Volume 7, Issue 24 - September 16, 2015
|Short-term transportation funding halts $1.5B in projects|
|Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.|
The recent announcement that the federal Highway Trust Fund's projected financial demise has been extended by six months is turning out to be a double-edged sword.
Public officials in states that depend on federal appropriations to help finance high-dollar transportation infrastructure projects had mixed emotions when it was announced that the funding is now expected to last through the end of the third quarter of Fiscal Year 2016. While they breathed a sigh of relief because the fund will apparently be solvent longer, the stability of the fund has been so volatile in recent years that most were also reluctant to launch any long-term projects. The fact that there is no assurance of funding beyond the deadlines created by short-term fixes makes it almost impossible to initiate long-term projects.
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Florida tourism boom leads to infrastructure boom
As Florida's tourism continues to grow, can its infrastructure keep pace? Tourism is Florida's #1 industry, and the state has set records for the number of visitors four years in a row, topping out with 2014's 97.3 million people traveling to the state. During the first half of 2015, Florida welcomed 54.1 million visitors, setting the state well on its way to exceed its goal of 100 million visitors annually. Orlando alone had more than 62 million people visiting its many attractions, making it the most-traveled-to city in the United States. Of the 9.1 million people employed in Florida, 1.1 million work in jobs aligned with the tourism industry.
It's no wonder then that the state is also witnessing a positively gigantic boom in infrastructure projects too.
To begin with, half of those visitors arrive by air. So, Florida's busiest airports are all getting upgraded. Orlando International Airport this year has added direct flights to Belfast, Ireland; Brasilia, Brazil; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Reykjavik, Iceland; Havana, Cuba; and Lima, Peru. It is in the process of a $1.1 billion expansion and renovation that will raise the standards of its international gates, add a parking garage and construct a train terminal for what is called All Aboard Florida, a train line that will connect Orlando with Miami by rail. There are also plans for a new terminal, an importatnt move for an airport built to accommodate 24 million passengers a year but which now sees 37 million.
The Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport recently opened a new runway at a cost of more than $700 million. It's a part of a $2.3 billion expansion plan that includes a renovated terminal, upgraded concessions and a new automated baggage inspection system.
The cruise industry, of course, is a large part of the state's tourism business. And, thus, Florida's ports are also seeing billions of dollars in construction, dredging and renovations. Port Everglades built a new rail yard last year to allow for more efficient transfer of containers from ship to train and to avoid congestion at the port. It is also spending $400 million to deepen and widen its ship channel. PortMiami is undergoing more than $1 billion of work that includes enlarging the channel, restoring rail service to the port and constructing a tunnel that will connect the port to Miami's highway system. Tampa, too, is also spending big to prepare for more visitors. It's set to begin a $1.7 billion to redevelop its waterfront channel district, including its cruise port.
Roadmap to upcoming opportunities
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USDOT experiments with V2V tech in three states
Will cars talking to one another get drivers to destinations faster or safer?
The U.S. Department of Transportation has launched a pilot program
in three states that will further test what's called Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) technology, or Connected Cars. The V2I technology offers similar services as V2V, except it embeds sensors in stop signs, traffic lights and other pieces of road infrastructure rather than simply in cars.
The $42 million grant will be split among transportation initiatives in New York City, the state of Wyoming and Tampa, Fla. Those initiatives will test out "next-generation technology in infrastructure and in vehicles to share and communicate anonymous information with each other and their surroundings in real time," according to the announcement. The goal of the program, which is based out of USDOT's Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office, is to reduce traffic congestion, greenhouse gas emissions and the vehicle crash rate.
In Wyoming, the test is designed to facilitate the efficient and safe movement of freight through the I-80 corridor, a particularly heavily traveled part of the country for freight haulers. Between 10,000 to 16,000 vehicles travel this corridor daily. With the V2V and V2I technology, Wyoming DOT will both collect information and disseminate it to vehicles not equipped with the new technologies.
In downtown Tampa, the pilot program is meant to alleviate congestion and safety issues, as well as to protect pedestrians by equipping their smartphones with the same connected technology being put on the vehicles. The city's portion of the grant is $17 million.
New York, though, will be an especially important test for the technology. The city will install V2V technology in 10,000 city-owned vehicles - including cars, buses and limousines that frequently travel in Midtown Manhattan - as well as V2I tech throughout Midtown. This includes upgrading traffic signals with V2I technology along avenues between 14th Street and 66th Street in Manhattan and throughout Brooklyn. Roadside units will be equipped with connected vehicle technology along the FDR Drive between 50th Street and 90th Street.
"Today's announcement is a big step forward for the future of how we move in this country, from our rural communities to our biggest cities," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx (pictured). "It has been a core mission of the department to support promising new technologies, and through these types of smart investments we are opening the door to a safer and cleaner network and expanding how future generations travel."
Upcoming contracting opportunities
With Olympics in mind, LA to accelerate rail projects
Los Angeles wants to fast-track two of its biggest upcoming rail projects. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) officials explicitly tied the move to L.A.'s bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. The Transportation Authority has requested to join a Federal Transit Administration pilot program that could accelerate construction on a subway to the Westside and a rail connection to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). If granted admission to the pilot program, Metro would follow an "extremely aggressive" schedule to finish the Purple Line subway extension and the LAX train station and people-mover by 2024, according to Metro CEO Phillip Washington (pictured). The $330-million train to LAX is currently scheduled to open in 2028. The $2.3-billion Purple Line will connect downtown with West Los Angeles via subway. The project is currently planned in phases, with the final stage being completed in 2036. The new plan would see construction on all three phases occur simultaneously and finish more than a decade ahead of schedule. The Purple Line would begin service May 31, 2024, according to a draft schedule, with the Olympics starting six weeks later. The subway line could be important to the Olympics, carrying spectators to see events held on the campus of the University of California-Los Angeles.
NYC plans affordable housing in Brooklyn, Manhattan
The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) could bring more than 1,000 market-rate and affordable units to two housing projects in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The Housing Authority is considering new developments on underused land in Brooklyn's Boerum Hill and on Manhattan's Upper East Side under the NextGen Neighborhoods program. The new apartments would be 50 percent market-rate and 50 percent affordable. For the Brooklyn development, NYCHA would replace two unused parking lots with two buildings that would host 550 to 650 units. For the Upper East Side project, the Housing Authority is seeking to replace and move a playground and construct a building with 350 to 400 units. The income for affordable housing would be capped at a minimum of 60 percent of the area median income. NYCHA is planning a series of public meetings to gain feedback on the proposals from residents of the neighborhoods. These engagement sessions will continue through early 2016, after which NYCHA will issue a request for proposals.
Greenwood allots $2.3 million for community center
The Greenwood, Ind., City Council last week approved a $2.3 million project to renovate its downtown community center. "The community center was built in 1992 and there's been no significant and impactful change since then, so it's been over 23 years," Greenwood Parks and Recreation Director Rob Taggart said. "23 years later, nothing's changed. Our operations haven't changed, our facility hasn't changed, but the market has," he said. The renovation will include moving the fitness center downstairs for easier access and adding a walking track to the basketball courts. But a majority of the money will go toward a new two-story play area with tubes and slides. Mayor Mark Myers (pictured) says that projects like the community center renovation can help attract businesses and new residents. "They want park systems, they want a community center for their families and employees to come to, and this is a great draw," he said. "As we update, those people pay attention to that, marketing firms pay attention to that." The city council approved use of park bonds to provide a majority of the funding for the community center. Design and construction will most likely take at least a year and a half.
Chicago Midway issues RFP for variety of services
Chicago Midway International airport has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to lease, manage, develop and operate a variety of service concessions. Those include duty-free, specialty retail, food and beverage services, news and convenience outlets. The RFP includes the redevelopment, management and operation of all current concessions at the airport, as well as the development of new concessions and amenity spaces. The Chicago Department of Aviation is seeking a long-term service contract, which will offer dynamic new concepts and transform the Midway concession program. The city intends to award a single lease and concession agreement to the selected respondent, who will be responsible for development, construction, subleasing and management of the assigned concessions. The deadline for the proposals is Dec. 18.
Frederick to issue RFP for post office redevelopment
Frederick, Md., is preparing a request for proposals (RFP) that will seek out a design firm interested in helping the city revitalize a part of its downtown anchored by a former post office. The goal is to find a designer who will lead the city and its residents through the process. "If the community doesn't have consensus on what could be, it's going to be a lot harder to continue down that road," Kara Norman (pictured), executive director of the Downtown Frederick Partnership, said. "That conversation [moving forward] doesn't make sense if we don't have community buy-in." That will be the purpose of the RFP, to find a firm who will lead town hall-style meetings in order to collect feedback and ideas from local residents, business owners and other stakeholders. Of course, the selected design firm will also analyze the site and its surroundings, as well as the economic feasibility of redevelopment proposals. But from that analysis, the firm will plan these meetings with community members and determine what they will and won't support. A final report that takes into account these findings will then be drafted and presented to city officials.
Bernalillo County seeking renovation of former jail
Bernalillo County, N.M., officials are seeking new concepts to reuse the 150,000-square-foot detention center building. The former jail has sat empty since being completely closed down in 2014 due to safety concerns. The county does not have plans to reuse the jail and will consider all proposals through its request for information process. The building was built in 1978 and updated around 2000. It was the New Mexico Regional Correction Center until 2001 and then a detention facility used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The county has already tried to sell the building, having approached about a dozen potential buyers earlier in 2015, but had no luck. The 1.37 acre lot in Albuquerque is worth about $1.8 million, but it would require $2.5 million to demolish the former detention center.
Baltimore seeking proposals for bike-sharing program
Baltimore is seeking proposals from vendors interested in managing and operating the city's bike-sharing program. The plans call for at least 250 bicycles at 25 stations around the city, which has $2.8 million in seed money already in place. Baltimore is also constructing the Maryland Avenue cycle track, a dedicated two-lane bicycle route from The Johns Hopkins University in Charles Village to the Inner Harbor area. Originally planned to be completed by 2014, it is now projected to be done by the summer of 2016. New proposals from potential vendors experienced in managing bike-sharing systems are due by Oct. 21. "There's no higher priority than bike share and establishing a program in Baltimore," said Jon Laria (pictured), chair of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's Bicycle Advisory Commission. "We need it here."
NJTPA seeking proposals for two bridge studies
The North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) has submitted a request for proposals (RFP) for two concept-development studies. The two studies will look at bridges spanning the Passaic River, the DeJessa Memorial Bridge connecting Lyndhurst to Nutley and the Bridge Street Bridge that connects Newark to Harrison. The RFP states that the NJTPA wants a firm to perform such tasks as data collection, community outreach, development of the purpose and need statement, development of alternatives and National Environmental Policy Act classification. The DeJessa Memorial Bridge was built in 1905 and reconstructed in 1986. According to the RFP, it "is classified as structurally deficient and functionally obsolete." There are visible signs of deterioration and corrosion on the bridge's exterior. The scope of the project is to research options for replacing or rehabilitating the bridges. When the concept development phase is completed, the projects may be eligible for construction with federal funds, according to NJTPA officials.
Springfield plans renewable energy-fueled greenhouse
If all goes according to plan, residents of Springfield, Mo., could be feeding themselves from locally grown produce that will be nourished by energy from the city's landfill. The city has benefited from energy produced at the land fill since 2006, when it opened the Noble Hill Renewable Energy Center, which takes methane from the landfill and converts it to electricity for utilities customers. The renewable energy center procures about 3 MW a year, enough to provide energy to 2,000-2,500 homes. But in the process of burning the gas for electricity, a great amount of heat is lost, which is just energy wasted. And so City Manager Greg Burris (pictured) and other officials conceived of a plan to build a greenhouse and grow produce for the city, which currently imports about 95 percent of its produce. The initial cost for a 4-acre greenhouse would be about $8 million. Burris said the city is looking for a federal grant to pay those costs. "We think it's a really interesting marriage of energy sustainability and agriculture, so we would love to be able to find a grant," he said. "That's not to say we wouldn't take advantage of low-interest loans, but we'd much prefer a grant to get us kick-started just so we can hit the ground running." Burris said a request for proposals could go out early in 2016, and it could be two more years before the greenhouse is operational. City leaders also are looking for a private partner in the project.
Milwaukee County issues RFPs for two properties
The Milwaukee County Research Park Corporation (MCRPC) has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for two commercial retail development lots at the Research Park in Wauwatosa, Wis. The properties amount to about 3 acres of land and will be sold as a package for $3.3 million. The MCRPC will not pay a real estate sale commission on the transaction. The first lot is 1.6 acres, while the second is 1.5 acres and includes an 8,190-square-foot building. The structure was the power house of the Muirdale Tuberculosis Sanitarium complex and was built in 1913. The MCRPC is hoping to attract a high-density, mixed-use commercial and retail development that will provide complementary benefits for the businesses and institutions that occupy the Research Park, including the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Innovation Campus, as well as the general public.
News About public-private partnerships (P3)
North Dakota, Minnesota team for flood prevention P3
The states of North Dakota and Minnesota have joined forces with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to develop a flood-diversion project using a split-delivery model, in which a public-private partnership (P3) will be used to build a large part of the project. The Fargo-Moorhead Area Diversion Project is intended to prevent flooding from the Red River - which has occurred for 49 of the past 110 years - from doing excessive damage to Fargo, N.D., Moorhead, Minn., and surrounding communities. A major flood could cause more than $10 billion in damage, according to a recent report. The $1.8 billion project includes a 36-mile-long, 1,500 foot-wide diversion channel with 32,500 acres of upstream staging, including aqueducts, river inlets and a dam. The 2014 Water Resources Reform and Development Act authorized $846 million in federal funding for the project. The Fargo-Moorhead Area Diversion Authority will seek a private developer to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the diversion channel and will use state funds and sales taxes to repay the developer over time. The USACE will build the dam. "We can't wait. The nation can't wait. You can't wait," USACE Commander Thomas Bostick (pictured) said about the project. "So finding a way to think creatively about funding these projects is very important. For the Corps, we've hired people who wake up every day, and their number one mission is to think about public-private partnerships and to move them forward." Construction could begin in 2016 and could take a decade to complete.
Report recommends NYC use P3 to fix subway system
New York City just opened its first new subway stop in more than 25 years, but a new report is urging the city's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to consider using public-private partnerships (P3) to repair and maintain its deteriorating subway stations. The MTA's assessment of the city's 467 subway stations reveals that more than 20 percent of the structural components (such as ventilators, platform edges and staircases) require repairs that affect operations and safety. Just 76 of the system's stations are in good repair. In addition, at the current pace of work, making all necessary repairs to the system will take more than 50 years. "The cost of private capital would be higher than interest on capital raised directly by the MTA through tax-exempt borrowing; however, these costs may be more than offset by private firms' more efficient construction, reduced upkeep costs of better-designed stations and more aggressive and imaginative pursuit of revenue opportunities at stations," the nonprofit consumer group called the Citizens Budget Commission said in its report. The city already has ventured down a similar path at one subway station. To gain approval to build an office tower in Central Manhattan, a developer last May agreed to spend $220 million on improvements to the nearby Grand Central subway station.
Virginia DOT to issue RFQ for I-66 improvements
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will issue a request for qualifications (RFQ) for its I-66 improvement project in Northern Virginia. The project is intended to ease traffic congestion along a 25-mile portion of the interstate from Prince William County to the Capital Beltway by expanding the highway to include three regular lanes and two express lanes in each direction. Direct access between the express lanes and new or expanded commuter lots and high-frequency bus service also will be provided. The agency is still considering the option of building the project as a public-private partnership but has not yet come to a decision. The RFQ has two parts. The first requests statements of qualifications for three P3 delivery options: design-build-finance-operate-maintain; design-build- operate-maintain; and design-build-incorporating alternative technical concepts. The second part of the RFQ asks for conceptual financial proposals, which VDOT will use to decide which delivery model to consider should the project proceed as a P3. Three respondents will make the short list for each option. Statements of qualifications are due Oct. 1, and conceptual financial proposals must be submitted by Nov. 30. Both the preferred delivery method and the list of qualified developers will be announced Dec. 14.
West Palm Beach considering P3 option for golf course
West Palm Beach, Fla., city officials are trying to determine what to do with the city's nearly 200-acre municipal golf course near Forrest Hill Boulevard and I-95. The city has said the development is in need of repair and that it had to tear down the course's club house at the order of county health officials earlier this year. Renovation wasn't an option due to lack of funds to finance it. The city council has received plans to redo the golf course, one of which includes a public-private partnership that would build a new club house, some additional housing and a tie-in to the Palm Coast Plaza. The golf course project is just one part of what city officials hope be an area-wide revitalization of that part of town.
New terminal at Des Moines airport may be built as P3
| The Des Moines, Iowa, Airport Authority Board is considering the use of a public-private partnership (P3) to pay for the construction of a new terminal at Des Moines International Airport. One option the board has suggested is for a private company to build and own the new terminal, leasing it back to the airport. That method could save up to 20 percent in construction costs, according to a consulting firm hired by the Airport Authority to research alternative funding models. "I think there are enough potential benefits to keep researching it," said Kevin Foley (pictured), executive director of the Des Moines International Airport. "If there is that kind of savings, then we need to take a look at it," he added. The airport has outgrown its 67-year-old terminal, which is costly to maintain and isn't configured for modern security and passenger needs. Airport traffic hit a record 2.3 million passengers in 2014 and is projected to continue growing. Plans call for a 14-gate terminal and other facility upgrades, at a cost of $420 million, with more than $300 million going into the terminal. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2022. The airport's funding for the project is still about $200 million less than that total. Foley said the airport has another year to decide whether to pursue a P3 or continue with the publicly funded terminal project as planned.|
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