Volume 8, Issue 29 - October 12, 2016
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
The health care industry is a prime target for innovation, and improvements are being made in a wide range of areas. There are new payment models, disease management programs, flexible care models and technology-driven cost reductions. One particularly interesting trend worth noting involves community paramedicine programs that reduce costly visits to emergency rooms (ERs).

Recently, data showed there were 136.3 million emergency room visits in the United States over a 12-month period. That statistic comes from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). And, the New England Healthcare Institute says that unnecessary emergency room visits easily exceed $38 billion of wasteful spending each year. The Institute reports that as many as 56 percent of all visits to emergency rooms are avoidable.
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New services could position USPS as critical infrastructure connector

With the rise of digital communication over the last two decades, it might be easy to forget just how essential the U.S. Postal Service has been in developing the nation. Under the constitutional mandate to establish post offices and post roads, the formation of the postal service created not only dependable communication; it also provided for a transportation infrastructure.

Now, the postal service seems to be renewing its pioneering spirit with innovative smart city pilot projects. The programs would outfit mail carrier vehicles to collect an array of data. Vehicles could be equipped to detect potholes and safety issues in bridges, monitor air quality and leaking pipes and identify blight.

As cities around the country develop smart city initiatives to utilize data to improve the quality of life for citizens, the postal service seeks to provide possible solutions. The postal service has a vast infrastructure of carriers, vehicles, post offices and mailboxes that could facilitate the collection of multiple types of data for local governments.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced plans to use $22.7 million to study the critical infrastructure used to deliver essential services like food, water, health or emergency response. The project will promote better understanding and functioning of infrastructures and help alleviate anxiety during times of threat or emergency. The program will address issues of design, operation, maintenance and restoration of services in the face of new and evolving hazards.


"Today's critical infrastructure systems rely on each other in order to function," said Grace Wang, acting NSF assistant director for Engineering. "This creates a complex set of interdependencies that must be understood, designed and managed to provide high-quality, resilient, accessible and affordable infrastructure services."


The project is funded through the Critical Resilient Interdependent Infrastructure Systems and Processes (CRISP) program. The program began in 2015 and 15 new projects addressing a range of critical infrastructure issues have been selected this year. Click here for a list of funded projects. 

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In Middle Tennessee, the regional transportation authority's board of directors has adopted a plan for a $5.97 billion regional transit system. The nMotion plan covers Nashville and the surrounding areas. It calls for numerous commuter rails, bus rapid transit lines, arterial bus rapid transit lines, new light rail lines and improvements to existing rail lines. The plan is scheduled to roll out in three phases over the course of 25 years and would require an additional $338 million in annual operating costs.


The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) officials are considering a $1.5 billion plan to create redundant water flow systems. The current water tunnel system that provides 60 percent of the water to MWRA customers has been judged in critical need of repair. Many redundancy options have been studied and MWRA staff have recommended a new 4.5-mile northern tunnel with an estimated midpoint cost of $472 million and a new 9.5-mile southern tunnel estimated at $1 billion.


The Oklahoma Transportation Commission has approved the Oklahoma Department of Transportation's (ODOT) Eight-year Construction Work Plan for 2017-2024. The plan includes about $6.4 billion in funding for more than 1,600 bridge and highway projects. Shoulders would be added to 751 miles of two-lane highways and 152 miles would receive pavement improvements. Urban highway congestion would be addressed with $370 million in projects. Additionally, the proposed plan includes $466 million for asset preservation for four years. Preservation funds will be used for pavement resurfacing and rehabilitation and bridge rehabilitation for about 411 projects. Details of the plan can be viewed here.


The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is seeking letters of interest for firms that wish to work on a $2.3 billion Green Line Extension project. The agency will host a Nov. 16 forum on the project. Plans call for extending the Green Line by 4.7 miles and building seven new stations. A  vehicle storage and maintenance facility would also be constructed. The procurement process is estimated to take 18 months follow by four years of construction. Details are available at greenlineextension.eot.state.ma.us.


Traverse City, Mich., commissioners are considering upgrading the city's water meters to allow for automated readings. The project would coincide with the Traverse City Light & Power's efforts to upgrade power meters to smart meters. Funding for the water meters would come from the city's water and sewer funds over the next two years and is estimated to cost $3 million.


Towns in rural Indiana have been awarded $80 million in federal grants for infrastructure improvements. Combined with local funds, the projects will total $135 million. The Indiana Department of Transportation announced that 64 cities will use the funds to invest in local road and bridge improvements as well as sidewalk and trail projects. A list of all communities receiving funds is available at www.in.gov/indot/3581.htm.


Lauderdale County, Ala., officials are accepting bids for five bridge replacement projects occurring in 2017. The projects will be funded with $15 million from the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (ATRIP). The county has also allocated $3 million for a required 20 percent match as well as the costs for design and engineering. Contact Lauderdale County Engineer Eric Hill for details.


The University of Illinois has announced a $132 million project to renovate Memorial Stadium. The project is part of the Illinois Renaissance program which began in 2005.  Renovations will focus on the stadium's south horseshoe and east side. South end renovations will include new football operations facilities such as locker rooms, training, recovery, meeting space and offices. The project is funded through private donations and the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. A request for proposals for architectural services was issued in September.


The Virginia Department of Transportation can move forward with plans for a $425 million highway project after recent approval from the Army Corps of Engineers.  The corps approved a permit to allow 16 miles of highway improvements to U.S. 460, a project that affects 35 acres of wetlands. The project was scaled back from original plans to minimize environmental impacts. Plans now call for a 12-mile, four-lane divided highway from Suffolk with a bypass north of Windsor. West of the bypass, the current road would be upgraded to a four-lane highway to Zuni and a mile beyond.


The town hall building committee of Newington, Conn., is seeking proposals from architects for a $25 million town hall project. The committee wishes to create plans to renovate the existing building or construct a new structure within the $25 million budget. The current building, constructed in the 1950s was originally a high school. It has a leaky roof, foundation issues, a lack of handicapped access and outdated electrical, heating and plumbing systems. Proposals are due by Oct. 28. Click here for more information.

News about public-private partnerships (P3s)

The Missouri University of Science and Technology will unveil the Kennedy Experimental Mine Building this week in Rolla. The 15,000-square-foot learning center features classrooms, laboratories, mine rescue and mucking stations, offices and equipment space. A public-private partnership (P3/PPP) was formed to build the learning center. The $2.4 million project was funded by state legislature-approved capital appropriations and private donations.


The University of California, Merced (UC Merced) is planning a $1.3 billion project that will nearly double campus capacity through a public-private partnership (P3/PPP) with a developer. The university plans to add facilities to accommodate a total of 10,000 students by 2020. Due to the wide range of services needed in a short time period, university officials chose to bundle the development plan. The plan includes housing, academic buildings and infrastructure. For more details, click here.


A 4-acre expansion of Riverfront Park along the Passaic River is under construction due to a public-private partnership (P3/PP) between the City of Newark, The Trust for Public Land, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The P3 is funding $6 million for park construction and amenities. After the initial 4-acre expansion, plans call for an expansion to nearly 40-acres. "In addition to providing a great outdoor space for city residents and downtown workers to enjoy Newark's riverfront, our partnership is helping to create a healthier community," said Anthony Cucchi, New Jersey state director for The Trust for Public Land.


The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Office of Public-Private Partnerships (P3/PPP) announced that it is accepting unsolicited proposals for transportation projects from the private sector through Oct. 31. The agency is seeking proposals offering innovative ways to deliver transportation projects for roads, bridges, rail, aviation and ports. Applications for assets not owned by PennDOT can also be submitted directly to the P3 board this month. Details can be found on the state's P3 website, www.P3forPA.com.


Northampton County, Pa., council members have approved a public-private partnership (P3/PPP) contract for a $35.9 million bridge repair project. The county would become the first municipal government in Pennsylvania to enter into a P3 contract. It did so by first transferring county bridges to a General Purpose Authority in order to meet state guidelines for agencies with the authority to take part in P3s. Officials said if the process works, the county may use the P3 process for another 33 bridges. 

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