The Sam Houston Tollway Ship Channel Bridge is transitioning to EZ TAG-only.  Beginning in January 2016, the Ship Channel Bridge will transition to EZ TAG-only. Drivers will need an electronic transponder to drive on the bridge; cash payment will no longer be accepted. The Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA) recently opened a temporary EZ TAG store at the Ship Channel Bridge toll plaza to provide cash customers the convenience of switching to an EZ TAG user.  EZ TAG-only tolling provides multiple benefits such as improved mobility, enhanced safety, operational efficiency, and customer convenience by eliminating the need to stop in the lanes to pay tolls. In preparation for the transition to EZ TAG-only, the Ship Channel Bridge will be closed the weekend of January 9, 2016 to allow for the conversion to be completed.  When the bridge reopens, only EZ TAG and other approved electronic transponders will be accepted.  If you have any questions, please contact the HCTRA Communications team at 713-587-7951 
 
President Obama signs a 5-year, $305 billion transportation and infrastructure spending bill.  On Friday, December 4th, President Obama signed the FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation), five-year legislation to improve America’s roads, bridges, public transit and rail transportation systems.  The President stated that the bill will put Americans to work and provide states with the federal help they need to commit to long-term projects.  The US Senate and House of Representatives overwhelmingly supported the bi-partisan bill.  Included in the legislation is the revival of the Export–Import (EXIM) Bank.  The EXIM Bank is the official export credit agency of the United States and helps to facilitate the sale and export of US goods and services, a critical service for a number of companies operating in the Houston Bay Area. 
 
Initial Approval for Grand Parkway project through parts of Galveston and Brazoria could come in early 2016.  The Galveston Daily News recently reported that the initial steps for approving an approximately 30-mile section of the highway crossing through northern parts of Galveston and Brazoria Counties could come soon.  About 20 miles of the Grand Parkway are planned in Brazoria County and 10 miles in Galveston County, stretching from Highway 288 to IH-45 in League City.  The estimated $1.2 billion project is still awaiting environmental study approval, but Texas Department of Transportation spokesman Danny Perez said TxDOT anticipates the project go-ahead in early 2016. 
 
Port of Houston reaches a milestone for containers.  The Port of Houston Authority reported that more than two million containers have moved across the Port of Houston docks this year.  The authority registered the 2 millionth 20-foot container equivalent on Thursday, December 10, 2015, setting a traffic record for huge shipping units that arrive laden with everything from toys and closes, oil and gas products, to industrial equipment.  Last year, the equivalent of 1.96 million 20-foot containers arrived at the port.  Port Commission Chair, Janiece Longoria, stated, "We are so pleased to witness this significant milestone in the port's history as we continue to strive to advance the Port of Houston and solidify its position as America's distribution hub today and for generations to come." 
 
Ellington Airport receives a $3.1 million grant for a new air traffic control tower.  The Houston Airport System received notification that it has been awarded a $3.1 million state grant to assist in building a new air traffic control tower at Ellington Airport.  The current tower at Ellington was built in the mid-1950s and sustained structural damage in 2008 during Hurricane Ike. City of Houston engineers determined it was not cost effective to repair the current tower though emergency repairs were made to temporarily allow for continued use. Guidry News reported that the newly constructed tower will enable the Ellington Joint Reserve Base to provide air traffic services and ensure timely and safe establishment of aviation operational centers by the military services, as well as support the continuation of all aviation missions. The tower will provide services in a high traffic area of mixed high performance military and civilian commercial air traffic.
  

     

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