Volume 8, Issue 31 - October 26, 2016
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
Many citizens and taxpayers are not yet sure how they feel about autonomous vehicles. In spite of that, it's obvious that motorists and pedestrians might as well get ready. The trend is set. Autonomous vehicles will be common on America's roadways in the not-too-distant future.

Autonomous vehicles of all types will be available. Buses and mass transit systems are currently in testing modes. Rail systems are installing autonomous technology. Uber and Lyft are testing and hoping to soon offer autonomous vehicles for hire. Cities have been selected and many are involved in autonomous vehicle trials. Other cities are installing IoT technology designed for traffic safety, congestion relief, emergency vehicle assistance and pedestrian safety. The future is clear - the rollout of autonomous vehicles is coming soon.
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Nov. 8 will be a big day for transportation officials across the country as well as those running for elected offices. Researchers at the nonprofit Center for Transportation Excellence (CTE) estimate $175 billion in transportation projects will be on the ballot in about 70 measures nationwide. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) estimates that total could be as high as $200 billion.


"Communities of all sizes are asking citizens to vote for initiatives that will determine their future," said APTA Chair Doran J. Barnes. "These initiatives and referendums are critical to expanding mobility options and to increasing the economic vitality of their communities."


One of the largest measures that voters will consider will take place in Los Angeles County, Calif. Voters will cast their ballots for or against Measure M, which would increase sales tax to fund $98 to $120 billion in planned transportation improvements. Taxes would generate about $860 million per year. Projects include street repairs, highway improvements and new rail construction, including lines in the Sepulveda Pass and Van Nuys and extensions to Claremont and West Hollywood.


"We know Measure M will be a game changer for Los Angeles and we're excited about its potential to enhance quality of life for the people of our region," said Phillip A. Washington, CEO of LA Metro.


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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued a request for proposals for brownfields assessment and cleanup grants. Grants are available to address sites contaminated by petroleum and hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants. Community-wide, site-specific and assessment coalition applicants may apply for the grants. Both assessment and cleanup grants are funded over a three year period. The deadline is Dec. 20. Click here for more information.

The nation's infrastructure has become a top priority for Americans as well as for both the Republican and Democratic candidates seeking to become the next U.S. President. That's the word coming from this week's eighth North American Infrastructure Leadership Forum in Denver. Dozens of elected officials, government agency representatives, private-sector professions and industry executives are sharing their experiences and expertise related to infrastructure projects nationwide. Some of that information includes a recent major poll taken across the country that indicates that infrastructure, when tied to job creation and for economic viability, is a top priority for Americans. 

Representatives of both major candidates for the presidency also have said that their respective candidates' platforms indicate that for whichever of them becomes president, infrastructure issues could be among the priority projects of their first 100 days in office. 

Mary Scott Nabers, president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI) and a recognized expert in public-private partnerships (P3s), is a participant in the forum, where the top 50 infrastructure projects required to ensure global competitiveness and create jobs are being presented. She noted that making infrastructure a "first 100 days" priority for the next president would "get infrastructure projects moving in this country." Also attending from SPI are Consultants Chelsea O'Hara and Elizabeth Sohns.

Representatives of the World Economic Forum, an international nonprofit that seeks to bring together world leaders to improve the state of the world, are soliciting input at the forum regarding critical infrastructure needs globally. A number of the nation's governors also are attending and addressing public entities and expounding on their successful P3 projects. 

 "It's good to know the interest the World Economic Forum has in our nation's infrastructure," said Nabers, "and to know that our next president will make infrastructure a priority. The nation's infrastructure creates jobs and is critical to our economic prosperity and our global competitiveness."
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The Federal Highway Administration awarded Denver a $6 million dollar grant to improve the Smart City Program. The city will implement three intelligent vehicle projects utilizing the funds from the Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment program. The projects will include connected traffic management center and short-range communications equipment deployed in 1,500 city fleet vehicles. Trucks will also be equipped with pedestrian detection equipment.


The city of Biloxi, Miss., has taken a step forward on a waterfront redevelopment project after planning officials approved design standards for the project. The city previously applied for $15 million in tidelands trust funds to help improve the waterfront. Four overlay districts would be created for areas along the Gulf Coast and Bay of Biloxi - Point Cadet, Back Bay, Small Craft Harbor and West Biloxi Beach and Boardwalk. City council members plan to review the design standards at the next meeting.


Port Authority of New York and New Jersey commissioners authorized more than $300 million for a new Portal North Bridge. The current bridge handles 450 New Jersey Transit and Amtrak trains daily yet frequent mechanical issues disrupt train service. The money would help fund the local share of the $1.5 billion dollar cost of replacing the bridge.


Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization members approved a $4 billion project to widen the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel in Virginia from four to six lanes. If approved by the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board at its December meeting, the project would add high-occupancy vehicle lanes in each direction. Vehicles with less than three occupants would be assessed a toll during peak times.


Massachusetts Public Health Council members approved a $1 billion expansion for the Boston Children's Hospital. The expansion calls for a new 11-story building on the Longwood campus as well as a new outpatient center in Brookline. With the approval, council officials stipulated the hospital must keep health cost increases within limits or face penalties. A timeline for the project is not yet available.


New Orleans city officials announced $480 million has been allocated to fix city streets and water system in 2017. The funding is part of a $2.4 billion infrastructure investment for the next eight years. Officials hope to have 30 projects underway by July 2017 and 125 projects by mid-2018. The investment is backed by a $2 billion commitment from the Federal Emergency Management Agency due to lingering damage from Hurricane Katrina.


Virginia Gov. Pat McCrory unveiled signs for a new Interstate 87 that will connect Norfolk to Raleigh, N.C. Congress authorized the interstate in 2015 and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials approved the I-87 designation in May. Construction on the 213-mile roadway is set to being within eight years. Virginia officials hope the segment from the state line to Elizabeth City will be completed within ten years. In North Carolina, the segment between Raleigh and Williamston is already close to interstate standards. However, the northeast segment between Williamston and the state line will take more work. Feasibility studies on the project are scheduled to be completed next year.


California transportation commissioners have approved $244 million for 71 transportation projects statewide. The state highway system will use $87.4 million for 18 projects as part of the State Highway Operations and Protection Program. The Active Transportation Program will receive $18.5 million for bicycle and pedestrian projects. Traffic Congestion Relief Program projects will receive $18 million. Transit and Intercity Rail projects will receive $30 million. General transportation projects will receive $15.8 million. Click here for a complete list of projects.


West Virginia state officials have recommended $5.1 million Appalachian Regional Commission grants for 11 economic development and infrastructure projects across the state. About $1.5 million will be used to replace water lines in Welch. Sewage inflow corrections in Reedy will cost about $430,000 and $1.85 million will be used to extend public water service in Flatwoods area. Funds will also be used for sewer mapping, technical assistance and other projects.


Federal Highway Administration officials announced $1.6 million in emergency relief funds to help repair Wisconsin roads and bridges damaged by flooding. Severe storms caused flooding that washed out roads in more than 15 counties in central Wisconsin. The initial quick release payment is meant to cover short-term repairs and make long-term repair work possible in the future.


News about public-private partnerships (P3s)

Kalamazoo, Mich., commissioners voted to join a public-private partnership (PPP/P3) to stabilize the city budget, lower property taxes and fund other projects. The city will partner with local donors who wish to contribute $70 million to privatize part of the budget. As part of the P3 agreement, commissioners agreed to lower the millage rate on homes and businesses in the city by a third. A nonprofit organization will also be created to help raise money to establish a permanent endowment for the city.


Redondo Beach, Calif., officials moved forward with a waterfront revitalization plan after rejecting an appeal from a slow-growth group. The plan includes infrastructure repairs estimated at $108 million. As part of a public-private partnership (P3/PPP) agreement, the city is working with a developer on a $250 million, 35-acre project. The development includes public space, improved beach and swimming areas, a public market, theater, hotel, boardwalk and retail space.


The city of Joliet, Ill., has joined a public-private partnership (P3/PPP) to build a new tolled bridge. The Houbolt Road bridge project has an estimated budget of $190 million and includes a new bridge over the Des Plaines River as well as widening Houbolt Road and rebuilding the interchange at Interstate 80. As part of the P3 agreement, the city will receive $2.1 million in state funds to hire engineers to design the new interchange. About $21 million in state funds is budgeted for the interchange. A private development partner will pay the majority of the costs for the bridge.


University of Central Florida trustees approved a public-private partnership (PPP/P3) with a health-care company to expand the College of Medicine to include a teaching hospital. If approved by the university's board of governors, the 100-bed teaching hospital will be built at the Health Sciences Campus at Lake Nona. Under the proposed plan, the health care company would manage the new facility.


United States ports of entry are receiving improvements through public-private partnerships (PPP/P3). Through the Reimbursable Services Program, one Texas-based corporation, which ships products from its factory in Mexico into the United States, has agreed to reimburse U.S. border officers for overtime so a border crossing can stay open extra hours on weeknights. Other P3 programs pay for additional cargo lanes or new inspection facilities at ports of entry. The programs include airports and seaports as well as border crossings.

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