The federal government allocates approximately $1.9 billion annually for maintenance projects related to buildings, roads on land owned by the federal government, parks and every other public asset. That may sound like a lot – until it is noted that a deferred maintenance study reported several years ago that $76 billion is needed immediately to adequately address the country’s federal deferred maintenance backlog.

Funding for deferred maintenance at the state and local levels of government is in high demand. The maintenance backlog is staggering, and the immediate maintenance needs represent hundreds of billions in spending.

City and county leaders are responsible for maintaining all local public assets, but their budgets are too thin to address most maintenance needs. The immediate needs of cities and counties are related to buildings, municipal parks, libraries, technology, sports fields, jails and law enforcement facilities, equipment, entertainment venues, convention centers, etc.

Companies interested in large government opportunities should look no further than the critical needs related to deferred maintenance. The most common projects tend to focus on maintenance and repair of elevators, ADA access upgrades, asbestos abatement, HVAC systems, roof repairs and upgrades to legacy technology systems. But there are much larger needs as well. City leaders in Houston will spend $54 million to renovate MacGregor Park. University executives at Eastern Michigan University have $42.5 to use for renovation of the campus’s Roosevelt Hall.

The Attica Central School District in New York will move forward with a Capital Improvement Project for repair and upgrades to three school facilities after residents approved funding for the $21 million effort.  That project is in the design phase, and solicitation documents can be anticipated in late 2024. Construction would begin in the fall or early winter of 2025.

New York state law requires that school districts complete a building-conditions survey every five years.  Most school districts have similar mandates. Attica completed its most recent survey in 2023, and recommendations focus on building maintenance, health and safety and education. Project components will include new fire alarms, classrooms and upgraded access that meets ADA compliance. Plans also include a parking lot redesign, new energy efficient windows, library and classroom realignments and technology upgrades. The project is now being designed, and the district will issue solicitation documents in late 2024 or early 2025. Construction is expected to begin in fall or winter 2025.

 Opportunities for critical deferred maintenance projects can be found nationwide

Photo courtesy of the Jones Library

Municipal leaders in Amherst, Massachusetts, will oversee a $36 million library project that has some interesting issues. The city issued an earlier bidding document but then cancelled the solicitation after receiving proposals all with costs above what had been allocated for the project. The objective is to renovate and expand the Jones Library, which was originally built in 1927. The plan will include expanding the existing building into a 63,000-square-foot facility, replacing the roof and floor, abating asbestos and removing a natural gas boiler. The project will also include other utility and infrastructure modifications, landscaping, hardscaping, parking and pedestrian areas and other improvements.

Officials at Traverse City, Michigan, have announced a comprehensive maintenance and repair project for an old wastewater treatment plant. This project will focus on enhancing treatment efficiency and compliance with environmental regulations. The effort will include upgrades to outdated screening systems that lack redundancy and capacity and inadequate grit separators unable to balance the flow of water at peak levels. The project also calls for replacing a failing UV disinfection system that will be elevated to prevent damage during high-water events. These upgrades are essential to ensure the plant’s continued functionality and ability to meet environmental standards. The city also plans to improve preliminary treatment areas to reduce the amount of grit and particles making it downstream to the later treatment areas.

The estimated project cost is between $26.1 million and $35.8 million, and the city has applied for a loan from the state’s environmental agency. Regardless of the approval outcome, the project will move forward to meet the mandated deadline for the UV system replacement. The project is currently in the design phase.

Residents in Elmira Heights, New York, approved a school maintenance project in March that will cost about $17 million. Design work is under way, and a solicitation for construction services will be released in May 2025. Plans call for various repairs and improvements at two school facilities. An elementary/middle school will benefit from restorations of its masonry and the replacement of windows along with the building’s boilers and elevators. The main repair work at the high school will consist of roof replacements and maintenance efforts overall along with a new bus garage.

A smaller project in Silver City, New Mexico, carries an $8.6 million cost.  It will include reconstructing segments of a failed road, new sign installations and resurfacing with asphalt. Forest Road 141 is an arterial road on the Gila National forest that provides access to the Gila Wilderness, the Negrito Fire Base and many recreation sites.

A transit renovation project in San Diego is set to begin in 2025. The project, planned for several phases, will focus first on modernization of the existing trolley system and adding light rail vehicles. The second phase will involve construction of transit lines and stations. The total budget for the project is $243 million, with $150 million allocated for the modernization effort and trolley system along with new light rail vehicles. The remaining $93 million will be used to construct transit lines and stations.

Design work will focus on improving accessibility, reliability, and safety. Upgrades and renovations will include low-floor light rail vehicles, and the new transit lines and stations will be designed for better connectivity to other modes of transportation, such as buses and bikes.

Deferred maintenance will continue to be a critical problem for America. But funding is more available now than in the past. Contractors can likely find upcoming opportunities in every state for whatever type of service they provide.

Mary Scott Nabers

As President and CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc., Mary Scott Nabers has decades of experience working in the public-private sector. A well-recognized expert in the P3 and government contracting fields, she is often asked to share her industry insights with top publications and through professional speaking engagements.