cited)

Petaluma Argus-Courier reports, “A group of agencies exploring solutions to flooding and traffic on Highway 37 has taken its first significant step, funding a study that is anticipated to identify actual projects that can be built along the 21-mile roadway. But with construction funds lacking, officials are unsure when any of the future work might take place.” The article notes that a public-private partnership project, such as the toll causeway proposed by United Bridge Partners, is a possible solution.

California San Francisco Bay Area (CA)


Elizabeth River Crossings Announces New CEO

The Virginian-Pilot reports, “A veteran official who has headed both Virginia’s Transportation Department and Hampton Roads Transit will take over as CEO of tunnel toll operator Elizabeth River Crossings, the company said today. Phil Shucet will replace Greg Woodsmall, who will become vice president for operations. ERC, a private company that has a contract with the state to operate the Elizabeth River tunnels, has come under fire in recent weeks for its handling of unpaid tolls.” [Link inserted.]

Elizabeth River Tunnels Virginia


Poll Shows Bay Area Voters Back Increase in Transportation Funding

San Francisco Chronicle reports, “Bay Area residents have grown so exasperated by worsening traffic and the paucity of government money to make things better that they’re willing to tax themselves to pay for a regional program of improvements. That’s according to a poll released [today], just two days after Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic state legislators announced a transportation funding plan that would boost fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees for $52 billion in road and public-transportation improvements.” The report adds, “The Metropolitan Transportation Commission is planning to ask the Legislature for permission to ask voters to approve a toll increase on state-owned bridges to fund transportation projects. The commission already has the go-ahead to place a Bay Area gas-tax measure on the ballot, but has never done so because poll results showed it would fail.” [Links inserted.]

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


VA Governor McAuliffe Will Outline Toll Collection Reform Plans Today

WAVY reports that Governor Terry McAuliffe will be in Norfolk today “to announce plans to reform toll violation collections.” The report adds, “Both the governor and Virginia Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne have been highly critical of the agreement that allows Elizabeth River Crossings to toll the Downtown and Midtown tunnels.”

Elizabeth River Tunnels Virginia


GA Legislature Passes Bill to Improve P3s and Make It Easier for SRTA to Issue Bonds

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Georgia Senate approved and sent to the governor SB 183, “a bill that will make it easier to create public-private partnerships for transportation construction projects. . . .” Specifically, “the bill makes it easier for SRTA to issue bonds and take other steps to encourage private investment in public road projects.” The Georgia House removed a provision from the bill that would have permitted SRTA to continue collecting tolls for traffic management purposes after it recouped a highway’s construction costs.

State Road and Tollway Authority (Georgia)


Bestpass and Tollsmart Form Partnership to Provide Access to Tollsmart Toll Calculator

Bestpass announced that its customers “will now have access to the Tollsmart Toll Calculator, which covers every tolled facility in the United States and Canada, through a newly announced partnership between the two companies.” Bestpass, which provides single-source payment and streamlined toll management services to commercial fleets, has integrated the Tollsmart application into its customer web portal.



PA Turnpike Wraps Up E-ZPass Express Lanes Work Ahead of Schedule

CBS News Philadelphia reports, “The upgrades to the E-Z Pass express lanes on the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s Mid-County Toll Plaza have been completed ahead of schedule. The work was expected to run through April 10. But Turnpike Commission spokeswoman Kathleen Walter says upgrades to the electronic tolling equipment on the northbound lanes were completed nearly two weeks early.”

E-ZPass Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC)


City of Chesapeake Expects $23.3 Million in Toll Revenue in 2017-18

The Virginian-Pilot reports that the City of Chesapeake expects to collect nearly $23.3 million in toll revenue during the 2017-18 fiscal year. Two facilities, the new Veterans Bridge and the Chesapeake Expressway, are tolled by the city.

City of Chesapeake (Virginia)


CT House Speaker Reaffirms Support for Tolls

WNPR reports that Joe Aresimowicz, Connecticut’s Speaker of the House, told a radio audience, “I know it may not fit with the overall political narrative, but moving forward, transportation infrastructure improvements in Connecticut are critical to our economic development. While tolls may not be the only answer, border tolls and some tolls throughout the state of Connecticut will provide us the necessary money to do it.”



Hartford Courant Backs Tolling, Says Arguments against It Are Weak

Hartford Courant’s editorial board writes, “Connecticut’s roads and bridges need major repairs and improvements. And somehow, the state has to pay for them. That’s beyond dispute. But how to pay? Tolls are the only fair way, and legislators know it. House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz told The Courant’s editorial board last week that tolls are ‘inevitable,’ and he’s right.” The editors add, “Arguments against tolls are weak and growing weaker.”



Indiana Newspaper Wants Lawmakers to Set Tolling Rules Before Any Bill Is Passed

The Journal-Gazette editorial board argues, “Tolling specifics should be set before a final [transportation infrastructure] bill is approved [by Indiana lawmakers]. Will the tolls apply only to new roads or new lanes? Will the state convert existing roads? Those are important questions for all communities, but especially cities and towns outside Marion County. . . .  Already struggling with decreasing or stagnant population, rural areas and small towns can’t afford to be cut off from interstate access or have their residents subjected to a commuter tax.”



Colorado House Approves Measure to Bar Use of Sales Tax for New Toll Lanes

Colorado Politics (a Colorado Springs Gazette website) reports that the state House has given initial approval to HB 1242, which includes an amendment to bar the state from using sales tax revenue that voters approve in a referendum for building new toll lanes. The website quotes Representative Diane Mitsch Bush, chair of the House Transportation Committee, as saying “toll lanes could still be built, but the sales tax won’t pay for them.”



The $115 Million Longmeadow Parkway Remains a Priority for Kane County

The Courier-News (via Chicago Tribune) reports, “Longmeadow Parkway Bridge Corridor remains at the top of the Kane County Department of Transportation’s five-year improvement program, officials said. The $115 million road and toll bridge is one of two [projects] . . . listed as priorities that the county board is expected to vote on at an upcoming meeting.”

Illinois Kane County (IL) DOT


FDOT's "Massive" First Coast Expressway Creates Opportunities and Challenges for Clay County

Clay Today reports that for officials working on an update of Clay County’s Comprehensive Plan “first on both the list of excitements and headaches is the construction of the massive First Coast Expressway. The multi-lane toll road will eventually extend from Interstate 10 in Duval County moving its way through Clay County to Interstate 95 in St. Johns County. The first leg from I-10 to Blanding Boulevard is currently under construction. . . . The road brings with it the hope for explosive development in the center and southern end of the county.” [Link inserted].

Florida Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)


Private Developer to Introduce Tolls on British Columbia Road Favored by Truckers

CTV News reports, “Drivers who frequently travel along an old logging road in the Comox Valley [on Vancouver Island, BC] will soon have to pay to use it. The road that leads to Stotan Falls . . . will cost cars $2 and trucks $5 in each direction starting April 1. A private company called 3L Developments has installed a toll booth in order to maintain the road, that’s frequently used by commercial truckers.”

British Columbia Canada


Classic Lincoln Owner Receives Toll Charges Even Though He Never Drives the Car on the Mass Turnpike

CBS News Boston reports that a man who owns a classic Lincoln sedan that he never drives on highways started receiving toll-by-plate violation notices. No official seemed willing to remove the charges even after toll lane images surfaced showing a yellow jeep with the same license plate number. You know how the story ends: the station intervenes and the toll charges go away.

Massachusetts Turnpike