Daily News Briefs, November 8, 2016

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NY Thruway Defends Tourism Signs, Despite FHWA's Ruling They Violate the Law

WGRZ reports, “The head of the state Thruway Authority on Monday [November 7] defended a series of highway signs promoting New York’s tourism programs, despite the federal government contending they violate the law. Acting Executive Director Bill Finch said the signs touting I Love NY, Taste NY and other tourism initiatives are in compliance with federal regulations, which lay out in great detail the types of logos, fonts and colors that can and cannot be placed on roadside signs.”

New York State Thruway Authority


NY Thruway Adopts $1.8 Billion Budget with No Toll Hike and Record Traffic Projection

Times Herald-Record reports, “The New York State Thruway Authority adopted a 2017 budget Monday that keeps tolls stable for the seventh consecutive year and projects a potential record volume of traffic will use the 60-year-old highway next year.” The report adds, “The authority is not only spending $3.9 billion to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge, but also struggling to keep the 570-mile toll road, the state’s premier highway, in good repair, while honoring Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s pledge to keep tolls at current levels through 2020.”

New York State Thruway Authority


NY Thruway Eliminates E-ZPass Discount for Out-of-Staters, Raises Scofflaw Penalties

Times Union reports, “It’s home field advantage when it comes to E-ZPass in New York and Massachusetts. The New York State Thruway Board of Directors on Monday [November 7] eliminated E-ZPass discounts for those who purchase the device and have an account outside of the Empire State. That followed a move by Massachusetts authorities, who said in September their new all-electronic toll system . . . would provide a bigger E-ZPass discount on the Mass Pike, but only to those who have Massachusetts-based accounts.”

The report adds, “Thruway Authority board members on Monday also approved doubling the fee that toll scofflaws are charged. [Link deleted.] It will rise from $25 to $50. Those who get caught skipping tolls on the Tappan Zee Bridge will pay $100.”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) E-ZPass New York State Thruway Authority


TxDOT Lines Up $195 Million for TX 130 Expansion as CTRMA Readies Related $130 Million Project

Austin American-Statesman reports, “With traffic dwarfing original projections a decade after the tollway’s first sections opened, Texas 130 is on the way to getting bigger. . . . [TxDOT] has hired engineers to design an expansion from four to six lanes between Texas 130’s intersection with Texas 45 North in Pflugerville and Texas 71 near Austin’s airport.” TxDOT expects construction on the $195 million project to begin in 2018. The report also cites “a separate but related $130 million project by the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority to add three flyover bridges at U.S. 290 and Texas 130 [which] should be complete by the end of 2020.”

Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)


Proposals for New Mississippi River Bridge and Toll Financing Option Get Momentum in Louisiana

The Advocate (Baton Rouge) reports, “Erecting a new bridge across the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge is suddenly a hot topic. Gov. John Bel Edwards said last week that there is no greater infrastructure priority in Louisiana.” The article adds that the project “faces daunting political and financial hurdles” and notes that a gubernatorial task force is looking at ways to finance road and bridge improvements statewide. “Tolls likely would have to be another source of the financing, and a study on that issue would precede any project launch,” the Advocate states.


Alabama Voters Consider Referendums on Creating Local Toll Authority

GulfCoastToday.com looks at two toll-related constitutional referendums on the ballot in Alabama today, a statewide amendment and a local amendment. If either is approved, state lawmakers could give Baldwin County officials the ability “to take a lead in solving their own traffic woes” by creating a toll road and bridge authority, which would be the first such local authority in the state.



NJ Lawmaker Wants Special Prosecutor to Handle Criminal Complaint against Christie

NJ.com reports, “A key Democrat on Monday [November 7] pressed the state attorney general’s office to appoint a special prosecutor to handle an official misconduct criminal complaint lodged against Gov. Chris Christie last month for the governor’s alleged involvement in Bridgegate.”


TransCore Is Equipping 100 Miles of Express Lanes in Dallas-Fort Worth

TransCore announces that it is “in the midst of deploying over 100 miles of express lanes throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, as part of a sweeping initiative to increase mobility along the region’s busiest corridors. With 34 lanes already operational, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) plans to mark the 100-mile milestone by the end of 2018.”

Express Lanes Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)


Politico Asks Who’s Liable When a Self-Driving Car Crashes?

Politico reports, “As excitement grows for driverless cars, consensus is building around the idea that automakers, not drivers, will be held responsible for crashes in the future. . . . Knowing that they would face legal responsibility, manufacturers could hesitate to roll out self-driving vehicles or jack up their prices to recover projected costs, which would slow widespread use.” (The complete article is available only to POLITICO Pro subscribers.)

Self-Driving Vehicles


Lane Diving May Have Caused Florida I-95 Express Crash, Traffic Jam

ABC 10 (Miami-Ft. Lauderdale) reports, “A vehicle that illegally cut out of the express lanes Sunday [November 6] on Interstate 95 in Hallandale Beach is believed to have caused a chain-reaction crash that left several people injured, authorities said. The crash shut down the southbound lanes of the highway for more than five hours.”


Two Charged with Clogging, Stealing from AC Expressway Coin Basket. (The Best-Laid Plans. . . .)

The Press of Atlantic City reports, “An Atlantic City man and woman were charged with tampering with and stealing toll money, state police said Monday [November 7].” The report adds that the pair “allegedly modified the toll basket by stuffing it with material to prevent coins from going in, and later returned to remove accumulated coins. The suspects also stole coins from the ground at the toll plaza, state police said.” Finally, and this is a shocker, the report notes that the culprits’ actions “were captured on surveillance footage. . . .”

Crime Beat


CFX May Be Overlooking Some Tolls Paid with $1 Coins

WFTV reports, “Eyewitness News has discovered that some toll booths aren’t counting drivers’ coins correctly, and that could cost them extra later.” The report finds that at least one motorist who had been using $1 coins instead of quarters at a Central Florida Expressway Authority interchange noticed that his SunPass account was also being charged for the toll. CFX and its vendor are checking equipment, and the motorist will get a refund.


Transportation Ranks as Top Concern for Atlanta Region

Atlanta Business Chronicle reports, “For the third year in a row, transportation continues to be the top concern in the Atlanta region – mentioned by 25 percent of the population in a new survey,” the Atlanta Regional Commission’s 2016 Metro Atlanta Speaks public opinion survey.


Opponents of Bob Sikes Bridge AET Conversion Launch Petition

WEAR reports that some locals who object to the decision to convert the Bob Sikes Bridge to an AET system have started a Change.org petition that urges residents to “[s]ay no to the $2.50 administration fee. Say no to being forced into buying a SunPass.”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Florida


Fitch on PANYNJ Bonds

Fitch Ratings “has assigned a ‘AA-‘ rating to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s . . .  $236.405 million 199th series consolidated bonds. The Rating Outlook is Stable. The ratings reflect PANYNJ’s mature, diverse and monopolistic transportation infrastructure asset base that provides critical service to the strong New York City metro area, supported further by a conservative debt structure.”