Daily News Briefs, November 14, 2016

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

Become a Subscriber Today »

NY Post Reports Bridgegate Convictions Caused Trump to Oust Christie from Transition Team Role

New York Post reports, “President-elect Donald Trump is so disgusted with Chris Christie’s handling of the Bridgegate scandal that he’s kicking the New Jersey governor out of his inner circle, The Post has learned. ‘Trump thought it was shameful that Christie didn’t take the fall for [convicted aide] Bridget Kelly,’ said a source close to the transition team. ‘Trump is really angry that Christie is sending a soccer mom to jail. He believes 100 percent that Christie was behind it all.’”

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ)


Lobbyist Working for Both MDX and Miami-Dade Draws Ethics Rebuke

Miami Herald  reports that a Miami-Dade County ethics board has recommended sanctioning a private lobbyist for the county for failing to disclose a “potential conflict” surrounding a proposed transportation bill. The bill, which county commission staff helped to draft, included “the framework of a plan . . . to generate $1.5 billion for Miami-Dade for transit projects.” When the lobbyist, Fausto Gomez, submitted the bill’s draft to the legislature, it had been changed to give the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) — another Gomez client — control of the transit funds. [Link deleted.] Gomez denies wrongdoing. The newspaper adds that the incident “offers a rare look into the behind-the-scenes efforts by Miami-Dade and MDX to push their interests in Tallahassee, as well as a raw account of local officials engaged in a bitter exchange of finger-pointing over the failed transit-funds bill.”

Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX)


News Crew Dissects Bay Bridge Commute as MTC Looks to Eliminate Cash Option

KGO News conducts a “Bay Bridge time challenge during one morning commute” and clocks two cars as one goes through the FasTrak-only lanes and the other navigates a FasTrak-and-cash lane. “By the time the challenge is over, the Fastrak lane is just about five minutes faster than the cash lane. A time savings, but maybe not as much as you’d think,” the station reports. John Goodwin of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission tells the station that MTC is ultimately “looking at ways to eliminate the cash option from the bridge to speed things up.”

KGO News also looks at the impact of the metering lights drivers encounter after the toll plazas and reports, “Fastrak drivers are given an advantage: fewer merge lanes and faster metering lights.”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC)


PANYNJ Cuts Funding for "Elite" Police Unit, Draws Criticism about Use of Toll Dollars

New York Post reports, “The Port Authority has cut its elite Emergency Service Unit — which protects major area airports, bridges and tunnels from potential terrorist strikes — by more than 30 percent in the past five years, The Post has learned.” The report adds, “The belt-tightening by PA bean-counters comes amid five consecutive years of steep toll hikes on bridges and tunnels, with billions of extra dollars being paid by motorists earmarked for the new World Trade Center and other capital improvements. ‘It would appear that drivers are paying more and more money to this behemoth [the PA] and not getting the services they’re entitled to,’ said Alec Slatky, a spokesman for the Automobile Association of America.”

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ)


PANYNJ Releases Final 2017 Budget Plan with No Toll or Fare Increases

NJ.com reports that Port Authority of New York and New Jersey commissioners will vote on a final 2017 budget on December 8. No toll or fare increases are included in the proposed $7.37 billion spending plan. PANYNJ projects $1.866 billion in toll and fare revenue (a $48 million increase over 2016), and “Rentals are expected to generate a total of $1.55 billion next year,” according to NJ.com. Only ten new permanent jobs are budgeted for, and annual staffing costs (the agency will have a complement of 7,147) are projected to total $1.2 billion. Approximately forty percent of the $2.9 billion capital budget is dedicated to the authority’s “State of Good Repair” program, but planning and preparation for new construction (such as a Goethals Bridge replacement) are also funded.

Click here to download the 2017 Budget Book and budget schedules.



MA Turnpike Finishes Phase One of Toll Plaza Demolition Ahead of Schedule

WAMC reports, “The implementation of all-electronic open road tolling and the demolition of toll booths along the Massachusetts Turnpike is ahead of schedule. MassDOT said the first phase of planned demolition work is finished at all 23 toll plazas.”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Massachusetts Turnpike


Petition to Stop Bob Sikes Bridge's Conversion to AET Now Has 1,800 Signatures

Pensacola News Journal reports, “Opposition to planned changes at the Bob Sikes Bridge toll plaza is growing. Escambia County residents say the proposed toll-by-plate system will be frustrating for locals and tourists alike, and that the SunPass system will be too much of a hassle. The county commissioner behind the changes, however, maintains something has to be done to address beach traffic.”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling)


Two Killed in Wrong-Way Crash on PA Turnpike

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports, “Two people died and another person was injured in a wrong-way crash on the Turnpike in Butler County, authorities said.”


Ohio River Bridges Project Nearing Finish Line

WDRB reports, “The last long-term ramp closure associated with construction on the Downtown Crossing portion of the Ohio River Bridges Project is scheduled to end early next week as crews with Walsh Construction wrap up major interstate work on the project.”

WDRB also provides a quick-hit, “what you need to know” FAQ feature about tolling that opens with ORB project spokesperson Mindy Peterson repeating the mantra, “It really is worth it for everybody to get a transponder, set up a RiverLink account.”

Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges


PA Turnpike to Hold Open House on $76 Million Project in Western PA

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports, “The Pennsylvania Turnpike will hold an open house Wednesday [November 16] to discuss plans for the $76 million reconstruction of the toll road between the Cranberry and Warrendale interchanges. The three-mile project in Cranberry and Marshall, scheduled for construction beginning in 2019, will involve widening the turnpike from two lanes in each direction to three lanes as part of the system’s overall $2.5 billion reconstruction program.”

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC)


FDOT Installs More Poles to Prevent I-95 Lane-Diving

Miami Herald reports, “The installation of sturdier poles will shut down Interstate 95 express lanes in Miami-Dade several times this week.” The report adds, “The state Department of Transportation is doubling the number of poles on I-95 to curb the practice of illegal lane-diving.”

Express Lanes


PA Newspaper Backs New Toll Scofflaw Legislation

The Times-Tribune editorial board backs the PA Turnpike Commission’s transition to all-electronic tolling while applauding a new law (Act 165 of 2016, formerly HB 2025 ) that provides the state with more authority to pursue scofflaws. The board writes, “As the system properly and relentlessly moves toward an efficient, all-electronic toll system that will improve travel times and decrease congestion, it must ensure that all drivers on the turnpike share the pain of rising tolls.”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) Scofflaws


Experts Question the Math Behind Trump's $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan

The Wall Street Journal reports, “Donald Trump’s proposal for $1 trillion worth of new infrastructure construction relies entirely on private financing, which industry experts say is likely to fall far short of adequately funding improvements to roads, bridges and airports.” The report adds, “Experts and industry officials . . . say there are limits to how much can be done with private financing. Because privately funded projects need to turn a profit, they are better suited for major projects such as toll roads, airports or water systems and less appropriate for routine maintenance, such as repaving a public street, they say.”


Prime Minister Trudeau to Huddle with Eminent Institutional Investors in Bid to Attract Infrastructure Funding

Toronto Star reports, “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will take an important step [today, November 14] toward his ambitious goal of turning Canada into a magnet for foreign investment when he meets with some of the world’s most powerful institutional investors with trillions of dollars at their disposal.”

Canada Infrastructure Investment Trends