Daily News Briefs, September 2, 2016

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IL Tollway Board Member "Orchestrates" Potential Strike at Jane Addams Tollway Construction Site

Daily Herald reports, “A strike at a construction site on the Jane Addams Tollway in Des Plaines orchestrated by a tollway board member could slow the long-awaited completion of the project. International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 members said they would picket a tollway contractor, Stalworth Underground, starting Thursday night [September 1] at the I-90 bridge over Oakton near Des Plaines. Stalworth owes the union more than $40,000 from a grievance settlement, said James Sweeney, Local 150 president and a tollway director.”

Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (IL Tollway)


NJ E-ZPass Computer Problem Delays Posting of Toll Charges to Accounts

NJ.com reports, “Drivers who need to use the E-ZPass website to do business have been out of luck since a power outage and computer crash took it down on Monday night [August 26]. But it’s also prevented drivers from being immediately charged for their toll road use.” NJTA spokesman Tom Feeney tells the newspaper that the computer glitch is not affecting toll plaza operations, but he confirmed that no toll charges have been added to E-ZPass accounts since last Monday.

E-ZPass New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA)


PANYNJ Tollbooth Workers Endure Sexual Harassment by Motorists

The New York Times reports, based on interviews with current and former toll collectors and with union representatives, and a review of social media posts, that that the port authority’s women toll collectors face a “hum of [sexual] harassment that underpins a workday on the road. Yet workers said they rarely reported such exchanges to their employers for a variety of reasons, including a sense of resignation and the service-minded, grin-and-bear-it culture of tollbooth work.”

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


Macquarie Atlas Gets New Investors Through Parent Company's Block Trade

The Australian reports today that “Macquarie Capital has offloaded about a 10 per cent stake [53 million shares] in Macquarie Atlas, in a deal worth $282 million [approximately US$213 million]. . . . Shareholders were understood to have offered strong support for Friday’s block trade, which also saw a number of new investors inject capital into to the toll road operator. In total, almost 16 investors participated, with demand out of Asia said to be strong.”



Bloomberg BNA Takes a Deep Dive on Federally Funded VMT Pilot Projects, Including Oregon's

Bloomberg BNA reports, “The Federal Highway Administration has awarded seven states $14.2 million to figure out how to best charge drivers for miles driven rather than gasoline consumed.” The report adds, “Oregon was the first in the nation to launch a large-scale test of taxing miles driven rather than fuel consumed in a program that began in July 2015. The issues faced first in Oregon are being encountered in many other states.”

RUC & VMT Programs


A Good Headache for TxDOT: Too Much Money

Austin American-Statesman reports, “The Texas Department of Transportation has more road money than it knows what to do with, at least at this point. The Texas Transportation Commission, TxDOT’s governing board, recently approved a $70.2 billion spending plan for the next decade, about twice as large as the similar 10-year plan it passed in August 2015.” The article focuses on I-35 in Austin.

Texas Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)


Resolution Aims to Change Spending of Pontchartrain Causeway Toll Revenue

WDSU News reports, “A resolution on the St. Tammany Parish Council agenda Thursday night [September 1] could one day mean millions of dollars to the operation and upkeep of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, but the money generated would not be nearly enough to fund needed safety improvements on the bridge.” The proponents want to end toll revenue allocations to seven parishes and causeway-funded police patrols on the Huey P. Long bridge, changes that require state legislation. The backdrop for the resolution is a controversy over toll increases needed to pay for causeway safety improvements.

Lake Pontchartrain Causeway (Metro New Orleans) Louisiana


Cost of MassDOT's Transponder Giveaway Adds Up

MassLive.com reports, “Massachusetts transportation officials are pushing to place E-ZPass transponders into the hands of as many residents as possible as the date for the switch to a cashless tolling system draws near.” The report adds, “Gov. Charlie Baker’s transportation chief Stephanie Pollack says they’re assuming the free transponder push will cost between $3.5 million to $4 million, though that depends on how many are distributed.”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Massachusetts Turnpike


Atlanta, Fulton County Voters Face Major Infrastructure Funding Decisions

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, “A wave of transportation initiatives on the ballot in Fulton County and Atlanta this November could place the region’s infrastructure investment in the national spotlight for the next decade, if voters approve, a panel of transportation experts said [September 1].” The report adds, “Georgia Department of Transportation earlier this year unveiled an ambitious, 10-year, $10 billion project list fueled by the new gas taxes that includes a network of managed toll lanes along I-285 and Ga. 400, rebuilding the I-20 interchanges on the east and west sides of I-285, and projects to ease truck traffic on I-75 and near the Savannah port.”

Georgia Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT)


MTA's Peter Mills Pitches Conservation Easement Plan Door-to-Door

Seacoastonline.com  provides an update on the Maine Turnpike’s York toll plaza relocation project, reporting that “MTA Director Peter Mills last month knocked on doors . . . to tell people individually about the MTA’s plans to turn most of its 34 acres into a conservation area.” The report adds that MTA, the Town of York and Think Again will hold a September 9 forum on the project.

Maine Turnpike Authority


NCDOT Is Banking on Tolls and Transit to Meet Charlotte Region Growth

The Charlotte Observer reports, “Tolls and transit. Those are the two main issues facing the Charlotte region as it tries to keep up with a surge of new residents.” The report provides a look at the I-77 Express Lanes, and adds, “The DOT has plans to build express toll lanes on other highways. One project is to convert the middle lanes of Independence Boulevard that are currently used as a bus lane into express toll lanes. Another project is to build new express toll lanes on Interstate 485 in south Charlotte. The lanes would extend from I-77 to U.S. 74.”

I-77 Express Lanes (NC) North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT)


Local Government Collaboration Propelled Colorado I-25 North Improvement Project

Loveland Reporter-Herald reports on a “celebration for upcoming improvements to north Interstate 25” and the local government collaboration that moved the project forward. The article notes, “Funding for what’s called the 2035 plan, a $237 million project to replace two bridges and expand two, in addition to adding a third toll lane for 14 miles between Colo. 14 (Mulberry Street) and Colo. 402 (south Loveland), was set in motion by the Larimer County commissioners when they chose to allocate money to the expansion efforts through their road and bridge mill levy. City governments agreed to participate in allocating money from their shares of the mill levy as well.”



MD Governor Hogan Earns Newspaper's Praise for Pushing New Bay Bridge Crossing

CapitalGazette.com editors say Maryland Governor Hogan “deserves praise for getting Maryland to the toll booth on the way to a new Bay Bridge. Now it’s up to him to get us through.”

Maryland Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA)


Columnist Analyzes Hillsborough County, FL, Election Results (It's Transportation, Stupid.)

Tampa Bay Times columnist Joe Henderson parses this week’s primary election results for Hillsborough County Commission and concludes that the message to all politicians was pretty straightforward. “The people, a.k.a. your bosses, ordered you to seriously address Hillsborough’s chronic (and getting worse) transportation problems,” Henderson writes. He adds, “Voters are sick of 2-mile trips to the store that can take 20 minutes each way. I also think leaders underestimate how willing people are to pay for a solution beyond building more roads — which, by the way, aren’t free.” Henderson cites the Tampa Bay Express, among other ambitious projects and proposals.



IL Tollway Awards Contract for Maintenance Facility Upgrade

WIFR News reports, “The I-90 tollway serves as gateway for travelers heading to and from Rockford and that road is about to get a major upgrade, completed by a local company.” The station adds that the Illinois Tollway Authority has awarded a $25 million contract to William Charles Construction, a local company, to rebuild and upgrade the Rockford I-90 maintenance facility.

Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (IL Tollway)


Mud Spill on Treasure Island Ramp Causes Massive Bay Bridge Backup

CBS News San Francisco reports, “A mud spill possibly containing hazardous materials forced the closure of the exit ramp to San Francisco’s Treasure Island from eastbound lanes of the Bay Bridge, triggering a massive traffic backup, California Highway Patrol officials said.” The driver of the truck that spilled the mud left the scene.

Caltrans (CA Department of Transportation) Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC)


Financial Impact of Confederation Bridge Toll Tax Credit under Review

The Guardian (Charlottetown) reports, “P.E.I.’s finance department will be reviewing the federal parliamentary budget officer’s report that determines a new tax credit for Island residents could significantly reduce the Confederation Bridge toll.”