Daily News Briefs, May 19, 2017

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I-77 Mobility Partners Issues Statement on Extended Lane Closures that Sparked $1.3 Million Penalty

The Charlotte Observer reports that I-77 Mobility Partners issued a statement saying, “We regret the traffic issues caused by extended lane closures on Tuesday morning [May 16]. We regularly review procedures with our lead contractor so that they follow proper protocols.” A contractor’s failure to reopen lanes in the I-77 Express construction zone on that day contributed to making the highway a “motorist’s worse nightmare” and caused NCDOT to impose a $1.3 million penalty on the project consortium.

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


TX Lawmakers Consider Bill to Limit Toll Fines for TxDOT Roads Only

Austin American-Statesman reports, “The rapidly escalating tollway fines that have left some Texans owing thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars could be a thing of the past, based on an amendment that surprisingly found its way into a Texas Department of Transportation bill this week. But the impact to your pocketbook would depend on which tollway you’re driving.” The report adds that an amendment to the bill limits the bill to TxDOT toll roads only.

Texas Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)


Los Angeles Times Looks at the Proposed $5.4 Billion Tunnel to Complete the 710 Freeway

Los Angeles Times reports, “Closing ‘the gap’ of the 710 Freeway in the San Gabriel Valley is one of the ugliest and longest running transportation battles in Southern California. For years, Caltrans wanted to complete the freeway but faced heated opposition from residents. Now, there is a proposal to finish the 710 as a tunnel. That plan has also faced wide criticism.” The report looks at the latest developments in the debate over the $5.4 billion project.

California Caltrans (CA Department of Transportation) Los Angeles (CA) Metro Region Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro)


Metro DC Transportation Planning Board Advances Three Major Projects, Including I-66 Toll Lanes and I-395 HOV to HOT Lanes Conversion

WTOP reports, “Changes along Interstate 270 in Maryland, new toll lanes on Interstate 66 outside the Capital Beltway in Virginia and the conversion of the Interstate 395 HOV lanes to toll lanes near the Pentagon all took steps forward [on May 17].” WTOP adds, “The $100 million interchange and technology improvements for I-270, and the plans for toll lanes on I-66, were approved for required air quality testing by the region’s Transportation Planning Board.”

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


Maine Governor LePage Pushes Bill to Shut Down the Maine Turnpike Authority

Associated Press reports, “Maine’s Republican governor wants to start shutting down the state turnpike authority within the next decade. The House referred Gov. Paul LePage’s bill [HP 1113] to the transportation committee on Thursday [May 18]. The Maine Turnpike Authority would have until November 2027 to remove all toll facilities on the turnpike, except the York toll facility.”

Maine Maine Turnpike Authority


Maine Lawmakers Override Veto of Bill to Create New Turnpike Spur

Portland Press Herald reports, “The Maine Senate voted 35 to 0 Thursday [May 18] to override a veto by Gov. Paul LePage and pass a law that sets in motion the creation of a new spur on the Maine Turnpike connecting Gorham and Scarborough. The Maine House of Representatives on Wednesday overrode LePage’s veto of the bill, 125-18.”

Maine Maine Turnpike Authority


Experts Agree: Tolling Interstates Will Drive Trump Infrastructure Plan

The Bond Buyer (subscription required) reports, “Allowing states to put tolls on interstate highways could provide the revenues needed to fund President Trump’s 10-year, $1 trillion infrastructure renewal proposal, transportation experts said at an Infrastructure Week roundtable sponsored by the Eno Center for Transportation.”

Infrastructure Investment Trends


Some Senators are "Skeptical" as USDOT Secretary Chao Pitches Trump Infrastructure Plan

The Detroit News reports that Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao “has been largely quiet early in her term, but Wednesday [May 17] she told the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that the Trump administration is gearing up for a push to put the debate over U.S. transportation spending front and center in Congress.” The newspaper adds that members of the committee were “skeptical” about the plan Chao outlined, which would rely heavily on private investment.

Infrastructure Investment Trends P3 & Privatization


Toll Interoperability Expands in Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma

Shawnee Dispatch reports, “Seamless regional travel has been expanded. The Kansas Turnpike Authority’s K-TAG now works on all Texas toll roads. KTA also accepts all Texas toll transponders in its electronic lanes. Customers who use multiple transponders to travel in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas are asked to remove all but one transponder to prevent double billing issues.”

Interoperability Kansas Kansas Turnpike Authority (KTA) Oklahoma Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA) Texas


Tolling Remains on the Table as Officials Hold Forum on CA Highway 37 Flooding Issue

Sonoma Valley Sun reports on a California Highway 37 public forum that “re-hashed the problems of traffic and flooding, touched on privatization and public-private partnerships, responded in brief to a few public questions, and wrapped it up without moving anything along.” At least three of the public officials on the forum panel believe and say tolling is an inevitable part of solving the highway’s problems.

California Caltrans (CA Department of Transportation) P3 & Privatization San Francisco Bay Area (CA)


Misdirected Notices Bedevil Some NH and NC Vanity License Plate Holders

Foster’s Daily Democrat reports on a peculiarity in New Hampshire and North Carolina vanity license plate rules that causes headaches for some motorists who receive misdirected toll payment and traffic citation notices.

New Hampshire North Carolina


Bridgegate Fallout Continues in Federal Suit Filed by Businesses, Individuals Impacted by the Gridlock

Associated Press reports, “The fallout from the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal continued to unfold in a federal courtroom Wednesday [May 17], weeks after two former aides to Republican Gov. Chris Christie were sentenced.” The report adds, “The suit filed more than three years ago seeks damages for people and businesses who were inconvenienced by widespread gridlock in the town of Fort Lee over a four-day span in September 2013.”

Issues of Law Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ)


WV Turnpike Bond Counsel Urges Lawmakers to Maintain E-ZPass System as Debate Continues over Tolling and Governor's Funding Plan

MetroNews reports, “The state Parkways Authority is recommending the current E-ZPass system be used in any tolling changes made on the West Virginia Turnpike as part of Gov. Jim Justice’s road construction plan.” The report adds, “Parkways Authority Bond Counsel Brian Helmick told the [House Finance Committee] it makes [sense] to continue using E-ZPass because it would avoid possible problems with the Interstate Commerce Clause in Gov. Justice’s proposal to offer an annual $8 unlimited Turnpike use program to state residents.”

The Register-Herald reports that the House Committee on Finance will essentially start over crafting HB 103, the current measure that deals with Parkways Authority toll rates, borrowing and highway construction.

West Virginia West Virginia Parkways Authority (West Virginia Turnpike)


City Officials Talk Up Seasonal Toll Rate Hike on the Sanibel Causeway

Santiva Chronicle reports, “In a move that would both raise revenue and ease traffic, Sanibel plans to talk to [Lee County, FL, officials] about raising the toll on the Sanibel Causeway during season.”

Florida Lee County (Florida)


If Science Can Clone a Sheep, Why Not a Red Peugeot?

The Irish Times reports, “A woman who claimed a ‘clone’ of her car was responsible for more than 300 unpaid journeys on the M50, has been fined €7,000 [US$7,800]. Judge John Brennan of the Dublin District Court refused to accept the woman’s defense “that a replica of her car was responsible and he said he was satisfied that the mother-of-one had attempted to mislead the court.” As for the 800 unpaid toll notices sent to the woman? You guessed it, “she claimed she did not receive them.”

Ireland Scofflaws