Daily News Briefs, September 7, 2016

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State Auditor: PA Turnpike Finances on Shaky Ground Due to PennDOT Payments. Agency Needs More Power to Go After Toll Evaders.

Associated Press reports, “A state audit released Tuesday [September 6] warns that plans for the Pennsylvania Turnpike to raise tolls repeatedly in the coming years may not be sustainable, leaving the 550-mile road network at financial risk. The study by the state auditor general’s office also said the turnpike commission has recently experienced an increase in the number of people who are not paying tolls, and warned the problem will continue unless the agency gets more power to take action against toll payment violators.”

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) Scofflaws


Bridgegate Case Presents "Thorny Challenges" for Prosecutors

The Record (Bergen County, NJ) observes that “the trial to determine who ordered access lanes closed at the George Washington Bridge, which promises to be the highest-profile trial in the state in years, presents some thorny challenges for prosecutors, even by the idiosyncratic standards of public corruption cases.” Jury selection in the case starts tomorrow, September 8.

New Jersey PANYNJ


MassDOT's First Public Hearing on AET Tolls in Two Words or Less: Privacy, Cost.

Fox 25 Boston staffs the first public hearing on MassDOT’s proposal for post-AET-conversion toll rate changes and reports that the top two concerns for attendees were privacy and cost.  According to the article, officials assured the audience that license plate images used to bill motorists without E-ZPass transponders “will only be accessed by police in situations like Amber Alerts.” State highway administrator Thomas Tinlin said, “We have no intention if hanging onto that data any longer than we need to [for toll collection].”

MassLive.com provided live coverage of the event, and in a follow-up article reports that “the issue of increased costs to some commuters was raised. And it was precisely the kind of input the state says it was looking for.”

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Massachusetts Turnpike Toll Rate Changes


FDOT's TBX Update Doesn't Address Key Concern for Residents

Tampa Bay Business Journal reports, “The Florida Department of Transportation did not address a major point of contention in its quarterly update on the controversial Tampa Bay Express project to the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization. A presentation [on September 6] listed ‘mitigation’ as a key concern among residents, but failed to highlight strategies for limiting the number of homes and businesses demolished to make way for highway expansions.”

Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)


IL County Board Approves Funding Plan for I-90 Interchange Project

Northwest Herald reports, “McHenry County [Illinois] Board members on [September 6] adopted a measure giving the OK on resolutions related to the funding of a $32 million Interstate 90 and Route 23 interchange project, which proponents say will create an economic windfall for the county and city of Marengo. The project will be a partnership between the county, the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority and the Illinois Department of Transportation.”

Illinois Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (IL Tollway)


Final Design for New Lane on Richmond-San Rafael Bridge Approved

Marin Independent Journal reports, “A final design to open a third eastbound lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge has been approved by Caltrans, clearing the way for a project to start once a builder is found. ‘Work could start as soon as October,’ said John Goodwin, spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the agency that has led the project. It would take one year of work to open the lane.” Constructing the third traffic lane and a new bike lane will cost an estimated $74 million.

California Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC)


Prospect of a Single Vision for Metro NYC Transportation Planning Has Some Advocates Worried

The Village Voice reports, “A new federal rule could unify the New York region’s jumble of official transportation plans into a single vision for the entire metropolitan area. But some planning advocates worry the Obama administration is moving too far, too fast during its final months to fix a problem that has vexed transportation experts for generations.” The article delves into the evolution of metropolitan area transportation planning.

New Jersey New York New York City


Twinning Nova Scotia Highways Would Be a Boon for Roadbuilding Industry

Daily Commercial News (Markham, ON) reports, “Twinning about 300 kilometres of highways in Nova Scotia would be a huge injection of work for the province’s roadbuilding industry, says the executive director of the Nova Scotia Road Builders Association.” Construction cost estimates range from USD 1.56 billion to 1.87 billion, and toll financing of the projects is under consideration.


Shares in Sanef Are Up for Sale

The Australian Business Review (subscription may be required) reports, “A stake in the French toll road operator Sanef, which owns a large network of European toll roads, is being placed up for sale for several billion dollars in what is the latest offering to capture the attention of major Australian infrastructure investors.”


High Winds Not Likely to Impact Tappan Zee Construction

The Journal News reports, “It’s windy out there, but likely not windy enough to affect construction on the new Tappan Zee Bridge. Tappan Zee Constructors, the consortium of contractors tasked with designing and building the $3.9 billion span, has a plan with three levels depending on how severe the weather gets.”

Governor Mario Cuomo Bridge (Tappan Zee Replacement Bridge) New York State Thruway Authority


Business and Labor Rally Behind Los Angeles Ballot Measure for Transportation Projects

San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports, “Business and labor — intrinsically on opposite sides — have come together in a big way to support a November ballot measure that would raise sales tax in Los Angeles County by one-half cent and stream about $860 million annually for highway, rail, bus and road maintenance projects for the next 40 years.”



Miles the Moose, Clawdette the Lobster and a Record-Setting Year for the ME Turnpike

Portland Press Herald wraps up coverage of the summer travel season, reporting, “Traffic on the Maine Turnpike was up 6.3 percent over last summer as of Sept. 1, the turnpike authority said in a news release. Through the end of July, more than 2.78 million more vehicle transactions were recorded on the turnpike than during the same period in 2015. The turnpike has broken records every month in 2016 for revenue collected and the number of drivers using the highway.” Miles and Clawdette once again handed out gifts to departing tourists on Labor Day.

Maine Turnpike Authority


Columnist Laments the Disappearance of Mass Turnpike Toll Collectors. Subtitle: "A Tale of Love and Quarters."

Boston Globe columnist Thomas Farragher laments the passing of the era of the turnpike toll collector in a tale of love and quarters, or, how the stalking trucker won the heart of Anne Rafferty, the star of the County Tyrone.

AET (All-Electronic Tolling) Massachusetts Turnpike


Ottawa Columnist Makes the Case for a Tolled Tunnel

Ottawa Citizen columnist David Reevely makes the case for building a tolled traffic tunnel in the city, contending that, “We should build a traffic tunnel under Lowertown and Sandy Hill, but not for the reasons we’ve always thought. For starters, it wouldn’t be a truck tunnel. It would be a car tunnel also used by trucks, as the feasibility study on the idea (released a couple of weeks ago and being formally presented to city council’s transportation committee [today, September 7]) says clearly.”

Canada Ontario