Daily News Briefs, May 18, 2017

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NCDOT Fines I-77 Contractor $1.36 Million over Extended Lane Closure

WSOC reports, “The company responsible for toll lane construction on Interstate 77 has been fined $1.36 million by the North Carolina Department of Transportation” over its alleged failure “to comply with lane closure restrictions” on Tuesday, May 16.

Fox 46 Charlotte obtained a letter addressed to I-77 Mobility Partners in which an NCDOT official describes the alleged violation of contractual lane closure restrictions that sparked the department’s decision to withhold liquidated damages.

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


Colorado DOT Considers Adding I-25 Toll Lanes South of Denver

KUSA reports that CDOT announced in a May 17 news conference that it is “considering adding toll lanes to I-25 south of Denver to help ease heavy traffic congestion. The lanes would be on I-25 between Castle Rock and Monument in both directions. Currently, there are only two lanes in that area.”

Colorado Department of Transportation Denver CO Metro Region


San Clemente (CA) Delays Plan to Obtain Simulation of TCA-Proposed 241 Toll Road Extension Routes

The Orange County Register reports, “San Clemente’s City Council, which opposes any effort to run a toll road through town, will hold off on paying a firm $27,000 to draw up visual simulations of how a toll road might look carving through San Clemente.” The report adds, “The dilemma cited by council members is that the Transportation Corridor Agency, which is analyzing 18 options for improving north-south traffic circulation in south Orange County, has not defined where either of two potential extensions of the 241 Toll Road through San Clemente might slice their way to I-5.”

California Transportation Corridor Agencies (CA)


North Texas TEXpress Lanes System to Double in Size in the Coming Year

NBC Dallas-Fort Worth reports, “The North Texas TEXpress Lanes system will more than double in size by the end of next year, as the Texas Department of Transportation continues to add managed toll lanes throughout the region.”

Express Lanes Texas Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)


CT Democrats Press Ahead with Tolling as Part of State Budget

WSHU  reports that the leadership of Connecticut’s Democratic lawmakers “released a revised budget proposal to balance the state’s next two-year budget,” and House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin) says the plan “paves the way for the reintroduction of highway tolls. ‘I think tolls are inevitable in the State of Connecticut. The majority of folks that I talk to are ready for tolls to be reinitiated. . . .” [Link inserted.]

Connecticut Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT)


Teen Who Scaled Golden Gate Bridge Tower Offers Security Consult to Authorities. (Report Sparks Questions: "Bueller? Bueller?")

SFist.com reports, “The 18-year-old who goes by the name Peter Teatime (not his real name?) is making the media rounds following the video he made with a friend going viral featuring them climbing to the top of one of the Golden Gate Bridge towers. And he tells ABC 7 that he’d been happy to offer his consulting services to the bridge authority or Homeland Security to help them prevent other people from doing what he did.” (Ferris Bueller would be proud.)

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


Tappan Zee Bridge Replacement Work Progresses, with Opening Due This Summer

The Journal News reports, “Work keeps chugging along on the new Tappan Zee Bridge. While most of the mega infrastructure is done — the towers are finished, the majority of the stay cables have been installed and the main span is connected the whole way through on the Rockland-bound span — crews are still working to get the bridge ready for prime time, as it is slated to open some time this summer.” The report adds that no date for the opening of first lanes has been set.

Governor Mario Cuomo Bridge (Tappan Zee Replacement Bridge) New York New York State Thruway Authority


Mayor de Blasio Has a "Congestion Plan" Coming Out, but Doesn't Expect It to Reduce NYC Traffic or Speed Commutes

amNew York reports, “Don’t count on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s upcoming ‘congestion plan’ to cut down on commute times. While the mayor’s strategy to relieve street congestion is expected to be published in coming weeks, his administration has made it clear that commuters shouldn’t expect the plan to make much of an impact on traffic.” The article adds, the plan won’t include the toll reform and congestion pricing advocated by Move NY, because such measures would require state law changes, and the mayor sees a “lack of political will in Albany” to enact them.

Congestion Pricing New York City


Fairfax County Supervisors Raise Concerns about I-66 Outside-the-Beltway Plans, but Eye Revenue, Projects Tolls Will Fund

WTOP reports, “As [Fairfax County] supervisors expressed concern about a lack of specifics regarding potential changes to plans for Interstate 66 toll lanes outside the Beltway, Fairfax County leaders Tuesday [May 16] endorsed millions of dollars’ worth of projects that could be built with money tied to the project.”

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


PA Turnpike Continues Removing "Traffic-Light Looking Signals" from E-ZPass Lanes

CBS News Philadelphia reports, “Say goodbye to those traffic-light looking signals in Pennsylvania Turnpike E-ZPass lanes that tell you your toll has been paid. At least one in our area has already been turned off and the rest will go in the coming months. Pennsylvania Turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo says the so-called ‘feedback’ signal at Street Road in Bensalem has already been shut off. The Turnpike is upgrading its E-ZPass toll technology — and those ‘feedback’ signals — green means your toll has been paid, yellow for low balance — don’t fit the new scheme.”

E-ZPass Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC)


Local Officials Offer Input on GDOT's Plans to Add Express Lanes to I-285 and GA 400

Reporter Newspapers reports that Sandy Spring city officials “are offering formal input” on a GDOT plan for new express lanes. GDOT is engaged in a years-long project to improve the interchange between I-285 and Georgia 400, but, as the article notes, the department is “already in the early planning stages for another, follow-up project adding ‘managed lanes’ to both highways within the next decade.”

Express Lanes Georgia Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT)


IL Tollway Wraps Up Installation of 29 Digital Message Signs, Gears Up to Bolster Traffic Operations Center

Daily Herald reports, “The Illinois tollway has completed installation and testing of 29 digital message signs” for the Jane Addams Tollway (I-90) that will “go live around the end of July or early August,” according to Chief Engineer Paul Kovacs. The report also notes, “The agency is adding seven employees to its traffic operations center, which will now run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, instead of just five days. The new positions will cost about $210,000 annually in salaries.”

Illinois Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (IL Tollway)


USDOT Secretary: Hudson River Gateway Tunnel Is an "Absolute Priority" despite Proposed Project Budget Cut

NJ.com reports, “U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao called the Gateway Tunnel project [link inserted] under the Hudson River ‘an absolute priority’ even though President Donald Trump‘s proposed budget cuts off an important source of federal funding for it. ‘We have kept a very close eye on this,’ Chao told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee [yesterday, May 17]. ‘Gateway is an absolute priority in terms of our focus. We understand what is happening there.’”

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ)


Mercator Advisors Continues Review of NCDOT's I-77 Toll Lane Project

WBTV reports, “Mercator Advisors continues their review of the I-77 toll lane project contract as they continue to look for ways it could be changed. . . . So far, those changes could include eliminating the contract, changing the contract or buying the project completely.”

North Carolina North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT)


Former "Candid Camera" Host and Journalist Takes on Managed Toll Lanes in NY Times Op-Ed

The New York Times publishes an op-ed column by Peter Funt, former Times journalist and “Candid Camera” host, who calls managed lane tolls “highway robbery.” “Defenders of express lanes argue that the system actually promotes fairness by making quicker travel available to everyone, not just those willing to car-pool. In fact, express lanes are speeding our journey down the road — already far too well traveled — toward being a nation of haves and haves-less.”

Express Lanes


Germany to Start Bidding Process for Passenger Vehicle Toll System

Handelsblatt (subscription required) reports, “It has been a long-time coming, but the transportation ministry is finally ready to open the bidding process for Germany’s controversial highway toll system for passenger vehicles. The European Commission on Wednesday [May 17] gave the green light to Germany, ending a long-running dispute between Brussels and Berlin over the toll system.”