Daily News Briefs, May 25, 2017

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A "Must-Pass" TxDOT Sunset Bill Is Hung Up in Debate Over Tolls as Deadline Looms

Austin American-Statesman reports, “The fate of the Texas Department of Transportation’s must-pass sunset bill remains uncertain with just five days left in the legislative session. Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, the sponsor of Senate Bill 312, decided . . . that he could not concur with some of the changes made in the bill by the House,” including several dealing with tolls, forcing a negotiation over the bill’s final terms.

Texas Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)


USDOT Secretary Chao Touts Infrastructure Plan as "Long-Term Reform"

Politico reports that Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao described the goal of the Trump national infrastructure plan as “long-term reform on how infrastructure projects are regulated, funded, delivered and maintained. . . . She said the administration expects ‘to have more details forthcoming,’ including a legislative package later this year, but described the concepts handed out [on May 23] as ‘the main key principles.’”

Trump Administration Infrastructure Plan


Trump Administration to Propose Privatizing Public Assets to Fund Other Infrastructure Projects

The Washington Post reports, “The Trump administration . . . is drafting plans to privatize some public assets such as airports, bridges, highway rest stops and other facilities, according to top officials and advisers. . . . [They] said that to entice state and local governments to sell some of their assets, the administration is considering paying them a bonus. The proceeds of the sales would then go to other infrastructure projects.” The report adds that “Australia has pursued a similar policy, which it calls ‘asset recycling’. . . .”

P3 & Privatization Trump Administration Infrastructure Plan


Kapsch Wins Contract for Rhode Island Truck Toll System

The Providence Journal reports, “As they fought back against Republican-led attacks to Rhode Island’s planned truck-toll network, state transportation officials Wednesday [May 24] said they have chosen [Kapsch TrafficCom] to design, build, operate and maintain the system.” Kapsch “beat out five other companies for the 10-year, $25 million contract, Department of Transportation Director Peter Alviti Jr. said. . . . The deal was expected to be signed later in the afternoon or [today, May 25].”

Rhode Island Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT)


E-470 Sets Traffic Record for Fourth Straight Year in 2016, Expects More Growth

Aurora Sentinel reports that the E-470 toll highway “saw a record number of drivers last year — up 7 percent in 2016 compared to 2015, the fourth straight record-breaking year, according to an annual report released last month,” and authority officials “are gearing up for even more traffic.” Executive director Tim Stewart “said that future growth [in eastern Aurora] is part of the reason the authority launched a $90-million expansion last year. . . .”

Colorado E-470 Public Highway Authority


Nevada DOT Board Member Plugs Tolling, Including on I-15 to San Diego

KNPR interviews Tom Skancke, Nevada Department of Transportation board member and advocate of increased tolling, who suggests that “more states around the country and particularly in the West — in the Intermountain West — have a serious conversation about more toll lanes.” Skancke tells KNPR that he believes “toll lanes could be used on Interstate 15 all the way to San Diego, and along the new Interstate 11 to Phoenix.”

California Nevada


Tolls on I-495/95 Express Lanes Expected to Skyrocket This Weekend

WTTG reports, “Memorial Day travelers could be paying higher tolls to drive on the 495/95 Express Lanes this holiday weekend. Transportation experts say Wednesday may be the best day to head out for Memorial Day weekend, but if you are unable to leave work a day before the busy travel time starts, you could face skyrocketing tolls.”

I-95 Express (Metro Washington, DC) Transurban Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Washington (DC) Metro Region


NY City Tolling Plan Appears to Have "Hit a Red Light" (in Albany)

Crain’s New York Business, in a look at the funding problems plaguing MTA’s subway system, reports that “the financial picture grew dimmer as Move NY, the creator of a tolling plan that would raise billions of dollars for the MTA, admitted it has hit a red light of its own. ‘The general view is that until the governor understands New York is in the midst of a full-blown transit crisis that is only going to get worse with time and inattention, innovative proposals like Move NY aren’t going anywhere in Albany,’ said the organization’s campaign director, Alex Matthiessen.”

Congestion Pricing Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) New York New York City


TxDOT Waives Toll Fees on Camino Colombia Toll Road in Wake of Devastating Storm

Laredo Morning Times reports, “In the wake of [last weekend’s] devastating storm, the Texas Department of Transportation announced Wednesday [May 24] that it will temporarily waive toll fees on Camino Colombia toll road between FM 1472/Colombia Bridge and Interstate 35 while World Trade Bridge undergoes construction.”

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


Army Corps Issued Permit for Maine Turnpike's York Plaza Relocation Project

Seacoastonline.com reports, “As testimony took place in a day-long hearing [on May 22] . . . on plans for a new Maine Turnpike toll plaza in York, it was learned that the federal Army Corps of Engineers has approved the project and issued a permit for work to begin. The MTA needs approval from both ACE and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, which was holding Monday’s hearing.”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Maine Maine Turnpike Authority


Cape Coral Bridge Replacement Project (11 Years Away) and Use of Toll Dollars Spurs TV Investigative Report

WBBH NBC2 News reports, “The entire westbound span of the Cape Coral Bridge will be replaced in about 11 years. That overhaul will be an expensive project costing $88 million. At the rate you’re paying the $2 toll right now, the money could be saved and ready to pay for it in half that time. However, that’s not happening. . . .” The station adds, somewhat breathlessly, that “Lee County can and does use [the bridge toll revenue] to pay for debt on the Midpoint Bridge, Veteran’s Parkway, the Sanibel Causeway or county-wide transportation debt as a whole.”

Florida Lee County (Florida)


RITBA and Jamestown Officials Continue to Grapple over Location of Proposed Solar Array

The Jamestown Press reports that Jamestown officials and RITBA continue to huddle over the location of a solar array on one of two parcels that RITBA owns.

Rhode Island Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA)


RIDOT Director Breaks Out Red Pen and Hammers Critics of Truck Toll Plan

WPRI reports, “When asked about claims that Gov. Gina Raimondo’s plan to toll large commercial trucks wouldn’t generate anywhere near as much revenue as advertised, the head of the state’s Department of Transportation got out his red pen. ‘All the red marks on this are all the errors,’ RIDOT Director Peter Alviti said Wednesday [May 24]. ‘That would be a failing grade.’”

Rhode Island Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT)


RI Trucking Association Calls for Independent Committee to Review Selection of Toll-Funded Repair Projects

GoLocalProv.com reports that the president of the Rhode Island Trucking Association “is calling for the immediate formation of an independent oversight committee to review bridge inspection information related to project selection” for the truck-toll-funded RhodeWorks plan. He specifically challenges the need for one $5.7-million-dollar Providence overpass replacement project scheduled by RIDOT.

Rhode Island Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT)


FL State Senator Joins TV Station in Push to Nail Scofflaws

WKMG reports, “A state senator wants to get results after a News 6 investigation from last month exposed toll cheats on the Florida Turnpike. News 6 discovered $60 million in tolls went uncollected on the Florida Turnpike last fiscal year. Part of the reason: Some drivers wrack up thousands of dollars in violations.”

Florida Florida Turnpike Enterprise (FTE) Scofflaws


Restaurant Chain to Cover Some Motorists' AC Expressway Tolls Tomorrow to Mark Beginning of Summer

PhillyVoice.com reports that a restaurant chain will once again pay the tolls of some motorists passing through the Atlantic City Expressway’s Egg Harbor Toll Plaza on their way to the seashore this Friday, May 26. “This is the fourth year that Chickie’s & Pete’s has celebrated the beginning of summer with Free Toll Friday,’” according to the web site.

New Jersey South Jersey Transportation Authority (SJTA)