Volume 7, Issue 23 - September 9, 2015
Drought fading, but water shortage solutions critical
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
Even though a few states are beginning to emerge from a multi-year drought, one only has to look to the West to be reminded that large-scale water shortages will not go away anytime soon. Wildfires ravaging Western states and historic droughts in California dramatically highlight the importance of groundwater for the environment and for human consumption. 

Changing weather patterns and population growth will continue to place huge demands on cities and states. A recent Brookings Institute analysis reported that 57 percent of the nation's population growth between 2000 and 2014 occurred in counties experiencing some level of drought.
  



In This Issue
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Arkansas to move on 27 stalled highways projects
Short-term federal funding allows some, though not all, projects to go ahead
The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD) announced last week that more than two dozen previously postponed transportation projects will go out for bids in October. The 27 road and bridge projects amount to almost a third of the 87 projects the department had delayed earlier this year due to uncertainty over federal transportation funding.

The department also requested Gov. Asa Hutchinson to allot $36 million in state general improvement money to assure the reinstatement of 49 resurfacing projects. Another 11 projects are thought to be ready to be released before the end of 2015.

The full cost of all 87 postponed projects is more than $400 million. And, while the AHTD doesn't have the funding to advance all of them, the department said that Congress's latest short-term extension for transportation funding allowed the state to prepare these projects for bid. The funding extension, which expires Oct. 29, included an $8.1 billion infusion to the federal Highway Trust Fund.

Dick Trammel (pictured), chairman of the Arkansas Highway Commission, said that the state's congressional delegation reassured commissioners that a more-permanent solution will be found. "We're so confident that (Congress is) going to come up with a solution, we're going to start letting contracts on the 87 contracts that were delayed earlier," Trammel said last week.

Even without that potential progress in Congress, state transportation departments are now expected to be funded at least through next spring.

Unlike other state transportation agencies, which have access to alternate sources of funding such as lines of credit from their state general revenue, the AHTD relies on federal dollars to pay most of the costs for its transportation projects. Department Director Scott Bennett said, "We have no way of raising revenue to offset the reduction, delay or loss of federal dollars that Arkansas depends upon for 70 percent of its highway construction program."

Because of this, the state is searching for ways to decrease that reliance on federal funding. Gov. Hutchinson formed a committee earlier this year to study alternative funding sources to pay for highway 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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New Tappan Zee Bridge midway through construction
$4 billion project also bringing improvements to nearby communities
Image courtesy of Tappan Zee Constructors
New York's new Tappan Zee Bridge is two years into what was supposed to be a five-year construction timeline, and things are looking up. After a first year spent almost entirely underwater, construction has begun above the water's surface and the project has now passed the 50-percent mark toward completion.

The builder is a joint venture called Tappan Zee Constructors (TZC), and the three-mile cable-stayed bridge is set to open its first lanes to traffic before the end of 2016 and be completed the following year. The new bridge will replace the existing, 60-year-old Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Toll Bridge, which carries more than 135,000 cars a day, a number that greatly exceeds what it was designed to serve.

When completed, the bridge will include eight general traffic lanes, four emergency lanes, a bike and pedestrian path, traffic monitoring systems and enhanced express bus service. It is also being constructed to be mass-transit ready and will be able to accommodate bus rapid transit, light rail or commuter rail. The bridge will consist of eight angled towers, each one as tall as a 42-story building and set at a 5-degree angle. The off-set angle allows the towers to stand independently, without a top strut connecting them. 

In addition to the nearly $4 billion construction of the bridge itself, the project is proving a boon to adjacent communities. A grant program called the New NY Bridge Community Benefits Program was formed to fund projects that rehabilitate infrastructure near the construction area, enhance recreational areas, improve road safety or expand pedestrian, cyclist and transit user access to the new bridge.

The $20 million program is funded by the state Thruway Authority and by TZC itself. It has funded projects like a $200,000 sewage project for Orangetown, N.Y., and a $127,000 drainage project in South Nyack. The first project received the grant because the work would have been done in the bridge construction zone, and city workers would have interfered with bridge work. The second project is to prevent flooding in an area just north of the bridge that is highly flood-prone. The money has also gone to pay for noise-reducing windows and doors for residents who live near the construction area.

"The New NY Bridge Community Benefits Program is doing exactly what it was designed to do by helping the local communities most impacted by bridge construction," said Brian Conybeare, an adviser for the New NY Bridge Project. "The village of South Nyack has a drainage issue right near the project site, and as part of our good neighbor policy, we are helping them improve the infrastructure in that area while bridge construction is ongoing."

The bridge project still has two years remaining, and opportunities can be found here.

Upcoming contracting opportunities

Chatham County to build new police precinct
Chatham County, Ga., commissioners are readying their plans to build a new police precinct to serve the county's southern islands, including Isle of Hope, Skidaway Island, Burnside Island and Dutch Island. The new construction will be paid for with $3.5 million gathered from a special purpose local option sales tax that voters approved in a 2013 election. District 1 Commissioner Helen Stone (pictured) said a new precinct has been needed in the area since a previous police precinct on Skidaway was closed in 2008. "The residents in the area have seen an increase in crime, especially the Isle of Hope area and on Burnside as well," Stone said. The commissioner blamed this increase on slow response times due to the distance from the Whitemarsh Island precinct that currently covers the area. The location of the precinct is as yet undetermined because county commissioners didn't want to be too specific in their planning, preferring to leave those decisions to the engineers who design the building. Chairman Al Scott said the commission has long planned for the precinct. The county could let a contract for design of the precinct by the end of the year, with construction to begin as early as 2016.
Fox River pedestrian bridge to go near RiverEdge Park
Aurora, Ill., officials are conducting engineering work for a Transportation Center renovation project that would include a pedestrian bridge over the Fox River. The project includes additional parking, the relocation of street signals and relocating a bus pulse point in order to use that space as an entrance to a local restaurant. Should the city conclude its engineering work on the project by a November deadline, it would be eligible for an $8.6 million federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant. The project is expected to cost between $14 million and $16 million, according to Ken Schroth, the city's public works director and city engineer. Its funding already includes a $2 million grant from the Kane County Forest Preserve District. The pedestrian and bike bridge over the river will connect that area with the back part of RiverEdge Park. The bridge will allow that west side parking to be used for both RiverEdge customers and travelers using the Transportation Center, as well as by cyclists on nearby bike trails, city officials said.
Jackson approves $1 million for street resurfacing
The Jackson, Tenn., City Council last week committed to resurface streets throughout the city. The first priority will be Lane Avenue, from North Royal Street to the railroad tracks in front of Lane College, which will be paved before the school's homecoming the week of Oct. 12. Crews will work weekends so classes at the college and a nearby high school are not disturbed. "That part of Lane (Avenue) gets a tremendous amount of traffic up the road," Mayor Jerry Gist said. "We need to put our best foot forward for their homecoming weekend, because we've got thousands of people who come here from around the country." Lane College President Logan Hampton (pictured) said, "We are appreciative of the city's commitment to resurface Lane Avenue, which serves as the entranceway to our campus. The investment of funds toward improving the gateway to our campus is much needed and appreciated." The project costs will be $233,338. The council has allotted $2.5 million for street resurfacing citywide, though the projects included in this round amount to just more than $1 million, including the Lane Avenue repavement. The rest of the resurfacing projects will take place in the spring of 2016. 
Edwardsville to redevelop community building
Edwardsville Township, Ill., recently issued a request for proposals (RFP) for redevelopment of the Hays Mallory Community Building, where the township has its office. The township is still holding discussions with administrators from the city of Edwardsville about possibly relocating to its new public safety facility, which is currently being built, while the alternative is to redevelop the current community building. Both options are being considered, as the current building was temporarily closed last year after it was found to have safety and health code violations. A Facility Planning Committee has declared the building unsound economically and not functionally viable. "I have talked about this issue for some time with (Edwardsville) Mayor Patton, and with their project getting really underway, now is the time we need to discuss some options," Edwardsville Township supervisor Frank Miles said. "It is a logical next step in developing a closer partnership between local government and the township." However, the township has ruled out building a new facility. Miles said they considered selling the current site and constructing a new building, but that did not make financial sense. "Raising the tax levy or issuing bonds for construction of an office building at the park has not been an option under consideration in any meeting or action of the board," Miles said.
NYC to convert parking lot into affordable housing
New York City has announced a proposal to convert a current police department parking lot, the site of an early-20 century slaughterhouse, into an affordable housing complex. The site is located at 495 11th Avenue and has also been home to warehouses. The city's Economic Development Corporation (EDC) is requesting bidders present plans for what it hopes will become a mixed-use property. Given the site's location near the Hudson Yards project and an upcoming train extension, the city is expecting the project to be attractive to developers. It is also a part of Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan to build 80,000 affordable housing units in the city by 2024. "The Slaughterhouse Site request for proposals (RFP) takes advantage of the real momentum happening on the far west side of Manhattan to enhance the existing neighborhood through the creation of much-needed affordable housing," said Vicki Been (pictured), Department of Housing and Preservation Development commissioner. The RFP did not indicate specific targets for the project, other than to set a ceiling of 165 percent of the area median income - $128,184 for a family of three. The city has set a deadline of Dec. 11 for project proposal submissions.
St. Petersburg approves $20 million for Pier Park 
Improvements and redevelopment are coming to the waterfront in St. Petersburg, Fla., after the city council approved a $20 million contribution to the future Pier Park. Council member Darden Rice urged staff members to involve the public in implementing the improvements, which include a pedestrian art promenade, an entry space, an open-air market and a 10,000-square-foot restaurant. The city will build the shell of the restaurant, while whoever gets the 10-year-lease will complete the job and pay rent to the city.  Planning and Economic Development Director Dave Goodwin said the city is requiring public input on final designs. The request for proposals will also express a preference that the restaurant bid be tailored for local restaurants instead of national or regional chains. 
MoDOT dreaming of the future for Interstate 70
The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) has begun the process of re-making an aging I-70. MoDOT's "Road to Tomorrow" initiative has two main objectives: improve the state's primary east-west interstate highway and come up with new revenue streams to fund transportation in the future. "With the funding situation that we're in, we find ourselves looking for other options," said Tom Blair, MoDOT's St. Louis assistant district engineer. MoDOT has received more than 180 submissions so far and is still taking in proposals. Blair said this is merely the beginning and that it would be years before anything happens with the proposals. Some ideas that have been submitted include instituting dedicated truck lanes, adding tolled lanes or placing advertising on the roadway. "I would say it's time to think differently," Blair said. "Missouri's road to tomorrow is an opportunity to shape expectations about who we are, what we can become and how we pay for public works." Along those lines, one proposal suggested constructing a roadway made of solar panels that would provide energy to go back into the power grid and even clear I-70 of snow.
Orlando airport to build $1.8 billion terminal
Orlando International Airport is witnessing more than $1 billion of construction work now and is set for an even bigger push to commence in the near future. Construction has begun on a train station, a six-story parking garage and a tram system to connect those facilities to the main terminal a mile north. That work, along with accompanying road work around the new transportation structures, add up to more than $400 million. The other $600 million worth of work will renovate the airport's international travel gates, including improvements to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection area; ticket lobbies and baggage handling systems; shuttles linked with the main terminal; and a new cellphone waiting lot. Most of that work, including the garage, people mover and train station, should be completed by late 2017. That is all preliminary to a planned $1.8 billion southern terminal that is designed to expand service for international travelers, the airport's fastest-growing segment of passenger traffic. The airport has dedicated $100 million to start design work on the new terminal, which could open as early as 2019. The renovation work is being financed through a combination of grants and loans from federal and state governments and a $4.50 fee on every ticket into and out of the airport.
Baltimore opens up 'Superblock' for development
The Baltimore Development Corp. has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to develop 19 sites - including 16 vacant, boarded-up buildings and three lots - on the so-called Superblock land parcel. The RFP allows developers to bid for individual properties rather than having to commit to the entire area. The RFP is "a good start," a prospective developer said. "So many of those buildings are just architecturally unique. It could turn into a very viable neighborhood." This method will allow for the block's redevelopment to happen piece by piece, organically, instead of in one fell swoop in a master-planned-community type design. "By offering the site in pieces, the city's giving us an opportunity to appeal to arts groups and small developers, as well as big developers, to finally develop this hole in the donut we have," said Kirby Fowler (pictured), president of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore. He is optimistic that this development method will enable a pattern of "work-live-play" and pedestrian-friendly development that has succeeded in other parts of the city.
Wider I-5 coming to JBLM area in Washington
Plans are now in place to add lanes on I-5 alongside Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., in a six-year project that will affect drivers between Olympia and Tacoma. That number amounts to around 120,000 vehicles a day. The interstate will be transformed by a nearly $500 million project that will be funded by an 11.9-cents-a-gallon gas-tax increase passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Jay Inslee in July. Department of Transportation plans call for extra lanes, though it has not yet been determined whether those new lanes will be for regular traffic or restricted to high-occupancy vehicles. The expansion will bring at least eight lanes of traffic to nearly the entire highway bordering the base, which is the state's largest single-site employer. One mile between Thorne and Berkeley Avenue would be 10 lanes wide counting exit lanes. Permitting and design work will be done in time to start work in 2017 on the portion of the highway north of JBLM. Plans call for that first portion to be completed in 2020, with the southern part of the project finishing in 2023.
Collaboration Nation
News About public-private partnerships (P3)

Georgia county considers P3 for upscale hotel 
Columbia County, Ga., officials are hoping to lure an upscale hotel to complement and support its new exhibition center. County commissioners have entered into an agreement with the Columbia County Development Authority to sell a 3.1-acre tract adjacent to the exhibition center to hotel developers. Commission Chairman Ron Cross (pictured) said the plan is to create a complete convention center that will incorporate the exhibition center, which opened in August 2013, along with a hotel. "We are looking for a public-private partnership," Cross said. "I think through our development authority, we will be taking offers from hoteliers to see if we can come up with some kind of agreement in the near future. I think this is something that will be an asset to the county." The county is seeking a top-tier hotel chain to build a hotel of 100 rooms, with the potential to expand as needed. The agreement between the county and the development authority requires the hotel to begin construction within 12 months of the property being transferred to a developer.
Calif. roads-repair plan includes P3s, raised gas tax
Gov. Jerry Brown has presented to legislative leaders a new proposal for repairing California's many damaged roads. The plan would provide $3.6 billion annually for transportation repairs and includes a new $65 fee for vehicle owners, an 11-cent increase in the diesel tax and a 6-cent hike to the gas tax. It splits the money between state and local governments and calls for governments to pursue public-private partnerships (P3) in an attempt to find alternative funding mechanisms. Brown has been looking for an agreement to fund road repairs for most of 2015. When the state budget was concluded in June with no answer to the roads-funding issue, he called a special legislative session to focus lawmakers' attention on the issue. 
Jackson State University considers P3 for new dorm 
In the days leading up to the open of the fall semester, Jackson State University (JSU) had a lengthy waiting list for on-campus housing. The Jackson, Miss., school has nearly 10,000 students and 3,000 in student housing. It is now considering options to build a new dorm, including a public-private partnership (P3). Vice President of Student Affairs James Renick said, "The next step is getting approval to draw down money to build the structure." JSU wants to build a new 600 bed residence hall, which would cost about $40 million. It is also currently renovating an existing dorm, Alexander Hall, which stood empty last year. "The board is very proud of the enrollment growth experienced at Jackson State University over the past few years," said Commissioner of Higher Education Glenn F. Boyce (pictured). "When Jackson State University moves forward, Mississippi moves forward. Of course, this growth brings challenges with it and housing is one of those challenges." The state is considering two options to pay for construction of a new dorm, issuing revenue bonds or pursuing a P3. "Since we are breaking new ground in exploring this option, it takes time," said Boyce. "But we believe this may serve as a template for other universities in the future. A final decision on the funding method will be made once proposals for the public-private partnerships have been received."
Texas A&M pursues P3 for on-campus hotel 
The Texas A&M University System is considering a public-private partnership (P3) to construct an on-campus hotel/conference center next to Kyle Field. The A&M System Board of Regents authorized officials to lease 11 acres on the university's campus for the project, which also calls for a parking garage and student services building. Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs Phillip Ray said that his office has received nine responses to a request for proposals (RFP) submitted in October 2014 that called for the demolition of 41-year-old Cain Hall to clear space for a 150- to 200-bed hotel and conference center, a 1,000-space parking garage and a pedestrian bridge over Joe Routt Boulevard connecting Kyle Field to the proposed facility. If the hotel/conference center gets built as a part of a P3, it would join five such projects on the A&M campus. System officials have said that those projects could generate nearly $1 billion.
City council approves bill for P3 at Pershing Square 
The Los Angeles City Council has approved a bill calling for a private/public partnership to renew Pershing Square in downtown L.A. The council announced a design competition to find an artist to bring the new look to life. Council member Jose Huizar (pictured) said the square, in its current state, is uninviting and that he hopes the new design will help it become a central square where Angelenos can gather. "We're looking for a new design to take advantage of the centrally located public space and make it almost like a town square," Huizar said, "so that people gather, enjoy the middle of downtown, have some programming, perhaps enjoy a concert." The city council said the initiative wouldn't be possible without a public-private partnership. The renovation is expected to be completed by 2020. The design competition will be a six-month process with 10 semi-finalists announced in November, four finalists announced in December and the winner named in Feb. 2016. "Hopefully we'll have this town-square feeling that you have designed in many cities throughout the world, where you have a town square where it is a gathering place for people in the area," Huizar said. "We want this Pershing Square to be the same thing."
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