Miami-Dade judge awards Florida toll-road contractor $53M
- A Miami-Dade Circuit judge has awarded a Texas-based contractor $53.3 million in a breach of contract and wrongful termination lawsuit against the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX), according to Engineering News-Record, and ruled against the authority's $19 million counterclaim.
- MDX hired Electronic Transactions Consultants (ETC) under an almost $80 million contract to design, install and operate an electronic tolling system for five of its expressways, but the company claims the agency low-balled by 76 million its estimate of how many toll-violation transactions ETC could expect to process. ETC said when it requested an increase in payment to account for the difference, MDX terminated its contract.
- MDX argued that ETC underbid the project on purpose and was not forthcoming about its abilities to carry out the scope of work, resulting in customer billing errors on the new Open Road Tolling system. An MDX spokesperson said the authority disagrees with the judge's ruling and will appeal the decision.
Open Road Tolling eliminates the need for toll booths. Overhead gantries pick up transponder signals from special equipment in the vehicle — like an EZ-Pass — and the agency managing the tollway bills drivers electronically. Open Road Tolling allows traffic to flow without the logjams created by having to either stop at a toll booth or slow down so that older systems can pick up the transponder.
Tolling will likely play a bigger role in state highway funding, as the president's infrastructure plan puts more of the financing burden on states and local agencies. But some states are resistant to the idea of imposing tolls or other new taxes on motorists.
In Wisconsin, for example, some lawmakers are pushing for an Open Road Tolling system to generate the cash required to qualify for federal grants under the proposed White House plan, according to the Daily Citizen. But Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has said he is opposed to tolling — and gas-tax increases — unless it is balanced out by a tax decrease elsewhere. Walker also said the state can come up with the money necessary to pay for highway projects if Congress approves the president's infrastructure plan as is.
- Engineering News-Record Florida Toll-Road Agency v. Contractor Battle Heads for Next Court
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