Daily News Briefs, May 22, 2017

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TxDOT Will Open 18 Miles of TEXpress Managed Toll Lanes This Morning

Denton Record-Chronicle reports that TxDOT has scheduled 18 miles of TEXpress managed toll lanes on I-35 East  to open this morning following a weekend “soft opening.” The newspaper adds, “For the first six months, there will be scheduled pricing for toll lane use. After the initial six months, rates will be determined by traffic congestion in the managed lanes. . . .”

Dallas-Ft. Worth Metro Region (DFW) Express Lanes Texas Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)


Opposition Forms to Maine Governor's Turnpike Elimination Proposal (and MTA Chief Mills Isn't Pulling Any Punches)

Bangor Daily News reports that opposition to Governor Paul LePage’s proposal to eliminate the Maine Turnpike Authority and most tolls is already mounting. Peter Mills, MTA’s executive director and a LePage appointee, tells the newspaper, “If you had to have a plan to end the Maine Turnpike Authority, there are only certain ways you can do it and [the bill submitted by LePage] is well written. So this is legally possible, even though politically and financially it’s a terrible idea.”

Maine Maine Turnpike Authority


Bankruptcy Court Approves SH 130 Concession Company's Reorganization Plan

SH 130 Concession Company issued a news release on May 19 to announce that a bankruptcy court confirmed a modified and amended Joint Plan of Reorganization that “clears the way for the Company to emerge from bankruptcy with new equity partners by the end of June.” The release adds that the plan “provides for a restructuring of the Company’s balance sheet, as well as distributions of cash, new indebtedness, and equity to various classes of creditors and stakeholders.” The company also received approval to enter into a new $260 million senior secured term debt facility led by Goldman Sachs.

SH 130 Concession (TX) Texas


A $2 Million Project to Convert Florida's Card Sound Road to AET Is Slated to Break Ground in August

Miami Herald reports, “A $2 million project to convert the Card Sound Road toll booths in North Key Largo into an automated system could break ground Aug. 1. The Monroe County Commission last week approved a $1.79 million construction contract, along with an $263,700 engineering contract.”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Card Sound (FL) Toll Authority Florida


TCA's Proposed 241 Toll Road Extension Draws More Opposition

The Orange County Register reports, “Developers of Rancho Mission Viejo announced [last] week that they cannot support any of the Transportation Corridor Agency’s current visions for extending the 241 Toll Road to I-5. . . . ‘Regrettably, there appears to be no viable option which doesn’t impact Rancho Mission Viejo residents or our South County neighbors,’ the ranch’s statement said. ‘Therefore, we are not in support of the alternatives as currently proposed.’”

California Transportation Corridor Agencies (CA)


Loose Lane Markers -- Called "Safety Hazards" -- Are Seen on More Charlotte Highways (I-77 and I-485 Cited)

WSOC reports, “A travel expert said he has seen metal pave markers [sic] scattered along Interstate 485, and this comes after [WSOC] has reported the same problem on Interstate 77. The markers are designed to hold reflectors in place when snowplows drive over them, but they are becoming loose on Charlotte highways and turning the safety device into a safety hazard. They weigh about 10 pounds each.”

North Carolina North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT)


Cameron County (TX) RMA Launches SH 550 Improvement Project

The Brownville Herald reports that the Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority (CCRMA) began making safety and roadway improvements (“concrete barrier installation and roadway smoothing along bridge approaches”) to SH 550 over the weekend. “The barrier installation will help prevent drivers from veering into oncoming traffic near the State Highway 48 and SH 550 intersection, officials said.”

Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority (CCRMA) Texas


Maricopa County (AZ) Region to See Huge Boost in Road Projects (but Not a Proposed Toll Road) Due to Unexpected Windfall

East Valley Tribune reports, “East Valley motorists in the coming years will reap a significant part of a billion-dollar windfall that will jump-start upgrades on several key highways in the region. That forecast to the Chandler Chamber of Commerce came recently from Bob Hazlett, senior engineering manager for the Maricopa Association of Governments, the principal highway planning agency in the Valley.” On the down side, the report adds, “On the other hand, motorists father south in San Tan Valley will have to wait for a long-discussed freeway between Eloy and the U.S. 60 in Apache Junction. Hazlett said suggestions that making that proposed freeway a toll road have pretty much been shelved.”



Illinois Farm Bureau Opposes Private Railroad and Toll Road Proposal

The Herald-News reports that the Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) announced that its board of directors “voted to oppose the construction of the Great Lakes Basin Railroad. Great Lakes Basin Transportation filed an application May 1 with the Surface Transportation Board to approve the 261-mile-long railroad along with a toll road that would run from Milton, Wisconsin, to La Porte, Indiana.”

Chicago Metro Area Illinois


Summer's Opening of New Wekiva Parkway Section Will Jump-Start "Long-Awaited," 624-Acre Development

Orlando Sentinel reports on the Central Florida Expressway Authority’s plan to open a new section of the Wekiva Parkway this summer, and it looks at “Kelly Park Crossing,” a 624-acre mixed-use development that is expected to get a jump-start from the expressway opening.

Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX) Florida


Bertha Is "Going to Her Reward"

The Seattle Times reports that Bertha, the tunnel-boring machine, is going to her reward. “Crews are chopping up [the] massive cutter head and hauling the pieces away to be melted down and recycled. The disassembly is employing dozens of workers, in addition to those building the road decks inside the Highway 99 tunnel.”

Washington State Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)


Toll Bridge Connecting Two NJ Shore Towns, Closed for Pier Repair, Won't Open by Memorial Day Holiday

NewsWorks reports, “Officials say repairs to a bridge that connects two Jersey Shore towns will not be done in time for Memorial Day weekend, the beginning of the summer tourism season. Cape May County Engineer Dale Foster says repairs to the Townsends Inlet toll bridge, closed since early April because of a crack in one of its supporting piers, is a ‘very challenging undertaking.’”

Cape May County (NJ) Bridge Commission New Jersey


Uber's Self-Driving Vehicle Project in Pittsburgh Has Lost Its "Wow Factor" as Testing Raises Tough Questions

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review looks at Uber’s testing of self-driving vehicles in Pittsburgh a year after the company started the operation, reporting that “the wow factor is wearing off. The tests ignited a new industry in Pittsburgh. They shined a spotlight on the depth of automation, robotics, artificial intelligence, computer sensing and perception and self-driving technology talent at the city’s universities and startups. But the tests also brought to the surface questions about how cities should manage self-driving cars and the roles and responsibilities of the companies developing and testing them.”

Pennsylvania Self-Driving Vehicles


The "Highly Instrumented Roadway" Is Coming to New Hampshire's F.E. Everett Turnpike

Concord Monitor reports, “We’re all familiar with streets and roads, and turnpikes and highways — but are we ready for the ‘highly instrumented roadway’? We’d better be, because it’s coming to the F.E. Everett Turnpike.” The report adds, “This project will involve installing 13 new cameras and four more electronic message signs, as well as connecting into four existing Road Weather Information Systems that can, among other things, measure the roadway’s coefficient of friction to detect black ice.”

New Hampshire New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT)


WI Lawmakers Earn Some Editorial Props for Moving toward Consensus on Tolling

The Wisconsin State Journal editorial board is encouraged that “consensus is building around tolling interstate highways as a long-range funding solution,” and adds, “Lawmakers should modestly raise traditional fees on drivers in the next state budget while seeking permission for modern tolling as a long-term funding fix.”

Wisconsin Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT)