Volume 8, Issue 35 - November 30, 2016
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
After the November election, infrastructure reform is one of only a few topics that can be discussed with civility. However, that doesn't mean there aren't conflicting opinions about how to fix the problems. President-elect Donald Trump has promised to infuse $1 trillion into infrastructure spending, but Congress will have a strong hand in approving the details of any plan that is approved.

Infrastructure in the United States is extremely poor, especially when compared to other large countries. The most recent report from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave the U.S. several failing scores - a D for roads, drinking water and aviation and a D- for inland waterways and levees. The organization says it will take $3.6 trillion to fix the nation's infrastructure.
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As tolls have become a more popular solution for transportation challenges in states and municipalities across the country, industry groups and citizens have been calling for more interoperability. Currently, drivers who use tollways operated by different agencies may have to acquire different transponders for each system.


As part of the Moving Ahead for Program in the 21st Century Act, congress called for electronic tolling interoperability. Industry groups like the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) have been working with the Federal Highway Administration to help develop an industry standard for tolling systems. The group plans to make a formal recommendation next year.


IBTTA officials call for a national toll system that allows drivers to establish a single toll account that would allow for payments on all US toll facilities. Officials presented the following statement before the US House of Representative's oversight and government reform committee:


"We envision that a driver who has a valid registered account with any electronic toll collection (ETC) system (i.e. E-ZPass, SunPass, TxTag, FasTrak, etc.) can have their vehicle identified seamlessly in the electronic toll lanes of any other ETC system using a required National Toll Tag (which would also be associated with their existing account) and have the appropriate fees deducted from their account."


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Elaine Chao
President-elect Donald Trump has nominated Elaine L. Chao, the former labor secretary under George W. Bush, to head the Department of Transportation. Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Given Trump's campaign promise to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure, the secretary of transportation will likely be a critical position in the new administration.


"Elaine Chao is an outstanding choice to serve as the next Secretary of Transportation. She is a conservative reformer with unrivaled experience and a great passion for improving the lives of working families," said House Speaker Paul Ryan in a statement. "We will be particularly fortunate to have Elaine leading the charge as we work to ensure America has the infrastructure needed to keep our economy moving in the 21st century."


Chao was the first American woman of Asian descent to be appointed to a president's cabinet and the only member of Bush's cabinet to have served the entire eight years of his administration. She previously served as president and CEO of United Way of America and director of the Peace Corps. Her government positions have included deputy secretary at the U.S. Department of Transportation, chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission and deputy maritime administrator. 

CC BY-SA 3.0 Runner1928
The US Department of Transportation is seeking proposals for facilities to be used as proving grounds for the safe testing, demonstration and deployment of automated vehicle technology. Successful applicants would take part in a network of facilities sharing their practices and techniques. Eligible entities for the program will include test tracks or testing facilities, race tracks, cities or urban cores, highway corridors and campuses.


 "Safety is our top priority at USDOT and over the past year we have leaned in on ushering in these innovations that will transform transportation as we know it." said US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx. "Additionally, we recently announced the creation of an Advisory Committee on Automation in Transportation that is assembling experts to help us assess new transportation technologies. Our hope is that by designating Automation Proving Grounds, we will be able to build on that safety effort while taking advantage of these advanced technologies in a responsible way."


Proposals will be accepted through Dec.19. For more information click here.  

Upcoming contracting opportunities

North Carolina Department of Transportation authorities announced the agency will use design-build contracts to accelerate construction on portions of the Winston-Salem Northern Beltway and improvements to Interstate 40. Projects on the beltway, which will eventually become part of I-74, include I-40 to U.S. 421/B40, U.S. 311 to Baux Mountain Road, Baux Mountain Road to NC 8, NC 8 to University Parkway and University Parkway to U.S. 52. I-40 will be widened from Harper Road to NC 801.


Los Angeles International Airport commissioners approved $1.3 billion to fund the construction of a new satellite section of the Tom Bradley International Terminal. The new airport concourse will feature 12 new gates with increased space for larger aircraft, such as the Airbus 380 and Boeing's 777 and 787. The first phase of the project will incorporate the building of a 1,000-foot tunnel that will connect the main area of the Tom Bradley terminal with this new satellite terminal. A future stage of the project will allow for the construction of seven more gates. Officials hope a substantial portion of the project will be operational by 2019.


Maryland officials announced plans to construct a new, wider bridge over the Potomac River by 2023 to replace the older, narrow Harry W. Nice Bridge. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said construction on the bridge will begin in 2020 after a contract to design and build the new bridge is signed in 2018. Plans call for the state to fund $765 million of the project. The new four-lane bridge will be located on the north side of the current 1.7-mile bridge and will include a bike and pedestrian path. The Maryland Transportation Authority has already begun work on the preparatory engineering plans for the project.


The Federal Transit Administration announced a $2.75 million opportunity for nonprofit organizations to apply for funding to facilitate the advancement, production and deployment of zero-emission public transportation vehicle technology and related infrastructure. The program seeks up to three partner organizations to develop and manage project teams focused on increasing efficiencies and capabilities while lowering costs for transit fleets. The deadline for applications is Feb. 21, 2017. Contact Valerie Berton at valerie.berton@dot.gov for more information.


US Department of Transportation officials announced the Build America Bureau will provide a $338.5 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan for a new tunnel at Thimble Shoal Channel on Virginia's Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Construction on the Parallel Thimble Shoal Tunnel is expected to begin in October of 2017 and take about five years to complete. A new 5,700-foot tunnel will connect two trestles of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, a 17.6-mile structure connecting the Hampton Roads area to Virginia's Eastern Shore. Additional funding will come from the Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank and the district's general fund.


Pennsylvania Turnpike commissioners announced plans to tear down and replace three bridges near the Marshall Township and Cranberry Township line, as well as widen a 2.4-mile stretch of the highway beginning in Cranberry Township. The bridge over Route 19, just south of the intersection with Thorn Hill Road, will be the first to be torn down. The clearance of that overpass will also be raised. The other bridges are over Mount Pleasant Road and an unnamed tributary to Brush Creek. The $76 million project is slated to start in 2019 and to be completed by 2021.


Miami Department of Real Estate and Asset Management officials have issued a request for proposals for a redevelopment and management plan for the two marinas northwest of Marine Stadium on Virginia Key. City commissioners also approved a $45 million special obligation bond proposal to fund renovations and improvements at the stadium and other work on the barrier island, where the stadium is located. Commissioners may vote on a new bid solicitation package at their Dec. 8 meeting.


Fridley, Minn., officials approved preliminary financing for a $50 million civic campus. Buildings currently housing city hall and police, fire and public works departments were found to be deficient. The project will be constructed at the Columbia Arena site and will include site preparation work, buildings, fixtures, furniture, road improvements, utilities, parking, storm water management and landscaping.  


Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services officials have issued a request for proposals for contractors interested in operating a mental health hospital. The Osawatomie State Hospital, which lost federal certification a year ago due to safety issues, is about 45 miles southwest of Kansas City. A private operator would assume responsibility for providing at least 206 inpatient beds, with a minimum of 94 to remain at Osawatomie. The state legislature would have to approve proposed the privatization of the hospital.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing $11.7 million in projects to improve water and wastewater infrastructure in rural Kentucky. USDA Rural Development is providing $8.2 million in loans and $3.5 million in grants across Kentucky through Rural Development's Water & Environmental Programs. Hart County is receiving a $5.6 million loan and a $2.4 million grant to expand a water treatment plan. The City of Morganfield in Union County is receiving a $2.6 million loan and a $1 million grant, also for water treatment.

News about public-private partnerships (P3s)

Los Angeles County officials cut the ribbon on a new $12 million library in Quartz Hill, Calif. The project was a result of a public-private partnership (P3/PPP) with private sector entities for the design, construction and funding of the project. The county will lease the facility and has an option to purchase the property. The new 12,514-square-foot library is located on a 1.7-acre campus. The project includes public gathering spaces; outdoor learning courtyards; adult, teen and children's reading areas; a 100-seat community meeting room with audio/visual system; an early childhood/family area; a homework center and group study rooms. Sustainable features include rooftop photovoltaic panels and bioswales. 


Charlotte officials have issued a request for qualifications to gauge interest in a plan to overhaul 80 acres of land that was previously home to Eastland Mall. The mall was demolished in 2013 after the city purchased the vacant property. Economic development committee members want to tie in a transit plan to the property and use it as a platform to revitalize the east side of the city. Responses to the request are due by Dec. 21.


New Orleans officials are considering improvement options for the Public Belt Railroad, a system that includes 25 miles of railroad track that connects six rail lines to the New Orleans port and industrial facilities. The city-owned railroad is in need of capital improvements. While the city may invest the necessary funds outright, officials are also considering a public-private partnership (P3/PPP) with a private operator. The city plans to solicit proposals from potential P3 partners. Initial proposals will be non-binding in order to gauge interest.


Cincinnati officials are seeking proposals from developers interested in creating homeownership, rental or infrastructure projects in the city. The city is is providing $6.5 million for the projects. Projects in the neighborhoods of Avondale, Evanston, Walnut Hills and West Price Hill are preferred and the city has targeted two properties in particular.  They are the former John Shillito & Co. department store on W. Seventh Street and a public surface parking lot and a 18,000-square-foot building at the northwest corner of Ninth and Plum streets. The city is hosting an event Dec. 9 to discuss development opportunities. A pre-submission meeting is scheduled for Jan. 13 and applications are due March 17.


Southeastern Kentucky Final Mile (SKY FM) broadband fiber project officials released a broadband action plan for public-private partnerships (P3/PPP) to spread the use of high-speed broadband to rural areas of Kentucky. The goal of the project is to expand high-speed fiber broadband access to homes, schools, hospitals, businesses, public buildings, industrial parks and other critical structures. Partners in Clay, Knott, Leslie, Letcher and Perry counties hope the project will serve as a working model for use across the state and nation. Funding for the project was provided by a state grant from the Kentucky Communications Network Authority.


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