Daily News Briefs, March 7, 2018

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Former PANYNJ Chair Samson Avoids Jail Time

NJ.com reports, “Facing two years in prison for the shakedown of United Airlines in a bizarre scheme to get a more convenient direct flight to his South Carolina getaway home, former Port Authority chairman David Samson found a soft landing Monday [March 6]. U.S. District Judge Jose Linares stunned federal prosecutors by sentencing Samson to a year of home confinement, four years of probation and 3,600 hours of community service in his admitted strong-arming of the airline.”

Crime Beat PANYNJ


Mass Turnpike's AET Billing Issues Under the Microscope

WFXT reports, “The state’s new electronic tolling system – which cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars – has been erroneously billing drivers for cars and license plates that don’t belong to them,” and “Investigative Reporter Eric Rasmussen sat down with Stephen Collins, MassDOT’s director of tolling, to discuss the glitches in the new electronic tolling system – including problems FOX25 first uncovered last month.”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Massachusetts Turnpike


A Potential Return to HOV-2 on Denver Express Lanes Could Cost Colorado DOT Millions

9News reports that lawmakers will “debate changing HOV-3 back to HOV-2” for the I-25 and US 36 express lanes, but a reversion could be costly. CDOT spokeswoman Megan Castle tells the station, “Any changes in the state law that occur after the contract [between CDOT and P3 partner Plenary Roads] has been made, CDOT is responsible for that. If that change would happen to HOV-2, then CDOT would be liable for making up that cost which would be $4.6 million a year, and it could change afterwards also.” State Representative Hugh McKean (R-Loveland), a sponsor of HB17-1153, concedes the bill doesn’t have a chance with that price tag.

Colorado Colorado Department of Transportation Express Lanes


NTTA Rolls Out Spanish-Language Version of the Tollmate App

Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the North Texas Tollway Authority wants more Spanish-speaking customers to use its facilities, and so it has introduced a version of Tollmate, its TollTag mobile app, in Spanish. “The app . . . is available for free download at the iTunes Store or Google Play,” the newspaper adds.

North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) Texas


West Virginia DOT Officials Pitch Governor Justice's Toll Hike and Bonding Plan

Charleston Gazette-Mail reports, “Department of Transportation officials on Monday [March 6] explained to the Senate Finance Committee Gov. Jim Justice’s proposal to sell $2.8 billion of infrastructure bonds for highways construction. Justice’s plan would include continuing and increasing tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike for 20 years as well as increasing the gas tax and the DMV vehicle registration fee.”

West Virginia Department of Transportation (WVDOT) West Virginia Parkways Authority (West Virginia Turnpike)


NET RMA's Toll 49 Is Getting a Deadly Reputation, Locals Say

KLTV reports, “East Texans have long known Highway 31 east of Tyler as ‘Bloody 31’ due to the many deadly wrecks over the years, but a different road is quickly taking on that reputation. Eleven people have died in eight wrecks on Toll 49 since 2015.” The report adds, “NET RMA says a contractor is to be selected Monday, to perform safety upgrades on Toll 49. However, despite the attempts at making the toll road safe, we spoke with some people who say Toll 49 may be becoming more dangerous than Highway 31.”



New Indiana State Police Commander for Zone That Includes ITR

Kokomo Perspective reports that the Indiana State Police superintendent has promoted Captain Ed Schroder to the rank of major and given him command of the department’s north zone, which includes ISP’s Indiana Toll Road district.

Indiana Toll Road Concession Company (ITRCC)


More Toll Money May Flow to San Francisco's New Intermodal Transit Hub

San Francisco Chronicle columnists Matier and Ross take on the City’s new Transbay Transit Center, writing, “Bridge commuters, who have already kicked in $350 million to help build the center, will probably be contributing more toll dollars to run it.” They also note that the joint authority in charge of the center “will probably ask for a piece of a toll-increase initiative that could go on Bay Area ballots next year.”

California San Francisco Bay Area (CA)


Work on I-395 Express Lanes Construction to Start This Week

WTOP reports, “Work crews are scheduled to begin preparations this week for summer construction of the Interstate 395 Express Lanes. Preliminary work March 8-12, overlapping into the early hours of March 13, will temporarily close the high-occupancy vehicle lanes.”

Express Lanes Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Washington (DC) Metro Region


VDOT Schedules Hearings on Proposed Second Extension of I-95 Express Lanes

The Free Lance-Star reports that VDOT has scheduled March 13 and 14 public meetings on its study of the proposed second extension of the Interstate 95 express lanes. “The second extension, dubbed by local transportation officials as Fred Ex, would take the toll lanes south to the area around the U.S. 17 interchange, which will undergo a drastic overhaul as part of the Rappahannock River Crossing project,” the newspaper adds.

Express Lanes Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)


NY Times: AET Makes It More Difficult for Renters to Avoid Fees

The New York Times explains why the “shift to electronic tolling has made it harder for renters to avoid the fees charged by [rental] agencies as manned booths have disappeared from many routes.”


Utah Senate Unanimously Sends $1 Billion Funding Bill to House

The Salt Lake Tribune reports, “A proposal to borrow $1 billion through bonds to accelerate some needed highway projects sped through the Senate on Monday [March 6].” Potential projects include an extension of express lanes in Davis County to I-84, according to the report. SB 277 is now before the Utah House.



Motorists on 91 Freeway Veer into Closed Toll Lanes to Get Around Construction Traffic

The Press-Enterprise reports, “As road crews striped sections of the 91 Freeway within a construction project in Corona on Sunday afternoon, March 5, some motorists were reported driving into closed toll lanes to get around traffic and as a result almost causing collisions. ‘Folks are taking liberties,’ acknowledged Eliza Echevarria Perez, spokesperson for the Riverside County Transportation Commission.”

California Riverside County (CA) Transportation Commission (RCTC)


Disabled Vet Faces NTTA Challenge on Toll Bill

WOAI reports that a disabled veteran had a bit of a battle with NTTA over a disputed toll bill that, ultimately, he won when the station’s “News 4 Troubleshooters” intervened. The station’s advice to motorists disputing a toll is, “[I]f you know you are right, be persistent. Ask for a manager, or keep calling back until you get someone who is willing to investigate your claim.”

North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA)


Editorial Finds a Silver Lining in Oregon Lawmaker's Proposals for P3 Districts and a New I-5 Crossing

The Columbian editorial board pans an Oregon legislator’s bill (HB 3231) to allow local government units to create special districts for transportation P3s and his idea for a new Columbia River I-5 crossing. However, they say the proposals have one definite benefit: “Starting the discussion about bridges across the Columbia River is the first step toward finding a solution.”

Oregon P3 & Privatization Washington State


Korean Development Bank Eyes Investment in Australia's WestConnex Motorway

The Australian Financial Review reports, “The Korea Development Bank is considering investing in the third stage of Sydney’s WestConnex motorway, underscoring the strong interest from international financial institutions in the $16.8 billion [US$12.73 billion] road project.”

Australia Infrastructure Investment Trends South Korea