Volume 7, Issue 40 - January 20, 2016
Apps, portals - the future for information-sharing
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
Communication and information-sharing between public officials and citizens is critically important. Both, however, are costly and time-consuming. Budget constraints have made it even harder for cities and state agencies to handle citizen calls, questions and information requests in an efficient way. Communication between the parties can be frustrating for government employees and even more so for citizens. Mobile apps and online portals offer attractive options, and many public entities are championing this new and efficient way of sharing information with taxpayers.

In today's world, busy people tend to want the convenience and efficiency of mobile apps or Internet access. Phone calls and other forms of communication require more time and effort.

In This Issue
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EPA: Wastewater infrastructure needs total $271B
Survey identifies wastewater, stormwater projects nationwide over next five years
With the double shot of a years-long drought followed by El Niño bringing storm runoff and flooding, state and local authorities are finding it ever more difficult to confront their water problems. Whether it's ensuring citizens have clean water to drink or managing a sudden and extreme excess of stormwater, governments need to be able to rely on their infrastructure to manage the problems.

And they increasingly cannot do so. According to a survey released last week by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), wastewater infrastructure project needs over the next five years amount to $271 billion. The survey represents estimated capital costs to meet water quality goals of the Clean Water Act. It addresses water quality and public health concerns related to water quality. The kinds of infrastructure included in the survey are the pipes that carry wastewater to treatment plants, the technology that treats the water and facilities for managing stormwater runoff.

EPA officials note that parts of the country have made tremendous strides in the modernization of treatment plants and the upgrade and replacement of water pipes. Between 1972 and 2012, the U.S. population receiving advanced water treatment increased from 7.8 million to 127 million, and the number of people receiving less-than-secondary treatment decreased from almost 60 million to 4.1 million. Still, the EPA notes that wastewater infrastructure needs are steadily growing.

"The only way to have clean and reliable water is to have infrastructure that is up to the task," said Joel Beauvais (pictured), acting deputy assistant administrator for water for the EPA. "Our nation has made tremendous progress in modernizing our treatment plants and pipes in recent decades, but this survey tells us that a great deal of work remains."

Some of the projects that make up the $271 billion in needs for wastewater-related projects include:
  • Biological processes necessary to meet secondary treatment standards - $52.4 billion;
  • Upgrades to provide treatment even more stringent than secondary treatment - $49.6 billion;
  • Construction of new sewer collection systems, interceptor sewers and pumping stations - $44.5 billion;
  • Planning and implementing stormwater management programs - $19.2 billion;
  • Upgrades and repairs to conveyance systems - $51.2 billion;
  • Recycled water distribution - $6.1 billion; and
  • Combined sewer overflow correction - $48 billion.
As the country's population continues to grow, demand for clean and reliable water sources will grow exponentially.
Notice to Interested Parties
The Lone Star Rail District (LSRD) proposes to develop a passenger rail line in the Austin-San Antonio Central Texas Corridor and a separate freight rail line. The District is currently conducting an environmental impact review of the project. Information on the proposed project can be found on the District's website. District staff's current recommendation is to proceed with a public-private partnership (P3) to deliver the project, most likely under a Design-Build-Operate-Maintain-Finance (DBOMF) agreement. LSRD is willing to entertain discussions with interested parties, but discussions are preliminary and any statements made by LSRD are not commitments and are subject to change. Any information provided by the third parties and the notes of any discussions may be released to proposers as part of any possible future procurement process.

The District requests that parties interested in a future proposal for a P3 agreement contact Joseph Black, Rail Director, at 512-375-1405 or jblack@lonestarrail.com, or Ross Milloy, Executive Director, at 512-558-7362 or rmilloy@lonestarrail.com for information. The District is not yet ready to accept proposals to enter into a P3 agreement.
USDOT proposes $4 billion for autonomous vehicles
Ten-year program to focus on pilot programs, vehicle safety innovations
Photo by Ed and Eddie licensed under CC BY 2.0.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) last week announced an initiative to speed up the integration of autonomous vehicles into the nation's transportation system. The announcement proposed a $4 billion, 10-year investment in pilot programs. The focus of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx's presentation at the annual North American International Auto Show in Detroit was the potential the technology has to transform the safety record of the nation's automotive transportation system. 

In addition to the pilot program funding, which will be a part of the president's Fiscal Year 2017 budget proposal, the initiative will update policy guidelines that update the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) 2013 preliminary policy statement on autonomous vehicles.

"NHTSA is using all of its available tools to accelerate the deployment of technologies that can eliminate 94 percent of fatal crashes involving human error," said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind (pictured). "We will work with state partners toward creating a consistent national policy on these innovations, provide options now and into the future for manufacturers seeking to deploy autonomous vehicles and keep our safety mission paramount at every stage."

The USDOT set milestones for the first year of this autonomous vehicles initiative. Among those are, within six months, to work with both the automotive and technology industries to develop guidance for the safe deployment and operation of autonomous vehicles and to work with state governments to develop a model state policy that could lead to a national policy on the integration of autonomous vehicles. The transportation department also encouraged industry to work with the federal government to clarify interpretation of rules and guidelines.

As an example of that last milestone, the NHTSA released its response to automaker BMW, which had requested clarification on whether its remote-parking system met federal safety standards.

Finally, the USDOT and the NHTSA committed to developing tools to ensure the testing of autonomous vehicles over the next several years is done in an intelligent manner. The announcement said the two agencies would consider "seeking new authorities when they are necessary to ensure that fully autonomous vehicles, including those designed without a human driver in mind, are deployable in large numbers when they are demonstrated to provide an equivalent or higher level of safety than is now available."
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Georgia governor announces $10B in road investments
In 2015, the Georgia state legislature passed a package of fees and taxes that promises to raise about $1 billion annually for transportation infrastructure improvements, and last week Gov. Nathan Deal (pictured) gave Georgians an idea of what they can expect for their money. The governor's transportation plan includes both short-term ($2.2 billion over the next 18 months) and long-term ($10 billion in total) projects. The near-term projects include resurfacing thousands of miles of roads and rebuilding hundreds of crumbling bridges. The focus for the plan is around the state's largest city, Atlanta, which has several severe congestion points on its network of highways. Those longer-term plans will include interchange reconstructions and the addition of express lanes on Atlanta's interstates, as well as the expansion of I-16 in Savannah and dedicated truck-only lanes on I-75 between Atlanta and Macon. "We are about to embark on a 10-year journey into Georgia's future," said Deal. "We promised the people of the state of Georgia that we would show them results. And that is what we're doing today."
Massachusetts approves Pickering school project
Pickering Middle School in Lynn, Mass., is nearing 100 years old and needs to be replaced. State officials last week approved the hiring of a project manager for the construction of a new school to replace the aging middle school. That move will allow the city to begin a search for an architect to design the project and to identify land on which to build the replacement school. Student enrollment at Pickering in the current school year is 618 students, which is just over the school's capacity. In addition to worries about space, Pickering also suffers from leaks and other signs of its age. The city also is constructing another new middle school, and the new Pickering campus will gain much of the same updated technology that the other project will feature. That project will be completed before the end of this school year and open in April. The Pickering project should name an architect by May and then proceed with site selection following that.
Atlantic City approves deal for university campus
The Atlantic City Development Corporation (AC Devco) has approved two grants that will pave the way for the construction of a new Stockton University campus in that city. A public college located in nearby Galloway, N.J., Stockton University has long had plans to expand into Atlantic City, and these moves will allow those plans to come to fruition. The first grant is for $38.4 million and will fund the construction of a new five-story dorm that will house roughly 500 students and a separate 56,000-square-foot academic building located across the street. The building will also feature 7,000 square feet of retail space. The other grant, of $29.9 million, will go toward a 332,500-square-foot, seven-story parking garage for Stockton students and faculty. The garage, which will have 886 parking spaces, will also feature 7,500 square feet of retail space on its ground floor.
Duluth City Council approves steam plant conversion
The Duluth, Minn., City Council is seeking to take advantage of the fact the city plans to rebuild a downtown street by piggybacking a steam plant renovation project on top of the street repairs. The city will rebuild Superior Street in the summer of 2017, and councilors want to take advantage of the street project to install steam plant lines underneath Superior Street at the same time. Last week, the city council approved using city funds for the steam plant's hot water conversion project. The first phase of the steam plant conversion will cost $40 million, and city council members are trying to obtain $21 million in state matching funds for the project. The full project will connect more businesses downtown to the steam plant. The steam plant currently uses about 90 million gallons of water per year from Lake Superior, but the conversion project will allow the city to reduce that amount to 70 million gallons.
Charleston Harbor deepening project gets federal OK
The plan to increase the depth of the Charleston, S.C., Harbor shipping channel cleared an important barrier last week when the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) gave its OK to the project. Congressional approval is still needed for the $510 million project, of which $220 million will come from the federal budget. The project will lower the channel to 52 feet, 54 feet at its entrance, and will make the channel the deepest on the East Coast. This was all conceived as an effort to prepare the Port of Charleston for the Panama Canal expansion, which is scheduled to be completed before summer. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave its recommendation to the deepening project in September 2015, and President Obama has made it a priority, which led the way for OMB approval. The pre-construction, engineering and design phase of the project has already begun.
Coon Rapids reissues bids request for Sand Creek Park
Last summer, the Coon Rapids, Minn., City Council rejected bids from contractors hoping to construct two buildings at the city's Sand Creek Park because they all came in too high. At the beginning of this month, the city council reissued the request for proposals. The project's budget is set at $1.1 million, down from the original $1.2 million after its scope was altered. The project, part of a two-year park redevelopment, will build a warming house and concession building, as well as a small maintenance facility. The project's construction manager will bid the various components of the project separately over a four-week period, and the city council expects to award contracts Feb. 16. The project should begin construction in the spring. The city will pay for it from its facilities construction fund.
Idaho Transportation Department gets project funding
The Idaho Legislature has approved 30 projects for the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) to proceed with in an effort to improve the state's roads and bridges. The projects were approved in two groups. The first 17 will cost about $50 million and will be funded out of the state's general fund. The most expensive of these projects will run about $12 million and repair pavement and update substandard guardrails on about six miles of Interstate 15 north of Pocatello. The remaining projects will be paid for out of funding created last year when the legislature raised the state's gas tax and vehicle registration fees. ITD officials have said they would need an additional $165 million to repair and maintain the state's roads and bridges completely.
USDA provides grant, loan for Terrytown water project
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that it will provide about $3.2 million in grants and loans to the city of Terrytown, Neb., to aid in the city's water renovation project. The financial assistance will cover half the costs of the project. The money will go toward the replacement of water mains and lines in Terrytown, as well as in the neighboring unincorporated town of Bellevue. Also included in the funding will be the addition of a new residential and commercial water metering system. "We had no idea the USDA would pay for half of the project," said City Engineer Jeff Wolfe. "This also includes the water metering project that was approved a long time ago." The USDA, however, recommended Terrytown not try to replace its water tower at the present time. That would have cost another $1.2 million to replace. Though it is in good structural condition, the tower is coated in lead-based paint and will need to be replaced at some point in the future, said Wolfe. The water project is expected to be completed by 2017.
Rutgers board approves $100 million in renovations
The Rutgers University Board of Governors has approved a package of renovation and expansion projects that total $98.5 million. The projects were identified by a master plan developed last year called Rutgers 2030, which found the school's facilities and technology needed to be upgraded and modernized. The projects include a renovated administrative building at the university's main New Brunswick location. The new facility will provide one central location for students to register for classes, apply for financial aid and purchase dining cards or parking passes. The master plan determined an administrative services building on the Busch Campus would be suitable for the upgrades due to its proximity to a major bus stop and the availability of nearby parking. The project costs will be $35 million. The New Brunswick campus's Clinical Academic Building, a part of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, will also see renovations. The primary outpatient clinic and clinical research building will undergo a renovation of its seventh floor that will add an open laboratory, research and departmental offices and space for graduate and post-doctorate students at a total cost of $17 million.
Linn County to construct new public health building
The Linn County, Iowa, Public Health Department currently has 50 employees and expects to employ 61 people by 2018, but its office conference room fits only 44. That tight fit is one reason the county's Board of Supervisors is considering constructing a new public health building. At a meeting last week, the board indicated it would consider a project to build the new offices and house the county's Child and Youth Development Services in the same facility. The projected $10 million facility would be built on a 90,000-square-foot county-owned plot and funded through a general obligation bond. If the board chooses to renovate the current offices for the two departments rather than approve the new building, it would cost nearly $5 million. The county will issue a request for proposals for architectural services shortly. Following that, the board will request construction bids, with the intention to begin construction in 2017 and complete the project in the first half of 2018.

News about public-private partnerships (P3s)

Port Everglades releases RFI for new logistics center
Broward County, Fla., is home to Port Everglades, a $150 million-a-year business that is one of the world's three busiest cruise ports. The port has issued a request for information (RFI) to identify companies to develop, finance and manage a regional logistics center. The project would include building the logistics center directly across from a Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) warehouse facility that will be torn down and replaced with a marine terminal. The logistics center will replace the FTZ and be built on 16.7 acres of land. Other services provided by the center could include a cold storage facility for perishable items and quality control for containerized goods. It could also serve the port's cruise ship business, as well. "Ultimately, we want a logistics center that is state of the art and offers services that are needed in today's global marketplace," said Deputy Port Director Glenn Wiltshire (pictured). "Therefore, we are first going out with an RFI to get input from third-party logistics companies and developers about public-private partnership opportunities so we can incorporate this information in a future request for proposals."
Two Maryland military bases installing solar arrays
Last August, President Barack Obama announced a Privatized Housing Solar Challenge that would include the installation of solar panels atop privatized housing on more than 40 military bases across the country. The initiative, operated through the Department of Defense, included commitments from four companies to deliver more than 233 megawatts (MWs) of electricity and reduce annual carbon emissions by approximately 324 metric tons. In December, one of the private partners began to install solar arrays on the rooftops of more than 1,000 houses on Maryland's Aberdeen Proving Grounds and Fort Meade. The consortium has plans to install solar arrays on housing at 10 other military bases and already has received clearance to begin installing solar power infrastructure at Fort Bragg, N.C., Fort Polk, La., Fort Rucker, Ala., Fort Sill, Okla., and Fort Riley, Kan.
Kentucky expanding broadband access through P3s
The state of Kentucky last year announced a public-private partnership (P3) initiative to bring broadband Internet access to all of its citizens, be they urban, suburban or rural. That project will build a 3,000-mile fiber-optic network over the next three years to improve broadband access throughout all of Kentucky's 120 counties. Called KentuckyWired, the project will construct the network to certain locations in a given county, and the local governments will be responsible for building it out from there. At the beginning of January, Warren County agreed to a contract with a private partner to develop models that will help the county finance and develop broadband P3s. The hope is that the county, its largest city, Bowling Green, or other local entities will form partnerships with private companies that will enable them to take advantage of the "middle mile network" that the state is building. The projects that result from this contract will connect to the state network and provide service to local businesses, rural residences and other customers.
P3 may save Central Virginia Training Center
Virginia State Sen. Steve Newman is attempting to prolong the usefulness of the Central Virginia Training Center in Madison Heights. He filed legislation last week that would require the state Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services to seek requests for proposals (RFPs) from private businesses to maintain at least a part of the facility. The potential public-private partnership (P3) could allow the facility to remain open past 2020, the year by which it is scheduled to close as part of a state effort to reform services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. "My thinking is that an additional option could be that we could have the state request a public-private partnership," Newman said, "to have corporations come back with how they could use that state-of-the-art facility to provide care for a portion of the residents that would like to stay at that location." The process, if approved, would likely take a year, said Newman, and would entail the state maintaining ownership of the property and leasing it to a private company.
New fire house set to be completed in Madison
Photo by Michael Kienitz
A new fire department administration facility and fire station will open up in Madison, Wisc., in the next month thanks to a public-private partnership (P3) with a local developer. The administrative offices for the Madison Fire Department will include fitness and training spaces, as well as a high-tech command center that also will be used by multiple law enforcement agencies. The new fire house is being built to accommodate more fire engines and crews as the city's population increases. The department's former administration property has been redeveloped as part of the private partner's new luxury apartments project, called Ovation 309. "I am delighted that we were able to utilize this location for both a fire station that serves the public and private development, to maximize the use of this valuable property," said Mayor Paul Soglin (pictured). The new administrative offices offer an added 10,000 square feet of space as compared to the former building. The total cost for both projects will be $8.3 million.

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