Transit, mobility projects to play vital role in economic recovery
As the country battles to recover from COVID-19, transit leaders are calling for the next federal relief package to appropriate substantial funding to allow public transit to play its critical part in the economy’s recovery.
In the interim, many of these transit and mobility authorities throughout the nation are moving forward with capital improvement projects already in the pipeline and in various phases of development. They will soon be announcing large projects, especially in quickly growing regions, and their planning documents list upcoming initiatives that range from mid-size construction projects to sprawling billion-dollar programs that focus on aging infrastructure.
The following are just a few examples of upcoming projects from tollway and mobility authorities.
Just east of San Francisco, the Tri-Valley-San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority in late June approved $46.8 million in funding for the next stage in Valley Link, a 42-mile light-rail line. This project will connect a planned train station in North Lathrop to an existing station in Pleasanton. Another $13 million previously dedicated to the project paid for conceptual design work that is near completion.
Also, elsewhere in the state, the Transportation Corridor Agencies, in coordination with Caltrans, is proposing a $180 million project to add a direct 241/91 Express Connector linking the northbound 241 Toll Road to the eastbound 91 Express Lanes and the westbound 91 Express Lanes to the southbound 241 Toll Road. The connector will alleviate traffic and improve access to toll lanes in Orange and Riverside counties.
The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority has several forthcoming procurements and will be soliciting bids in early August for the third phase of the 183A extension project. This $180 million project will create a 6.6-mile extension of the busy tollway north from Leander to east of Liberty Hill. Construction is expected to begin in early 2021.
The New Jersey Turnpike Authority has $24 billion in various road and infrastructure projects in its Proposed 2020 Capital Improvement Program released in March 2020. The authority has outlined 24 projects that provide system solutions and upgrades. One of the largest initiatives is a $2.9 billion project to replace approximately 200 bridge decks. Another large undertaking, projected to cost about $1.4 billion, is described as raising a section of Garden State Parkway above a revised 100-year floodplain.
Florida’s 2021 budget earmarks $90 million for an ambitious tollway project spanning hundreds of miles. The Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance, or M-CORES, plan calls for construction of 340 miles of new toll roads by 2030. M-CORES outlines new road infrastructure for three corridors: the Suncoast Connector from Citrus County to Jefferson County; the Northern Turnpike Connector from the northern terminus of Florida’s Turnpike northwest to the Suncoast Parkway; and the Southwest-Central Florida Connector from Collier County to Polk County. Initiated by a state Senate bill in 2019, this is a $10 billion project.
The city of Overland Park and the Kansas Turnpike Authority are conducting a study that could lead to a $300 million project for U.S. 69. City leaders turned to the Turnpike Authority for help with widening the highway which has become the most congested in the state. The collaborative effort would include widening the highway to six lanes, with two of them being tolled.
The Illinois Tollway Authority is closing its bid filing period for a more than $100 million project to reconstruct a section of Interstate 294, and numerous other projects are slated to occur in the next several years. A project to reconstruct the northbound C-D Road has a cost projection of between $25 and $50 million. Another planned project includes demolishing and rebuilding the Southbound Mile Long Bridge with a cost of more than $100 million. Another interesting project outlined involves building ongoing ramps from 75th Street to Interstate 55 which will also cost approximately$100 million.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) released a request for information to determine how best to structure procurements to replace and enhance the commission’s tolling Customer Service Center system and customer service operations. A number of contracting opportunities will result from this initiative. The commission is inviting responses from software application development companies with innovative products in the customer relationship management, customer account management, and customer experience spaces. System integrators and/or software developers with expertise in CRM, customer account management, call centers, customer contact systems and CX, and transactional/financial processing and billing systems also are also encouraged to respond. PTC is also interested in input from customer service firms specializing in the design and integration of innovative customer contact systems with new or existing applications.
In addition to construction and engineering projects, numerous tollway authorities are moving toward all-electronic toll collections. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission moved from toll collectors to all-electronic this year, and the Bay Area Toll Authority suspended in-person toll collecting in March because of COVID-19. This trend will provide numerous opportunities for IT companies in the near future as transit and mobility authorities search for technology solutions to modernize the driving experience on toll roads.