Volume 7, Issue 35 - December 9, 2015
Designated lanes latest solution for mitigating traffic congestion
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
Traffic congestion is frustrating and complicated, but even more so as the number of motorists, buses, trolleys and bikers all increase on roadways. Designated lanes are the common solution but are rarely popular. Motorists don't want to share roadway space, but buses, bikers and safety issues can't be ignored. The trend to more bus and bike lanes is universal in the United States. Other public transit options are also becoming the norm, especially in large cities.

In 2012, Dallas had eight miles of bike lanes adjoining major roads. Now, the city has 39.3 miles, and that will increase to 107 miles within the next few years. The expansion and acclimation to new lanes hasn't been easy.

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Seattle to begin consolidation of IT resources in 2016
Three-year transition to provide stability, establish consistency, increase security
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced in May that the city government he leads will begin a three-year transition to consolidate its information technology (IT) services within one department. Rather than being dispersed throughout city agencies like Public Utilities, Parks and Recreation and Transportation, the city's 700 IT workers all will work within one unit, the Seattle Information Technology Department (Seattle IT), with the city's chief technology officer (CTO) at its head.

Beginning in April 2016, "IT leaders from across executive departments will change their reporting relationship, changing primarily from reporting to department finance or administrative leaders to the Office of the CTO. Other staff will continue to work in their current roles, performing the same work and reporting to their current supervisor," according to the city's IT Consolidation plan.

The transition will begin with infrastructure consolidation, including networks, device support and security services. That will happen throughout 2016. In 2017, the city will integrate applications development, geographic information systems (GIS) support and web services. Finally, 2018 will see the final transition of application operations and support.

"Our strategy Number 1 is to do no harm to departments," Seattle CTO Michael Mattmiller (pictured) has said. "If we're not ready to integrate a team or deliver a new service, we're going to keep it status quo, working on the same projects they're working on today and for the same managers. But in a gradual and deliberate process, we're going to bring people together by having those people delivering a service come together and set requirements, validate those requirements and, in time, begin to operate in a new and consistent model."

The goal is for the move to eliminate waste and increase efficiency, Mattmiller said. Too often in the current setup, IT departments in different agencies face similar issues and are each forced to come up with solutions. With the consolidation, these IT workers will be free of those kinds of silos and able to collaborate on whatever problems arise. There will be no duplication of effort and no need to continually reinvent the wheel across multiple agencies.

City officials are keen to point to the deliberate pace at which the transition will occur and to the fact that the move was not conceived in order to eliminate jobs.

"We've made a commitment that there will be no layoffs as a result of the consolidation effort," Mattmiller said. "We recognize as a city that we've made a level of investment in IT professionals, and we would like to see that investment fully realized by creating capacity. If we have several teams working on the same thing today, we can bring those teams together. And, if we have spare capacity, then there's more projects that we can have people work on."

NASCIO issues cybersecurity guide for state CISOs
National organization releases 'Leadership Toolkit' for IT security officials
In 2006, the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) surveyed state chief information security officers (CISOs) about their roles and the landscape in which they operated. The group has done so each year since, and NASCIO has now, for the first time, issued a report using data and information collected from the survey, called "Moving Forward: Leadership Toolkit for State CISOs." The report is designed to relay information from the survey and offer what it terms "advice from the trenches."

The NASCIO surveyed CISOs from 44 state governments to determine what their jobs are like, what concerns they have and what best practices of the position look like. Without question, the top concern is cybersecurity. Those issues include insider threats, the security practices of third-party vendors as outsourcing increases and being able to determine what qualifies as "due care" or "reasonable" in a world where constant vigilance is required but perhaps not a goal that is realistic.

Interestingly, another concern that ranked highly among state CISOs was recruitment and personnel management. Leadership skills needed for CISOs at all levels of government include the type of interpersonal abilities necessary to foster strong relationships with employees who often have considerable opportunities in the private sector.

"Private-sector opportunities and salaries are traditionally better than those offered by government," the report states. "Not surprisingly, state CISOs are struggling to recruit and retain people with the right skills, and they will need to establish career growth paths and find creative ways to build their cybersecurity teams."

While the report surveyed CISOs at the state level, NASCIO's president, New Mexico Chief Information Officer Darryl Ackley, said, "Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility, with states, cities, counties and the federal government working together to serve citizens. The CISO toolkit is designed for state CISOs, but it has advice from the trenches that is helpful to CISOs in all areas of government."
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South Carolina revives plans to build Interstate 73
Transportation planners in South Carolina have long desired to build Interstate 73 along the Grand Strand, a 60-plus-mile stretch of beachfront land that includes tourist destination Myrtle Beach. Last week, the state Department of Transportation (DOT) approved a plan for the highway that it hopes will enable the construction process to begin in earnest. Currently, I-73 exists only for one 82-mile stretch in North Carolina. Expanding the highway has been discussed for years, though, and plans call for it to run from Myrtle Beach to Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. The South Carolina portion of the interstate is projected to cost about $2.4 billion. Only $46.5 million in federal and state money - from the South Carolina Transportation Infrastructure Bank - has been set aside to pay for the project thus far. DOT officials have not said how the highway would be paid for, and the project has met with strong resistance from those who say the state should pay for road maintenance and repairs rather than new construction. The transportation department's move last week, however, was the first significant move forward for the project in years.
Alabama plans beachfront hotel for Gulf State Park
Gulf Coast states have been dealing with the results of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster for almost six years now. And, since October, the states have known how much settlement money they are getting from British energy giant BP. Alabama, for one, isn't wasting much time in putting a portion of that money to use. The state is building a 350-room hotel and conference center at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores. The entire project will cost $135 million, and some of the $85.5 million it will receive from the settlement funds will go toward the restoration of sand dunes and trails in the park. But at least $58 million of that money will go toward building the hotel and conference center. A previous beachfront hotel was destroyed in 2004 by Hurricane Ivan. The new conference center will be built to accommodate up to 1,500 people. Alabama officials have said the state loses conference business to neighboring Florida because it doesn't have a facility large enough on the coast, and hopes are that this project will provide an alternative to the Florida Gulf Coast tourism business. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2018.
Jersey City seeks developer for veteran housing project
The Jersey City Redevelopment Agency has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to build housing for veterans on Ocean Avenue. The project is planned to create up to 21 units of rental housing, some of which will be reserved for homeless veterans, while the rest will provide homes for other veteran households. "As a veteran myself, this is important to me," said Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop (pictured). "Anyone who has served our country should never be jobless - or, worse, without a roof over their head. Providing housing and coordinated services for these veterans is a priority for our city." This project isn't the city's first to provide housing for veterans. Jersey City also formed a committee with veteran and homelessness service providers. And, in April, the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency worked with a coalition of private groups to renovate a vacant building that will house eight homeless veterans. Responses to the RFP are due Jan. 8, 2016.
NYC preparing large affordable housing project
New York City housing agencies have begun phase two of the Hunter's Point South development project, which will create more than 5,000 new apartments in the Queens neighborhood. At least 60 percent of those will be priced to be affordable to low- and middle-income residents, and the project is the largest affordable housing development in the city since the 1970s. Along with those apartments and the accompanying infrastructure, the city's government is preparing four new mixed-use housing parcels to be developed by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). The NYC Economic Development Corporation's construction of the phase two infrastructure, roadways and waterfront park is expected to be completed in 2018. Construction on the housing parcels will commence once that project is done. The HPD will release a request for proposals (RFP) for development of the parcels in 2016.
Alaska plans major repairs to ferry terminals, roads
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT) is planning a busy year in 2016, having placed a few projects out to bid already, with several more waiting in the wings for the new year. A $20 million to $30 million renovation of Egan Drive in Juneau was released for bid in November, with responses due Dec. 15. That project entails widening a bridge along Salmon Creek and resurfacing the road. Another major roadway, the Glacier Highway, will see separate projects in Auke Bay and from Point Lena to Tee Harbor. Two new ferry terminal projects are expected to be released for construction bids in 2016. The terminals will be in Kake, which will also require installation of sanitary sewer and water lines, and in Angoon. Various other projects in and around ferry terminals also are in the DOT's plans for 2016-2017. Those are in Skagway, Haines and Gustavus. All of the projects announced last month will be paid for with funding from the Federal Highway Administration.
Will County considers bond sale for building projects
The finance committee of the Will County, Ill., Board has recommended the county embark on three major building projects, including a new courthouse to be located in Joliet. The three projects are expected to cost a total of $225 million, to be paid for by the sale of bonds. The courthouse project would be easily the most expensive of the three, at a cost of about $175 million. The other two facilities are a new sheriff's department headquarters near Joliet, expected to begin construction in 2016 and to cost $20 million, and a building to replace the county's health department office, which would cost $30 million. Construction on the courthouse is expected to begin in 2018, and the project would include a satellite courthouse in northern Will County. The full County Board will meet Dec. 10 to review building plans for the new courthouse.
Portland Water Bureau planning for earthquake
There was a lot of talk last summer about the Pacific Northwest's vulnerability to a devastating earth quake. Now, Portland, Ore., officials are beginning to do something about the issue. Almost 1 million residents of the Portland metropolitan region rely on water from the Bull Run watershed 26 miles east of the downtown area. The pipelines serving those customers average 77 years of age. Two are buried in shallow and unstable soil, and two others are attached to a bridge that is not expected to survive a strong earthquake. That area of town could be without potable water for six months or longer in the event of such a natural disaster. Portland Water Bureau Chief Engineer Teresa Elliott (pictured) said there's a 15 percent chance of a Cascadia earthquake during the next 50 years. "And our soil is extremely liquefiable on both sides of the river," she warned. The water bureau presented to Portland City Council members last week a $57 million project to build a 42-inch pipeline buried 80 feet beneath the Willamette River. Portland Water Bureau officials plan to choose one contractor to design and build the pipe. They intend to begin construction in the summer of 2017 and finish by 2019.
Ocean City to build road for dredging project
The city council of Ocean City, N.J., last week approved a $1 million project to build a temporary road that will provide a path across marshes to allow direct access for trucks to a disposal facility. Material from the site, which is filled to capacity, is being transported to the city of Wildwood, where it is being used to cap a landfill. The project is part of an effort to dredge Snug Harbor, a lagoon in Ocean City, of 14,000 cubic yards of material. The dredging project itself is part of a larger effort by the city to render all of its lagoons and harbors passable at high tide. The entire dredging project will eventually remove 542,000 cubic yards of spoils from the city's wetlands.
Phoenix light-rail advances in FTA grant program
Commuters in Phoenix are a step closer to getting an extension to Valley Metro's South Central Phoenix light-rail line. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has approved the project's progression to the development phase of its Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program. That means Valley Metro is on track in its effort to receive federal project approval under the CIG program and maintains its eligibility for federal funding. This phase will include environmental analysis, preliminary engineering and assembling the documentation needed to advance the plan to the next stage. The project would extend Valley Metro's light-rail system five miles south from the downtown area to Baseline Road. The extension project has already received some federal funding in the form of a 2014 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). That money, along with matching funds from the city, paid for an environmental assessment, which is scheduled to be submitted to the FTA in 2016. Also, the South Central Extension is one of seven projects identified by the USDOT as a participant in the LadderSTEP pilot program.
Harford County to build new Havre de Grace school
Harford County, Md., Executive Barry Glassman has said that the county will begin construction of a new high school in Havre de Grace by 2018. Though the new school has been in the works for a few years, Glassman pushed the project down the county's list of priorities after coming to office in December 2014. The county executive has said that he is reviewing school projects in other counties for ideas on more cost-effective ways to build a new school. Glassman said that the county is considering "using innovative construction techniques that aren't necessarily as costly as what is now required by state education standards." He said the county would not raise taxes to pay for the new school, but that "my goal is to get it built within my term."

News about public-private partnerships (P3s)

D.C. mayor opens Office of Public-Private Partnerships
Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser last week officially launched the district's Office of Public-Private Partnerships (OP3). Bowser had drafted the Public-Private Partnership Act of 2014 before being elected mayor when she was a member of the city council. The office will head up the district's efforts to build collaborations between the private sector and government on large-scale infrastructure development projects. Bowser also named Seth Miller Gabriel (pictured) as OP3's first director. He had been chief operations officer for the Institute for Public-Private Partnerships and previously served as deputy executive director of the National Council for Public-Private Partnerships (NCPPP). "Seth Miller Gabriel is prime to lead the charge in standing up our Office of Public-Private Partnerships," said Bowser. "With pioneering P3 leadership experience and a track record of building robust programs, I look forward to Seth building a results-oriented program that will create more pathways to the middle class for residents of the district." The OP3 will reside within the Office of the City Administrator.
Air Force base turns to private firm for water project
The U.S. Air Force has agreed to a contract with a private firm to bring Vandenberg Air Force Base's water supply system up to industry standards. The contract is a $299 million, 50-year utilities privatization agreement, and the California Air Force base will see about $11 million invested during the first three years of the project. The company will capture stagnant water that currently sits in remote lines before being flushed through water hydrants and run off into storm drains. After the project is completed, the water will be treated to render it potable and returned to the water system, thereby saving about 1.1 billion gallons of water during the life of the agreement. "Maintaining utility systems is no longer a core competency of the Air Force. Private industry does it day in and day out, so they can normally do it cheaper than we can," said Rick Weston, who leads the Air Force Civil Engineer Center Utilities Privatization program management office.
Virginia announces two toll road extension projects
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has agreed with its private partner to extend two toll road projects in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. The private consortium has built about 29 miles of express lanes on I-95 using the design, build, finance, operate and maintain process. Under the new agreement, it will extend the interstate about two miles south to eliminate a bottleneck where the high-occupancy vehicle lanes merge with the regular interstate lanes in Stafford County. The consortium also will build another eight miles of I-395 express lanes to the border of Washington, D.C. That project will include dynamic tolling on those lanes. Vehicles with more than two occupants that are equipped with a special transponder will be able to use the express lanes free of charge, while other drivers must pay a variable toll that is designed to control the volume of traffic. Construction of the I-95 extension is expected to begin in 2016, while the I-395 project will start in 2017. Each should take two years to complete.
Maine Legislature to consider P3s for public facilities
Members of the Maine Legislature will return to session in January 2016, and, when they do, they'll consider LD 1298, "An Act Relating to the Creation of Public-private Facilities and Infrastructure." The bill would open up public buildings and facilities for public-private partnerships (P3). The legislation would allow the state to enter into P3s for the development or operation of public buildings, facilities and related infrastructure. Projects that could be developed under the new legislation include ferries and port facilities, mass transit and parking facilities, oil or gas pipelines, water supply and treatment centers, hospitals and schools. The act streamlines the conditions under which P3s can be executed and sets specific criteria for them.
Amtrak exec: Hudson River rail tunnel plan ripe for P3
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is planning to construct a new rail tunnel beneath the Hudson River and is expecting the project to cost as much as $20 billion. The federal government has committed to paying half of those costs, but rail provider Amtrak says to expect private money to fund some portion of the project. Drew Galloway (pictured), Amtrak's deputy chief of Northeast Corridor Planning and Performance, has said that the project, known as the Gateway Program, "certainly seems to lend itself to some aspect of public-private partnership (P3) involvement, particularly in station development." In addition to the tunnel itself, the project includes the expansion of New York's Penn Station, which Galloway said would be a natural fit for a P3. The Port Authority has already entered into two other public-private partnerships, for the $4 billion LaGuardia Airport upgrade and a $1.5 billion renovation of a bridge from Staten Island to New Jersey.
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