Volume 7, Issue 31 - November 4, 2015
Green buildings becoming more common throughout U.S.
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
Public officials throughout the country are working hard to save the environment. There are many federal mandates, but a number of states have even more rigid laws related to sustainability. Air quality, waste disposal, alternative energy, water resources and green building practices - these are but a few of the areas where government leaders work for sustainability on a daily basis. 
 
There are avid supporters and also naysayers. Even many taxpayers question whether the laws are making a meaningful impact. Looking at just one area - green building practices - provides some interesting answers.



In This Issue
Strategic Partnerships, Inc. provides opportunity
identification for all 50 states.

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Federal water, transportation grants favor rural areas
USDA, USDOT award water, TIGER grants to rural communities nationwide
Two U.S. agencies have announced grants and loans amounting to more than $800 million that will be devoted mostly to rural communities throughout the country.

The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) last week identified nearly 40 transportation projects in 34 states as recipients of $500 million in funding from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program. Almost half of those grants went to projects in rural areas. And the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced more than $300 million in loans and grants to rural communities for water and wastewater improvement projects. The USDA programs that awarded the funding were the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program ($299 million for 88 projects) and the Emergency Community Water Assistance Grant program ($15 million for 53 grants).

The competition for the TIGER grants is fierce, as evidenced by the number of applicants seeking the funding. USDOT received more than 600 applications from all 50 states, seeking $10.1 billion.

Among the successful applicants was a project that will implement a regional truck parking information management system along interstates in Kansas, Kentucky, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. The system is intended to provide truck drivers with reliable information to make more efficient parking decisions. That program was awarded $25 million. Another $6.8 million grant went to assist the development of technology for fixed and demand-response transit operators across rural Ohio.

"In this round of TIGER, we selected projects that focus on where the country's transportation infrastructure needs to be in the future; ever safer, ever more innovative and ever more targeted to open the floodgates of opportunity across America," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

The water and wastewater funding provided by the USDA programs was smaller in size for the most part, but the $314 million will fund more than 141 projects. Those projects were as small as a landfill fencing project in Teller, Alaska, that received a $60,000 grant and as large as a wastewater treatment plant in Carencro, La., that received a $22 million loan and a $2 million grant from the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program. That program awarded both grants and low-interest loans.

"Many rural communities need to upgrade and repair their water and wastewater systems, but often lack the resources to do so," USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in announcing the funding awards. "These loans and grants will help accomplish this goal. USDA's support for infrastructure improvements is an essential part of building strong rural economies."

Texas voters decide on $9 billion in bond projects
More than 60 elections have determined the fate of roads, schools and water projects
There were no statewide office holders on the ballot in Texas this week, but voters throughout the state were able to make decisions that have a direct impact on their lives. Those votes came in the form of more than 60 bond elections held by cities, counties, school districts and community colleges. The total value up for consideration was more than $9 billion.

The projects range from elementary school renovations to major roads projects, from new construction of county jails to parks projects. The smallest of these bond referendums asked for $2 million to buy security windows, replace the HVAC system and perform other renovations for a school by the New Mexico border, while the largest requested almost $1.6 billion to build many new schools and athletics facilities as well as to purchase land to build even more schools at some point in the future.

Some of the results are in, but a few remain in the balance as smaller cities and counties tabulate the votes. What isn't in doubt is the many procurement opportunities provided by the projects that do get approved. In order to have the most detailed information on these five dozen elections, the Strategic Partnerships research team has compiled the 2015 Texas Bond Package. The report will be ready for delivery this afternoon, Nov. 4. It will deliver all the details and contain information not available anywhere else. Order now and be among the first to receive the information.

Upcoming contracting opportunities

House to vote on transportation bill this week
The U.S. House of Representatives will consider a long-term transportation bill this week. Congress has repeatedly passed temporary extensions of transportation funding the last several years and hasn't passed a long-term bill in 10 years. More than 280 amendments of the bill have been filed, covering everything from the unrelated reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank to the weight of freight trucks. Not all of them were approved for debate on the House floor, however. Two separate amendments that addressed the federal gasoline tax were left on the cutting room floor. One amendment, offered by Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer (pictured), would have raised the tax on gas purchases by 15 cents to 33.4 cents per gallon, in addition to whatever taxes each state may charge. Another would have left it alone at the present time but raised it in 2018 if Congress does not act on a long-term funding mechanism. Neither amendment will even be considered by the full House. The transportation bill includes six years of projects, but provides funding for only three, requiring Congress to find money to pay for projects included in the second half of the bill before they go forward. New Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has previously said he is against raising the gasoline tax.
Oxford approves $6 million in roads projects
The streets of Oxford, Ala., will undergo repairs worth $6 million in 2016 after the city's council approved the funding last week. That amount is beyond the Oxford Street Department's daily operations budget and will include new equipment for the department, paving projects and a larger project that will move Boiling Springs Road near Choccolocco Park. The money directed toward the city's roads makes up more than half of what was approved for capital expenses in Fiscal Year 2016. Among the other projects included in the $11 million budget is $2.3 million for the police and fire departments, including about $950,000 for a new special operations building for the police department and another $500,000 for a mobile operations vehicle.
Waterloo OKs $47 million career and technical center
The students at all three of the high schools in Waterloo, Iowa, will be able to take advantage of a new career and technical center after the town's school board approved funding the $47 million project. The board also approved 30 new programs that will be provided by the center. Those programs will teach job skills and even provide certification in some job areas. The center will focus on hands-on learning for a variety of professions, including construction, media, bio science and manufacturing. Prior to its approval, the district spent more than three years studying similar programs in other school districts. "Kids get to see what it would actually be like in a career. So they're not just reading about it or being told about it, they actually get a chance to experience it," Waterloo Superintendent Jane Lindaman (pictured) said of the technical center and its programs. "When we started this initiative early on, we were looking to do something that would provide a different type of education for our kids. We didn't want to just tweak something, we wanted to add something we do not have that made it unique for our students."
RIDOT unveils 10-year plan for infrastructure projects
Rhode Island is joining states like Indiana, Texas and Wisconsin in acting on its own in lieu of waiting for Congress to get its act together to fund transportation projects. The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) released a 10-year plan to dedicate $1 billion to infrastructure projects. That plan includes repairs to 453 bridges, which RIDOT calls the worst in the nation, and the reconstruction of the Route 6 and Route 10 interchange in Providence. The State Planning Council must still approve the plan. The interchange project, which has long been in the works, will cost $400 million and be paid for with bonds. Federal funds will account for another $400 million of the plan, part of which will go toward a new Bus Rapid Transit corridor. Other aspects of the infrastructure plan include $212 million in traffic safety improvements, with upgrades to traffic lights, streetlights and signs; $80 million in transit projects; and more than $100 million for improvements to drainage structures, including stormwater treatment systems.
Maine to privatize operation of Casco Bay Bridge
The Maine Department of Transportation (DOT) is looking for a private contractor to operate and maintain the Casco Bay Bridge, which carries about 32,000 vehicles per day over the Fore River between Portland and South Portland. The 18-year-old bridge is sufficiently different from the state's other bridges managed by the DOT - due to its size, the amount of traffic it sees and the frequency it is required to open its decks to allow passing ships through - that the state has decided it makes more sense to have a private company operate it. This would be the first time Maine has done this with a bridge. "As we reflect on our core mission and core priorities, we realize that sticking to our core mission is cost-effective for the taxpayer and more efficient for the department," Ted Talbot, a spokesman for the DOT, said. "The more we can privatize things that are not our core activities, we will be looking to do that kind of thing." Bids will be accepted until Nov. 18.
Falmouth issues RFP for affordable housing project
Falmouth, Mass., is preparing to develop an affordable housing complex on Spring Bars Road. The city issued a request for proposals (RFP) last week for the project, which will be built on 21 acres of property it purchased for $3 million in 2010. The town's Board of Selectmen prepared an RFP for the project in 2012 but was not able to go ahead with it at the time. About half of the property will be left as open space, with the housing component to take up more than 11 acres. Though the parcel is zoned for up to 66 units, this project calls for 35 units of affordable housing to be built. Residents must make between 30 and 80 percent of the area's median income to be eligible for housing at the site, according to the RFP. The deadline for responses to the RFP is Dec. 23, and the town has said it would like to hire a developer by Feb. 19, 2016.
Huntersville prepares to redevelop its downtown
The Huntersville, N.C., Board of Commissioners has bought five pieces of property on two acres of downtown real estate and is preparing to release them for bid. It's the latest move in the city's efforts at a downtown revitalization that began a decade ago but stalled as the recession hit and the real estate market bottomed out. These parcels, in particular, have been in foreclosure for years. The commissioners are seeking a partner to construct a three- or four-story mixed-use building that will house retail outlets, offices and restaurants. Huntersville had already laid utility lines on the property as a prelude to the previous development attempt. "It's shovel-ready land," Assistant Town Manager Gerry Vincent (pictured) said. Among the city's other downtown revitalization projects are a seperate 32-acre mixed-use project, a $2 million veterans memorial park with an amphitheater and a planned alternate road through downtown along an upgraded Main Street that would cost $10-$12 million.
Valencia College to seek bids for new campus in 2016
Valencia College in Orlando, Fla., is building a new location, its Poinciana campus, and the construction manager in charge of the project has said that bids will go out in the spring of 2016 for several different components of the new campus's construction. Site work bids will be released in March or April and vertical construction bids in May or June, according to the construction manager. This first phase of the Poinciana campus is a $23 million project to build a 65,000-square-foot academic building that is expected to break ground in the summer and open in the fall of 2017. The school has received $11 million in state funding for the project so far and has said it will go back to the legislature for another $11 million from the 2016-2017 state budget. 
Design work on new bridge in Covington almost done
Covington, La., was forced to close a bridge through the city in March because the aging structure was deteriorating so badly. Inspectors had found varying levels of decay on the bridge's timber pilings, among other structural deficiencies, and the city immediately closed the bridge and began studying its alternatives. The city council and Covington Mayor Mike Cooper (pictured) decided to replace the 37-year-old bridge at a cost of $900,000 even though repairs likely would have been cheaper in the short term. They decided that, over the course of time, repair costs would've mounted and replacement eventually would have been the only option. Design work is now close to being done. The city is expected to seek bids for the project in February 2016, with construction expected to begin that spring and the project's completion scheduled for the beginning of the 2016-17 school year. "The city is moving expeditiously to complete this project for the benefit of our citizens and visitors that use this prominent roadway and asks for their continued patience," Cooper said. "All options to compress the time period from final design to completion of construction are being considered."
San Diego's 'Vision Zero' plan to make streets safer
San Diego City Council members last week approved a resolution supporting the "Vision Zero" plan advocated by a nonprofit group called Circulate San Diego. The group's goal is to eliminate traffic deaths in the city by 2025. San Diego has seen an increase in traffic-related fatalities of late; there were 291 deaths in 2014, up from 247 the year before. The plan laid out by the "Vision Zero" program would raise medians, create physical buffers between vehicle and bicycle lanes and improve crosswalks and sidewalks. It has identified eight corridors as the city's most dangerous and asked the city council to focus on those streets first. According to Circulate San Diego, residents of low-income areas have a 10-times greater risk of being struck by a car while walking than people in other parts of San Diego.
Roadmap to upcoming opportunities
Interested in staying ahead of the competition? Then ... take note! Government entities throughout held Texas bond elections this week.

The bond votes represent contracting work valued at more than $9 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.

The Strategic Partnerships Team will deliver all the details, and subscribers will be able to get information that is not available anywhere else. Order now and be among the first to receive the information!
News About public-private partnerships (P3)

Virginia names seven projects with P3 potential
The Virginia Office of Public-Private Partnerships (VAP3) last week issued a report that identified seven projects as candidates for a public-private partnership (P3). The report, called the 2015 Virginia P3 Project Pipeline, singled out transportation projects, including two Hampton Roads surface transportation projects, a rest stop advertising project and an interstate lighting replacement and maintenance P3. The other projects include the construction of a new customer service facility for the Department of Motor Vehicles and a marketplace for toll credits that would allow the transfer or sale of the credits among up to 10 states. The Pipeline report also identified another eight conceptual projects that might also work as P3s and that the VAP3 will monitor as they move along in the development process. The VAP3 requested the scope of five of those conceptual projects be more clearly defined and additional research be conducted on the other three before the office decides whether they should be advanced as candidates. Two other concepts were mentioned in the report as having potential to be developed as P3s in Virginia: installing broadband technology and expanding a cell tower program on Virginia Department of Transportation-maintained land. 
Illinois lottery seeking new private manager
Illinois is considering turning over control of the state's lottery to a private firm as a public-private partnership (P3). The state issued a request for information (RFI) to "initiate open and transparent dialogue with market participants interested in partnering with the lottery as a potential private manager for lottery operations." The RFI isn't designed to choose a partner, but rather to design a framework within which the state and its potential partner will operate. The lottery will then use the information it gathers to write a request for proposals (RFP), after which it will select a company to work with. The current lottery contract is scheduled to conclude in June 2017. The lottery for the first time failed to increase its profitability in Fiscal Year 2014, and those profits decreased once more in FY 2015. The RFI stated its priority was to select a partner "focused on overall profitability for the state and that is prepared to maintain a fair balance between robust sales growth and reasonable expense management."
Lake Oswego joins P3 broadband expansion trend
A suburb of Portland, Ore., is close to a deal with a private telecommunications provider to initiate a public-private partnership (P3) to bring high-speed broadband service to its residents. Lake Oswego issued a request for proposals (RFP) in June in an effort to determine if the idea were feasible. The city got two responses and now has to officially approve the deal with the chosen provider. That deal calls for the company to finance, build, own and operate for 30 years a Gigabit-speed fiber optic network for the city's 37,000 residents. The monthly charge for the service would range from $45 to $60, and Lake Oswego would pay the developer a portion of each customer's fee. "Just getting this network would put Lake Oswego on the map," said City Manager Scott Lazenby (pictured). "I think increasing that level of service, especially for the demographics we have here - highly educated, many tech-oriented folks in our community - that would be a real service to make available." Lake Oswego would join numerous other communities nationwide - not to mention the state of Kentucky - to form a P3 to ensure its residents are able to have access to broadband service.
El Paso seeks private partner for mixed-use facility P3
El Paso city officials recently agreed to issue a request for proposals (RFP) from developers for a public-private partnership (P3) to transform a currently underused parking lot at city hall into a mixed-use urban development with structured parking. Under the terms of the RFP, the city will offer 1.65 acres of downtown property to the developer in return for a ground lease of the site and other incentives, such as waivers for fees and property taxes. The developer could use the site for residential units to sell or lease, a hotel, ground floor retail or a restaurant, but must also agree to provide 500 to 700 parking spaces for municipal and private use. The deadline for submitting an initial conceptual proposal is Dec. 7. Detailed proposals must be received by the city by Jan. 27, 2016.
Atlanta issues RFI for waste reduction facility
The city of Atlanta has issued a request for information (RFI) in an effort to form a public-private partnership (P3) to build a waste facility. The new facility will aid the city in reducing waste as well as convert some of the waste materials it does collect into energy. The RFI is not meant to identify a partner but rather to help the city determine how it should define its eventual solicitation method. Its intention is to find a partner that will design, build, operate and finance a facility that will enable the city to reduce the amount of waste that goes to its landfills. The facility also will convert non-recyclable waste into solid, liquid or gaseous fuel or power. Atlanta's waste management division serves almost 100,000 single-family homes and, in 2014, collected 107,000 tons of solid waste, 16,000 tons of recyclable material and 27,000 tons of yard trimmings. 
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