Daily News Briefs, October 25, 2014

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VA Governor Rolls Out Downtown, Midtown Tunnel Toll Relief for Low Income Residents

Daily Press reports, “Portsmouth and Norfolk residents who make less than $30,000 a year will soon be able to qualify for a discount on Midtown and Downtown tunnel tolls, Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Monday [October 24]. To qualify for the 75 cent toll discount, drivers must also have an E-Z Pass and make at least eight trips through the tunnels per month, VDOT spokeswoman Paula Miller said.” The report adds, “Elizabeth River Crossings will pay $500,000 a year for 10 years to help offset the costs of tolls. The announcement is part of the governor’s larger plan to reduce the financial impact of construction projects on Hampton Roads drivers.”

The Virginian-Pilot adds, “[Governor] McAuliffe has been an outspoken critic of the ‘crippling tolls’ used to finance the tunnel deal made by his predecessor. Last year, the state agreed to pay $78 million to keep tolls off the Martin Luther King Freeway Extension, slated for completion by the end of the year.”

Elizabeth River Tunnels Virginia


Mass Turnpike AET Goes Live Friday, but Congestion Will Persist until Toll Plazas Come Down

The Boston Globe reports, “Before Massachusetts drivers can cruise through the new all-electronic-tolling gantries at highway speeds, congestion will temporarily get much worse, state officials warned. All-electronic-tolling goes live on the Massachusetts Turnpike Friday evening [October 28]. But until the old toll plazas are fully demolished, commuters will have to deal with a construction zone smack dab in the middle of the highway at every toll plaza.”

The Globe also provides a brief video tour of one of the soon-to-be-demolished tunnels beneath turnpike toll plazas.

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT)


MassDOT Provides a Detailed Timeline for Its Friday Transition to AET

MassLive.com reports that MassDOT officials released a detailed timetable for the weekend switch to all-electronic tolling, “a cashless system meant to increase air quality and decrease congestion along the Massachusetts Turnpike.” The transition starts at 6:45 p.m., and “at 9:45 p.m., it’ll be the end of an era of cash tolls in Massachusetts. The existing E-ZPass Massachusetts system will stop processing transactions at the toll plazas.” Highway administrator Tom Tinlin told reporters the job involves more than “simply bulldozing old toll booths.” Among other things, “the E-ZPass Massachusetts customer service center will go off-line until 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 1, as transportation officials update the system.”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Massachusetts Turnpike


Anheuser-Busch 120-Mile Beer Run with Self-Driving Truck Breaks New Ground

CNBC reports, “As beer runs go, this one stands out. Anheuser-Busch hauled a trailer loaded with beer 120 miles in an autonomous-drive truck, completing what’s believed to be the first commercial shipment by a self-driving vehicle. The trip happened last week in Colorado as Anheuser-Busch[ ] collaborated with Otto, a subsidiary of Uber that is developing self-driving truck technology.”

Self-Driving Vehicles


FL Governor Appoints Bennett Barrow to THEA Board

FloridaPolitics.com reports that Florida Governor Rick Scott has named Bennett Barrow to the Tampa-Hillsborough County Expressway Authority. “The 36-year-old Barrow is vice president of Barrow Asset Management. He received his bachelor’s degree in 2002 from Sewanee: The University of the South in Tennessee. Barrow has worked in Madrid, Spain, and Santiago, Chile, as a pension reform analyst for a public policy institute. He fills a vacant seat for a term ending July 1, 2019,” according to the report. The appointment is subject to senate confirmation.

Florida Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA)


Florida's Mid-Bay Bridge May Use Surplus to Lower Tolls

WEAR News reports, “The Mid-Bay Bridge that connects Destin and Niceville may soon see a reduction in its toll. After last year’s price hike brought the toll up to four dollars, the bridge will have a surplus. [Today, October 25], bridge authorities will discuss how to pass those savings to the driver.” Niceville employers and their workers who commute from Destin have urged the bridge authority to adopt lower toll rates for locals.

Florida Mid-Bay Bridge Authority


Bridgegate: Christie Was Told about "Political Retribution" Concerns over Lane Closures

Associated Press reports, “Republican Gov. Chris Christie was told during the George Washington Bridge lane closures that a Democratic mayor expressed concern that the resulting traffic jams in his city were political retribution, a former aide to the governor testified Monday [October 24]. Bridget Anne Kelly testified in her criminal trial that she told Christie about Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich’s concerns[,] and Christie told her it was a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey project and to ‘let Wildstein handle it,’ referring to David Wildstein.”

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ)


Bridgegate: Kelly Testifies She Was Worried About Becoming a Scapegoat

USA Today reports, “As rumors about a political retribution plot persisted, Bridget Anne Kelly’s confidence that the George Washington Bridge lane closings were really part of a traffic study turned to panic as she suspected she was being set up to take a fall. ‘I was petrified,’ Kelly testified [yesterday, October 24], again taking the witness stand in her own defense. ‘Everyone’s livelihood depends on Chris Christie. Including mine.’”

New Jersey Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ)


Transportation Radio Interviews PANYNJ's Pat Foye on Making Technology Part of an Agency's DNA

Transportation Radio’s Bernie Wagenblast interviews Pat Foye, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, following Foye’s delivery of the keynote address to the annual ITS New Jersey meeting. Foye focuses on the challenges associated with “making technology part of the DNA” at the port authority. The six-minute interview covers the integration of technology into both “legacy facilities” and new projects.

New Jersey New York City Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ)


Illinois Tollway 2017 Budget Calls for $1 Billion Capital Plan, $300 Million in Borrowing

The Bond Buyer (subscription required) reports, “The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority’s proposed 2017 budget calls for nearly $1 billion in capital spending supported by $300 million in toll-backed borrowing.”

Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (IL Tollway)


IDOT, IL Tollway Present Four Options for $32 Million Route 23, I-90 Interchange Project

Northwest Herald reports, “City officials met to discuss a potential design for the future Route 23 and Interstate 90 interchange. Four options were presented to the Marengo City Council on [October 24], with the fourth option a preferred recommendation from the Illinois Department of Transportation, McHenry County and the Illinois Tollway Authority. The $32 million project is expected to trigger an economic windfall for McHenry County and the city of Marengo.”

Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (IL Tollway)


Commuters Adjust to Changes as FL Turnpike's Veterans Expressway Project Continues

Bay News 9 reports, “Four years of construction remain on the Veterans Expressway.” The article looks at both the traffic flow improvements and slowdowns that commuters face as the FTE project unfolds.

Florida Turnpike Enterprise (FTE)


FDOT Funds Self-Driving Public Transportation Service for Tampa

Tampa Bay Business Journal reports, “The Florida Department of Transportation is making available $1 million to the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority to fund an Autonomous Vehicle Circulator Service in downtown Tampa. The service, expected to launch sometime in 2017, will run from the Marion Transit Center through downtown along the Marion Street Transitway. That road is closed to driver traffic and offers only low-speed transit and emergency vehicle access.”

Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Self-Driving Vehicles


ITRCC Won't Lift Lane Restrictions During World Series

WSBT News reports that the Indiana Toll Road’s operator currently has no plans to lift its construction-related lane restrictions for motorists headed to the World Series games in Chicago and Cleveland. Some fans and roadside vendors want the company to reconsider.

Indiana Toll Road Concession Company (ITRCC)


Vancouver Residents Split on Tolling of Area Bridges

News 1130 reports, “If tolls are inevitable, all bridges in [Metro Vancouver] should have them, according to 47 per cent of people who participated in a new poll in our region. That figure beat out the 38 per cent against that idea and the 15 per cent who didn’t take a position in this poll conducted by the Mustel Group for BC Business magazine.”