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Transportation and Tolling in the News - 2017

Recent news articles highlighting the benefits of toll facilities, private-public partnerships and states increasing use of toll facilities as a solution to congestion and budget relief.

Editorial: Tolls must be part of Missouri's infrastructure debate

Missouri must confront its aging roads and bridges, but the state's legislature is pushing efforts to keep tolls out of the discussion. Tolls may or may not be part of the solution, but they should at least be part of the discussion, write the editors at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. St. Louis Post-Dispatch (6/1) 

Editorial: Oregon transportation bill should include tolling

A bill to be introduced in the Oregon Legislature would invest $8 billion to upgrade bridges and road infrastructure over the next decade. The bill relies on a variety of revenue sources, including increases in the gas tax and vehicle registration fees, but this editorial argues that it should also contain provisions for tolling some sections of roadways. The Oregonian (Portland) (5/27) 

Editorial: Wisconsin needs interstate tolls

Lawmakers in Wisconsin cannot agree on a funding solution to fix the state's roads and bridges, which are some of the worst in the country, and this editorial contends that tolling interstates is a reasonable solution. Lawmakers appear to be headed in that direction, but it could take years for Congress to give the state permission. Wisconsin State Journal (Madison) (5/19)

Editorial: Concerns about Virginia tolls unfounded

Virginia wants to widen 12 miles of a highway in the Hampton Roads area; the project could cost up to $4 billion. Revenue from high-occupancy toll lanes would help pay for the project, and while not all like the idea of tolls, this editorial contends that those concerns are unfounded, as some lanes will be free and people who carpool will not have to pay the toll. Daily Press (Newport News/Hampton, Va.) (free content) (4/5) 

Editorial: Toll roads are necessary to pay for infrastructure improvements

Tolls must be used to fund infrastructure improvement in the San Antonio area, the San Antonio Express-News editorial board writes. "A toll is a user fee," the board writes. "If you want to use a road to speed up your commute, then you can pay for that opportunity." San Antonio Express-News (tiered subscription model) (2/14) 

Editorial: Inevitability of Conneticut tolls is accurate

The Hartford Courant agrees with Connecticut State House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz that tolls in the state are "inevitable." The Courant contends that arguments against tolling are weak, and it explains why. The Hartford Courant (Conn.) (3/30)  


Commentary: Wis. needs to consider tolling

Mike Nichols, president of the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, explains why the state needs to consider tolling for infrastructure work rather than rely on diminishing funds from the gas tax. He also refers to a webinar by the Reason Foundation's Bob Poole that discusses all-electronic tolling, rebates and value-added tolling. Wisconsin State Journal (Madison) (7/21)

Commentary: The Benefits of Private Financing for Public Works

Critics of the Trump Administration infrastructure proposal frequently point at its heavy reliance on private funds – this piece argues those criticisms are misguided. According to the article private funds increase accountability, shield taxpayers from financial risk, and have an extensive track of success in urban and rural areas.The New York Times (7/17)

Commentary: P3s could help states with infrastructure funding

Several states have raised the gas tax to fund road and bridge construction, but Ryan Ellis, senior adviser for tax policy at the Conservative Reform Network, contends that public-private partnerships that build toll roads would be a better solution. He notes that private companies strive to keep costs low and that they can adapt more quickly to changing situations. Forbes (7/7)

Commentary: Congestion pricing would help with infrastructure decisions

Economists have said that congestion pricing is a way to relieve traffic congestion, and GPS and other technology that provides traffic information in real time is making it easier to put that into place. Two academics argue that congestion pricing would allow the country to make better infrastructure decisions and enhance the development of autonomous vehicles. The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (6/20) 

Commentary: Trump must make argument to Congress about benefits of tolls

Robert Krol, professor of economics at California State University, wants Congress to allow tolls on existing interstates because doing so would provide much-needed revenue for infrastructure investment. He suggests that President Donald Trump make a solid argument to lawmakers based on the idea that the fuel tax is outdated and that congestion -- and its resulting pollution -- should be addressed. The Fiscal Times (6/20) 

Commentary: Tolls can improve US interstates

Robert Poole of the Reason Foundation argues against a colleague who opposes tolls on interstates. Poole contends that tolls are need because of the decline in gas tax collections and emphasizes that provisions must be put in place to guarantee that all money collected from tolls is used on capital improvements. Reason Foundation (6/9) 

Commentary: Texas toll roads drive state's economy

The former president of the Association of Washington Business writes in this column that Texas has one of the best economies in the nation because it has invested in infrastructure. One of the key reasons for that investment is the Texas Department of Transportation's willingness to partner with private companies to design, build, operate and maintain toll roads. The Columbian (Vancouver, Wash.) (5/30) 

Commentary: Truck weight, vehicle-miles-traveled should be considered

Economists say that the taxes paid by tractor-trailers do not cover the damage they cause to roads. Robert Atkinson, the former chair of the National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission, believes Congress should adopt legislation that would charge for vehicle-miles-traveled along with a surcharge based on the weight of the truck, the roads it uses and the cargo it's hauling. The Hill (5/22)

Commentary: Nation needs tolls to improve infrastructure

Tom Skancke, executive director of the Western Regional Alliance, writes that America's infrastructure needs a major investment but that the gas tax no longer provides enough revenue. He argues that more toll roads would help solve the funding issue, and he cites several initiatives, including tolled express lanes on State Route 91 in California, as examples. CityMetric (U.K.) (5/19) 

Commentary: P3s can be part of federal infrastructure bill

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, believes Congress has an opportunity to pass meaningful infrastructure legislation and pledges to work with others to make that happen. He writes that one of the financing methods for any infrastructure bill can be public-private partnerships. The Hill (5/18) 

Commentary: Feds must streamline tolling infrastructure regulations

The laws regarding tolling of existing federally funded highways, tunnels and bridges are disjointed and inconsistent, and the federal government should create a streamlined way for state and local governments to toll federally aided highways, writes William Newton. President Donald Trump wants to launch a $1 trillion infrastructure initiative, which relies heavily on private companies using tolling revenue, Newton writes. Reason Foundation (5/3) 

Commentary: West Virginia should extend toll collection on turnpike

The West Virginia Turnpike will be paid off in 2019, and under the legislation that created the road, tolls will cease at that time. This commentary argues for continuing the tolls because the road will still have to be maintained. The Register-Herald (Beckley, W.Va.) (4/23) 

Commentary: Tolls would be good for Wisconsin

Wisconsin could collect $29 billion over 30 years if it installed electronic tolling, per a report by HNTB, and the money could be used to maintain roads and bridges in the state. Robert Poole supports the tolling idea, and he writes that tolling has been a valuable tool for improving roads in other states. Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (4/12) 

Commentary: Indiana needs tolling to fund transportation system

Kyle Hannon, president and CEO of the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce in Indiana, supports a bill before the state's legislature that would increase the gas tax by 10 cents a gallon and could bring tolling across the state. He says the revenue is needed to improve transportation infrastructure, and he is optimistic that the state's House and Senate can come to some agreement that will be helpful. South Bend Tribune (Ind.) (tiered subscription model) (4/9) 

Commentary: User fees must be part of infrastructure solution

Christine Harbin, vice president of external affairs for Americans for Prosperity, contends that user fees need to be part of any infrastructure package that is passed by Congress. She argues that Washington, D.C., should return control of infrastructure to state and local governments and that Congress must reduce the regulatory burden. The Examiner (Washington, D.C.) (3/20) 

Commentary: Tolling has advantages but is not a "cash cow"

Robert Poole of the Reason Foundation writes that tolling has a role to play in infrastructure rebuilding but notes that it shouldn't be looked at as a "cash cow" for other projects. He contends that states that have adopted tolling laws have fewer problems with their infrastructure and that that is why other states are looking at implementing toll collection. Reason Foundation (3/15)  

Commentary: P3s could improve traffic in Texas

Chris Wallace, president of the Texas Association of Business, contends that Texas has some of the worst traffic problems in the country and writes that private-sector investment could be a way to improve roadways and reduce congestion. Corpus Christi Caller-Times (Texas) (tiered subscription model) (3/13)

Commentary: Toll lanes can solve urban congestion

The Reason Foundation's Robert Poole writes that the US is doing a good job of improving structurally deficient bridges and maintaining roads, and he is opposed to President Donald Trump's call for an infrastructure stimulus package. He writes that urban congestion is the real problem and that toll lanes and other revenue-generating projects are the solution. Reason Foundation (3/6) 

Commentary: Los Angeles needs more toll roads

Los Angeles has spent billions of dollars trying to improve its transportation infrastructure, but congestion still plagues the region. Herbie Huff, a researcher at the University of California at Los Angeles' Institute of Transportation Studies, contends that the region needs lots of high-occupancy toll lanes with dynamic tolling, and he cites success stories in Minneapolis and Miami. Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription model) (3/3) 

Commentary: Toll cheaters hurt society

Toll cheating has become an increasing problem at bridges and tunnels across the country, states this commentary, which argues that all tools available, such as eliminating driver's license and vehicle registration renewals, must be used to collect the money. The piece states that toll cheating affects public institutions and hurts the country's transportation infrastructure. The Press of Atlantic City (N.J.) (tiered subscription model) (2/20) 

Commentary: All-Electronic Tolling makes sense

Traffic along the coastal areas of New Hampshire's Spaulding Turnpike and Maine's Interstate 95 can get crowded and botchy at toll plazas. The Maine Turnpike Authority and the New Hampshire Department of Transportation are considering adding new toll plazas, and this article urges the agencies to consider all-electronic tolling because of its increased safety and ease of passage. SeacoastOnline (Portsmouth, N.H.) (tiered subscription model) (2/19) 

Opinion: Bridge project P3 would be good for taxpayers

The Brent Spence Bridge between Ohio and Kentucky is more than 50 years old and badly needs to be replaced, and the project is a top priority of the Trump administration's infrastructure plan, writes Kentucky state Rep. Adam Koenig. Koenig supports a plan to create a public-private partnership that would fund half of the $2.5 billion project, writing that it would be a "boon to the taxpayers whose dollars are normally spent without concern." Middlesboro Daily News (Ky.) (2/16) 


Trump Infrastructure Initiative Delayed by Legislative Roadblock

Despite expectations of bipartisan backing for a national infrastructure package, the Trump Administration's initiative has been stuck behind other legislative priorities. Even though infrastructure is popular across geographical and political divides, few details of the plan have been released as The White House struggles to align conflicting visions for funding sources, ease concern over support for rural areas, and decide whether to introduce a bill as part of a larger tax reform package. The New York Times (7/23)

US turning to P3s to help fund infrastructure needs

With over $1 trillion needed to help to get US roads and transportation systems back on track, the government is turning to public-private partnerships to help fund and maintain projects. This option has proved successful with many projects, it helps alleviate some of the taxpayer burden, and it allows us to "accomplish much more than with tax dollars alone," writes John Parkinson, executive director of the Association for the Improvement of American Infrastructure. The Hill (7/22)

Managed lanes project in Calif. awarded $152.2M TIFIA loan

The Interstate 15 Express Lanes Corridor project in California's Riverside County will receive a $152.2 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan to build north- and south-bound managed lanes along the interstate. The project includes widening several bridges, adding retaining walls and installing an electronic toll collection system. Roads & Bridges online (7/21)

Ala. bridge to widen without increased taxes

Alabama officials and the private owners of the tolled Foley Bridge on Alabama's coast didn't get off to a good start when they tried to reach a solution to summer congestion. However, that changed, the bridge will be widened with no increase in tolls or taxpayer funds, and that is just one example of how private ownership of infrastructure can be a good thing, writes Baruch Feigenbaum. Reason Foundation (7/21)

Poll Finds Bipartisan Support for Raising Federal Gas Tax

A recent Bloomberg National Poll found nationwide support for an increase in the federal gas tax to fix crumbling roads and bridges. 51% of Republicans and 67% of Democrats expressed support for the idea. Twenty six states have raised their gas tax since 2013 and eight have done so already this year. The White House has expressed a willingness to consider an increase and that all options are on the table when it comes to fixing infrastructure. Bloomberg (7/20) 

Traffic up 15% for Transurban's toll lanes in Va.

Transurban operates tolled express lanes on interstates 95 and 495 in Virginia, and the combined lanes have seen a 15.8% increase -- 91,000 trips a day -- over last year. The company collected $35 million from the lanes in the first quarter. The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, Va.) (7/9)

Another NYC bridge converts to electric toll collection

The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge between Brooklyn and Staten Island is the latest around New York City to convert to all-electronic toll collection. The state plans to convert most bridges and tunnels in the region to cashless toll collection. Daily News (New York) (7/7)
 

Wisconsin Republicans disagree on road funding amounts

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker proposed borrowing $500 million to help improve the state's infrastructure, but Republicans in the state Senate want to up that to $850 million. However, there's a stalemate because those in the Assembly say that number is a non-starter. Wisconsin Public Radio (6/21), WXOW-TV (La Crosse, Wis.)/The Associated Press (6/21)  

Miles traveled on US roads increased in first 4 months of 2017

The US Transportation Department says drivers' mileage was up 1.2% year over year in April and could surpass 2016's record. The 1.01 trillion miles traveled on US roads in the first four months of 2017 is a 1.5% increase over the same period in 2016. Reuters (6/20)

Ohio a hotbed of transportation research

For decades, auto manufacturing companies have been testing vehicles at the Transportation Research Center in East Liberty, Ohio, and officials at the center are looking to expand the facility to test autonomous vehicles. Transportation research is going on in other cities in the state as well, as well as on the Ohio Turnpike, a section of which will test smart technology. Springfield News-Sun (Ohio) (free registration) (6/19),  Traffic Technology Today (U.K.) (6/20)

Army Corps approves South Carolina interstate

The Army Corps of Engineers has issued a permit to allow construction to start on the 80-mile-long Interstate 73 in South Carolina. The project is expected to cost more than $1 billion, but officials will need to come to an agreement with a tolling concessionaire before work can start. WLTX-TV (Columbia, S.C.)/The Associated Press (6/20),  WBTW-TV (Myrtle Beach, S.C.) (6/20)

Atlanta tolled express lanes exceed vehicle projections

I-75 South Metro Express Lanes in Atlanta opened in January and have seen 500,000 trips. That puts the express lanes about 25% ahead of original projections, and the State Road and Tollway Authority expects continued growth. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (free content) (6/15) 

Wyoming DOT studying toll lanes on Interstate 80

About 13,000 vehicles a day use Interstate 80 in Wyoming, and that could increase to 25,000 over the next 20 years. The Wyoming Department of Transportation is studying ways to make the road safer, including the possibility of adding toll lanes. Star-Tribune (Casper, Wyo.) (tiered subscription model) (6/14) 

Commissioners approve tolled extension of Highway 249 in Texas

Montgomery County commissioners in Texas have voted to support a tolled extension to Highway 249. The Montgomery County Toll Road Authority says the 3.6-mile extension would be funded by a bond issuance, although no decision has been made yet on whether the Texas Department of Transportation or the county will finance the project. Community Impact Newspaper (Pflugerville, Texas) (6/13) 

Traffic on Georgia toll lanes exceeds initial estimates

Reversible toll lanes on Interstate 75 in Georgia's Clayton and Henry counties opened in January, and traffic on them has exceeded initial projections. The State Road & Tollway Authority predicted that the lanes would log 6,000 weekday trips, but they have averaged 7,600. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (free content) (6/13) 

Texas toll road working to protect the environment

Some environmentalists are concerned about damage to the watersheds near the Texas 45 Southwest toll road, which is under construction in Austin, Texas. However, Mike Heiligenstein, executive director of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, writes that the road will improve traffic safety in the region, is being built responsibly and includes "water-quality ponds, vegetated controls, permeable friction course pavement, and hazardous materials traps at all creeks, waterways and culverted drainage ways." Austin American-Statesman (Texas) (free content) (6/12) 

Tampa planning organization moves ahead with toll-road plan

The Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization has voted to maintain a plan that will eventually add 90 miles of toll lanes to interstates around Tampa, Fla. The public voiced opposition at a recent meeting, but the business community supports the lanes. Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Fla.) (6/13)  

California changing law to prevent toll cheaters

When cars are sold in California, they get notices of sale affixed to their windshields, but no license plates until the metal plates are sent in the mail. That cost the Bay Area $13 million in unpaid tolls last year, but that will change in 2019, when auto dealers will need to attach camera-readable plates before the cars leave the lots. San Francisco Chronicle (tiered subscription model) (6/12) 

Oregon looks to tolls with transportation bill

A transportation bill before the Oregon legislature would add tolls on interstates 5 and 205, if adopted. The bill would also increase the gas tax, tax new cars and bicycles, raise vehicle-registration fees and institute a payroll tax, and the toll provision could set the groundwork for adding tolls even if the bill is overturned by the courts or voters. The Oregonian (Portland) (6/10) 

Managed toll lanes to be added to Interstate 45 in Texas

By 2020, the Texas Department of Transportation will begin a $7 billion project in the Houston area that will reroute and improve Interstate 45. The project will include the addition of both managed and express lanes and is needed to reduce congestion. Community Impact Newspaper (Pflugerville, Texas) (6/12) 

Video: Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise opens new Minneola Interchange

Construction has finished on a new interchange on the Florida Turnpike in the Minneola area, and the road opened Saturday. The $29 million interchange uses all-electronic toll collection and allows people to access the turnpike in both directions. The Daily Commercial (Leesburg, Fla.) (6/10) 

Jones: Tolls on interstates help state funding

The Trump administration's infrastructure plan would open up interstates to tolling, but many Democrats in Congress oppose the idea. Pat Jones, IBTTA's executive director, says tolls are needed to help improve the finances of cash-strapped states, but some say the tolling amounts to double taxation because drivers have already paid the gas tax. Bluefield Daily Telegraph (W.Va.) (tiered subscription model)/Community Newspaper Holdings (6/10) 

Jones: Looking at all infrastructure funding options "is wise"

President Donald Trump is pitching his $1 trillion infrastructure plan, but it faces opposition in Congress and across the country for its reliance on private investment and tolling. Pat Jones, International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association CEO, said that there's not enough money available to do all the infrastructure work wanted and that "the Trump team is wise to put all options on the table, including private investment." Commercial Carrier Journal (6/7) 

Minnesota to study adding tolls; Indiana considers interstate tolling

Legislation recently passed by Minnesota calls for a study that will look at existing toll lanes, their potential expansion, potential pilot projects and tolling technology, with results to be available by Jan. 2, 2018. Meanwhile, the Indiana Department of Transportation wants to studying tolling interstates, and the agency is considering seeking the help of outside consultants. KAAL-TV (Austin, Minn.) (6/7),  The Times of Northwest Indiana (Munster) (6/8) 

Wisconsin considers tolling to overcome budget impasse

Wisconsin lawmakers are at an impasse over the state transportation budget, and Gov. Scott Walker said he is willing to support tolling interstates if it's tied to a reduction in the state's gas tax. The head of the state senate said tolling "is something that needs to be explored," but tolling interstates would need federal approval and cost hundreds of millions of dollars to implement. La Crosse Tribune (Wis.) (5/30) 

Report: Public-private partnerships could help Kentucky infrastructure

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce says roads and bridges in Kentucky need significant investment, and the agency has produced a report that points to public-private partnerships as a solution. The state recently passed P3 legislation, but the state Legislature must approve any project over $25 million. Daily News (Bowling Green, Ky.) (5/27) 

California DOT looks at tolled express lane in San Francisco Bay Area

The California Department of Transportation is considering adding a tolled express lane to Highway 101 in the San Francisco Bay Area, but the road is so narrow in places that it would have to convert a regular lane into an express lane. The route has 200,000 daily commuters, and the agency wants to improve traffic flow. KNTV-TV (San Francisco) (5/30)  

Oklahoma Turnpike earmarks money to train highway patrol cadets

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority has decided to donate $5 million to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol to train and support 30 cadets in 2018. The OHP suffered an 11% decrease in funding in 2017, and no cadets are being trained this year. The Oklahoman (Oklahoma City) (5/31) 

IBTTA supports Trump's plan to reduce restrictions on interstate tolling

President Donald Trump's outline of an infrastructure proposal gives states more flexibility to toll interstates, an idea that the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association supports. "Toll financing may not be the answer for every highway, bridge, or tunnel project in the country, but the power of tolling is proven and effective," said Patrick Jones, the organization's executive director and CEO. Traffic Technology Today (U.K.) (5/26) 

Trump's interstate tolling plan faces hurdles in Congress

President Donald Trump wants to loosen restrictions on tolling interstates, but the idea could be a tough sell in Congress. Supporters of the idea say it would give cash-strapped states a new revenue stream, but opponents say a pilot program that allowed states to toll interstates has not been successful. The Hill (5/28) 

IBTTA supports Trump's plan to lift restrictions on tolling interstates

President Donald Trump's proposed budget for fiscal 2018 includes $200 billion for infrastructure investment over 10 years and lifts some restrictions on tolling interstates. Some are opposed to the idea, but Patrick Jones, executive director and CEO of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association, supports it, noting that states wouldn't be forced to institute tolls, but could use them if they needed another revenue source. Fleet Owner (5/23),  Transport Topics Online (5/23) 

Tolled express lanes coming to Jacksonville, Florida

Tolled express lanes are coming to Interstate 295 in Jacksonville, Fla., and phase one construction should be finished this fall. Use of the lanes will require a SunPass transponder. WJCT-TV/WJCT-FM (Jacksonville, Fla.) (5/23) 

Kansas could get new 6-lane toll road

A proposed six-lane tolled Patriot Highway would be heated and have Wi-Fi, would be an outer beltway of Kansas City, Kan., and would be built via a public-private partnership between the Leavenworth County government and Via Maris Consulting Group. County commissioners have discussed the proposal and signed a memorandum of understanding, but they have not voted on it. Leavenworth Times (Kan.) (5/23) 

Infrastructure plan unveiled, would lift interstate tolling restrictions

President Donald Trump's infrastructure plan would inject $200 billion into infrastructure projects to help incentivize private-sector participation to bring the total investment to $1 trillion. Regulations would be streamlined, the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act expanded, and tolling on interstates less restricted, giving states another tool to use if they chose to, says Patrick Jones, executive director and CEO of IBTTA. The Hill (5/23),  Politico (5/23) 

Managed toll lanes open in Texas

The Texas Department of Transportation has completed construction on managed toll lanes on Interstate 35E, and the lanes should open today. The lanes are designed to keep vehicles traveling at a minimum of 55 mph, and rates will be fixed for the first six months. Denton Record-Chronicle (Texas) (5/19) 

Record number of vehicles travel on Ohio Turnpike

Randy Cole, executive director of the Ohio Turnpike, offered agency updates recently, noting that most of the planned construction this season will take part in the western part of the state. In addition, tolls are expected to increase 2.7% annually until 2023, and the turnpike broke a record for the number of vehicles using it last year, at almost 55 million. WFMJ-TV (Youngstown, Ohio) (5/19) 

Electronic toll collection on Massachusetts Turnpike nearly 100% accurate

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation implemented electronic toll collection on the Massachusetts Turnpike last year, and the agency says the system is more than 99% accurate so far. About 86% of transactions involve E-ZPass transponders, and the remaining vehicles receive bills in the mail. The Republican (Springfield, Mass.) (5/8) 

States not waiting for feds to increase infrastructure spending

Skepticism continues to grow about whether Congress and the Trump administration will pass major infrastructure legislation, and at least two dozen states have raised their gas or sales taxes to improve infrastructure. Both Republican- and Democratic-controlled states have taken infrastructure funding into their own hands. The Times of Northwest Indiana (Munster)/The Associated Press (5/6),  Wisconsin State Journal (Madison)/The Associated Press (5/6)

Court rules against challenge to North Carolina tolled lanes

The North Carolina Court of Appeals has agreed with a lower court's ruling that the state acted properly when it awarded a contract to a private company to build tolled express lanes on Interstate 77. A group had filed a lawsuit against the contract, saying the road should be widened without the use of tolls. WECT-TV (Wilmington, N.C.) (5/2) 

Trump "absolutely" committed to $1T infrastructure bill

President Donald Trump is "absolutely" committed to a $1 trillion infrastructure bill, said press secretary Sean Spicer, even though no plan has been presented by the administration. "Let's get through this week and then hopefully have some additional details moving forward," Spicer said. The Hill (5/1) 

New interchange to be built on Interstate 85 in Georgia

Construction on a new interchange on Interstate 85 in Georgia will start in 2018 after the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners voted to accept $6 million in federal funding. The interchange will connect with and extend tolled express lanes. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (free content) (5/2) 

Program on Pennsylvania Turnpike alerts truck drivers about dangerous curves

The Pennsylvania Turnpike is participating in the Drivewyze Driver Safety Notifications program, where an in-cab connected device alerts truck drivers about potential rollover zones along the turnpike. The goal is to improve safety, and the program will move from being a pilot project to a permanent program before the end of the year. Fleet Owner (5/2) 

Washington State embraces dynamic tolling in HOT lanes

The Washington State Department of Transportation says high-occupancy toll lanes are a "very effective tool" to relieve congestion in the Seattle area, and the state has been using them on State Route 167 and Interstate 405 as part of a long-term pilot program. The lanes use dynamic tolling and keep traffic flowing even at peak times. KCPQ-TV (Seattle) (5/2) 

Florida DOT considers turnpike expansion

The Florida Department of Transportation wants to widen a 7-mile section of the Florida Turnpike near Boynton Beach from two lanes to three and is seeking public input on the idea. The plan would also allow for additional tolled express lanes in the future, but some have criticized that aspect. WPTV-TV (West Palm Beach. Fla.) (5/2)

First 2 sections of Florida toll road to be complete this summer

Construction on the 10-mile-long, tolled Wekiva Parkway is underway in central Florida, and the first two sections should open this summer. When complete in 2018, the work will finish the Central Florida Beltway. WOFL-TV (Orlando, Fla.) (5/2)  

Feds approve loan for toll road expansion in Colorado

A $276 million expansion to Colorado State Highway 470 will add express toll lanes to a 12.5-mile stretch, and the federal government has approved a $109 million loan for the project. The Denver Post (5/1) 

Florida DOT studying express toll lanes on Interstate 95

A study is being conducted by the Florida Department of Transportation on the feasibility of tolled express lanes on Interstate 95 in Jacksonville. Toll rates would vary based on demand, and construction will start in 2022 if the project is approved. WJCT-TV/WJCT-FM (Jacksonville, Fla.) (4/28) 

Indiana governor signs bill that raises $5B for roads, bridges

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb has signed a bill that increases the gas tax by 10 cents, raises vehicle registration fees and charges a fee to owners of electric and hybrid vehicles. The law is expected to generate $5 billion over seven years for road and bridge projects, and it also allows the state to ask the federal government if it can toll existing interstates. The Times of Northwest Indiana (Munster) (4/27),  The Indianapolis Star (tiered subscription model) (4/27)

Illinois Tollway board approves $4B road-widening plan

The board of the Illinois Tollway has approved a $4 billion plan to widen the Central Tri-State Tollway and will not increase tolls to fund the project. Instead, it will use some of the revenue from a toll hike in 2012 and will charge the cash rate for vehicles with I-PASS accounts that don't have transponders. Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, Ill.) (4/27),  WMAQ-TV (Chicago) (4/27) 

North Carolina DOT head wants to accelerate construction schedules

North Carolina Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon spoke to a regional planning organization recently and said his state will work to accelerate current road construction projects and study self-driving vehicle technology. He also noted that some data that the agency collects isn't used, and he plans to change that. Salisbury Post (N.C.) (4/27) 

30M vehicle crossings over Washington floating bridge in first year

Construction of the world's longest floating bridge wrapped up a year ago, and the Washington State Department of Transportation said vehicles have taken 30 million trips across the tolled span on State Route 520 since then. The next phase of the project should start in 2018. GeekWire (4/25) 

Colorado looks to install toll lanes on Interstate 25

The Colorado Department of Transportation is considering expanding 18 miles of Interstate 25 between Castle Rock and Monument to eight lanes and installing various configurations of high-occupancy toll lanes. The four-lane section of road experiences heavy congestion, and officials expect the area's population will increase. The Denver Post (4/25) 

Trump to seek $200B in taxpayer funding for infrastructure

President Donald Trump plans to unveil an infrastructure bill and is likely to seek $200 billion in taxpayer money. That money would be used to leverage private investment, according to Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, who said, "The president wants a trillion dollars' worth of work on the ground and we're going to give it to him." Bloomberg (4/20) 

$855M design-build contract awarded for Texas toll road

The Texas Department of Transportation is building a tolled loop around Houston, and it recently awarded an $855 million contract to Grand Parkway Infrastructure to develop, design, construct and maintain a 44-mile segment of that road. Work could start in 2018 and be substantially complete in 2022. Houston Chronicle (tiered subscription model) (4/20) 

Jones: Educate public on why taxes, fees are needed for infrastructure

Patrick Jones, executive director and CEO of IBTTA, puts the blame for lack of infrastructure investment on the American public, contending that few of us are interested in paying for needed repairs even though we want better roads and bridges. To get past this, Jones suggests that Congress and the president "treat the American people like adults and explain the need for bigger investment in the form of taxes and user fees." Time.com (4/18) 

Want America to Be ‘Great’ Again? Pay For IT

We need a national vision to pay for and revitalize our infrastructure for all Americans. For decades, my association and many others have urged Congress and the states to make much bigger investments in our vital infrastructure. But we are still far behind where we would like to be. The problem is us. We say we want better roads and safer drinking water. But year after year, we refuse to come up with the money to make the big improvements that we need. Time Magazine (4/18)

California spending nearly $2B on toll-lane projects

California recently completed building toll lanes on Interstate 91 and next year will begin a $450 million project to add toll lanes to 14.6 miles of Interstate 15, and transportation official Anne Mayer noted that "from the beginning, we've identified the 91 as being the top priority and the 15 (is) connected to the 91 so it's the next logical project to address." Also, a $1.4 billion toll-lane project is proposed on 33 miles of Interstate 10 in San Bernardino County. The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, Calif.) (free registration) (4/19) 

Virginia thinks toll lanes might be the first place for autonomous vehicles

The auto industry takes about five years to develop a new product, but the technology industry's development timeline is closer to 18 months. That has pressed transportation officials in Virginia to develop rules that govern autonomous vehicles, and one thought is that autonomous vehicles could begin operating in toll lanes, as they are separated from general traffic. WTOP-FM (Washington, D.C.) (4/19) 

ConstrucTech TV

Watch Pat Jones's interview on ConstrucTech TV, hosted by Peggy Smedley, as he discusses the Trump Administration's possible infrastructure investment plan. Constructech magazine (4/2017) 

Contractor selected for $234.5M Fla. toll-road project

Wekiva Parkway has won a design-build contract from the Florida Department of Transportation to build 6 miles of elevated toll road over the Wekiva River in central Florida. The $234.5 million project includes three bridges and three wildlife bridges, and construction could begin this year. Construction Dive (4/19),  Orlando Sentinel (Fla.) (tiered subscription model) (4/14) 

Toll fund could improve public transit in Virginia

A revolving toll fund in Virginia could award a $3.5 million grant to expand public transit on the planned high-occupancy toll lanes on Interstate 64 and add two new buses. The Commonwealth Transportation Board must approve the grant before anything can happen. The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk) (4/16) 

Tolling bill presented at hearing in Connecticut

At a hearing Monday, Connecticut lawmakers discussed a bill that would bring tolling to the state; a final vote could be held in May. The Senate has proposed an amendment that would implement a "lockbox," committing all toll revenue to transportation projects only. WTIC-TV (Hartford, Conn.) (4/18) 

JV awarded $263M contract to build tolled express lanes in California

A joint venture between Skanska USA and Ames Construction has won a contract from the Riverside County Transportation Commission valued at $263 million to build tolled express lanes on Interstate 15 in California. Work could start next year on the 15-mile project. Patch.com/Lake Elsinore (4/13) 

Australian pension fund eyes US infrastructure investment

Australia's largest pension fund is interested in investing in US infrastructure projects. However, AustralianSuper, with $75 billion in assets, is being cautious in part because of the dearth of details in the US government's infrastructure plans. Bloomberg (4/10)  

Fitch positive about express toll lanes

Fitch Ratings evaluates 11 express toll lane projects, most of which are public-private partnerships, and notes that they speak "well of the various state transportation departments that selected these particular projects and the scrutiny of their developers and financiers," this article states. Reason Foundation (4/6) 

Tolls considered to fund infrastructure construction in New Hampshire

The American Society of Civil Engineers has given New Hampshire a C- grade for its bridges, roads, ports and other infrastructure. The state is looking at how to pay for infrastructure improvements, and tolling and more "locally sourced funding" are two options under consideration. New Hampshire Public Radio (4/5),  Concord Monitor (N.H.) (tiered subscription model)/The Associated Press (4/5) 

$115M toll bridge, road a top priority for county in Illinois

A $115 million road and toll bridge is a top priority of the Kane County Department of Transportation in Illinois. The agency hopes to invest $366.8 million in infrastructure projects over the next five years. Chicago Tribune (tiered subscription model) (3/28) 

Toll lanes could come to Interstate 55 around Chicago

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner wants to add tolled express lanes on Interstate 55 in the Chicago suburbs and wants the legislature to give the green light to the project by month's end. However, the House wants more information on the public-private project's costs and fees. Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, Ill.)/The Associated Press (3/27) 

Germany's toll plan could bring in $540M

The lower house of parliament in Germany plans to institute a toll on foreign-registered cars and expects that the toll would bring in $540 million annually. Environmentally friendlier cars would pay less, but the plan is not without controversy. Reuters (3/24) 

Massachusetts looks at tolling more roads

More fuel-efficient cars mean less gas-tax revenue available for infrastructure, and that has led Massachusetts to consider tolling more roads and interstates. Tolls are currently collected only on the Massachusetts Turnpike. The Sun Chronicle (Attleboro, Mass.) (3/23) 

Georgia building $178M HOT lane

The Georgia Department of Transportation is building a $178 million high-occupancy toll lane through Gwinnett County. The 10-mile extension is part of a larger effort to expand road infrastructure in the region. Gwinnett Daily Post (Lawrenceville, Ga.) (3/22) 

Jones supports wider use of P3s for infrastructure projects

It's estimated that US infrastructure needs $4.6 trillion in repairs and upgrades, but where that will come from is a conundrum. "We need more money coming into the system to pay for all the operations and maintenance and capital needs that we have," said IBTTA's Patrick Jones, who would like to see wider use of public-private partnerships. S&P Global Market Intelligence (3/20) 

Bay Area managed toll lanes see 7.6M drivers in 1st year

Construction was completed last year on managed toll lanes on Interstate 580 in California's Bay Area, and a report by the Alameda County Transportation Commission states that 7.6 million drivers have used the lanes so far. The region has 50 miles of managed toll lanes, and hundreds more miles are planned. San Francisco Chronicle (tiered subscription model) (3/16) 

California toll lane project to open Monday

The new 8-mile-long, $1.4 billion expansion project on the 91 Freeway in Corona, Calif., is complete, and the road will open Monday. The project added two managed toll lanes and a general purpose lane in each direction to help relieve congestion. The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, Calif.) (free registration) (3/16) 

Two counties worked together for toll lane project in California

The $1.4 billion 91 Project in California's Riverside County came together partly when the county's Transportation Commission began working with the Orange County Transportation Authority on a way to widen the road. The project added toll and general-purpose lanes, and the lanes opened to traffic Monday. The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.) (free content) (3/14) 

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission testing electronic tolling

Electronic tolling will be installed next month on the Beaver Valley Expressway in Pennsylvania's Beaver and Lawrence counties. It's the second cashless toll system installed by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, which is studying how well it works. WYTV-TV (Youngstown, Ohio) (3/13) 

Ohio looks to the future with autonomous vehicle testing

The Ohio Turnpike and OTTO Motors plan to test autonomous semi-trucks this year on heavily traveled Interstate 80. Advocates says Ohio's variable climate and mix of urban and rural settings are good conditions in which to test autonomous vehicles. WVXU-FM (Cincinnati) (3/13) 

Tolls reduce congestion on Illinois highway

Tolling was implemented on Route 390 in Illinois last year and has helped reduce traffic congestion more than anticipated. Traffic declined between 4% and 8% in February, leading tollway spokesman Dan Rozek to say, "[O]ur customers recognize the value of the convenience and faster travel times provided by the new Route 390." Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, Ill.) (3/13) 

Oregon mayor supports tolling legislation

The Oregon legislature is considering a bill to allow tolls in the state, and Ted Wheeler, the mayor of Portland, has thrown his support behind the idea. "Tolling has been in existence around the globe and in other parts of the country for decades, and for us to simply say it's off the table, and we're not going to talk about it at a time when our city and regional transportation infrastructure is literally crumbling under our feet -- we don't have that luxury," he said. Oregon Public Broadcasting (3/9) 

Agency says managed toll lanes off to good start in 2017

Fitch Ratings says managed toll lanes in the US are generally exceeding revenue expectations for 2017. It also notes that providing free access to those lanes to high-occupancy vehicles has benefits but also brings issues. ITS International online (UK) (3/9) 

Ohio Turnpike testing autonomous semi-trucks

Ohio wants to be a key player in the development of autonomous vehicles, and it has already developed two smart corridors, with plans for more. The state is testing autonomous trucks from OTTO Motor, and it may work with Peloton's platooning trucks as well, says Randy Cole, executive director of the Ohio Turnpike. WKSU-FM (Kent, Ohio) (3/10) 

Illinois Tollway undertaking $1B in construction this year

The Illinois Tollway plans to undertake $1 billion in construction this year and is holding an event to promote construction and design opportunities. The goal is to include more firms, as well as more diverse firms, in the process. EquipmentWorld.com (3/9) 

Indiana Governor looks to tolls for long-term infrastructure needs

Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and current Gov. Eric Holcomb discussed the state's need for a long-term infrastructure plan. Holcomb noted that tolls are an "extremely stable way of truly getting that user fee" to help pay for future needs. Journal and Courier (Lafayette, Ind.) (tiered subscription model) (3/8) 

Jones supports Trump's effort to use private funding in infrastructure

Something needs to be done to inject funding into the Highway Trust Fund, and places like Europe have looked to private investment to improve infrastructure. Pat Jones, director and CEO of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association, thinks President Donald Trump is wise to look at all options, because "[o]ur desire to spend on infrastructure far exceeds the available money." Overdrive magazine online (3/8) 

Trump wants to "dream big" with infrastructure plan

President Donald Trump held a meeting with top advisers and business executives to discuss his infrastructure plan and suggested that states could be given only 90 days to start a project after receiving funding. He also expressed interest in high-speed rail and the Hyperloop, saying, "America has always been a nation of great promise, because we dream big." The Hill (3/8),  The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (3/8)

Toll lanes being built to improve traffic on Colorado interstate

Construction will begin next year on the $1.17 billion Central 70 Project in Colorado, which will add toll lanes and improve the major east-west interstate highway over the Rocky Mountains. Congestion is a major problem on the road, and the state's Department of Transportation is trying to develop plans to minimize the disruption to drivers during the project. The Aurora Sentinel (Colo.) (3/8) 

Managed toll lanes in California city to open at the end of the month

Managed toll lanes are being added to the 91 Freeway in Corona, Calif. The $1.4 billion project should be finished by month's end. The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, Calif.) (free registration) (3/7) 

Georgia looks to use more managed toll lanes

Georgia is in the middle of the largest traffic project in the country, an $834 million effort to add reversible toll lanes on 30 miles of Interstate 75. The project should be finished in 2018, and the state is considering other managed toll lane projects. The Marietta Daily Journal (Ga.) (tiered subscription model) (3/7)  

Chao: Tolls could help fund infrastructure initiative

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said adding new tolls would be one way to help fund a proposed infrastructure initiative, noting, "The federal government cannot assume the cost for all of it." She also said public-private partnerships will play a role. The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (3/4) 

New Jersey toll revenues increase for 5th straight year

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority says toll revenue increased last year on the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway and brought in $1.57 billion, exceeding predictions. It was the fifth straight year revenue increased. NJ.com (Morristown, N.J.) (3/3) 

Oregon lawmaker introduces bill to allow P3s

A state representative in Oregon has introduced legislation that would allow city and county governments to enter into public-private partnerships. He hopes the legislation will lead to the construction of the Northwest Passage toll road around the Portland metro area, a road that could cost as much as $20 billion. The Oregonian (Portland) (3/1) 

State could seek federal approval for chance to toll interstates

The federal FAST Act tolling program allowed the Federal Highway Administration to select states to pilot the tolling of interstates. However, its choices -- Missouri, North Carolina and Virginia -- missed the deadlines, so Oregon hopes to apply. The Oregonian (Portland) (2/24) 

Chao says infrastructure bill faces uphill battle

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao says passing major infrastructure legislation President Donald Trump promised during his campaign will be challenging. Trump has proposed using public-private partnerships to fund the effort, but Chao acknowledges that other financing methods will be needed. Bloomberg (2/26) 

Illinois tollway improvements spur economic growth

A $2.5 billion widening project was completed last year on the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway in Illinois, and the effort has spurred economic growth in the region, including greater residential construction, which "hasn't happened in a very long time," said Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod. In addition, the SmartRoad system will go live this year and alert motorists to traffic issues. Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, Ill.) (2/22) 

More than 90% of Bayonne Bridge users have E-ZPass

The electronic toll system at the recently reopened Bayonne Bridge is collecting tolls via E-ZPass from more than 90% of bridge users; license plate cameras are handling the other bridge users. Traffic Technology Today (U.K.) (2/21) 

Report: Interstate tolling could offer financial benefits

A report by Fitch Ratings states that tolling of US interstates could help alleviate the financial burden of improving infrastructure. Interstate tolling is inconsistent in the United States, the report states. ITS International online (UK) (2/21) 

Toll roads play a major role in Florida transportation network

Central Florida Expressway Authority Vice Chair Fred Hawkins discusses the state of toll roads and traffic management in Florida. The state has the most miles of toll roads in the country. WMFE-FM (Orlando, Fla.) (2/17) 

Pennsylvania Turnpike plans $217M widening project

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission wants to expand 7.5 miles of the Pennsylvania Turnpike from four to six lanes and has scheduled an open house to discuss the project. The commission wants to conduct preliminary work on the $217 million project over four years, and then the reconstruction would begin. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (2/17) 

Virginia approves toll projects

The Commonwealth Transportation Board has approved a plan to extend high-occupancy toll lanes on Interstate 95 near Washington, D.C., and convert high-occupancy lanes on Interstate 395 to toll lanes. The first part of the I-95 project, covering 2.2 miles, is expected to be completed in 2018, and the second part, covering 10 miles, should be finished in 2021. WTOP-FM (Washington, D.C.) (2/16)  


»  View transportation news from 2016


For more information, please contact Bill Cramer, Communications Director, IBTTA, at bcramer@ibtta.org or 202-659-4620 x26.