Daily News Briefs, November 9, 2016

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Editorial Blasts Cuomo for Not Releasing Tappan Zee Replacement Finance Plan

New York Post editors call it “the best-kept secret in all of New York: How exactly does Gov. Cuomo plan to pay for the $3.9 billion new Tappan Zee Bridge that even now is being built?” They note “the governor still refuses to make public the financing documents his administration had submitted to the feds last year, in a failed effort to score a $511 million environmental loan from Washington to use on the new bridge,” and they endorse speculation that Cuomo “is trying to put off paying the costs of a new bridge until he leaves office.”

Governor Mario Cuomo Bridge (Tappan Zee Replacement Bridge) New York State Thruway Authority


RI Truck Tolls Backlash Had "Little Impact" at Polls, but One Winner Eyes RhodeWorks Repeal

GoLocalProv.com reports, “In Rhode Island, it was suppose to [sic] be the year of realignment and rejection of the legislative leadership, but reality is the backlash for truck tolls seemed to have little impact.”

The Valley Breeze reports that Republican Thomas Paolino won his race for the 17th Senate District, adding that, “Paolino said his first move as senator will be looking further at the possibility of repealing the truck toll. Regarding the tolls, Paolino said he’ll look into ways to bring money into Rhode Island ‘without having to pass it onto the taxpayers of the state.’”

Rhode Island


Voters Split on Baldwin County, AL, Tolling Referendums

AL.com reports that Alabama voters approved a statewide referendum that “would allow the Legislature to create authorities to build and operate toll roads and bridges for cities in Baldwin County.” However, voters in Baldwin County rejected a local referendum on establishment of a county toll authority by a margin of 52% to 48%.



HCTRA Explains Why Toll Roads Are Never Paid Off

KPRC reports, “The Harris County Toll Road Authority collected about $760 million in tolls the last fiscal year, yet it is improbable that any Harris County toll road will ever be ‘paid off’. . . . ‘Not with system financing, which allows us to borrow money at a favorable rate to build new projects,’ said Patti Evans, the authority’s assistant director of communications.” The station tests a toll opponent’s claim that Texans are “paying twice” for highways that carry tolls.

Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA) Texas


CTRMA Starts SH 45 Southwest Construction, a Project 30 Years in the Making

KXAN reports, “ It has taken about 30 years, but today [November 8] construction on the SH 45 Southwest Project officially started.” The report adds, “The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority says using SH 45SW, drivers will save 9 to 17 minutes over local routes to downtown. Drivers who continue to use local routes to access downtown Austin will save six [to] seven minutes. Officials with the CTRMA say the construction should take about three years before it’s completed.”

Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CTRMA) Texas


TxDOT to Add I-10 Lane in West Houston by Restriping Roadway

KTRK reports, “As part of a TxDOT restriping project, I-10 will get an additional mainline in each direction through a portion of west Houston.” The report adds, “Work crews will add a mainlane, in both directions, on I-10 from Beltway 8 to west of State Highway 6 by restriping the existing space.”

Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)


Nebraska Changes Some License Plates to Prevent Erroneous Toll Bills from Other States

The Columbus Telegram (Columbus, NE) reports, “The Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles announced steps to protect Nebraska residents from receiving erroneous notices of outstanding tolls and fines from out-of-state government agencies. The current county-specific license plates issued for farm and commercial vehicles contain a numerical sequence that may be the same on more than five different plate types.” The report adds that the state will eliminate about 500,000 duplicate plate numbers by adding an alpha character to license number designations beginning next year. The state’s action is prompted by the proliferation of electronic toll and parking fee collection systems.


Illinois Trooper Injured in Struggle with Armed Man at Tri-State Tollway Plaza

Chicago Tribune reports, “An Illinois state trooper was injured as he struggled with an armed man at a Tri-State Tollway plaza Monday evening [November 7] and the man’s gun went off several times, officials said. The trooper did not suffer gunshot wounds and his injuries were not considered life-threatening, the state police said.  He was released from the hospital and is recovering.” The attacker fled and remains at large.


FDOT's Flagler Bridge Replacement Project Draws Criticism

CBS 12.com looks at FDOT’s Flagler Bridge replacement, reporting that the design-build project is two years behind schedule and $11 million over budget. The bridge will span the intracoastal waterway linking West Palm Beach with the Town of Palm Beach. A project spokesperson tells the station, “During the course of any construction project, the original contract amount can increase because the scope of the project has changed, additional work may have been added or issues occur in the field that impact the contractor’s schedule of activities. Often incidental costs due to unforeseen circumstances accrue throughout the life of a project. This isn’t unusual on major construction projects.”



PA Turnpike Gears Up for Winter

WPXI reports, “Seven months after releasing an “after action review report” addressing shortfalls that led to segments of the Pennsylvania Turnpike being shut down last January, the management team overseeing the Pennsylvania Turnpike said they are confident that the failures that led to frustrated customers stranded on the road won’t happen again.”

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC)


Canada's Finance Minister Dodges Questions about New Infrastructure Bank and Private Toll Roads

The Huffington Post Canada reports, “Finance Minister Bill Morneau won’t say whether the federal Liberals’ stimulus spending plans on infrastructure will result in privately-owned toll roads and other user fees. In an interview with Evan Solomon on CTV’s Question Period on [November 6], and flagged [on November 7] by the Broadbent Institute’s blog, Morneau dodged the question of whether the infrastructure bank the government plans to create will result in tolls on newly-built roads and highways.”



Illinois Voters Approve Transportation Lockbox Referendum

WGN reports, “Illinois voters have approved a constitutional amendment aimed at making sure transportation-related funds aren’t used for other purposes.” The report adds, “Supporters of the measure included unions and the construction industry, who argue it’ll boost safety by protecting infrastructure. A coalition backing the amendment says that since 2003 nearly $7 billion in transportation-related funds have been used for other things.”



PA Newspaper Says "Shame and Humiliation" Should Compel Scofflaws to Pay Outstanding Tolls

The Tribune-Democrat editorial board backs the state law recently signed by Governor Tom Wolf that gives the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) and other tolling agencies more toll scofflaw enforcement powers, and PTC’s recent decision to release names of the largest commercial scofflaws. “We’re hopeful that shame and humiliation will force the errant firms and individuals to settle their debts,” the editors write.

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) Scofflaws


Mass Turnpike Toll Plaza Demolition Remains Ahead of Schedule

WWLP reports, “MassDOT says demolition of the toll plazas is either on schedule or ahead of schedule at 23 work sites along the Massachusetts Turnpike.”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Massachusetts Turnpike


Trademark Dispute Between NJ Turnpike and Winery Continues

Forbes.com looks behind the scenes at a small New Jersey winery’s trademark dispute with the state turnpike authority.

Issues of Law New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA)