Daily News Briefs, September 1, 2016

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Power Outage Shuts Down NJ Turnpike's E-ZPass Website

WKXW News reported yesterday afternoon, August 31, that “New Jersey commuters have one more problem to worry about: the E-ZPass website isn’t working properly. A power outage at a New York facility used by Xerox, the company contracted by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority to provide back-office operations and to run the state’s E-ZPass website, disrupted their system, according to Turnpike spokesman Thomas Feeney. Feeney said there is ‘no impact on equipment in the toll lanes. Transactions are being read and recorded as usual.’ However, some customer service functions will not be available such as opening a new account[] or mak[ing] payments on existing accounts. Payments are unable to be accepted at E-ZPass Customer Service Center either.”

E-ZPass New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA)


NJ Turnpike Commissioners Propose a New Cap on Some Towing Charges: No More "Haggling"

NJ.com reports, “Having your car break down on the New Jersey Turnpike or Garden State Parkway is a headache, but toll officials want to give drivers a standard rate for towing to an alternate destination so they do not have to negotiate with tow truck drivers. . . . ‘It was the source of complaints by patrons,’ said Maura K. Tully [a turnpike attorney]. ‘If a patron said they wanted to be towed to an alternate location, they had to make their own arrangements.’” Turnpike commissioners decided on August 30 to propose a regulatory amendment (see Agenda Item 284-08-2016) that would cap tow charges for a non-commercial vehicle’s removal to an alternate site within New Jersey.

New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA)


No Deal on NJ Transportation Funding Impasse, but Talks Continue

NJ.com reports, “Senate President Stephen Sweeney said there’s no immediate end in sight to the transportation funding impasse that has frozen road projects across the state, even though Democratic leaders are in talks with Gov. Chris Christie. ‘Do I think it could go on until November? Yeah,’ Sweeney . . . said, repeating a prediction he made earlier this month.”

New Jersey


NTSB Chair: Self-Driving Cars Will Need Human Co-Pilots

MIT Technology Review reports that Christopher Hart, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, “says his agency’s experience investigating accidents involving autopilot systems used in trains and planes suggests that humans can’t be fully removed from control. He told MIT Technology Review that future autos will be much safer, but that they will still need humans as copilots.” (The magazine posts a transcript of the interview.)

Self-Driving Vehicles


There's High Demand for Ontario HOT Lane Pilot Project Permits. Will the Enthusiasm Last?

The Globe and Mail looks at the demand for permits to participate in the Toronto QEW HOT lane pilot project, reporting that, “Early indications are very positive, with demand for the first batch of permits outstripping supply by about seven to one. But it remains to be seen if, once the early buzz dies, people keep paying to buy time, something even many comfortably well-off can seem reluctant to do.” The report adds, “There will be 500 [permits] issued at first, with as many as 1,000 possible in the future.”

Canada Ontario


People "Line Up" for Free MassDOT Transponders in Advance of AET Conversion

WAMC News reports, “In advance of the changeover in late October to all-electronic tolling on the Massachusetts Turnpike, officials are distributing free transponders that motorists will need to avoid paying higher rates to travel on the highway.”

WWLP News reports, “MASSDOT was giving away free transponders at the Clodo Concepcion center in Springfield [on August 31]. ‘I thought it was important to have the folks from MASSDOT come to western Massachusetts, to provide the information, education and free transponders needed in order to get people up and ready for this major change,’ explains State Representative Jose Tosado.”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Massachusetts Turnpike


Construction on GDOT's Northwest Corridor Nears the Halfway Point

Cherokee Tribune & Ledger-News (subscription may be required) reports, “Construction on the Northwest Corridor on Interstate 575 is nearing the halfway point. . . . Jill Goldberg, communications manager at the GDOT, said the two-year anniversary of construction will be in October and the project is slated for completion sometime in mid-2018. ‘Right now, we’re on schedule and everything is moving along exactly as it is supposed to,’ she said.” [Link added.]

Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT)


Garden State Parkway Opens New $130 Million Bridge

The Press of Atlantic City reports, “After three years of construction, the new southbound Garden State Parkway bridge over the Great Egg Harbor opened to traffic Wednesday [August 31]. The two-lane, $130-million bridge towers over the old span connecting Somers Point in Atlantic County and Upper Township in Cape May County.” The article adds, “While vehicle lanes are open, access to the new multi-use walkway remains closed. The project, which is slated to be complete in October, will include a rare opportunity for pedestrians and bicyclists to walk or ride on the Garden State Parkway. . . .”

New Jersey New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA)


Golden Gate Bridge Managers Consider Removing Idled Toll Plaza as Accidents Spike

KRON News reports, “In San Francisco, managers at the Golden Gate Bridge have floated the idea of completely removing the toll plaza. The bridge district switched to all-electronic tolling in 2013 but left the old toll booths standing. Since then, there has been a dramatic spike in the number of car accidents at the plaza.”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District (GGBHTD)


TxDOT to Start Construction on $300 Million to $400 Million North 16 Project This Fall

KXAN News (Austin) reports, “The Texas Department of Transportation says it is taking steps to help travel on the Interstate 35 corridor with the North 16 Project. The project would add an express lane in each direction between Ranch to Market 1431 in Round Rock to Highway 183. The work would also include a series of stand-alone projects along I-35 where traffic tends to back up.”

Texas Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)


Officials Celebrate Cooperation that Secured Funding for I-25 Express Lanes Project in Northern Colorado

Coloradoan (Fort Collins) reports, “The much-anticipated widening of Interstate 25 through a stretch of Larimer County is one step toward relieving congestion and improving safety on the highway. But it’s a big step, officials said Wednesday [August 31] during a reception celebrating the cooperation that went into securing funding for a 14-mile, $237 million project.” The report adds, “The project would build an express lane in both directions of I-25 between Mulberry Street in Fort Collins and Colorado Highway 402 in Johnstown. Construction is expected to begin in 2018 and last through 2020.” Click here for CDOT information on North I-25 projects.

Colorado Express Lanes


Baltimore Sun Editors Question Governor's Priorities in Ordering Study of New Bay Bridge Crossing

The Baltimore Sun editorial board challenges Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s announcement that the state will spend $5 million to study a potential new Chesapeake Bay crossing, noting that it “does lead us to question his priorities and foresight. Of all the state’s transportation needs, why focus on this one?”



Fitch Rates Subordinated TIFIA Loan for TxDOT I-35E Managed Lanes Project

Fitch Ratings “has assigned an expected rating of ‘BBB’ to the estimated $285 million subordinated loan granted under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA), entered into by the Texas Transportation Commission, the governing body of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). The Rating Outlook is Stable.” The loan is for construction of TxDOT’s I-35E Managed Lanes facility, which will stretch from the I-35 split in Denton south to I-635.

Investment Ratings Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)


Study Looks at Confederation Bridge Toll Discount for Prince Edward Island Residents

The Guardian (Charlottetown, PEI) reports, “A new tax credit for Prince Edward Island residents could reduce the Confederation Bridge toll by 46 per cent and only cost the federal government about $2.5 million a year, according to a report by the federal parliamentary budget officer. The report was prepared at the request of P.E.I. Senator Percy Downe, who has been challenging his own Liberal government to reduce or eliminate the Confederation Bridge toll.”



PANYNJ Police Arrest Another Alleged Scofflaw

Silive.com reports, “A New Jersey man accused of owing $20,000 in tolls and fees was arrested at the Outerbridge Crossing.”

Crime Beat Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) Scofflaws