Volume 2, Issue 45
March 16, 2011
High-speed rail: coming to a city near you?


Mary Scott NabersHigh-speed rail may be coming to a city near you soon. An infusion of high-dollar federal funding is intended to kick-start rail projects throughout the country.   

In late 2010, the U.S. Department of Transportation selected 54 regions to receive varying portions of $2.5 billion in funding. The funding is a part of approximately $8 billion earlier allocated for high-speed and intercity rail projects under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

President Obama has also called for a six-year, $53 billion plan for high-speed rail as part of his proposed 2012 budget. That funding is not secure, however, and could get vetoed by Congress.




Waterfront upgrades planned
High-speed funds to be rebid
$1.17B for airport construction
Port to outsource operations
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New York planning waterfront upgrades costing $3 billion


Bloomberg hopes changes will place New York among 'premier' waterfront cities

Michael BloombergNew York's first waterfront plan in some 20 years will cost an estimated $3 billion or more. It adds 50 new acres of parks while expanding many others and will provide for the updating of the city's sewage system. Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the city's waterfront and waterways "invaluable assets" and hopes the waterfront plan will make New York one of the world's "premier waterfront cities."

The first phase of the project is expected to cost more than $3.27 billion over three years and most of the funds will go toward wastewater infrastructure.

Greenspace would expand in all five boroughs of the city over the next three years. More than 50 acres will be purchased for approximately $40 million and developed for waterfront parks. Another $200 million would expand and improve existing parkland. Esplanades and biking paths would be created along the water at a cost of $120 million. There will be additional boat landings, canoe launches, etc., that allow residents to get into the water. Other plans include the expansion of the East River ferry service.

Water quality projects over three years would carry a $2.57 billion price tag and paid for with water utility receipts. Improvements to the wastewater treatment plant would cost $1.6 billion and $650 million would be used to improve sewer system pipe capacity. An additional $180 million would help install rooftop gardens and permeable landscaping. The last of the funding - $700 million - would come from the city's capital budget. Some parts of the harbor would also be dredged to allow for larger container ships.


LaHood: Florida's high-speed rail allocation to be re-bid


Other states will now compete for $2.4 billion refused by Gov. Scott

John MicaThe $2.4 billion in high-speed rail grants refused by Florida Gov. Rick Scott will be re-bid, according to federal officials. A number of states, including California, New York and several Northeastern states have shown an interest in applying for the additional funding. Scott refused the funding because he feared if ridership figures were not met, the high-speed rail in his state would end up costing Floridians billions of dollars.

"States across the country have been banging down our door for the opportunity to receive additional high-speed rail dollars," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in announcing the funds would be re-bid. The $2.4 billion that was allocated for Florida was part of $8 billion in rail grants from the federal Recovery Act. Now, interested states will have until April 4 to apply for the additional $2.4 billion.

In spite of attempts by the Florida congressional delegation and a group of Florida mayors to try to redirect the funds from the state government to other Florida entities, LaHood decided to re-bid the funds. Word is that a regional rail authority not affiliated with the state is also interested in applying for the funding to at least keep it in the state.
Although some members of Congress are not convinced that the huge investment that would have to be made to get high-speed rail moving across the country is a good use of federal funds. The projects, however, have the backing of Florida's John Mica (pictured), who chairs the U.S. House Transportation Committee.


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Deal to open doors for $1.17 billion in airport construction


Daley, other parties compromise to ensure projects going forward

Richard DaleyLame duck Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and other interested parties have struck a deal that will lead to $1.17 billion in new construction at Chicago's O'Hare Airport. The deal includes $155 million in new federal money added for the project and an agreement between Daley and two airlines. 


The deal was facilitated by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "Through that process of developing a timetable for the south runway, what it would cost, what each party would have to pay and . . . some additional [federal] money we could provide, we finally reached an agreement," LaHood told a news conference at O'Hare. Daley then agreed to divide the $3.4 million in remaining projects into two parts instead of one.  


The $1.17 billion will provide for construction of a far south runway, a new south air traffic control tower, completion of runway 10-center that includes a disputed cemetery, relocation of Irving Park Road and a series of taxiways and facility buildings. The remaining $2.23 billion worth of projects will be part of another spate of negotiations expected to begin in March 2013. The current plan calls for the city to add $365 million from passenger facility charges and the airlines will kick in $300 million through their landing and rental fees.


Port of Galveston prepares to outsource entire operation


Proposed 75-year lease is joint venture of investment firm, holding company

Steve CernakThe Port of Galveston is poised to become the first United States port to outsource its entire operation to the private sector. The proposed 75-year lease is a 50/50 joint venture between a United States-based investment firm and a Hong Kong-based private holding company.


Port Director Steven Cernak (pictured) predicted that Galveston is at the forefront of a trend, which he expects to be particularly popular with mid-sized ports like Galveston. The two companies have agreed to pay the port's $60 million debt, provide capital expenditures for a decade and pay an undisclosed amount of cash upfront.



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Upcoming education opportunities


Tennessee district hoping for funding for school expansion projects

Harry Gill, Jr.Leftover school construction funds will pay for an expansion of the Eagleville School in Murhpreesboro, Tennessee. Officials plan to put $350,000 toward the expansion. The construction is expected to cost approximately $8 million in two phases to help do away with 14 portables that are being used as classrooms. County Schools Director Harry Gill, Jr. (pictured) says savings from other projects will help the district pay for the additions hopefull without having to raise taxes. That will depend on where the June bids on the Stewarts Creek High school project come in. Some $50 million was appropriated for that project. Phase One will cost $5.3 million and include addition of a wing of 12 classrooms which could become science labs, restrooms and offices, a 400-sea auditorium, rooms for chorus and band and a larger dining area. Phase two will add 10 more classrooms and restrooms.


Ohio school district plans new elementary school campus

A new elementary school campus for Coshocton, Ohio, will be built on the Coshocton High School campus. The district is entering the third phase of the developmental design state. Decisions are being made on the interior elements of the facility. Officials are considering three different pods. Some will have carpet and some will have tile. Excavation of the ground will likely start in June, with construction around September. The cost for the nearly 120,000-square-foot building will be around $24 million.


Multipurpose outdoor facility being planned for Nebraska high school

A 3,600-seat stadium is part of a multipurpose outdoor facility being planned for the Beatrice (Nebraska) High School. The facility also will include an all-purpose turf field and eight-lane, 400-meter track. The Beatrice Public Schools Board of Education recently voted to spend $1 million on the project's construction. The board discussed the possibility of entering into a design-build agreement, which they feel will put some provisions in to make sure the board's interests are protected.


Massive renovation set for Massachusetts vocational technical school

Luis LopesA massive overhaul of the Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School in Easton, Massachusetts, is on the drawing board. The $30 million remake will include a new gym, new roof, new windows, a modern water sprinkler system, six science labs and other space that will help alleviate overcrowding at the 45-year-old facility. Superintendent Luis Lopes (pictured) has been working with the Massachusetts School Building Authority on a renovation plan for the last four years. The state agency will reimburse up to 80 percent of the total renovation and expansion cost. The school will make up the difference. "Our goal is to offer programs that are not only of high quality, but also in high demand," said Lopes.


Missouri school district seeks bond approval for maintenance projects

Officials of the Fort Osage (Missouri) school district are hoping voters will pass a $7.8 million bond election in April that will assist with a laundry list of maintenance projects for several district schools. Among the projects are roof replacements at an elementary school, a middle school, the Central Office and the Career and Technology Center. Also on tap are new heating and air conditioning units at all but one of the district schools, installation of computer-controlled temperature systems and light replacement at the stadium. Any leftover funds would be used to renovate science and Family and Consumer Science classrooms at the high school. If the bond does not pass, the district will be forced to use funds for roof replacements and heating and air conditioning replacement from its reserve funds.


Two construction projects on tap for Edinboro University in Pennsylvania

Work on two construction projects at Edinboro University are on tap for the Pennsylvania campus. The first is a $2 million renovation of Compton Hall's gymnasium. The space will be remade into a 135-seat lecture hall and television studio and is expected to be completed in time for next fall's semester. Another project is part of a $14 million renovation of Ross Hall. It provides for a 750-foot covered pedestrian bridge that will run from the library to the building housing the university's technology center. The design for the bridge has been completed and the project will be bid out in September.  


Center at Mercyhurst College in Pennsylvania to carry $9 million price tag

Construction of a $9 million, 31,000-square-foot Center for Academic Engagement on the Mercyhurst College campus in Pennsylvania is slated to begin in June, according to college officials. The facility will be based on hands-on instruction, with students preparing meals, delivering threat assessments and polling voters in the building. The construction is partially funded by a $3.5 million state grant.


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San Jose to issue bonds to expand, renovate city's convention center

San Jose CenterOfficials with the city of San Jose have voted to issue bonds to expand and renovate the San Jose McEnery Convention Center. They are hopeful that the renovation will provide a boost to the local economy and bring convention business to the city. Although a $300 million makeover was proposed three years ago, this rehabilitation of the 22-year-old facility will cost $120 million. Construction could start by late summer and will likely take two years to complete. It includes a two-story modern building with floor-to-ceiling glass walls (shown in accompanying artist's rendition). The more than 70 hoteliers in the city are picking up most of the costs for the construction, after agreeing two years ago to an increase of 4 percent to the hotel room tax with proceeds going toward the renovations.


Detroit's $25 million rail project to be completed in phases

Talks are continuing regarding the proposed $25 million Detroit rail project. The project includes a 3.4-mile rail line between the city's downtown and Grand Boulevard in the New Center business district. That part of the project will be paid for with federal stimulus funds. However, that funding covers only the first phase of the project. A private group has arranged for approximately $125 million in private funding for the line, which eventually would be 9.3 miles long, from the Detroit River to the city's north limits. 


Two sites selected for new California courthouse facility

The second of two proposed sites for construction of a new family courthouse in El Centro has been approved. The project, being managed by the state Administrative Office of the Courts, will bear a $58.7 million price tag. Selection of the final site is expected to be approved by the middle of the year. Both sites are near Wake Avenue between South Clark Road and South Fourth Street. Both are privately owned. More than a dozen potential sites were identified. The new courthouse would include four courtrooms and centralize all family and juvenile court matters. 


Mississippi county planning renovations for 20-year-old courthouse

William ChapmanCounty supervisors in Madison County, Mississippi, have approved repairs and renovations to the county courthouse in Canton, spread out over two budget cycles and in two phases. The $511,000 project is expected to begin this year but continue into next year to take advantage of a new year's funding. Madison County Circuit Judge William E. Chapman, III, (pictured) told the Board of Supervisors there were a multitude of serious problems with the building saying the repairs were "greatly needed." Most of the problems appear, said Chapman, to come from the building's roof. That project alone will take up almost half of the project funds. Additionally, new courtroom space will be added, along with office space for the district attorney and additions to allow for better prisoner and general courthouse security. The roof repairs could start this month.


Pennsylvania township discusses study on possible new municipal building

Officials in Halfmoon Township, Pennsylvania, are studying having a feasibility study conducted to determine the cost and location for a new municipal building. Among the things the feasibility study would take into consideration are the costs for renovating the existing building to make it more energy efficient and in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It would also look at possible new and better locations. More than $110,000 has been budgeted for a future new building.


Alabama city to be home for new $32 million state veteran's home

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has awarded more than $32.9 million to Pell City, Alabama, for construction of a new state veteran's home. The facility will house a 174-bed skilled nursing facility and an 80-bed assisted living unit. Design work for the facility has been completed for the home, which will be near a planned replacement hospital for St. Vincent's St. Clair and Jefferson State Community College's Pell City campus.


Eric BensonOklahoma officials preparing for construction of new events center

In the city of Enid, Oklahoma, officials are looking forward to progressing with the $20 million Enid Renaissance Project to help improve the downtown area. Among the changes will be construction of a new event center and renovation of the current Convention Hall. The city has purchased a bevy of buildings that will be torn down to make way for the new facility. City Manager Eric Benson (pictured) said there are ongoing negotiations with five other building owners. Benson said the city is trying to be fair to all property owners.


Development plans to get boost from state assistance in Indianapolis

The cities of Greencastle and North Vernon will each receive $31 million in state assistance over the next three years for local development projects. The two have been chosen as pilot sites for a new program involving the Department of Transportation, the Office of Community and Rural Affairs, the Housing and Community Development Agency and the State Revolving Fund. Each of the cities will also invest $9 each in local and private funds. North Vernon plans to build a new event center, a pedestrian plaza and other improvements. Greencastle plans to revitalize and forge closer links with DePauw University.  


Transportation tax likely to pay for network of bikeways

The Los Angeles City Council is hoping to use $1.75 million each year for five years from a transportation sales tax to help fund a network of 1,680 miles of interconnected bikeways. More than 200 miles of new bicycle routes would be built each year for five years. Other funding will likely come from state and city transit agency sources. An education campaign will go hand-in-hand with the new network to alert motorists how to share the streets with bikers. City officials see biking as a viable transportation option and hope to have enough bike infrastructure to encourage more of the public to use that method of transportation.  


County officials in Washington approve construction of new bridge

Joe McDermottMetropolitan King County (Washington) Council has agreed to replace the 79-year-old South Park Bridge, which was closed last June. "Replacing the bridge will create jobs in the present and support a regional economic hub into the future," said Joe McDermott (pictured), Council member. The bridge was closed because of deteriorating conditions. Rebuilding it is a priority, since some 20,000 vehicles used the bridge daily. It was also an important freight corridor linking manufacturing and industrial centers of Seattle with the rest of the region. Interlocal agreements were approved - detailing contributions of the city of Seattle and the Port of Seattle, removing a restriction on a portion of the project construction funds that had been imposed pending negotiations of the interlocal agreement. With funding in place, the reconstruction of the bridge is expected to begin in May.


New Mexico city gets federal funding for water system

The city of Socorro, New Mexico, has been awarded nearly $5 million in federal grant and loan funds to extend its water distribution system. Additional distribution lines and lift stations to serve residents of two communities will be paid for with the funds. The total awarded includes $1.25 million in grant money and a $3.6 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development's Water and Waste Water Disposal Loan and Grant program. 


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Where are they now?

 Are you a government official who has moved into a new position or to a new agency? Did you recently retire? Were you recently named to an executive-level position at a state-supported college, university or community college? Have you secured a new job as superintendent of a public school? If so, we'd like to hear from you - and so would your friends and colleagues - for our "Where Are They Now" column. Just drop us a line at and let us know about your previous job and where you are now. This week we feature Kaya Henderson.


K-HendersonKaya Henderson earned her bachelor's degree in international relations from Georgetown's School of Foreign Service and her master's in leadership from Georgetown. She began her career in education as a Spanish teacher in the South Bronx and spent her summers working with Teach for America, where she eventually became a recruiter and national director of admissions. She advanced to executive director for Teach for America - D.C. in 1997. In 2000, Henderson began working with The New Teacher Project and grew into the position of vice president for strategic partnerships. She soon began the DC Teaching Fellows Program in several school districts. The longtime educator was chosen as deputy chancellor for DC Public Schools in Washington, D.C, in 2007. She was then chosen to serve as interim chancellor when Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee resigned in October of last year. Henderson was recently nominated to replace Rhee as chancellor of DCPS.


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Pete DorhoutTony LealLu HardinPete Dorhout (top left), vice provost for graduate studies and assistant vice president for research at Colorado State University-Fort Collins, has been named CSU-Pueblo provost, succeeding Russ Meyer, who recently retired but also interviewed for the provost spot at Fort Lewis College in Durango. Antonio "Tony" Leal (top middle), who has served as chief of the Texas Rangers since 2008 and has a 27-year law enforcement career, has announced his retirement, effective March 31, to accept a job in the private sector. Lu Hardin (top right), president of the University of Central Arkansas, has resigned and pled guilty in federal court to two federal felony charges - wire fraud and money laundering. Fire Chief Bill Sponable has announced he will step down from his job as head of the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District, effective April 1. Jeff Maltbie, son of former San Mateo County Manager John Maltbie and interim city manager for the city of San Carlos, has been named city manager for the city he has served for the last 10 years. Miami-Dade College President Eduardo Padron has been picked to be the new chair of the American Council on Education, a Washington, D.C.-based organization representing more than 1,600 college and university presidents throughout the country. Jim NicholasMichael McRaithJon BarlowJim Nicholas (middle right), current deputy city manager in Las Vegas, has been named the new city manager for the city of Midland (Texas), effective April 4, replacing Marcus Johnson, who retired. Michael McRaith (middle center), an Illinois state insurance regulator and an attorney in private practice for 15 years, has been named by President Barack Obama to serve as the head of he new Federal Insurance Office. Former Roxboro (North Carolina) city manager Jonathan R. Barlow (middle left) has been named town manager for Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, effective April 1. Commissioners in Holly Hill (Florida) have chosen Daytona Beach Shores Assistant City Manager Jim McCroskey as their new city manager. The City of Denver has chosen the former head of the city's public defender's office - Charley Garcia - to be Denver's new safety manager, replacing Mary Malatesta, who has resigned. Barbara Morris, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Redlands in Redlands, California, will become Fort Lewis College's first Native American provost, after accepting the job as provost and vice president of academic affairs. Gary Locke (bottom left), U.S. Secretary of Commerce and former governor of Washington state, has been nominated by President Gary LockeDaniel HoltKate DouglasBarack Obama to become the next American ambassador to China, succeeded former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr., who is stepping down. Daniel J. Holt (bottom center), who came to Blinn College in Brenham, Texas, in 2007 as vice president of business services and later was named president, has announced his resignation for "personal reasons." Dr. Kate Douglas (bottom right), vice president of Academic Affairs at Sussex County Community College in Newton, New Jersey, will be the next president of Corning Community College in New York. The Select Board of Wilmington, Vermont, has chosen Fred Ventresco, town manager in Weare, New Hampshire, as its new town manager, effective April 4. A 20-year veteran of the Lodi (California) Fire Department, Kevin Donnelly, is headed to Redmond, Washington, where he will be the city's new fire chief, replacing longtime chief Tim Fuller. The former deputy director of the state Department of Public Safety - Steve Campbell - has been named the new police chief for the city of El Mirage, Arizona.


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NASCIO planning 2011 Midyear Conference in D.C. in May

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) will hold its 2011 Midyear Conference May 3-6 at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C. Among the topics will be the evolving role of the state CIO and IT's impact in state government transformation. The annual conference provides an opportunity for state government and corporate members to discuss issues facing the IT field in both the public and private sectors. For more information and to register, click here.


TxDOT Fort Worth Small Business Briefing conference 

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Business Outreach and Program (BOP) Services reaches across Texas to provide small and minority-owned business communities an opportunity to learn more about contracting opportunities with state entities. The Fort Worth Small Business Briefing conference is set for April 20. Information will be available to help small business owners better understand how to do business with the agency and the State of Texas.  The sessions not only allow small businesses to be introduced to TxDOT and other state agencies, but also allow them to learn more about the economic development opportunities in their regions. It also gives agencies a chance to show the myriad of prospects available for small and minority businesses in the state. The final conference is planned for San Antonio on July 20, 2011. For more information and to register, click here or call 1.866.480.2519, Option 2.


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