Volume 7, Issue 44 - February 17, 2016
Collaborations benefit taxpayers, public entities, private sector
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
Transit-oriented development is a trend with significant momentum in the United States. Because so many people depend on transit systems daily, mixed-use communities have been developed around boarding stations. These areas have become perfect targets for public-private partnerships (P3s) that create new revenue for cities, port authorities, public hospitals and universities.

Funding is never adequate as public officials attempt to provide day-to-day services and simultaneously manage critical needs - transportation, housing, utilities, healthcare, etc. But as they look at transit-oriented development, there is reason to hope. Prime locations in and around transit stations are in high demand by developers.

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California to pilot statewide open data portal
Nation's most populous state to expand data transparency initiative
State leaders in California are preparing to make their government a lot more transparent and responsive to its citizens. Last week, officials with the California Government Operations Agency (CalGovOps) announced a pilot program that will lead to the creation of an open data portal to house all of the state's public agency data in one place.

"What we've done is put together a pilot that is part of a portfolio of projects to improve and modernize business practices statewide," said Stuart Drown (pictured), the agency's deputy secretary for innovation and accountability. "It's open data to push, ultimately, a culture of data-based decision-making."

The pilot program has grown out of a contest launched last year. CalGovOps created a portal that hosted 11 data sets from three different departments. The agency then held a contest that asked members of the public to use that data to help both the state's residents and decision-makers better understand California's "progress on achieving sustainability goals and to help policymakers and implementers inside state government make informed decisions." 
The winning entry used information found on the portal to devise a method to track how state agencies buy greener, environmentally safer products.

The state already has an open data site, but it is aging and inadequate, according to CalGovOps staffers. For the most part, it redirects users to data hosted online by various other agencies and departments, the quality and timeliness of which varies greatly. The new portal will attempt to make the user experience more uniform and seamless.

The agency has set a goal to add data from four more departments by the end of February and have a beta version of the full site by June. Its outreach team also will be hosting events throughout the state to promote the portal to different audiences: public, private and academic. The announcement of the pilot program was made last week at the annual California Health & Human Services Open Datafest at Stanford University. CalGovOps staff members also will host events for academics and local government IT officials between now and the launch of the beta site. And, Feb. 29, the agency will meet to discuss procurement options. Drown has said that, even at this stage, there will be further opportunities for the agency to collaborate with all of those constituencies: public, private and academic. 
"Our strategy is to start small, iterate, have low costs and low risks."

Over the next few months, CalGovOps will formulate plans for the portal's pilot version and for its rollout.

States turning to P3s to fund social service programs
South Carolina, Connecticut announce programs financed by social impact bonds
Many states are turning to public-private partnerships (P3s) to find innovative ways to accomplish public projects. Typically, the projects revolve around large infrastructure programs like highways or public buildings. But the governors of South Carolina and Connecticut - one a Republican and the other a Democrat - this week have each announced new social service programs financed through a form of P3 called Pay for Success.

The South Carolina Nurse-Family Partnership Pay for Success project will pair nurses with expectant mothers from early in their pregnancies to their children's second birthdays. The goal is to encourage healthy pregnancies and ensure young people learn to become responsible parents. The program's costs are paid upfront with private funding, which is repaid by the government only if predetermined goals are met, as considered by independent analysts.

"This innovative program is going to allow us to improve the health of our children and families," said Gov. Nikki Haley (pictured, left). "And it's a perfect example of what we can do when leaders from the private sector and public service work together."

In, Connecticut, Gov. Dannel Malloy (pictured, right) presented a Pay for Success initiative designed to help those dealing with substance abuse. The governor announced the Connecticut Family Stability Pay for Success project yesterday with White House National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli. The project expands an intensive, in-home program for families dealing with substance abuse that is operated by the state Department of Children and Families. Treatment teams composed of two clinicians and one family support worker visit participants in their homes up to three times a week, counsel them and offer parenting and child development advice. That will last for six months, after which the program's services will be tailored to an individual's needs.

It's modeled on a program already in place in the state, but new funding will allow for the program's expansion. The project will be funded, like the one in South Carolina, through private social impact bonds that the state repays only after pre-identified, data-backed goals are met.

"In Connecticut, we are continuing to innovate with new funding mechanisms to tackle complex issues," Malloy said. "The world is changing, and the way we approach funding critical services must change with it. It is critical that we focus on outcomes, and Pay for Success financing assures that we only fund programs that work. This is about providing effective treatment services early. It's a strategic approach in order to keep children with their families."

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Michigan DOT to spend $1 billion widening I-75
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) last week announced a $1 billion highway project that will add one lane in both directions along Interstate 75 from Detroit north to Pontiac. The project will be constructed in phases and is expected to take almost 20 years. The $127 million first phase is expected to commence this summer and take about a year to complete. The 17 miles of interstate highway stretch from 8 Mile Road in Detroit to I-75's intersection with Michigan 59, just east of Pontiac. The widening is just part of a project that also will include rebuilding five bridges and reconfiguring the interchange at Square Lake Road. MDOT planners are also considering incorporating vehicle-to-infrastructure technology into the project to allow connected cars to communicate with sensors along the roadway. "This is a tremendous opportunity for advancing connected vehicle infrastructure," Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said.
Sauk Rapids approves funding Second Street project
The city of Sauk Rapids, Minn., is joining with Benton County on a project to improve Second Street in the city of almost 13,000 residents just north of St Cloud. City officials last week agreed to allot $1.15 million toward the project, on which the county is leading the effort. The total costs of the project are expected to be almost $7 million. The majority of the costs will go toward the widening of Second Street North, from Third Avenue to Stearns Drive. The city's investment will pay for right-of-way acquisitions, utility replacements, a portion of the additional street lighting, landscaping and one section of the sidewalk. The county will now seek the approval of the Minnesota Department of Transportation, upon which it will begin the bidding process for the project.
Green Bay's stormwater fixes amount to $150 million
The last month of 2015 was the wettest December on record in Green Bay, Wisc., and the city wasn't entirely prepared for it. City engineers last week presented a memo to the city's common council stating that it would take $150 million to upgrade the stormwater infrastructure. "I have people in my district who have abandoned their houses because the water comes right over their window wells and knocks out their furnaces and appliances," Green Bay Alderman Guy Zima (pictured) said. "It's really an expensive proposition, but it's one of the basic needs of our community." The report identified 450 streets and private properties that are prone to regular flooding in periods of intense rain. The city received 125 complaints of flooding and sewer backups in December alone. Officials from the Public Works Department said that the city would need to install larger storm water drainage pipes, construct more pump stations and include more funding for annual maintenance in order to address the issue sufficiently. Public Works Director Steve Grenier has requested funds to implement solutions for the six highest-priority areas over the next three years. A longer-term plan would address the remaining problems over 20 years.
Williamson County to build two school auditoriums
Members of the Williamson County, Tenn., Board of Education have requested funding from the county commission to build auditoriums in the county's four middle schools. Last week, the commission agreed to direct $6 million to pay for the construction of two auditoriums. The school board had asked for a total of $12 million. The auditoriums will serve as performance space for students and provide additional classroom space for the overcrowded middle schools. District officials have said that the original plan called for auditoriums to be provided to Page and Heritage middle schools as a part of phase three of a larger capital improvement plan. Grassland and Sunset middle schools would be in the final phase. The first two phases of that plan already have been completed. While the final decision has not yet been made, officials indicated the phase-three schools would get the new auditoriums.
Texas A&M approves $40 million facility in McAllen
The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents last week approved $40 million to begin the process of building a multipurpose academic facility in McAllen, Texas. The South Texas city lies in the Rio Grande Valley, and its leadership last year reached an agreement with the university to build a satellite campus for Texas A&M in an incorporated area in far north McAllen called Tres Lagos. "The excellence of Texas A&M is a perfect fit for McAllen, one of the country's fastest-growing cities and an economic engine for the region and state," said Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp (pictured). "It will be exciting to witness that first group of Aggies going to class in McAllen." The 60,000-square-foot academic building is scheduled to open for the fall 2017 semester and offer four to six degree plans. In addition to the Texas A&M System funds, the city of McAllen has also committed to providing $10 million toward the construction of the facility. City officials still need to approve design plans for the building before construction can begin.
Custer City, Regional Health approve hospital funding
City officials from Custer, S.D., have joined together with the local hospital board, called Custer Community Health Services, Inc. (CCHS), and the area's medical services provider, Regional Health, to fund the construction of a new hospital and clinic. Once the new hospital is built and operational, Regional Health will demolish the existing hospital building and restore the property to green space before returning it to city ownership. Custer City Council members approved the project at the beginning of the month. The city's portion of the costs will come to $4 million, while Regional Health will contribute the remaining $14.4 million. Regional Health provides health services throughout the Black Hills region from its base in Rapid City. The project is expected to begin this summer, with construction to be completed by February 2018.
Plan to build docks on Onondaga Lake gets approval
By the end of the summer, residents of Onondaga County, N.Y., will be able to better enjoy themselves on Onondaga Lake. County leaders last week approved a $1.7-million project to build boat slips and piers on the lake that will allow boaters to dock at Lakeview Park. The project will construct 30 to 40 slips at Lakeview Park, a boat launch on the Seneca River with 60 additional parking spaces and another boat launch on the west side of the lake. "Things are going very well, they're going very quickly and, before you know it, there's going to be constant activity on Onondaga Lake," said County Executive Joanne Mahoney (pictured). The project will be done by the Onondaga County Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which will use a $750,000 state grant and $950,000 in county funds from a legal settlement to pay for it. DEC officials plan to begin construction in the spring and complete the project by mid-summer.
Muncie releases RFP for White River Canal District
Muncie, Ind., last week released a request for proposals (RFP) to identify developers to work with city officials in building out the proposed $48 million White River Canal District. The mixed-use development will include a boardwalk, public plazas, a pedestrian bridge, restaurants, commercial space and residential buildings on 10 acres. The district will be developed in three phases and is scheduled to begin construction at the end of 2016. The development will be built around the Liberty Pass canal, which the Muncie Sanitary District completed in the fall of 2015 as part of the downtown area's stormwater system. City officials will pay for a portion of the development with funds provided by tax increment financing (TIF); private financing also will be involved. The White River Canal District is one part of a downtown redevelopment project that includes a new hotel, a redeveloped Tuhey Park and connections to Ball State University and Indiana University's Health Ball Memorial Hospital.
NYSDOT, Watertown to replace Arsenal Street bridge
Infrastructure planners with the city of Watertown, N.Y., and the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) are preparing to replace the Arsenal Street bridge in Watertown. The $8.1 million project will replace the 63-year-old bridge, which runs above a main railroad line on the city's west side. The state has deemed it deficient in several areas, including on the surface and bridge deck, joints, bearings, sidewalks and piers, according to Jeffrey Grill, a state engineer. The project won't begin until April 2019 and will start with the construction of a two-lane temporary bridge. Construction of the permanent replacement is scheduled for the following spring and will take a year to complete. The project's design should be finished by this spring. The federal government will pay 80 percent of its cost, and the state will cover the remaining amount. Local officials have requested the design plans include bicycle lanes and wider sidewalks to increase safety for cyclists and pedestrians.
Bexar County to expand Loop 1604 west of San Antonio
Bexar County, Texas, officials have approved to pay for a portion of a project that will expand Loop 1604 from US 90 to Culebra Road on the western edge of San Antonio. The county commissioners last week approved a $52 million contribution to the project, and the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority will add $70 million. The Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) will oversee construction, which will transform Loop 1604 from a four-lane divided roadway to a four-lane expressway, with four additional lanes for frontage roads. The project will include the addition of five overpasses that will allow for a free flow of traffic over busy intersections. The total costs for the project will be about $186 million. Construction is set to begin in the fall.

News about public-private partnerships (P3s)

FDOT releases RFQ for I-95 project in Miami
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) seeking a partner to design, build and finance a highway project in Miami. The Interstate 395/Interstate 95 project will involve improvements for 1.4 miles of I-395, 1.6 miles of pavement reconstruction on I-95 and the construction of new elevated collector-distributor ramps from I-95 to State Road 836. The cost for the entire project is expected to reach $617 million. The purpose of the construction is to reduce congestion on the interstate and to provide "a visually appealing bridge" and improved access to and from I-395. The Miami Dade Expressway Authority has a $186 million project that will be built adjacent to this FDOT project. Though separate, FDOT will procure and manage the projects jointly. Responses are due by March 7, with a shortlist of up to five teams expected to be announced before April 20 and a winner to be selected in February 2017.
Ascension Parish seeks adviser for wastewater P3
Ascension Parish, La., is pursuing the construction of a wastewater treatment system and has issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) to find a technical adviser to work with parish officials on the public-private partnership (P3). The parish is negotiating with a single bidder to design, build, finance and operate the $300 million system. Plans are for the private partner to own the system for a 30-year period, after which it would revert to the parish. This RFQ is seeking a consultant to aid in the negotiations of the P3 agreement and provide implementation support for the project's development. The plan calls for the new system to replace existing treatment plants and for construction to be conducted in phases. Beginning in 2018, the first three plants will be built over five or six years. Responses are due Feb. 23, and the Louisiana Public Service Commission is required to review the final plan to ensure it will be to the public's benefit.
Will Los Angeles use P3 to build convention center?
The Los Angeles City Council's Economic Development Committee has agreed to pursue the expansion and renovation of the city's convention center on a dual track, one plan financed by bonds and the other using a public-private partnership (P3). The P3 approach has been recommended by City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana (pictured), who would like the city to use a design-build-finance-operate-maintain model to complete the convention center project. "We are trying to find an approach that will allow the city to have a thriving convention center," Santana said. The city's downtown area has been a hot market for development in recent years, and city officials have said they think there is sufficient interest from the private sector in funding the expansion project. The city's P3 consultant for the project has said that the convention center property could support nearly $250 million in added revenue from a 50-year ground lease and that the city could see an addition $10 million in property and sales taxes. City officials will proceed with an environmental impact report for the expansion project as the city council considers both financing methods.
Community college to use P3 for new student housing
Blinn College in Brenham, Texas, houses more than 1,300 students on its campus, more than any other community college in the state. But the school still had a waiting list of more than 400 students for the fall semester of 2015. Consequently, the Blinn College Board of Trustees has approved a public-private partnership (P3) to build a new student housing facility on campus. The new dorm would provide housing to 453 students beginning in the 2017 fall semester. The school's administration negotiated a plan for the private partner to finance, design and construct the facility after the trustees authorized the negotiations in November 2015. The project is expected to cost about $35 million. The private partner will have a 40-year lease of the dormitory, after which the facility will revert to Blinn College.
LSU selects development team for Nicholson Gateway
The LSU Property Foundation has chosen a partner for its development project, called the Nicholson Gateway. The project will be a public-private partnership (P3) to design, build, finance, operate and maintain new student residence halls on a 28-acre campus site. Foundation officials will decide on the final scope and terms of the project and officially name the developer, as well, by May. Construction currently is expected to commence by late 2016 and be completed in time for the fall 2018 semester. The LSU Property Foundation received 10 submissions for its request for qualifications last summer and selected four teams to submit proposals by November 2015. The selected firm will now negotiate with the foundation to finalize terms of their agreement and a plan for construction. The private partner will finance 100 percent of the project. The Nicholson Gateway Development Project is expected to include more than 1,200 apartment-style beds and about 400 suite-style beds. It also will feature between 30,000 and 50,000 square feet of retail space.

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