Daily News Briefs, May 24, 2017

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Trump Funding Plan Draws Fire: Administration Proposes Tolling Existing Interstates, Expanding TIFIA and Lifting PAB Cap

Bloomberg reports that the Trump administration outlined a goal “to seek long-term reforms on how infrastructure projects are regulated, funded, delivered and maintained” in a May 23 budget fact sheet. The recommended measures include reducing restrictions on state tolling of existing interstates, expanding the TIFIA loan program and lifting a $15 billion cap on tax-exempt Private Activity Bonds.

Bloomberg also reports, “President Donald Trump’s $1 trillion plan for improving the nation’s infrastructure isn’t enjoying the immediate bipartisan support he may have hoped for. Democrats ripped Trump’s budget release on [May 23], when he announced his plan to spend $200 billion over 10 years to spur at least $800 billion in state, local and private infrastructure investment. They said the federal spending would be offset by cuts to existing programs that already fund transportation projects.”

Infrastructure Investment Trends


Arkansas Officials Host Meetings on What Could Become State's First Managed Lane Project

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the state’s Highway and Transportation Department is holding public meetings on an I-30 corridor study that includes discussion “of adding a traffic lane limited to high-occupancy vehicles and motorists willing to pay a toll.” The newspaper notes that the potential “managed traffic lane would be the first in Arkansas.”



Leavenworth County (KS) Officials Debate a Possible Six-lane Toll Road for Kansas City Area

Leavenworth Times reports, “When they met [on May 22], Leavenworth County commissioners discussed a proposal for what is being called the Patriot Highway. If constructed, the six-lane toll road would serve as an outer beltway for the Kansas City area. The highway would pass through Leavenworth County and four other counties.”

Kansas Kansas City (MO) Metro Area


GOP, ATA Call for Repeal of RI Truck Tolling Law

Associated Press reports, “Republicans and the American Trucking Association[s] are calling on Rhode Island leaders to repeal a law passed last year that allows the state to install highway tolls on big-rig trucks. House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan held a news conference Tuesday [May 23] with fellow Republican legislators and trucker advocates calling for repeal of the toll-financed plan to repair the state’s bridges. They say they’ve studied how the tolls would work and it doesn’t add up.”

Rhode Island


Storm Damage Forces Week-Long Closure of Major US-Mexico Border Toll Bridge

San Antonio Express-News reports, “The busiest commercial bridge on the border with Mexico will be closed to most cargo traffic until [May 29], forcing billions of dollars of international trade to be rerouted. Damage caused to Laredo’s World Trade Bridge by storms that killed one person Sunday in the border city was significant enough to keep the eight-lane bridge closed through the weekend, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced [yesterday, May 23].”

Laredo (TX) International Bridge System Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)


How Will Texas Pay a $383 Billion (by 2040) Tab for Roads? Tolls Will Be a Tough Sell.

Houston Chronicle posts a think piece by Kyle Shelton, a postdoctoral fellow at the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University, on the long-term highway funding challenge that Texas confronts, which notes, “While Texans are clearly amenable to paying for better roads — two recent state referendums added $2 billion annually to state highway funds — voters and politicians alike have balked at the idea of new toll roads and the public-private partnerships that are often used to facilitate their formation.”

Texas Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)


Northern KY Communities Continue Opposition to Tolling a Brent Spence Bridge Replacement

WCPO (subscription required for full access) reports, “At the beginning of this month, the city of Covington released a statement to Kentucky and Ohio officials reiterating the city’s opposition to the enactment of tolls as a means of funding improvements to the Brent Spence Bridge corridor.” The report adds, “The . . . statement from the Covington City Commission is the latest in a long line of communications from . . . cities like Union, Alexandria, Ludlow and Taylor Mill that all assert the same thing: We don’t want to deal with heavy diverted traffic from toll roads.”

Brent Spence Bridge (Cincinnati OH-Northern KY) Kentucky Ohio


Oregon Lawmakers Propose to Shift Authority to Appoint ODOT Chief to State Transportation Commission

Portland Tribune reports, “Legislators on a joint committee to craft a transportation package plan to propose shifting authority to appoint the director of the Oregon Department of Transportation from the governor to the Oregon Transportation Commission. . . . Under the proposal, the five-member commission would appoint the director ‘in consultation with the governor.’”

Appointments-Promotions-Retirements Oregon Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT)


A Look at Golden Gate Bridge District's Vintage Packard

Petaluma Argus-Courier reports on a 1937 Packard sedan that’s played an important role in the history of the Golden Gate Bridge — so important, that the bridge district has owned and maintained the car for thirty years.

Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District (GGBHTD)


DelDOT's US 301 Toll Road Construction Is on Pace

Middletown Transcript reports, “Things are moving along on schedule with construction of the new U.S. Route 301 toll road in the Middletown area, according to Ken Cimino, DelDOT’s Public Outreach Coordinator.”

Delaware Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT)


Florida Turnpike to Open New All-Electronic Tolling Interchange in June

Daily Commercial reports, “Officials say residents of south Lake County could soon see less traffic congestion as the city of Minneola, Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise and Lake County celebrate the opening of the new Hancock Road interchange.” The report adds, “A free SunPass mini transponder will be activated for people attending the [June 10 opening] ceremony who open a SunPass account with a minimum of $10 in pre-paid tolls.”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Florida Florida Turnpike Enterprise (FTE)


FDOT to Open New I-295 Toll Express Lanes in Jacksonville by Year's End

WJCT reports, “Paying to avoid traffic congestion will be an option for Jacksonville area motorists by the end of this year. The Florida Department of Transportation is adding toll express lanes to Interstate 295, from the Buckman Bridge to the I-95 merger.”

Express Lanes Florida Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)


VA GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Promises No New Toll Roads, and He'll Find $2.2 Billion Savings to Fund New Projects

The Virginian-Pilot reports, “Republican gubernatorial hopeful Corey Stewart pledged [on May 23] to oppose any new toll roads in Virginia and to pay for new projects by slashing $2.2 billion from elsewhere in the state budget. He did not identify what he would cut. Stewart is chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors and faces a June 13 primary. . . .”

Virginia Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)


NY Thruway Sells Property to State Prisons Department

Times Herald-Record reports, “The state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision will convert a former Thruway complex in the Town of Newburgh into warehouses to support job-training programs at its prisons. . . . The New York State Thruway Authority’s board of directors approved the sale of the 4.19 acres to the department for $2 million.”

New York New York State Thruway Authority


LA Times Editorial Board Pans Proposed Tunnel for 710 Freeway Extension

The Los Angeles Times editorial board comes out against the LA Metro proposal to extend the 710 Freeway via a multi-billion-dollar toll tunnel. The editors note that the project has lost “an important long-standing supporter,” Duarte City Councilman and Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board Chair John Fasana, who “has decided the tunnel has no future. Let’s hope he’s right, and that the project is really, truly dead.”

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


Toll Collectors in India Arrested for Assaulting Motorist Who Refused to Pay Toll

The Hindu reports that Ullal police are holding two toll collectors on “the charge of attempt to murder” after allegedly assaulting a motorist who “told the toll plaza staff that he need not pay the fee since he was a local resident.” The report adds that since the man’s vehicle did not have a “local registration number and the staff insisted that he pay the fee,” there was an argument and “commotion” that led to “the accused staff allegedly [hitting] complainant’s head with an iron rod.”

Crime Beat India