Daily News Briefs, May 2, 2017

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Freight Rail Line Developer Proposes Private Toll Road in Illinois, Indiana

Post-Tribune (via Chicago Tribune) reports, “Frank Patton’s plans for [a tri-state rail freight line] now include a privately funded toll road. Patton, the founder and managing partner of Great Lakes Basin Transportation, is proposing a privately funded toll road, the Daniel Burnham Expressway,” that would extend from Grundy County, Illinois, to Michigan City, Indiana, following “much of the route of the freight train line. . .  [and] at least in Lake County, the route of the long-stalled Illiana toll road.” [Link inserted.] An application for the $8 billion project was filed with the US Surface Transportation Board on May 1.

Chicago Metro Area Illinois Indiana Infrastructure Investment Trends


C-470 Widening and Express Lanes Project Approved for $109 Million TIFIA Loan

KMGH  reports, “The project that will widen C-470 and add express lanes on the highway between I-25 and Wadsworth Boulevard has been approved for $109 million in federal [TIFIA loan] money. Construction on the C-470 expansion got underway last fall in Douglas County.The project is aimed at alleviating traffic congestion in one of Denver’s highest-trafficked areas.”

Colorado Colorado Department of Transportation


Gordie Howe Bridge Project Advances with Signing of $86 Million in Contracts

Windsor Star reports, “The Gordie Howe International Bridge project has taken another major step forward with the signing of three contracts totalling $86 million. Phase 2 of the long-anticipated Detroit River bridge project will begin immediately by contractors retained under the agreements approved by the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority for hydro relocation services and completion of the final phase of site preparation work.”

The Detroit News reports that officials gave a progress update on the bridge project last week during the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority annual meeting.

Canada Gordie Howe Int'l Bridge Michigan


US Magistrate Reopens Whistleblower Suit against PANYNJ

NJ.com reports that a US magistrate judge has reopened Jerry Speziale’s whistleblower suit against the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey after delaying proceedings last year pending the conclusion of the Bridgegate criminal trial. Speziale claims “he was hired with a mandate to uncover and report corruption and wasteful spending” in the PANYNJ police department, but was retaliated against and forced to resign after he reported violations. The newspaper adds there are allegations that Speziale’s hiring was politically motivated.

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ)


ITR's ETC Rates for Passenger Vehicles to Spike as State Subsidy Ends

The Times of Northwest Indiana reports, “Indiana Toll Road rates for drivers of two-axle vehicles paying with electronic transponders will rise dramatically in June, with the expiration of a state subsidy program that’s been in place for more than a decade and has kept tolls at mid-1980s levels. The drivers of so-called Class 2 vehicles will pay the same as cash-payers as of June 1, the Indiana Toll Road Concession Co. announced [on May 1].”

Indiana Indiana Toll Road Concession Company (ITRCC)


President Trump Open to Gas Tax Hike

The Washington Post reports, “President Trump on Monday [May 1] said he was open to raising the federal tax on gasoline and using the new revenue for his infrastructure package, a potentially major policy change as his top advisers try to assemble a plan to finance $1 trillion in new projects. . . .”


HCRMA to Continue Working with Engineering Firm, Despite "Apparent Federal Investigation"

The Monitor reports, “The public entity charged with constructing a multi-million-dollar loop in Hidalgo County will continue to work with Dannenbaum Engineering Corp. — despite an apparent federal investigation into the firm’s dealings. Board members for the Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority (HCRMA) met Monday [May 1] . . . for a special-called meeting. The gathering marked the first time board members sat together to discuss business with Dannenbaum since FBI agents raided the firm’s McAllen office last week.”

Hidalgo County (TX) Regional Mobility Authority Texas


FDOT Seeks Comment on Plan to Widen Turnpike in Palm Beach County (Future Express Lanes Cited)

WPTV reports, “A highly-congested stretch of Florida’s Turnpike may soon see some relief. The Florida Department of Transportation is seeking feedback on a widening project proposed for the 7-mile stretch between Boynton Beach Boulevard and Lake Worth Road.” The plan includes future express lanes, the report adds.

Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Florida's Turnpike Enterprise (FTE)


Local Officials Commit Another $1.2 Million to Building a Ramp to GDOT's I-75 Express Lanes

Marietta Daily Journal reports, “Officials with the Cumberland Community Improvement District hope their additional commitment of $1.2 million toward a new $36 million ramp onto the Interstate 75 reversible toll lanes could lead to millions more in federal funding for it. CID board members recently approved $1.2 million in funding for design of a ramp on Akers Mill Road aimed at giving drivers commuting through the area access to the Georgia Department of Transportation’s $834 million managed lanes project.”

Georgia Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT)


Bestpass Announces PACCAR Leasing Partnership

Bestpass announced, “PACCAR Leasing (PacLease) will now be able to offer its lease and rental customers the convenience of automatic toll billing and collecting with PacToll,” a new nationwide toll management program powered by Bestpass. [Link inserted.] PacToll includes “seamless rebilling from lessor to lessee and the ability to transfer transponders from leased provider to customer accounts and back again. The program will also result in a reduction in violations, which benefits PacLease, its customers, and the tolling authorities.”

Toll Rate Changes


Forbes Profiles the "Billionaire Toll Collector," Brookfield CEO Bruce Flatt

“Forbes” profiles Brookfield Asset Management CEO Bruce Flatt, whom the magazine calls the “Billionaire Toll Collector Of The 21st Century.” Flatt’s “true passion,”, says the magazine, is infrastructure, “which he sees as a $35 trillion opportunity that, like [Brookfield’s seven-million-square-foot Manhattan West office and hotel towers project] is hiding in plain sight. ‘Infrastructure will be an enormous asset class for institutional investors in the coming 25 years,’ Flatt insists.” Brookfield’s business includes managing 3,600 kilometers of toll roads in India and South America.

Canada Infrastructure Investment Trends


The Debate over Alaskan Way Viaduct Costs Continues

Los Angeles Times reports, “Eight years after [Seattle’s] Highway 99 tunnel got a thumbs up from then-Gov. Chris Gregoire, and six years after Washington voters approved it over other proposals to replace the earthquake-weakened Alaskan Way Viaduct on Seattle’s waterfront, the debate continues over the tunnel’s cost and effectiveness.”

Washington State Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)


NH Man Killed in Everett Turnpike Toll Booth Crash

New Hampshire Union Leader reports, “A 22-year-old Manchester man was killed [on April 30] when his car struck a cement barrier at the Bedford toll booths on the F.E. Everett Turnpike. . . [He] was thrown from the 2004 silver Saab sedan when it rolled several times in the crash, which occurred at the entrance to the southbound toll, police said.” Police are still investigating the cause of the accident.

New Hampshire New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT)


GDOT Says Collapsed Section of I-85 Bridge Will Be Repaired Ahead of Schedule

Associated Press reports, “State officials say a collapsed interstate bridge in the heart of Atlanta that’s being rebuilt will be reopened weeks earlier than expected. Local news organizations report the Georgia Department of Transportation said [May 1] the new section of Interstate 85 will be opened before the Memorial Day weekend. Officials initially pledged a June 15 completion date after the bridge collapsed on March 30 following a massive fire.”

Georgia Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT)


Former USDOT Secretary LaHood Plugs Tolling for Trump Infrastructure Plan

Globes-online.com publishes a profile and interview of Ray LaHood. Among other things, he contends that the Trump infrastructure plan should include tolling. The article also notes, “from [LaHood’s] point of view, success in transportation would be if in 10 or 20 years the number of cars per family in the US will be reduced from more than two on average to just one due to the fact that there are other better [transportation] alternatives.”