Volume 7, Issue 28 - October 14, 2015
|The latest in technology - what are you 'wearing'?|
|Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.|
Wearable technology is a significant new trend, and one that is coming on strong. Wearables are being talked about, written about and experimented with in all kinds of ways. What once many thought to be nothing more than a techie fad is now an industry that is experiencing exponential growth.
Wearables are in high demand. Men and women of all ages like the products because they track activities and report data that is important to them. Wearable technology, for instance, can monitor heart rate, body temperature, steps taken, calories consumed, blood pressure and dangerous situations.
California energy law to spur wind, solar investment
SB 350 requires state to derive half of its energy from renewable sources by 2030Last week, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that has the potential to kick into gear a wave of new construction for solar installations and wind energy generation projects. The legislation, SB 350, builds on existing state law that requires California to generate a third of its energy from renewable resources. The new law bumps up that requirement to 50 percent by 2030.
"We are talking about the big world of avoiding climate catastrophe, but we are talking about the immediate world of people living in Riverside, Los Angeles and other places," Brown said during the public bill signing at Los Angeles's Griffith Observatory. "This is big. It is big because it is global in scope, but it is also big because it is local in application."
The legislature's previous renewable energy goal had set off a building spree for solar and wind energy projects, but those had slowed considerably in recent years. Renewable energy companies could see that the state was going to reach the goal of generating 33 percent of its energy from renewables quite comfortably and, as a consequence, paused in their building drive. This new state action could likely cause that building boom to commence once more.
In addition to the renewable energy requirements, California has called for its businesses and residents to double energy efficiency in homes, offices and factories by the same target date of 2030. That will entail a further wave of renovations, refurbishments and replacement of now-outdated machinery, appliances and infrastructure. While a provision to cut gasoline use in half was taken out of the bill to help ensure its passage through the legislature, the new law does include incentives for utilities to place charging stations for electric vehicles in an effort to make those automobiles more practical and useful.
The law also begins to lay the groundwork for the state to develop a regional electricity grid. The provision calls for the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) to prepare for its transition to become a regional grid operator. It would then enter into interstate compacts with states within the Western Electricity Coordinating Council, thereby increasing the outlets for the renewable energy produced by this next phase of construction.
Roadmap to upcoming opportunities
Interested in staying ahead of the competition? Then ... take note! Government entities throughout Texas are planning November bond elections.
The bond vote represents contracting work valued at $8.7 billion. New construction, renovation and maintenance projects, road work, new bridges, street improvements, new public safety buildings, parks renovations and water and wastewater projects - this is what the bond funding will cover.
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South Carolina floods leave devastation in their wake
The state saw 18 dams breached, 300 roads closed, 150 bridges blocked from traffic
The flooding that ravaged South Carolina in the first two weeks of October has caused untold damage. The president declared the state eligible for federal disaster aid Oct. 5, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has designated residents of 19 of the state's 46 counties as eligible for individual assistance.
That assistance can include money for temporary rental assistance and home repairs for primary homes, low-cost loans for property loss not covered by insurance and loans of up to $2 million for small businesses, agricultural cooperatives and nonprofit organizations.
There is no doubting the extent to which South Carolinians have been affected individually - the loss of homes, property and, in some cases, the loss of lives have been devastating.
But the state as a whole, its government and its leaders are in for a lot of heavy lifting in terms of the infrastructure damaged and lost irrevocably. The heavy rains caused 18 dams to breach. At one point, nearly 300 roads were closed, as were more than 150 bridges.
Even before the rains and the floods, about 20 percent of the state's 8,300 bridges had been deemed structurally deficient or structurally obsolete. South Carolina's roads were also in desperate need of repairs and the funding that would make those repairs possible. But its legislature's efforts to act on those needs in the 2015 session were half measures. Multiple proposals to raise its gas tax - which provides almost three-quarters of the state's transportation funding and hasn't been increased since 1987 - in conjunction with decreasing other taxes went nowhere. In the end, the state's budget provided $200 million to counties for road repairs. However, estimates for what the state's roads need range from $500 million annually to more than $1.5 billion.
And, now state government needs to figure flood damage into its budgets for road and bridge repairs. Certainly, the federal government will step in with disaster-relief funding, but that requires the state government to provide matching funds.
Upcoming contracting opportunities
North Dakota moving on $160 million in water projects
The North Dakota State Water Commission has approved a number of municipal, rural and regional water supply projects across the state totaling $160 million. The two largest funding approvals were $70 million for the Western Area Water Supply project and $55 million for the Southwest Pipeline. The former supplies drinking water from the Missouri River for a growing population in that region of the state, while the latter project is an extension of a pipeline that brings clean water from Lake Sakakawea, a reservoir created by the Garrison Dam, to communities in southwestern North Dakota. That region averages only about 15 inches of rain annually. "The commission meeting was monumental in regards to the amount of funding we were able to approve through our cost-share program," Todd Sando (pictured), the state engineer, said.
Minnesota regents approve $166 million athletics hall
University of Minnesota student-athletes will get a $166 million athletes village now that university regents have approved the project, which will build a sports training and practice complex for the school's Minneapolis campus. Beth Goetz, the school's interim athletic director, noted that the department will cover 100 percent of the project's costs, almost half from donations raised and slightly more than that from debt to be re-paid by revenue from the athletics department. "We couldn't be more thrilled by what this facility will mean to all of our athletes," she said. The athletes village will include three new buildings - two for football and a third for men's and women's basketball, as well as an academic center and dining facilities for all student athletes. The new buildings will be located near the current practice facilities on the East Bank of the campus. It will displace a running track that the university has committed to rebuilding in the future.
Lawrence adding improvements downtown for cyclists
Planners in Lawrence, Kan., are working toward a solution for bicycle parking downtown and preparing information to present to city commissioners next week. The proposal is for a pilot program that will install new types of bicycle parking - including street-side bike corrals in place of automobile parking spots - along Massachusetts Street and in other spots downtown. Bike corrals turn one-car parking spaces into parking for eight to 10 bikes. Should the city commission approve of the plan, the Lawrence-Douglas County Bicycle Advisory Committee will submit a grant application to pay for the corrals and their installation. Jessica Mortinger (pictured), a transportation planner with the city, urged the advisory committee and the commission to think past the pilot program, though. "The biggest thing and one of the things that has to be grappled with is that there's a need for more," Mortinger said. "If the pilot program is successful and businesses recognize the value of that, we need a more long-term solution and a process where they can apply to have bike parking. It would be better if we had a more systematic approach."
Memphis agrees to finance $10 million parking garage
The Memphis City Council has approved spending $10 million to build a public parking garage as part of a $160 million mixed-use development at Riverside Drive and Beale Street. The funding comes out of rental payments or payment-in-lieu-of-taxes paid by business property owners to the Center City Revenue Finance Corp. (CCRF) and will be transferred from the CCRFC to the Downtown Parking Authority. CCRFC will own the garage and lease it to the Downtown Parking Authority, which will sublease it to the developer. The garage is the base for the One Beale development's mixed-use twin towers.
Clemson plans $11 million equestrian center expansion
Clemson University will go to the state of South Carolina to request $11 million to renovate and expand the school's equestrian center, which fits within its agriculture department. The university uses the T. Ed Garrison Arena for livestock and equestrian shows, but is hoping to add meeting space, another covered arena and more parking. "We've done a lot of work to figure out how to use the Ed Garrison arena at its best," George Askew (pictured), vice president of public service and agriculture for the university, told the agriculture and natural resource committee of the Clemson Board of Trustees. "We're in competition with other states for having people come here to do their riding shows." The board also approved a $5 million allotment for the design of a new business education building projected to cost $87.5 million. The new building would house the College of Business and Behavioral Science and other academic programs.
Cheyenne airport to build new passenger terminal
Officials with the Cheyenne Regional Airport are planning to start construction on a new passenger terminal in June 2016. The exact timeline depends on completion of the terminal's design, which is 25 percent complete, but financing of the $18 million project is set and officials are getting ready to select a construction manager at risk. The Wyoming State Loan and Investment Board last week approved a $3 million grant request the airport submitted to cover some of the costs. The Federal Aviation Administration, the Wyoming Aeronautics Commission and a sales tax increase approved by Laramie County voters will make up the rest of the price tag. The current terminal was built in 1960 and is outdated and expensive to maintain. In addition to the replacement terminal, the project will include construction of a new apron where airplanes will be parked, a new parking lot and improvements to the airport's road system. The airport is also searching for a second commercial airline to serve Cheyenne and its residents.
South Windsor to build emergency operations center
| A former post office in South Windsor, Conn., will be renovated and turned into an emergency operations center now that the town council has approved funding for the project. "It is a useful building," Deputy Mayor Edward Havens said. "It fits perfectly into this canvas. Sure, it's going to be expensive, but our primary responsibility here is to protect the public. We don't do that, we haven't done anything." South Windsor bought the building, also known as the Town Hall Annex, in 2009 and has since then obtained about $1.28 million in state grants for improvements. Those improvements would include a central command center, a separate multipurpose room and office area for use by town personnel, including IT, health department and public works employees. "During those low frequency, high impact incidents, this building works as one unit," said Jubenal Gonzalez (pictured), assistant director of emergency management. "The facility portions of it support the operational sides of it." The total renovation project is estimated to cost about $2.3 million.|
Moab to get new county jail as state approves funding
|Utah's Permanent Community Impact Fund Board (CIB) has approved Grant County's funding application to aid in renovating the county's jail facility. The county will receive a grant for $2.3 million and another $2.3 million in the form of a low-interest loan. Grant County will also contribute $400,000 to the project. County officials will now prepare bid documents to issue sometime over the next few months. The upgrades to the county facility will take an estimated 10-12 months to complete. The renovation is needed to solve problems with the jail's electrical and plumbing systems, as well as replace the roof. Additionally, the project will work on security issues and fix potential fire and safety problems. Grand County Sheriff Steve White said there are no plans to expand the county jail, which is located in Moab.|
Hanford preparing to issue bid for third fire station
Hanford, Calif., is preparing to add a third fire station in an effort to reduce the time it takes firefighters to respond to calls of a fire. The national standard for a department's response time is for firefighters to be able to reach 90 percent of their calls within five minutes. With the growth the city has seen over the past 15 years, Hanford's fire department can meet that goal for just 20 percent of its calls. Last week, the city council agreed to use multiple funding sources to pay the $2 million costs for a third station. It also decided to go with a design-build procurement process in hopes of saving both time and money. The station will be built on city-owned property at 12th Avenue and Woodland Drive. Hanford Fire Chief Chris Ekk (pictured) said the location was chosen based on population growth and call history. "That part of town is where our call density is highest," Ekk said.
Sunland Park to issue RFP for new port project
Sunland Park, N.M., is preparing to release a request for proposals (RFP) in an effort to find a concessionaire that will aid the city in its pursuit of an international port of entry. "It is my opinion that a concessionaire type of project is a big advantage to the city of Sunland Park, because it takes away the risk and it takes away the investment," Roberto Diaz de Leon, who is leading the city's attempt to gain a port of entry, said. The search is to find an experienced concessionaire to seek the permits, build the land crossing and operate the port, which would provide the city with a steady income stream. Sunland Park has a $12 million fund with which to pursue the effort, of which it has spent $2 million. The city anticipates issuing the RFP by November.
News About public-private partnerships (P3)
High-speed rail P3 attracts international companies
| California's historic effort to build a high-speed rail system from Los Angeles to San Francisco is attracting interest from around the world. More than 30 teams from 11 countries have expressed an interest in participating in a public-private partnership (P3) to help California build the railway. The California High-Speed Rail Authority issued a request for expressions of interest (RFEI) in June and received 36 responses from companies or groups in Australia, China, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain and Sweden, along with several U.S. firms. Respondents were asked to express interest in building the initial operating segment from Merced to Burbank by 2022 at an estimated cost of $31 billion, the following segment from San Jose to Bakersfield at a cost of $6 billion or both segments. A portion of the line running through the San Joaquin Valley already is being constructed under design-build contracts, and the authority plans to issue a separate design-build-maintain contract for the trains' maintenance and stabling facilities and then also negotiate a long-term train operation concession.|
Rock Island considers P3 to run Niabi Zoo
|The county board of Rock Island, Ill., is considering turning over the management of its Niabi Zoo to a private company in a public-private partnership (P3). Rock Island County has hired a consulting agency to offer alternatives to help run and manage its financially troubled zoo. One of those alternatives is to reach an agreement with a private entity to turn it around, build it back up and make it financially successful. "If you look at all the attractions in the Quad Cities, Niabi Zoo is probably number one or number two," said Rock Island County Board Member Drew Mielke. "We want places where families can take their children. It's part of our cultural mix in the community. It's a community treasure. We need to make sure it doesn't just languish, but it flourishes." At the same time, the zoo is searching for a new director and CEO after the resignation of Marc Heinzman.|
Omaha project to include housing, community center
| Construction will commence on mixed-income housing - with 300 apartments, townhouses and single-family homes - in an Omaha, Neb., neighborhood redevelopment project called Highlander. It will house up to 900 residents and also include a community enrichment center. The 36-acre Highlander development is being funded through a public-private partnership (P3) and includes education initiatives implemented by a nearby elementary school. Thomas Warren (pictured), president and CEO of the Urban League of Nebraska, says the mix of housing and community enrichment activities will help Omaha retain younger professionals. "We're five minutes from downtown, we have a nice panoramic view of our skyline," Warren said, "But more importantly, here at the Highlander project, we will have contemporary, affordable housing for our young professionals." Construction on the project will take five years to complete.|
LA Metro could get windfall - mountain tunnel on tap?
|The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is considering asking voters to approve a sales tax increase to build up its coffers. An increase to a 9.5 percent sales tax - added to an extension of a previous sales tax increase - could send as much as $120 billion to the transportation agency through 2040. Among the projects that are being considered is a tunnel through the Santa Monica Mountains, from the San Fernando Valley to Los Angeles International Airport. Such a project could cost anywhere from $10 billion to as much as $33 billion and would be a prime candidate for a public-private partnership (P3), transportation planners say, with a private firm footing a significant portion of the construction costs in exchange for a share of the toll revenues. Conceptual designs call for such a tunnel to include toll roads and a rail line.|
Fort Morgan to do feasibility study on middle school
| The school board in Fort Morgan, Colo., last week agreed to pay the $15,000 costs of a feasibility study on a former middle school building. The Morgan County Re-3 Board of Education approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to have students from the University of Colorado-Denver's University Technical Assistance Program conduct the feasibility study. The MOU is among the school district, the University of Colorado-Denver, the Colorado Center for Community Development and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. "What I hope is that the community will see that we're doing our due diligence and looking at all the ways that building can benefit our community in the future," Re-3 Superintendent Ron Echols (pictured) said. "In the end, that feasibility study will certainly answer some of those questions." The timeline for the feasibility study calls for plans and illustrations to be finished by Feb. 1, 2016, and the entire study project to be completed by April. The study is designed to "find alternate uses for the building and property, pass those ideas through the community, compare costs and funding sources and present a work plan for the committee and school district to follow." Possible uses for the property laid out in the MOU include a mixed-use development plan financed through a public-private partnership (P3).|
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