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Anti-tolling group issues update on current, prospective tolling efforts

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A proposed toll bridge on Interstate 10 across Mobile Bay and Mobile River was estimated to cost $6 each way. This would be one of the nation’s largest infrastructure projects at over 10 miles in length and suspended hundreds of feet in the air above the water near downtown Mobile. It would cost $2.1 billion. The Alabama governor has declared the project dead, but many fear it might show up again in the future. (Courtesy: ALABAMA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION)

RICHMOND, Va. — The Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates (ATFI) has published its periodical update on current and prospective tolls efforts.

Reports on eight states and the federal government are included in the update.

The ATFI says it is committed to keeping existing interstates toll-free and open “as they were intended.”

The American Trucking Associations, the Truckload Carriers Association and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association are members of the alliance.

The following information is taken directly from the update.

Alabama

A proposed toll bridge on Interstate 10 across Mobile Bay and Mobile River estimated at $6 each way for vehicles has been getting a lot of attention lately. This would be one of the nation’s largest infrastructure projects at over 10 miles in length and suspended hundreds of feet in the air above the water near downtown Mobile. While the bridge is badly needed, transportation officials claim the state can’t afford this massive $2.1 billion project on its own. The hotly contested proposal has enormous public opposition and even state officials have failed to reach a consensus. Despite Gov. Kay Iver’s outspoken support, Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth voiced his opposition, calling it a burden on the region’s working families.  At the end of August, Ivey declared this plan dead after the Eastern Shore Metropolitan Planning Organization voted to eliminate it from its short-term plan. However, many residents fear that this tolling project might show up again in the near future.

Connecticut

Connecticut is undergoing a heavy battle on funding its Special Transportation Fund. At the start of the 2019 Connecticut General Assembly Session, Gov. Ned Lamont went back on his campaign promises to not toll cars in the state by proposing to establish electronic tolls across the state. There are claims that tolls could raise $800 million annually, and as much as 40% of revenues could come from out-of-state travelers. However, information from the governor’s office has not been consistent by constantly changing details about the number, location and rates of the tolls. Republican legislators have offered a counterproposal named Prioritize Progress, which would steer clear of tolls. Lamont intends to call a special session on tolls before the 2020 regular session, but it has not been scheduled at this time.

Florida

In the spring, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill from the Florida House creating three new toll roads in western and central Florida, including Orlando. No studies have been completed that address whether the toll roads are needed, and basic questions about the projects are set to be figured out at a later time. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) will manage the projects and have final say over whether the roads become reality. At the end of July, FDOT set up a website for public comments on these three toll projects. To learn more, visit www.FloridaMCores.com.

New York

New York City became the first American city to impose congestion pricing to alleviate traffic and raise money for other transportation needs in the spring. Beginning in 2021, motorists will have to pay to enter the heart of Manhattan.  The Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, which is a piece of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, will decide how to implement congestion pricing after hearing to reflect on public comments and the findings of a traffic study.

South Carolina

South Carolina rejected tolls on existing interstates this year. At the request of the legislature, the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) completed a study recently about turning Interstate 95 into a toll road. The comprehensive study examined how much it would cost to build the tollbooths and how long it would take the state to complete the project. The 199-mile stretch of I-95 would be separated into four points where a toll would be charged to cross each of four bridges. SCDOT found it would take the state 35 years to produce the money to pay for the project and cost an estimated $3.5 billion.

Rhode Island

In December 2018, the state announced that it would begin construction on the next 10 truck-only toll gantries on I-95. Despite opposition from major trucking groups and a lawsuit from the American Trucking Associations, the first toll booths opened in June 2018. In March 2019, the lawsuit from the ATA challenging Rhode Island’s truck-only tolls was dismissed by a federal judge who said the case needs to be tried at the state level. In early April, ATA appealed a federal judge’s ruling to dismiss the group’s lawsuit. Moreover, state officials say drivers crossing Rhode Island’s Newport Pell Bridge have tallied up $9.6 million in unpaid tolls, fees, and fines throughout the last six years.

Virginia

During the 2019 Virginia General Assembly Session, legislators considered several bills to toll Interstate 81 (I-81). ATFI partnered with the Virginia Trucking Association, Virginia Manufacturers Association, Virginia Forest Products Association, and several other trade associations to oppose the toll proposals. After the legislation was defeated, the General Assembly adopted a series of sales and gas tax increases and higher fees to fund improvements to I-81. This was a huge victory and complete reversal from the Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s original plan for tolls in January. His message was clear: Virginia rejects tolls on existing interstates.

Wisconsin

In July, Governor Tony Evers signed the two-year state budget while using his line-item veto power to eliminate of several provisions. Most notably was a $2.5 million Department of Transportation study on mileage based fees and tolling that he deleted. Governor Evers vetoed this provision, saying: “I am vetoing this section because I object to the financing of another study that will show, yet again, that the motor fuel tax is the most effective way to approximate a user fee of roadway use and the most cost-effective way to collect revenue. The Legislature has had more than enough evidence and enough time to study the issue. It is time for the Legislature to stop stalling and act to secure a long-term transportation funding solution.”

Federal

The United States Senate released the Investing in America’s Surface Transportation Infrastructure (IATA) Act, a comprehensive surface transportation reauthorization bill, which would expire in September 2020. The tolling highlights include a pilot program mentioned as the Congestion Relief Program. On September 11, the House Highways and Transit subcommittee held a hearing called “Pricing and Technology Strategies to Address Congestion on and Financing of America’s Roads.” Elected officials and six witnesses discussed whether tolling, congestion pricing or even a fuel tax is the best way to resolve congestion across the country. Darren D. Hawkins, CEO of YRC Worldwide Inc., spoke out against tolling existing interstates on behalf of the American Trucking Associations.

The ATFI said it would continue to monitor tolling efforts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Harley’s Perry

    November 2, 2019 at 12:48 pm

    I reported this to your page hoping for support from Drivers . 57,000 + Facebook followers united against the toll .
    Block the Mobile Bayway Toll organized by Jim Ziegler put pressure on local politicians to stop the toll .
    We took time off work and away from family to attend political town hall meetings .
    Estimated cost per Semi was $18 to $24 dollars each way .
    $6 per car per trip + administration fee of $3.25 .

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The Nation

86.5% of trucks inspected during CVSA Brake Safety Week had no OOS issues

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During a roadside inspection, if an inspector identifies critical vehicle inspection item violations, he or she will render the vehicle out of service, which means those violations must be corrected before the vehicle may proceed. (The Trucker file photo)

GREENBELT, Md. — The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance said Tuesday that inspectors conducted 34,320 commercial motor vehicle inspections during CVSA’s Brake Safety Week and placed 4,626 vehicles — or 13.5% — out of service after critical brake-related conditions were identified during roadside inspections.

CVSA noted that a majority — 86.5% — of vehicles inspected during the September 15-21 time period did not have any critical brake-related inspection item violations.

In 2018, CVSA said out of 35,080 inspections, 4,955 trucks — or 14.1% — were placed out of service.

In 2017, CVSA conducted only a Brake Safety Day, which resulted in 14% of trucks inspected being put out of service.

During a roadside inspection, if an inspector identifies critical vehicle inspection item violations, he or she will render the vehicle out of service, which means those violations must be corrected before the vehicle may proceed.

Sixty jurisdictions in Canada and the U.S. participated in this year’s Brake Safety Week.

In the U.S., 49 jurisdictions conducted 31,864 roadside inspections and placed 4,344 (13.6%) commercial motor vehicles out of service because of brake-related violations. In Canada, 11 jurisdictions conducted 2,456 roadside inspections and 282 (11.5%) commercial motor vehicles were placed out of service for brake-related violations.

As part of this year’s Brake Safety Week, inspectors also collected and reported data on brake hoses/tubing.

  • 2,567 units had chafed rubber hose violations.
  • 1,347 units had chafed thermoplastic hose violations.
  • 2,704 violations of § 393.45 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) and Canadian equivalent violations included chafed rubber hoses.
  • There were 1,683 violations of § 393.45 of the FMCSRs and Canadian equivalent violations that included kinked thermoplastic hoses.

“Inspectors conduct more than 4 million roadside inspections every year and checking brake components is just one element of the inspection procedure inspectors perform on commercial motor vehicles every day,” said CVSA President Sgt. John Samis with the Delaware State Police. “This inspection and enforcement event reminds drivers and motor carriers of the importance of properly functioning brakes and spotlights the work done by inspectors, motor carriers and drivers every day to keep our roadways safe by ensuring vehicles are in appropriate working condition.”

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, highway crash fatality data for 2018, there was a 2.4% decline in overall fatalities, the second consecutive year of reduced crash fatalities. However, conversely, for 2018, large-truck related fatalities increased by 0.9%.

“While we applaud the decrease in the overall number of fatalities on our roadways last year, we’re alarmed by the increase in the number of large-truck-related fatalities,” Samis said. “CVSA conducts high-profile, high-visibility enforcement events, such as Brake Safety Week, to reduce the number of fatalities occurring on our roadways. Roadway safety is our number one priority and we will continue our efforts to improve brake safety throughout North America.”

Brake Safety Week is an inspection, enforcement, education and awareness initiative that is part of the Operation Airbrake Program sponsored by CVSA in partnership with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators.

 

 

 

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The Nation

Interstate bridge tolls key to Connecticut $21B plan; HD trucks would pay $7

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Gov. Ned Lamont’s transportation plan includes a proposal to place electronic toll gantries at 14 highway bridge locations across the state, 11 of which are located on interstates, including I-95, I-84, I-91, I-395 and I-684. (Associated Press: JESSICA HILL)

HARTFORD, Conn. — A $21 billion transportation plan proposed by Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont November 7 would invest $14 billion in Connecticut’s roads and bridges plus $7 billion in its public transit systems over the next decade and would rely on interstate bridge tolls for part of that funding.

The governor’s plan includes a proposal to place electronic toll gantries at 14 highway bridge locations across the state, 11 of which are located on interstates, including I-95, I-84, I-91, I-395 and I-684, according to a report in the Journal, the official magazine of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials..

Connecticut’s tolling proposal matches a similar effort instituted in Rhode Island in 2018 – an effort that survived a federal court challenge in March – although in Rhode Island’s case, its interstate bridge tolls apply only to heavy trucks.

The governor’s $21 billion plan, which breaks down to $2.1 billion worth of investment in Connecticut’s transportation system annually, is a more than $500 million per year increase compared to the previous level of state investment – which is roughly $1.6 billion per year, according to news sources.

“For generations, the state has neglected critical investments in our infrastructure, hampering economic growth and leaving residents in endless hours of traffic wondering why state officials didn’t fix these problems years ago,” Lamont said in a statement.

Lamont said that with six of the worst traffic bottlenecks in the country and 65 percent of its highways more than three decades old with 12 percent of its bridges rated in poor condition, “virtually anyone who regularly uses Connecticut’s transportation system agrees that the state desperately needs to make targeted improvements that reduce congestion and make travel quicker, safer, convenient, and reliable”

To pay for this 10-year transportation plan – dubbed Connecticut 2030 or CT2030 for short – the governor proposes to use a mix of fiscal resources, including:

  • $750 million in annual federal funding and grants.
  • Transportation Infrastructure Finance & Innovation Act or TIFIA loans, loans from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Build America Bureau, and Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing loans.
  • State general obligation bonds
  • The transfer of all car sales taxes to Connecticut’s Special Transportation Fund by 2023, making that fund solvent while establishing a 15 percent reserve fund.
  • Imposing select highway bridge tolls costing 50 cents to $1 for cars, $1.25 to $2.50 for medium-sized trucks, and $3.50 to $7.00 for heavy trucks. Lamont said he expects 40 percent of those tolls to be paid by out-of-state drivers.

“For the future of our state, we can no longer kick the can down the road on these improvements – we must fix this long overdue problem and move our state forward today,” the governor said.

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The Nation

Voters approve 90% of 305 state and local transportation ballot measures

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Officials said the preliminary results of the November 5 election reaffirm a decade-long trend of voters strongly supporting investments to maintain and improve their state or local transportation networks. (Courtesy: ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION)

WASHINGTON— Voters in 19 states on November 5 sent a decisive message of support for transportation investment, approving almost 90 percent of 305 state and local transportation ballot measures.

In total, the 270 approved initiatives are expected to generate over $9.6 billion in one-time and recurring revenue, according to the analysis conducted by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s Transportation Investment Advocacy Center (ARTBA-TIAC). Two measures in Texas are still pending.

“The ballot results are a great reminder infrastructure investment remains one of the few areas where red states, blue states, Republicans and Democrats can all come together,” ARTBA President Dave Bauer said.  “It should also demonstrate to lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the public will be on board for the passage of a long-term bill that significantly boosts highway and transit investment at the federal level.”

A complete report and an all-new interactive dashboard that filters results by state, mode, year and type of initiative are available at the Center’s flagship website at www.transportationinvestment.org.

The preliminary results reaffirm a decade-long trend of voters strongly supporting investments to maintain and improve their state or local transportation networks. Voters have approved 81 percent of nearly 2,000 transportation investment ballot measures tracked by ARTBA-TIAC since 2010, including this year’s results.

“Public support for increasing infrastructure investment continues to help local governments and the transportation construction community improve safety, mobility and overall quality of life for residents as projects get underway,” said Carolyn Kramer, ARTBA-TIAC director.

Voters in Maine overwhelmingly approved, by a 76 percent to 24 percent margin, a $105 million bond measure to support transportation infrastructure projects. The vote was Maine’s seventh successful transportation bond in eight years.

While transportation investment fared well nationwide, Washington state voters endorsed by a 56 percent to 44 percent margin a measure that reduces or repeals certain motor vehicle taxes and fees and removes the authority to impose certain new fees without their approval. This decision will cost the state nearly $4.3 billion in state and local transportation revenue over the next six years.

Voters in Colorado rejected by a 55 percent to 45 percent vote a measure that would have permitted the state to retain excess tax collections in order to fund education and transportation.

The 305 measures tracked by ARTBA-TIAC is the largest number ever for an odd-numbered, off-year election. Although historically most transportation measures are put on the ballot in even-numbered years when congressional or presidential elections drive higher turnout, an increasing number of measures are being considered by voters during odd-numbered years and primary elections.

There were 57 measures in 12 states that would raise over $20 million each, compared to 21 measures in 2017.  Of that total, 89 percent were approved.  Of 25 measures that would raise over $100 million, voters approved 92 percent.  This included a bond measure in Harris County, Texas to support transit expansions in Houston under the “Moving Forward Plan.”

Of the local ballot measures, most (302 of 305) were property tax increases, primarily in Ohio (154) and Michigan (15), where many municipalities consistently ask voters to renew such assessments to pay for local roads and infrastructure repairs.

Additionally, local bond measures in Texas appeared on 25 ballots and received 96 percent approval, which will generate nearly $6 billion. Most of these measures established municipal utility districts.

The approved measures will support $7.7 billion in new transportation investment revenue and $1.9 billion in continued funding through tax extensions, renewals or protections. The timing of the market impact of these actions is difficult to project as revenue approved will last up to 25 years.

 

 

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