Volume 8, Issue 38 - December 21, 2016
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
People who don't regularly use public transportation often fail to realize how important it is for millions of people in the U.S. In some parts of the country, families make decisions about where to live, what jobs are preferable and which schools children attend based primarily on the availability of public transportation. Readers who doubt that statement may not realize that every year Americans take more than 10 billion trips using public transportation. It is truly a way of life for some.

Transit ridership has seen a 37.2 percent increase over the past 20 years and there are no signs of a slowdown. Younger adults today often decide not to purchase cars. And, interestingly enough, some young professionals have never even applied for a driver's license.

Buses and trains in the not-too-distant future will handle the increasing demand safely, efficiently...with cutting edge technology and most likely in a fully-automated way.
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The president signed into law on Friday legislation that will authorize about $10 billion in federal investment in water projects. The Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act provides for stormwater management projects and more than 330 port, levee and dam projects. It also funds initiatives to develop alternative water supplies in drought areas.


"The WIIN Act invests in critical water infrastructure, including waterways, flood protection and other resources, in a commonsense, bipartisan way. These important projects will bring vitality to our economy and support needed improvements in communities across the country," said U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito.


The passage of the act will help fund a $445 million project to rehabilitate dams with a high hazard potential. Capito's home state of West Virginia is home to 422 dams that may be included in the project. Also in West Virginia, the Kanawha River Basin will be studied for possible flood control and water resource projects.


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The Cross-Border Trade Enhancement Act was signed into law on Friday. The legislation will allow private businesses and local governments to pay for improved infrastructure at U.S. ports of entry by entering into agreements with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.


"South Texas is a powerhouse for world trade, and this law will help increase the amount and efficiency of trade at our border ports of entry." said Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar, who sponsored the legislation in the House of Representatives.


Previous legislation in 2013 created a pilot program for public-private partnerships (P3/PPP) at some ports and airports. 

The nation of Qatar is planning to invest billions in U.S. infrastructure. The head of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Saud al-Thani, told American officials the country would invest $10 billion in infrastructure projects. 


The QIA previously announced it intended to invest $35 billion in unspecified projects in the United States between 2016 and 2021, and it was not clear if the $10 billion would form part of that larger amount. Qatar is home to the largest U.S. air base in the Middle East.

A new report details how municipalities can design infrastructure solutions to reconnect communities with opportunities. The USDOT Ladders of Opportunity Every Place Counts Design Challenge report summarizes the experience and lessons learned from four cities - Spokane, Wash.; Nashville, Tenn.; Philadelphia, Pa. and Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn. 

The selected cities participated in the Every Place Counts Design Challenge, which brought together residents, officials and designers to create a vision for improved transportation connectivity. 

"In many cities, transportation infrastructure created physical barriers to opportunity," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "The Every Place Counts Design Challenge was a chance for these neighborhoods to envision a 21st Century transportation system that corrects past mistakes, creates jobs and opportunity, reconnects neighborhoods to essential services and builds stronger communities."

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Federal Railroad Administration officials endorsed a $120 billion plan to rebuild the congested Northeast Corridor over the next 30 years. The plan calls for shoring up crumbling infrastructure, running more trains and building new tracks that would allow speeds of up to 220 mph. The project could cut travel times between Washington, D.C. and New York by 35 minutes, and between Boston and New York by 45 minutes to an hour. The 500-mile corridor handles about 2,200 trains and 750,000 passengers a day.


Virginia Beach officials are considering stormwater infrastructure projects totaling $464 million to help alleviate flooding. Public works officials said projects would include adding pump stations, tidal gates, pipe improvements and canal maintenance. Council members will meet in January to further discuss potential stormwater project funding. Officials discussed using tax revenue collected for a light-rail project that voters rejected in a November referendum.


Montgomery County, Md., officials are seeking developers for a mixed-use arena development in downtown Silver Spring.  The Montgomery County Department of Transportation has requested proposals from qualified teams to design, construct and operate an approximately 5,000-seat multi-purpose indoor sports, public assembly and entertainment facility, as well as adjacent retail and residential facilities. Responses to the request for proposals are due April 10.


U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration (FTA) officials announced a $499.39 million federal grant to help build TEX Rail, a commuter rail line between Fort Worth and the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. The $1.034 billion Fort Worth Transportation Authority project will include a 26.8-mile commuter rail line serving downtown Fort Worth, the City of Grapevine and DFW Airport. TEX Rail is expected to open in 2018.


California Transportation Commission members allocated $236 million for 40 transportation projects. Ten projects will receive $190 million from the State Highway Operation and Protection Program for state highway systems. Bicycle and pedestrian projects will receive $31.6 million in funding. Transit and Intercity Rail Program projects will receive $4 million to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, expand rail service and improve safety. Traffic Congestion Relief Program projects will receive $1.2 million to help relieve congestion, connect transportation systems and provide for better goods movement.


North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) officials are accelerating plans to complete the Fayetteville Outer Loop by developing a design-build contract for part of the project. The department plans to award the contract in late 2017. NCDOT expects the entire project to be completed by 2025. Officials hope the project will encourage economic development, enhance freight movement and strengthen military connections in the Fort Bragg area.


Madison County, Ind., commissioners are planning to replace the Eisenhower Bridge in downtown Anderson. The reconstruction of the bridge will cost an estimated $18.4 million. The project will be funding in part by a Federal Transportation Administration grant of $13.5 million. A contract is expected to be awarded in April 2017. Work on the bridge is scheduled to start the following December and be completed in 2019.


Bexar County, Texas, officials want to expand Toyota Field to help lure a Major League Soccer team to the San Antonio area. County officials have begun discussions with the city, which jointly owns the field, and league officials. They are working on a plan to put before voters in November. Estimated costs for the expansion are expected to be available in February.


Ann Arbor, Mich., officials have updated the city's capital improvement plan to include major projects totaling $1.2 billion. Projects include a new $44.5 million train station, $3 million airport runway extension and rebuilding a water treatment plant. A public hearing will be held on Jan. 18 before a final version of the six-year plan is adopted.


Rhode Island officials are moving forward on plans for the 6/10 Interchange in Providence. A new road design for the for the state's most traveled expressway has been created and transportation officials expect to advertise the contract for the $400 million project by the end of January with construction to begin in the fall of 2017. The interchange provides a direct connection from Route 10 North to Route 6 West. The project includes new pedestrian and bicycle routes and is designed to connect neighborhoods and provide for green space.

News about public-private partnerships (P3s)

The city of Troy, Mich., is seeking a developer for a $350 million mixed-use project. The proposed Town Center project would include a large public town square surrounded by residential, retail and entertainment spaces. A landmark hotel and cultural building will also be included in the plan.  City officials, residents and other stakeholders have been planning for the Town Center for more than 18 months.


The Department of Veterans Affairs and private donors will build a $136 million veterans medical facility in Omaha, Neb. The project is part of a public-private partnership (P3/PPP) made possible by recent federal legislation. A new 157,000-square-foot medical facility will be built next to the current veteran's hospital. Officials hope to complete the facility in 2018.


A public-private partnership (P3/PPP) will renovate the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The city, Cuyahoga County and the region's visitors and convention bureau will pay half the $140 million cost of the project while the Cleveland Cavaliers and arena operator will pay for the other half. The project is meant to extend the life of the sports and entertainment complex to the year 2034.


New York City economic development corporation officials are seeking operators for a public lab for virtual reality and augmented reality development as part of a public-private partnership (P3/PPP). EDC President Maria Torres-Springer said the industry has seen a 125 percent increase in related job demand over the past year. The city is planning to invest $6 million into the lab, which is expected to open in 2017. The facility will bring virtual reality and augmented reality startups together and help train future developers.


The city council of Midland, Texas, approved an agreement with an oil and gas company to spend as much as $110 million to improve the city's wastewater treatment plant. The company will pay for the upgrades. The city agreed to supply reclaimed water from the upgraded plant to the company for oil and gas development in the Midland Basin. The plan calls for adding new pipelines and water lines that should last as long as 30 to 40 years.

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