Daily News Briefs, September 23, 2016

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NJ Democrats "Are Not Ruling Out" Impeachment Proceedings against Governor Christie

Asbury Park Press reports that senior Democratic state lawmakers are not ruling out the possibility of impeaching Republican Governor Chris Christie if evidence produced at the Bridgegate trial shows he was untruthful in describing his role in the 2013 lane closing episode.

The Star-Ledger (Newark) posts an op-ed by Brigid Callahan Harrison, a professor of political science and law at Montclair State University, who writes, “If the prosecution demonstrates [at trial that Governor Christie knew of the lane closings as they occurred], it marks an important legal milestone — and if evidence shows that Christie knew about the lane closures, the state legislature should consider charges of impeachment.”

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ)


Bridgegate Trial Wrap: PANYNJ Head Says Wildstein Was "Culprit" behind Lane Closings

Bloomberg reports, “Patrick Foye, the head of the agency that runs the George Washington Bridge, testified that he believed employee David Wildstein was the ‘culprit’ behind four days of access lane closings in 2013 but was protected from questioning by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.” Bloomberg adds that defense attorneys attempted through cross-examination “to portray the bi-state Port Authority as dysfunctional and riven with political infighting between appointees of Christie, a Republican, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat.”

Elsewhere, Asbury Park Press reports on Patrick Foye’s chief of staff testifying that he tipped a newspaper reporter to dig behind the false claim that lane closings were part of a traffic study; and The New York Times recounts Foye’s testimony that defendant and former PANYNJ official Bill Baroni wanted bridge lanes reclosed after Foye ordered them reopened.

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ)


CFX Seeks New Board Chair Following Cadwell's Primary Election Loss

Orlando Sentinel reports, “Welton Cadwell,” who recently lost his primary bid to remain a Lake County commissioner, “said he intended to establish trust as chairman of the region’s toll road agency after it was roiled by controversy in 2014. But soon he will be giving up his seat and chairmanship on the Central Florida Expressway Authority board after only two years. Cadwell said he thinks the board and the authority are moving in the right direction. “‘It’s fresh in everybody’s mind what the board went through,’ he said. ‘I just think it’s important to have some kind of compass to the past on the board . . . somebody to remind the board to remember the past so we don’t repeat it.’”

Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX)


Opponents Gear Up to Battle TX Turnpike Corp's 105 Toll Road Proposal

The Texas Examiner reports, “Approximately 30 people representing a variety of organizations and interests, all united in their opposition to a proposed 105 Toll Road, met in Beaumont on Sept. 14 to discuss the current status of the project and form a plan of action to block the road’s construction.” The report adds, “The partnership 105 Turnpike, LP, which is affiliated with the Texas Turnpike Corporation, a private corporation owned by the principals of Public Werks Inc., has been trying to garner support for a private 10-mile toll road connecting Orange County and Jefferson County.”

Texas Turnpike Corp.


THEA's Connected Vehicle Pilot Advances

ITSInternational.com reports, “The Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) Connected Vehicle (CV) Pilot Deployment Program in the US is reaching its first major milestone and entering a new phase of development, bringing Tampa a step closer to the future of transportation. THEA’s project management team heads to Washington, DC, this week to meet with US Department of Transportation (USDOT) officials for the official kickoff of Phase 2, which will include the design and deployment of CV technology in downtown Tampa.”

Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA)


Hawaii Considering Road Usage Charge Program

Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports, “The state might do away with gas taxes and replace them with a road use charge, depending on the results of a proposed statewide trial program. The state Department of Transportation is weighing the change, which would charge motorists for the number of miles they drive as opposed to the amount of gas they buy at the pump. The proposal would overhaul the way the state collects taxes to fund road repairs. As it stands now, the state’s fuel tax comprises roughly 33 percent of the state highway fund.”

Hawaii RUC & VMT Programs


Lawmakers Scrutinize IL Tollway Board's Handling of Minority Contractor's Bid

Daily Herald reports, “The Illinois tollway is facing scrutiny by lawmakers who chided directors Thursday [September 22] for what they consider to be discriminatory treatment of a minority contractor.” The report quotes tollway board chairman Bob Schillerstrom as saying, “I’m happy [the legislators] came here to enunciate their concerns. We believe we complied with the law, we work very hard to provide opportunities for Latino businesses and Latino workers. I think we’ve been successful in that . . . we recognize that there’s always more work to do.” One lawmaker promised a state house hearing on the issue.

Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (IL Tollway)


IL Tollway Reaches $96 Million Land Deal for O'Hare Western Bypass, but Project Remains in Jeopardy

Daily Herald reports, “One obstacle to a western bypass around O’Hare fell [on September 22] as Illinois tollway directors approved a deal with Chicago to buy airport property, but another issue looms. The tollway will pay $96 million for land on O’Hare’s western edge that will allow it to build a bypass connecting to the Elgin-O’Hare Expressway, I-90 in Des Plaines and the Tri-State Tollway near Franklin Park.” The report adds that the tollway’s dispute with the Canadian Pacific Railroad over acquiring property for the highway project remains at an impasse and puts the project in jeopardy.

Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (IL Tollway)


RITBA Starts Construction at Newport Pell Bridge as Part of Ten-Year Capital Campaign

The Westerly Sun reports, “Construction is now underway along the Newport Pell Bridge as part of the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority’s 10-year capital renewal and replacement plan to ensure the safety and integrity of the Pell Bridge and the authority’s other assets.”

Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA)


Moody's Report on NJ Turnpike Gains Traction

Asbury Park Press follows a recent analysis of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority by Moody’s Investors Service, reporting that, in Moody’s view, political interference and toll-wary drivers could put the Authority — which oversees the Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike — in a financially precarious situation in the coming years.”

New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA)


Reason Foundation Report on Road Spending Hits MA and NJ on ROI

NJ.com reports, “New Jersey ranked last in the nation again in return of investment on road spending, coughing up a staggering $2.18 million per mile to rebuild and maintain roads and bridges, according to the latest Reason Foundation highway report. The amount is nearly three times as much as any other state, the report found.”

MassLive.com reports, “The Massachusetts highway system is among the worst performing and least cost-effective highway systems in the nation, according to a Reason Foundation study released [on September 22].”

Massachusetts New Jersey


RI Progressive Democrats Push to Reopen Truck Toll Plan. 6/10 Connector Plan at Issue.

Providence Journal publishes an op-ed by Sam Bell, state coordinator of the Rhode Island Progressive Democrats, who contends, “When the General Assembly approved RhodeWorks, it was on the understanding that [Providence’s Route 6/10 Connector] would not be rebuilt as is. Now that we know that this will not happen, it is time to reopen the RhodeWorks debate. [Link added.] The General Assembly should not allow [Governor Gina] Raimondo and RIDOT to waste vast quantities of public money on a quest to avoid fixing Providence’s highway infrastructure problems.”

Rhode Island Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT)


"In the Public Interest" Leader Takes a Run at the SH 130 Bankruptcy

The Huffington Post publishes an essay by Donald Cohen, executive director of the In the Public Interest policy center, who takes a hard look at P3s and the bankruptcy of Texas SH 130, “the fastest road in America.” Cohen writes, “[R]ecent news out of Texas might make a failing toll road there the most scandalous P3 to date.” He offers up five takeaways from a recent San Antonio Express-News investigative piece, leading with “The private consortium claims traffic projections failed to materialize.”

P3 & Privatization Texas