Daily News Briefs, September 29, 2023

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FDOT Puts I-4 Widening (And Express Lane) Projects On Construction Timetables

Positively Osceola spotlights two connected I-4 projects around Champions Gate in Osceola County that now have green lights and timelines, thanks to FDOT’s $4 billion Moving Florida Forward initiative. The first project runs from Champions Gate to the Osceola Parkway, and the second from US 27 to Champions Gate. Both will reconstruct congested I-4 segments by adding general purpose lanes, express lanes and auxiliary lanes in both directions. Existing interchanges on the stretch between Champions Gate and Osceola Parkway also will be reconstructed as part of the first project, which is slated to start construction in late 2024. The stretch from US 27 to Champions Gate will start two years later.

Express Lanes Florida Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) I-4 Express (Orlando FL) I-4 Ultimate Improvement Programs (FL) Orange County FL Metro Area (Orlando)


How A Potential US Government Shutdown Could Affect Transportation Agencies And Contractors

Major news agencies, including Associated PressThe Washington Post, The New York Times, POLITICO and The Hill are reporting this afternoon that a US government shutdown at midnight tomorrow night is quite likely if not inevitable. A late move by the House Republican leadership to pass a 30-day stopgap measure failed this morning.

The possible shutdown would disrupt the surface transportation industry but not halt most operations or all projects. “Engineering News-Record” reports, “[T]he impact on construction and infrastructure programs is expected to vary from agency to agency and from program to program. But some key infrastructure accounts are expected to be protected from cutbacks because of the kind of funding sources on which they draw. . . . A silver lining in the shutdown cloud is that billions of dollars that flow from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would be guarded from cuts because they are supported by advanced appropriations that were locked in at the IIJA’s 2021 enactment, rather than requiring regular appropriations that need to be approved on an annual basis.” According to a recently adopted USDOT contingency plan, employees of FHWA, the Federal Transit Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would not be furloughed. An American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) executive tells ENR she does not expect state DOT reimbursements by FHWA to be interrupted (a view recently echoed by ARTBA, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association).

Smart Cities Dive gives a more pessimistic assessment of the shutdown’s potential to delay infrastructure projects that depend to any extent on federal funding. “The impacts will be wider-ranging that one might expect, according to American Society of Civil Engineers President Maria Lehman. In the current landscape of complex project funding, even builds that aren’t fully federally funded will be impacted.”

Eno Center for Transportation subscribers can access that organization’s recent analysis of a shutdown’s consequences.

Transport Topics reports on recent warnings by USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg and AASHTO that a lapse of appropriations will slow the progress of the nation’s effort to restore its transportation system infrastructure.

A blog post by the Mayer Brown law firm earlier this week offered a “practical guide” to the implications of a federal government funding lapse for contractors.

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) American Road & Transportation Builders Assoc. (ARTBA) American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Company and Agency Financial Issues And Reports Economic & Social Considerations Affecting Transportation Eno Center for Transportation Issues of Law US Department of Transportation (USDOT) US Gov't Transportation Funding US Highway Trust Fund US Infrastructure Funding And Financing Initiatives US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration US Treasury Dep't


Video Renderings Demonstrate How Tennessee’s “Choice Lanes” Will Work 

Tennessee DOT has released video renderings of how its proposed “choice lanes” — in other words, managed toll lanes — will work as part of a pre-rollout public education campaign, WZTV reports. The implementation timeline and a toll fee structure have yet to be determined. “According to TDOT, the lanes will be paid for by motorists to allow them to ‘maintain consistent travel speeds’ even if the adjacent lanes are congested. The lanes typically allow motorists to drive at 50 mph during rush hour periods.” Managed lanes and their development through public-private partnerships were authorized under the $3.3 billion Transportation Modernization Act, signed into law in April by Governor Bill Lee (R).

ETC Systems Express Lanes Public Outreach And Communication Tennessee Tennessee DOT


Buttigieg Says USDOT Is Assigning Priority To Some Truck Parking Grants

Transport Topics reports, USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg said projects to expand truck parking will be getting priority in the department’s award of highway safety grants funded through programs such as INFRA and RAISE. “We really want to turn up the dial on [federal formula] dollars because the states can do a lot with this, but they may not necessarily realize it, or they may not prioritize it,” Buttigieg told a group of reporters on September 20 after a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing. Transport Topics also calls attention to legislative efforts to expand truck parking capacity nationwide, including the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, which is awaiting a vote in the House. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation has yet to take up a companion bill co-sponsored by Senators Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Mark Kelly (D-AZ).

Highway-Tunnel-Bridge Maintenance Highway-Tunnel-Bridge Safety (Includes COVID-19 Impacts) Service Plazas US Department of Transportation (USDOT) US Gov't Transportation Funding US Infrastructure Funding And Financing Initiatives


These are just some of the toll industry developments TRN is following.

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