Daily News Briefs, November 3, 2016

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Members of NJ E-ZPass Group Owe $20 Million in Delinquent E-ZPass Tolls to Xerox. Contract Renewal Is Pending.

Courier-Post (Cherry Hill) reports, “The Delaware River Port Authority must pay more than $2.5 million in delinquent E-ZPass tolls in order to remain part of the toll collection group [the New Jersey E-ZPass Group] with five other transportation agencies.” The report adds that the six agencies (DRPA, NJ Turnpike Authority, Burlington County Bridge Commission, DRJTBC, Delaware River and Bay Authority, and SJTA, operator of the Atlantic City Expressway) cannot renew their toll services contract with Xerox State and Local Solutions until each of them pays “its share of delinquent tolls accumulated during the current 12-year contract.” The renewal comes up for a vote later this month. The newspaper adds that DRPA CEO John Hanson told a committee reviewing the renewal contract on November 2 that the New Jersey Turnpike Authority owes $16 million, the largest part of the $20 million total that is owed.



Cuomo Administration Ignores FHWA's Repeated Warnings on 514 Illegal Tourism Signs

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports, “Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration dotted New York with 514 highway signs touting its tourism programs despite a federal ruling explicitly prohibiting the state from doing so. Documents obtained by the USA Today Network’s Albany Bureau show the Federal Highway Administration has repeatedly notified Cuomo’s administration over the past three years that the signs violate federal and state law, which contain strict rules for what can and cannot be displayed on major roadways. But the state Department of Transportation and Thruway Authority appear to have ignored the warnings, rapidly expanding the signage across the state while federal officials continued to voice concerns.”

Albany’s Times-Union reported last week that sources say Maria Lehman resigned from her post at the New York Thruway Authority after pushing back against criticism from Executive Chamber staff displeased with the progress of a project to post signs promoting New York farm products for sale at Thruway rest stops.

New York


MA Turnpike AET Conversion and Toll Plaza Demolition Update: All Good, Except at One Exit.

MassLive.com reports, “Demolition of toll plazas along the Mass. Pike has moved along on schedule this week as the state continues the transition to all-electronic tolling.” So, no real news. On the upside, the article comes with video of an excavator “eating” a toll plaza.

WWLP News reports that drivers waited about an hour to get off the Pike at Exit 8 in Palmer during the Tuesday night, November 1, rush hour.

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Massachusetts Turnpike


Bestpass Says Its Customers' Tolling Cost Savings Now Exceed $60 Million

Bestpass, Inc., the provider of single-source payment and toll management services to trucks and commercial fleets, announces that “it recently surpassed $60 million in savings on tolling costs for its customers, which range in size from solo owner-operators to mega-fleets with thousands of vehicles.”


Bridgegate Jurors Sent Home as Lawyers Wrestle over Mystery Legal Issue

NJ.com reports, “Jurors in the Bridgegate trial were unexpectedly dismissed for the day early Wednesday afternoon [November 2], as prosecutors and defense attorneys wrestled for hours over an unspecified ‘legal issue’ that none would discuss. Both sides in the high-profile political trial could be seen going in and out of the courtroom all day, but nothing was placed on the record and no one else was allowed inside.” Jury deliberations are expected to continue today.

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ)


Florida Reporter Hammers Rental Car Administrative Fees

WTSP News (St. Petersburg) reporter Noah Pransky explains how a “$3.27 toll became a $48 bill overnight that he received in the mail.” (If you guessed rental car fees are involved, you’d be correct.) Pransky writes that only $3.27 of the $48.27 charged by his unnamed rental car company “was for the cost of the tolling; the other $45.00 was for ‘administrative fees.’ That’s $15.00 for every electronic tollbooth we drove through.”


Class Action Suit Filed over Hertz Toll Payment Fee

Legal Newsline reports, “An Ohio consumer and business are suing Hertz, alleging breach of contract and fraud.” The plaintiffs filed a class action complaint (Edward Schwartz, et al. v. The Hertz Corporation, No. 2:16-cv-07713, US District Court, Central District of CA), individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, alleging that Hertz charges its “gold members” excessive administrative fees related to the payment of toll charges.


Chesapeake, VA, Prepares for Start of Veterans Bridge Tolling

The Daily Advance (Elizabeth City, NC) reports, “Both northbound and southbound motorists using the newly opened Veterans Bridge will soon be paying a toll for the privilege of crossing the Elizabeth River. A city of Chesapeake, VA, spokeswoman tells the newspaper a start date for toll collection has not been decided, but “once all four lanes of the [bridge] are open, a 30-day testing period will begin. . . .” The report adds that the city has approved annual toll increases of 5 percent each fiscal year through 2035.


Major New Toll Projects Underway in Dallas-Fort Worth

CBS News Dallas-Fort Worth looks at the top five road construction projects currently underway in the area, three of which include managed toll lanes: the I-35 Express in Dallas County, the I-35W in Tarrant County, and the Midtown Express.

Express Lanes Texas


RI Advocacy Group Files Campaign Finance Complaint against Truck Toll Opposition Group

Providence Journal reports, “Liberal advocacy group the Rhode Island Progressive Democrats filed a campaign finance complaint [on November 2] against conservative group The Gaspee Project [link added] over the disclosure of donors. The complaint, filed with the state Board of Elections, revolves around a Gaspee Project affiliate, The Gaspee Business Network, which was formed earlier this year in opposition to Governor Raimondo’s truck toll plan.”

Rhode Island


"Road-Rage-Fueled Pistol-Whipping" Follows Crash on Dallas North Tollway

The Dallas Morning News reports, “A Frisco man was arrested after a crash led to a road-rage-fueled pistol-whipping beside the Dallas North Tollway last week, authorities say.”



Troopers Stop FL Turnpike Wrong-Way Driver in the Nick of Time

WFTV News reports, “A wrong-way driver was stopped on the Turnpike in Lake County before a tragedy could happen, Florida Highway Patrol troopers said. A report said the driver may have been suffering from dementia, which numbers show is one of the leading causes of wrong-way crashes.” (The report includes a dashboard camera video of the incident.)

Florida Turnpike Enterprise (FTE)


PA Turnpike's Southern Beltway Project Advancing as Agency Seeks Purchase of Aerial Easement

Observer-Reporter reports that Washington County Commissioners will vote on a $12,500 sale to the turnpike of a 1.065-acre aerial easement across the Panhandle Trail as part of the Southern Beltway project. The report adds that the turnpike commission will seek construction bids for the second leg of the project – from Route 22 in Robinson Township, Washington County, to Interstate 79 – near Southpointe in July 2017.

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC)


Disability Community to Regulators: Don’t Slow Testing of Self-Driving Cars

San Francisco Chronicle publishes an op-ed by Henry Claypool, policy director of the Community Living Policy Center at UC San Francisco, on the freedom of movement self-driving cars have the potential to give to some people with disabilities. He writes, “Regulators, automakers and technology companies must do everything they can to make self-driving cars a reality. Today, however, roadblocks to self-driving cars exist, and some well-meaning regulators and so-called safety advocates are mistakenly trying to create new ones. The California Department of Motor Vehicles’ latest proposal would require every city and town in California to pass local ordinances to enable fully self-driving cars to be tested in those communities.”

Self-Driving Vehicles


Caltrans to Start Removing Sections of Bay Bridge's Old Eastern Span

KRON News reports on the start of a Caltrans operation to remove “the first of 14 sections of the old eastern span of the Bay Bridge . . . using a complicated hydraulic jacking system.” A department spokesperson tells the station, “This is a really methodical, really detailed process.” KRON adds that live-stream video of the removal is accessible at two sites: http://bit.ly/2f3eQBD and http://bit.ly/1Pl6ctx.

Caltrans (CA Department of Transportation)