Daily News Briefs, May 17, 2017

TX Lawmakers Take Another Shot at Curbing Growth of Toll Lanes, Capping Toll Violation Fees

The Texas Tribune reports that members of the Texas House on May 16 “renewed their efforts to curb the growing number of toll lanes in the state — and to limit what happens to drivers who don’t pay fees for using such roads. They did it while considering Senate Bill 312,” a routine TxDOT sunset measure. The House amended the bill to decriminalize toll violations, lower civil fines for late payment of toll bills, and require TxDOT contractors to “screen for undocumented workers.” The bill faces a final House vote today before going back to the senate.

Scofflaws Texas

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ALDOT Considers Tolling the Wallace Tunnel to Fund the $1 Billion I-10 Bridge Project

WPMI reports, “After years of planning, drafting, and studying traffic in our area, ALDOT officials are now considering putting a toll at the Wallace Tunnel. If installed, the toll money would be used to pay for the proposed I-10 bridge,” a project now estimated to cost over $1 billion. The station adds, “Alabama Department of Transportation engineers are still exploring all options of funding for the project, including tolls at the Wallace Tunnel and at the bridge.”

Alabama Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT)

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Former WSDOT Secretary Floats "Soft Tolling" Concept ("Tolling as Soon as You Leave Your Driveway," That Is)

KIRO reports, “As Western Washington continues to get bogged down in traffic, former state transportation secretary Doug MacDonald floated the idea of tolling you as soon as you leave your driveway. ‘I call it soft tolling,’ MacDonald said. ‘It goes way beyond when people say “I don’t like tolls.” What about if you were buying something that you did like, which is the chance to get to where you want to go, the expectation of reliability, and the solution to the parking issue together?’” (What could possibly go wrong with that idea?)

Washington State Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)

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Facebook Post Leads Some to Question Why Veterans Pay Tolls to Travel Florida Parkway Dedicated to . . . Veterans

WBBH reports, “It started with a Facebook post, and now people in the Cape Coral [area] are asking the same question: Why are veterans charged toll fees to go over the Midpoint Bridge and on the very parkway named for them?” [Link inserted.]

Florida Lee County, Florida

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Teens' "Daring Stunt" to Climb Golden Gate Bridge Sparks Security Changes (Along with Impressive Video)

KGO reports, “A daring stunt by two Milwaukee teenagers searching for some spring break fun has the Golden Gate Bridge Authority revamping [its] security measures. It happened last month, but the video showing them climbing up the main cable to the top of the north tower was released to the public [on May 16] by the teens.” (The report includes video showing the teens doing backflips and somersaults on top of the bridge. It’s worth a click.)

California Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District (GGBHTD) San Francisco Bay Area (CA)

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Porter County (IN) Commissioners Oppose a Proposed $8 Billion Private Toll Road, Freight Train Line

Post-Tribune (via Chicago Tribune) reports, “The Porter County Board of Commissioners is taking a stand against a proposed toll road that would be built in tandem with a freight train line running through the southern part of the county, and is asking for public meetings to air environmental concerns about the toll road. Commissioners presented [a] letter during their [May 16] meeting, in response to the news that Frank Patton, founder and managing partner of Great Lakes Basin Transportation, also has plans for the toll road. Both entities would be privately funded for a total cost of $8 billion.”

Illinois Indiana P3

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Lawmaker Hammers Opponents of Maine Turnpike's Plan to Relocate York Toll Plaza

Seacoastonline.com reports that Senator Ron Collins (R-Wells), Senate chair of Maine’s Transportation Committee, “blasted the town of York and the citizens’ group Think Again for holding up the Maine Turnpike Authority’s plans to build a new [York toll plaza]. . . .” In comments submitted to the state environmental agency reviewing MTA’s building proposal, Collins writes that dissension against the plan “appears to be caused by opponents’ singular focus on stopping any relocation of the plaza, regardless of the consequences.”

AET Maine Maine Turnpike Authority

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May 22 Hearing Will Address MTA Tolling at York Interchange

Seacoastonline.com reports, “The future direction of Maine’s highway tolling system will be on the docket May 22, when the Maine Department of Environmental Protection holds a hearing on the Maine Turnpike Authority’s plans to build a new toll plaza in York.” MTA has proposed a “$40 million plaza with highway-speed tolling and cash booths, called open-road tolling (ORT),” while opponents press for an AET gantry system at the current plaza site. According to the article, the opponents claim AET could be installed at a “fraction of the cost” of the turnpike’s plan.

AET Maine Maine Turnpike Authority

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Mass Turnpike's Post-AET Toll Plaza Demolition Is on or Ahead of Schedule

WWLP reports, “The Massachusetts Department of Transportation said toll demolition and road reconstruction on the MassPike is either on-time, or ahead of schedule at all 23 work zones across the state. MassDOT began demolishing toll booths along the MassPike in October, when the state’s All Electronic Tolling system went into effect.”

AET Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Massachusetts Turnpike

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I-77 Lane Closure That Went into Overtime Could Cost Contractor Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars

Fox 46 Charlotte reports, “A lane closure running overtime on Interstate-77 could cost the contractor hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the Department of Transportation. This, after the NCDOT said there was a breakdown in communication.”

I-77 Express Lanes (NC) North Carolina North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT)

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American Trucking Associations Study Looks at Cost of Congestion (NJ, PA and NY Cited in NJ.com's Report)

NJ.com reports, “Sitting in New Jersey traffic costs truckers $3 billion a year, the fifth-highest in the U.S., according to a trucking association report issued Tuesday [May 16]. The report by the American Trucking Associations’ research arm said that New Jersey accounted for 4.7 percent of the nationwide congestion costs. The Garden State’s neighbors, New York (fourth with $3.9 billion) and Pennsylvania (seventh with $2.6 billion) also were among the top 10.”

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USDOT Secretary Chao Says President Trump Will Soon Outline a "Vision" for $1 Trillion Funding Plan

The Washington Post reports, “President Trump will outline his ‘vision’ in the ‘next several weeks’ of an infrastructure package that relies heavily on state, local and private money to make good on a promised $1 trillion in new investments over the coming decade, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said Monday [May 15].”

Infrastructure Investment Trends

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RI Bill to Ban Left-Lane "Lollygagging" (and "Lallygagging") Advances to Full House

Providence Journal reports, “Drivers ‘daydreaming in the passing lane’ — beware.  State Rep. Dennis Canario’s bill limiting travel in the left-hand lane for passing slower vehicles cleared the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday night [May 16] and will move to the House for a full vote.” [Link inserted.]

Rhode Island Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT)

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As a Security Measure, Mackinac Bridge Will Close to Most Auto Traffic during Labor Day Bridge Walk

Michigan NPR reports, “The Mackinac Bridge will be closed to most vehicle traffic the morning of Labor Day. The bridge authority made that decision today. Their concern was the risk of a terrorist attack on the Labor Day bridge walk, which attracts thousands of people.”

Canada Mackinac Bridge Authority of Michigan

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NPR: "For China's 'New Silk Road,' Ambitious Goals and More Than A Few Challenges"

NPR reports, “Over the weekend, China pledged tens of billions of dollars in infrastructure financing and development aid, and elicited support from scores of countries to promote economic integration and free global trade through the creation of what Beijing is calling a ‘new Silk Road.’” The report adds that in some counties, citizens have opposed Chinese investments because of projects that “have imposed onerous financing costs, which leave the countries deep in debt,” and the concern that “China is trying to create a new international order with itself at the helm.”

China Infrastructure Investment Trends

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Transurban Group Is Reportedly Searching for New Lenders as Company Eyes Acquisitions

Bloomberg posts a video report on Transurban Group’s search for new lenders, including Asian investors, “as it seeks funding for potential acquisitions in North America and [Australia].”

Acquisitions and Mergers Australia

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