Daily News Briefs. May 15, 2017

Illinois Tollway's Route 53 Extension/Route 120 Plan "Appears to Be "Ailing"

Chicago Tribune reports, “Widening and realigning parts of Route 120 are part of a long-discussed proposal to extend Illinois Route 53 north to Lake County and turn it into a T-shaped tollway, with Route 120 at the top. But the 53/120 plan appears to be ailing. Key supporters have backed out. The Illinois Tollway voted in December 2015 to spend up to $50 million for a comprehensive environmental study, but nothing has happened.”

Illinois Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (IL Tollway)

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After Massachusetts Turnpike Goes AET, Even Those Cash-Paying Diehards Warm to E-ZPass

Boston Globe reports, “After years of scrounging for change and straining for his wallet, Bill Desmond finally caved. He picked up an E-ZPass transponder, joining the cashless era more than 20 years after it began.” The report adds, “In the past year, the number of E-ZPasses in circulation has increased by 587,000, about 22 percent, according to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Currently, some 86 percent of toll transactions are paid with transponders.”

AET Massachusetts Massachusetts Turnpike

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There's a Light at the End of CTRMA's "Mopacalypse" Tunnel

KHOU reports, “You’ve heard the word ‘Mopacalypse’ if you’ve spent any time in Austin over the past few years. The made-up word describes the frustration over a delayed [Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority] project to add a toll lane in each direction on one of Austin’s busiest highways. However, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. . . .”

Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) Texas

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Atlantia Makes $18 Billion Bid for Abertis

Reuters reports, “Italy’s Atlantia (ATL.MI) launched a 16.34 billion euro ($18 billion) cash-and-share offer for Spain’s Abertis (ABE.MC) [this morning, May 15] in a bid to create the world’s biggest operator of toll roads, with 14,095 km [approximately 8,760 miles] under its management.”

Financial Times has an extensive report on the proposed deal and its reception.

Acquisitions and Mergers

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ITS America Kicks Off National Infrastructure Week with a Look at Its Recently-Issued "Public Policy Roadmap"

The Hill publishes an op-ed by Regina Hopper, President and CEO of ITS America, who marks National Infrastructure Week with a look at the group’s recently-released policy roadmap, “The Road Ahead: Intelligent and Transformative Transportation, the Next Generation of Mobility.” The report recommends, among other things, a “toolkit of transportation funding mechanisms – including direct federal spending, revolving loan programs, direct federal loan programs, tax-preferred financing, and public-private-partnerships.”

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Cuomo Boosts State Trooper Presence on NYC Streets and MTA Facilities, Leading to Huge Increase in Traffic Tickets

New York Post reports that since December, Governor Andrew Cuomo has increased the roster of State Police Troop NYC by 150 troopers whose assignments include patrolling MTA bridges and tunnels “with the crossings transitioning to cashless tolls.” The newspaper notes, “State Police officers doled out 14,542 summonses to New York City motorists in the first four months of this year,” which represents “an astonishing 759 percent increase” in the total of city summonses issued by state police officers in all of 2016.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) New York New York City

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CA Lawmakers Consider Amnesty Legislation for Low-Income Motorists with Unpaid Fines, Penalties

“The Atlantic” reports on a California Senate bill (SB 185) spawned by a concern that fines and penalties for traffic offenses are having a disproportionate impact on low-income drivers. The article notes, “Between 2006 and 2015, there were over four million Californians, or 17 percent of the state’s adults, with licenses suspended because they did not pay citation fines and fees.”

California Scofflaws

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OK Gubernatorial Candidate Wants to Raid OTA's Funds, Then Abolish It

Tulsa World looks at Republican gubernatorial candidate Gary Richardson’s budget plan, which includes, among other things, “taking $47 million from the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, which Richardson says he wants to abolish.”

Oklahoma Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA)

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Ohio Turnpike Cites Trooper's Death 17 Years Ago in Safety Plea and Push for Move-Over Law

The Blade reports, “The Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission has cited a state trooper’s death 17 years ago today in a renewed plea to motorists to slow down and move over when passing emergency vehicles.” The report adds, “Between 2012 and 2016, state records show, Ohio Highway Patrol cruisers were involved in 73 crashes that could have been prevented by compliance with the Move Over law — crashes that resulted in two civilian deaths, 32 civilian injuries, and 24 trooper injuries.”

Ohio Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission

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Bridgegate Defendant Wildstein Faces Sentencing on June 14

NJ.com reports, “David Wildstein, a former Republican operative who orchestrated the Bridgegate scandal,” will face a sentencing hearing on June 14 in federal court in Newark. “He could get up to 27 months in prison, but is hoping to serve no time as a result of his cooperation with prosecutors,” NJ.com adds.

Crime Beat Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ)

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Miami-Dade County Commission Chair Urges Governor to Approve Bill to Divert Surplus MDX Revenues to Transit

Miami Herald publishes an op-ed by Esteban Bovo, Jr., chairman of the Miami-Dade County Commission, who urges Governor Scott to sign House Bill 1049, legislation that would, among other things, require MDX to “contribute between 20 percent and 50 percent of surplus revenues into Miami-Dade projects that are selected by the county’s Transportation Planning Organization.” Bovo, who maintains that highway expansions “alleviate our commutes for a short period of time, but not before the roadway once again becomes overly congested,” is an advocate of the county’s Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit (SMART) plan.

Florida Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX)

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Despite the "Trump Talking Point," TX Lawmakers Nix Bill to Authorize More P3 Projects

Austin American-Statesman reporter Ben Wear writes, “The Legislature, I was told by a transportation lobbyist, needed to authorize more toll road ‘concession’ projects this session. Otherwise, the logic went, the state would miss out on money from President Donald Trump’s proposed $1 trillion infrastructure plan. . . .” Wear explains why, despite the “Trump talking point,” the Texas House recently defeated a bill (HB 2861) that would have authorized over a dozen toll concession projects.

P3 Texas

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WSJ: One Belt, One Road Project Offers "Giant" Business Opportunities for Western Companies Despite "China’s Heavy-Handedness"

The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reports, “The ‘One Belt, One Road’ infrastructure project presents giant business opportunities for Western companies — if they already have deep ties in China and the region. With more than $900 billion expected to be invested in roads, ports, pipelines and other infrastructure as part of the project, which spans countries in Asia, Africa and Europe, there is some opposition to China’s heavy-handedness in choosing contractors and suppliers.”

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Commercial Traffic Continues to Rise on Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge

SooToday.com reports that the International Bridge Administration released traffic and revenue statistics for April 2017. Total earned toll revenue was reported to be US$1.9 million, and an upward trend in traffic volume continued.

Canada Michigan Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Authority

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Canada's Infrastructure Minister Says $35 Billion Infrastructure Bank Won't Leave Taxpayers on the Hook

CBC News reports that Federal Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi “says taxpayers won’t be on the hook if projects financed through the proposed national infrastructure bank don’t produce the kinds of revenues private-sector investors expect. The Liberals want to create the $35-billion Canada Infrastructure Bank to attract outside investors such as pension plans and international financial institutions for major projects that Sohi says the government can’t afford to build on its own.”

Canada P3

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