Daily News Briefs, November 10, 2016

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Sneak Preview of New Presidential Limo: Driver's Window Rolls Down . . . for Paying Tolls

Daily Mail (London) reports, “President-elect Donald Trump’s brand new state limousine, nicknamed The Beast, is almost ready. Leaked pictures reveal the upgraded, armored car, which will be debuted on Inauguration Day in January 2017, during top secret testing at General Motors.” The report adds — and we did not make this up — that, “All of the windows are completely sealed and unable to roll down, except for the driver’s side to allow him to pay tolls, and are able to withstand armor-piercing bullets and explosions.”


Breakthrough: Bridge Authority Releases RFP for Gordie Howe Bridge Project

Detroit Free Press reports that the “Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority today,” November 10, “announced that it has issued the formal request for proposals to three teams of finalists vying to build the [Gordie Howe Bridge]. Those three teams, each consisting of multiple international firms with expertise in architecture, engineering, construction, finance, law, bridge operations and more, now have several months to submit their bids.” The newspaper adds, “The issuance of the request for proposals, or RFP, is significant because it could put to rest doubts about the progress on the planned Gordie Howe project.” [Links added.]

Windsor Star also reports.

Canada Gordie Howe Int'l Bridge Michigan


Louisiana Task Force Recommends P3s and Tolls as Funding Tools for Multi-Billion Infrastructure Renewal Program

The Advocate (Baton Rouge) reports that Governor John Bel Edwards’ Task Force on Transportation Infrastructure Investment adopted resolutions on November 9 endorsing two methods of financing state transportation projects such as a new $1 billion, I-10 Mississippi River bridge: public/private partnerships, “to help finance costly plans,” and tolls, “which are often discussed but rarely used in Louisiana.” Both methods will probably supplement a state gas tax increase that the task force is scheduled to consider in December. The newspaper adds that Governor Edwards “is expected to make transportation a key issue for the 2017 regular legislative session.”

Louisiana Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD)


Will NC Governor McCrory's Support for I-77 Express Cost Him Re-Election?

WBTV reports that North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory is running behind in a race that is still too close to call. The station assesses the effect McCrory’s support for the I-77 Express project may have had on his vote total. The station notes that the governor “lost a good bit of support from voters in areas in and to the north of Mecklenburg County. Those are the same areas where a Spanish corporation is building toll lanes along Interstate 77.” The governor’s challenger called on him to rescind the construction contract.

WFAE reports, “Democrat Roy Cooper is claiming victory in his bid to unseat Governor Pat McCrory, though results aren’t final. If he loses, the governor can trace the defeat in part to Mecklenburg County. Changing voting patterns and his stand on controversial issues, including I-77 tolls, have eroded the former Charlotte mayor’s popularity at home.”

I-77 Express Lanes (NC) North Carolina North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT)


WA Voters Re-Elect Governor Inslee, Reject Toll and Traffic Critic

The Seattle Times reports that Washington’s incumbent governor, Jay Inslee, “rolled to a second term [on November 8], easily dispensing with Republican challenger Bill Bryant.”

The Times recently reported on Bryant’s attempt to make “Puget Sound’s traffic woes one of his main campaign themes, especially the troubles with I-405 toll lanes. [Inslee sought] to turn those criticisms back on Bryant, who in the past has supported tolling.”

Washington State


Maryland Officials to Consider Toll Lanes for DC Suburbs

NBC 4 Washington reports, “Maryland transportation leaders are considering tolls to help with traffic in D.C.’s suburbs. The idea of more toll facilities likely will be mentioned at meetings in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties [today, November 10].” The report adds, “State transportation leaders are looking at solutions and have a draft of a proposal to widen the Beltway and possibly add toll lanes from the Legion Bridge to the Wilson Bridge.”

Click here to register or get information about this evening’s “Montgomery County Road Show” event from the Suburban Maryland Transportation Alliance.

Maryland Washington (DC) Metro Region


Confusion Blamed for Baldwin County, Alabama, Toll Referendum Defeat

WKRG reports, “Confusion at the ballot box is being blamed for the failure of a Baldwin County Amendment 3 while a statewide amendment allowing cities to create toll authorities passed.”



Travis County Voters Return Commissioner Who Supports TX 45SW Project

Austin Monitor reports that an advocate for the TX 45SW toll project (which broke ground earlier this week) won reelection as a Travis County Commissioner on November 8. Voters gave Gerald Daugherty (R-Precinct 3) a fourth term in a close race against his Democratic Party challenger.

Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) Texas


President-Elect Trump's Infrastructure Pledge Sets up Battle with GOP-Led Congress

The Washington Post reports that Donald Trump’s victory speech included a pledge to put “millions” to work rebuilding the country’s infrastructure. However, as the newspaper notes, “Infrastructure is a major Democratic priority, but many Republicans remain skeptical that the government needs to spend more in this area. Trump’s comments augur a coming conflict with the new Congress, especially Rep. Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House.”

CNN Money reports, “Donald Trump may or may not build that wall on the Mexican border that he talked about constantly during the presidential campaign. But investors are hoping that he — and Congress — will spend more to help rebuild America’s roads and bridges.” The report looks at the spike in infrastructure stocks.

Infrastructure Investment Trends


NJ Firm Disputes Outstanding PA Turnpike Tolls and Fees - Despite 214 Notices

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports, “A New Jersey trucking firm listed as having the fourth-largest bill for unpaid Pennsylvania Turnpike tolls claims the turnpike has never contacted the company about the debt. Anthony Berritto, president and CEO of Salson Dedicated Inc. in Newark, claims he was unaware he owed the turnpike $56,390 for 214 unpaid tolls and fees until he saw a Post-Gazette story . . . about the 24 commercial firms with the largest amount of unpaid turnpike tolls.” The report adds, however, “The turnpike’s Violations Processing Center confirmed this week the agency sent Salson [link added] 214 separate notices for toll violations beginning in February 2012, said spokesman [Carl DeFebo, Jr.] ‘Our first-line collection agency indicated that they have contacted Salson Dedicated Inc. both by phone and mail and have connected with company representatives to try to collect on the unresolved violations,’ [DeFebo] said in an email.” Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf recently signed new toll enforcement legislation into law.

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) Scofflaws


Shuttle Service Sues DRPA over Toll Hike

Courier-Post reports, “An airport shuttle service has sued the Delaware River Port Authority, contending it can’t survive a new and higher toll for its vans. Rapid Rover Inc. of Pennsauken wants a judge to block the toll increase – from $5 to $15 – while the firm pursues a legal challenge. It also wants a court order to prevent the DRPA from impounding any of its 30 vans due to toll disputes.”

Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA)


Will Bridgegate Fallout Deprive Christie of Trump Administration Post?

NJ.com reports, “Gov. Chris Christie gambled his political future on Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, and what seemed like the longest of long-shot bets has paid off.” A handful of experts surveyed by the website are split on whether or not the Bridgegate scandal forecloses the possibility of Christie earning senate confirmation for a post in the Trump administration.

Observer.com (whose publisher is Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner) reports, “Governor Chris Christie’s race for a zero percent job approval continues. With the Bridgegate-smudged governor in damage control mode on Charlie Rose, the court of public opinion has already rendered its own verdict in the form of ‘lower-than-ever ratings for Gov. Chris Christie,’ according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Mired in the low twenties for weeks, Christie cracked the 2-0 mark to plunge into the teens, the poll finds.”


Dumbarton Bridge Lane Conversion to FasTrak-Only Appears to Benefit Majority of Motorists

The Mercury News’ “Roadshow” columnist, Gary Richards, gives a preliminary report on the conversion of an additional Dumbarton Bridge toll plaza lane to FasTrak-only traffic. The change, which is temporary and under study, has benefited some “Roadshow” readers and exasperated others, but officials tell Richards 74 percent of motorists should be experiencing better commutes.

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Caltrans (CA Department of Transportation) Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC)


Portfolio Managers Gauge a Trump Presidency's Effect on Investment Funds

“Citywire Selector” polls a group of managers to find out what effect they expect a Trump presidency to have on markets. Views about volatility, asset value, and long-term results vary, but one expert confidently predicts, “Tanks, toll roads and tariffs: We expect Trump to take bold, decisive actions in an attempt to fix the US economy, even if Congress manages to lessen the severity of his policies. Defence and infrastructure spending will significantly increase. . . .”

Infrastructure Investment Trends