Daily News Briefs, March 5, 2021

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Setback In Pensacola Bay Bridge Repair Is Likely To Delay Reopening

Pensacola News Journal reports, “It’s unlikely the Pensacola Bay Bridge will reopen this month as planned after contractors discovered additional repairs are needed on one of the bridge’s trophy pieces this week. [FDOT] issued a press release saying it is ‘conducting a comprehensive assessment of the replacement’ to determine how it will affect the reopening schedule. . . .” According to a state lawmaker who is monitoring the repair project, “Skanska discovered the new issues this week when placing a trophy piece on a bridge piling. He said when in place, the whole structure shifted, and when the trophy piece was removed to further investigate the issue, it shifted again but not back into place.” The bridge’s existing span and a new one under construction were damaged in September 2020 when struck by Skanska barges that broke loose during Hurricane Sally. (Links inserted by TRN)

Florida Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Highway and Bridge Maintenance Santa Rosa Bay Bridge Authority

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Seaway International Toll Bridge Loses Proposed US Relief Payment

NNY360 reports, the Seaway International Bridge won’t get $1.5 million in aid that was allocated for it in the US House version of the COVID-19 relief bill even though its operator is sustaining $170,000-per-month losses because of a pandemic-related traffic drought. The funding was removed because it lacked the support of the New York congresswoman in whose district the toll bridge is located. As the article details, the bridge appropriation was a target of Republican criticism of Democratic relief spending until it was revealed that it originated with USDOT officials in the Trump administration.

CBC News takes a less-than-flattering look at the US legislative antics over the appropriation. It notes that the bridge — which is co-owned by Canada’s Federal Bridge Corporation and USDOT’s Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation — is now operating on funds provided by the Canadian government.

Canada Company and Agency Financials Federal Bridge Corporation, Ltd. (Canada) Highway and Bridge Safety (Including COVID-19 Impacts) New York Ontario Seaway International Bridge Corporation St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation US Gov't Transportation Funding

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Former USDOT Secretary Chao Used Her Office To Aid Family Members

The New York Times reports, “While serving as transportation secretary during the Trump administration, Elaine Chao repeatedly used her office staff to help family members who run a shipping business with extensive ties to China, a report released Wednesday by the Transportation Department’s inspector general concluded.” The article adds, “The investigators did not make a formal finding that Ms. Chao violated ethics rules. But they detailed more than a dozen instances where her office took steps to handle matters related to [Foremost Group, the family shipping business].”

The Washington Post also covers this story.

Issues of Law US Department of Transportation (USDOT)

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India Has Some Persistent Troubles With AET Conversion

The Times of India reports, toll road authorities acknowledge continuing problems with India’s nationwide conversion to cashless tolling in February. “NHAI officials have said that vehicle owners [with insufficient funds in their FASTag accounts] tend to argue when they are told to pay double the amount. The situation is similar along the Pune-Mumbai Expressway and, as a consequence, long queues are seen at toll plazas.” The article adds that “quite a few private vehicles” still do not have RFID stickers.

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) ETC Systems FASTag System (India) India

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These are just some of the toll industry developments TRN is following.

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