Daily News Briefs, May 9, 2017

This is a Subscribers-Only area. If you are a subscriber, please login. If not...

Become a Subscriber Today »

Massachusetts Turnpike's AET Numbers Are So Far on the Money

MassLive.com reports, “Six months in, the new cashless tolling system along the Massachusetts Turnpike has seen transactions come to a total of nearly a quarter billion, with an accuracy rate of greater than 99 percent, state transportation officials said Monday [May 8].” State transportation secretary Stephanie Pollack issued a statement saying, “We are pleased to report that operations have been efficient in servicing our more than 4.3 million All Electronic Tolling accounts and ensuring we meet our goals of toll operability, excellent customer service, and an efficient toll demolition and road reconstruction process.”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Massachusetts Turnpike


Trump Administration's P3-Driven Infrastructure Plan Hits a "Speed Bump" in Texas House

Bloomberg reports, “President Donald Trump’s plan to invest $1 trillion in U.S. infrastructure with the help of public-private partnerships has hit a speed bump in Texas. Wary of public opposition to new highway tolls, the Texas House voted on May 5 to reject a bill that would have allowed the partnerships . . . to participate in 18 highway projects costing as much as $30 billion. The defeat leaves the second most-populous U.S. state unable to tap into the partnerships to finance the infrastructure improvements, even as Trump is proposing to expand their use.”

P3 & Privatization Texas


Oregon Lawmakers Unveil Funding Proposal with Portland Tolling in the Mix

The Oregonian reports that the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation Preservation and Modernization “on Monday [May 8] unveiled a proposed package of vehicle fee, payroll and gas tax increases that would raise $5 billion over the next decade to ease congestion and improve state and local roads, bridges and public transportation.” The article adds, “Tolling has also been considered to decrease traffic in the Portland area. [Senator Brian Boquist, R-Dallas] said a Portland-area tolling plan would likely include tolls on both I-5 and I-205, though some stretches might be toll-free to decrease the burden on low-income Oregonians.”

The joint committee will hold a meeting tomorrow evening, May 10, to discuss the proposed funding package.



INDOT Talks Up $1.5 Billion, I-69 Extension Project and Possible IN-KY Toll Bridge

Inside Indiana Business reports, “The Indiana Department of Transportation says ‘now is the time’ to make economic plans around the proposed final section of the I-69 extension.” INDOT Public Affairs Manager Andy Dietrick tells the site that “the ‘missing link’ to the extension project is an interstate-quality bridge connecting [ ] Kentucky and Indiana.” A bridge study, including whether it will be tolled, is due in late 2019, the report adds.

Indiana Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT)


Washington State Lawmakers Order Study of Trestle Project Financing (Tolls and User Fees Mentioned)

The Herald reports, “State lawmakers want a better idea of what it will cost to replace the westbound span of the U.S. 2 trestle” — a commuter bottleneck — “and a few suggestions on how to pay for it.” The proposed state transportation budget sets aside $350,000 for a study of the replacement project costs. A WSDOT official tells the newspaper tolling and user fees will be among the funding options explored by the study contractor.

Washington State Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)


ITR Signs Recognize Troopers and Highway Worker Killed in Line of Duty

Associated Press reports, “Memorial signs are now in place along the Indiana Toll Road honoring two state police troopers and a highway worker killed in crashes while on the job. State police say the three signs will be dedicated during a memorial service Wednesday [May 10]. . . .”

Indiana Indiana Toll Road Concession Company (ITRCC)


The $330 Million Texas 360 Toll Road to Clear Milestones in the Next Two Months

Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports, “The Texas 360 toll road will pass some major milestones in the next two months with new arterial bridges opening, but the main toll lanes won’t be open for another year.” The report adds that the $330 million project involves building “two toll lanes in each direction with continuous frontage roads that will remain free.” TxDOT is supervising construction, and the North Texas Tollway Authority will maintain the facility.

Brazoria County (TX) North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) Texas Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) TX State Highway 288


Construction of $97 Million Brazoria County (TX) Expressway Starts in June

Houston Public Media reports, “Construction is expected to start in June on what will be known as the Brazoria County Expressway. The $97 million  project is a continuation of the 288 toll lanes currently being built in Harris County. The Brazoria County portion will run about five miles. . . . There will be two tolled lanes in each direction and they’ll be built in the existing median.”



Dulles Greenway Owners to Donate All Tolls Collected on May 18th to Charity

The Washington Post reports, “Toll Road Investors Partnership II, owner of the Dulles Greenway, has announced the 12th annual Drive for Charity on May 18. All tolls collected that day will be donated to six local charities and to the Dulles Greenway Scholarship Program. The scholarship fund awards $2,000 to one senior at each of the public high schools in Loudoun County.”

Dulles Greenway


"Governing" Predicts More States Will Raise Gas Taxes This Year

“Governing” reports, “While raising the gas tax is still a politically treacherous idea in Washington, lawmakers in state capitals are increasingly coming around to it. Already this year, governors in California, Indiana and Tennessee signed laws to raise fuel taxes, meaning a total of 22 states have passed laws imposing higher gas taxes in the past five years. Chances are also good that the list will grow even longer this year.” (Tolling receives scant mention.)

Infrastructure Investment Trends


Wisconsin Lawmakers Are Still Considering Tolling

Janesville Gazette reports, “Some drivers will go out of their way to avoid toll roads, but Wisconsin lawmakers are steering toward tolling as an option to fix the Badger State’s road funding problem.” According to the article, Assembly Republicans are proposing that the state seek federal authorization for interstate tolling and “apply for enrollment in two federal pilot programs to study the costs and benefits of tolling.” If the proposals are approved, the report adds, “it could take four to six years of state studies and federal vetting before any toll roads could be activated. . . .”



"Emboldened" Investors Plow Money into Infrastructure-Related ETFs, Mutual Funds

The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reports, “Emboldened by President Donald Trump’s campaign promise of a $1 trillion infrastructure-spending package, investors have plowed more than $460 million into related U.S. mutual funds and exchange-traded funds so far this year, according to data from Morningstar Inc.” The report adds that “euphoria has eased as the market begins to digest just how much stands in the way of an infrastructure package — from shifting priorities in the White House to opposition in Congress.”

Infrastructure Investment Trends


WV Lawmaker Looks at I-81, Route 22 Expansions, Tolling

The Tribune-Democrat publishes an op-ed by West Virginia Delegate Gary Howell (R-Mineral), who discusses potential expansions of I-81 and/or Route 22 in both Pennsylvania and West Virginia in light of a recent meeting of lawmakers from several states about the future of Interstate 81. He mentions tolls as a possible source of project funding, but notes, “The people of West Virginia do not trust toll roads, as the state has repeatedly broken its promise to remove the tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike.”

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) West Virginia West Virginia Parkways Authority (West Virginia Turnpike)


Canada Infrastructure Bank Will Have Toronto Headquarters

The Canadian Press reports, “The Canada infrastructure bank will be located in Toronto, where its members will have easy access to investors in the city’s financial district whose dollars the Liberals need to make the agency a success. The proposed bank would take $35 billion in government funding to entice private investment in projects like public transit systems, highways and electrical grids that generate revenues through user fees or tolls.”



Australia's Push to Finance Infrastructure Projects Has Some Execs Worried about Free Market "Distortion"

The Australian reports, “Leading executives and directors in the infrastructure sector fear private sector investors may turn their back on financing major Australian projects if the federal government distorts the operation of the free market by financing, procuring and operating new developments. The government is preparing to spend billions of dollars on off-budget equity injections into non-financial public corporations to deliver a range of ­’nation-building’ infrastructure projects.”

Australia Infrastructure Investment Trends


New Donna-Rio Bravo Bridge App Live-Streams Traffic, Provides Toll Info

The Monitor reports, “A new app that’s live-streaming traffic at the Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge is placing port activity in the palm of your hands. In addition to northbound traffic being visible via a live view, the Puente Donna app has toll rates, announcements, bridge hours and contact information also available to mobile device users.”

City of Donna (Texas) Texas