Volume 7, Issue 49 - March 23, 2016
A struggle that calls for ongoing efforts from the masses
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
World leaders, meeting in Paris last December, signed a historic accord related to carbon emissions and global warming. The agreement, signed by 195 nations, should result in significant strides being made in the battle to combat climate change. But, in spite of these efforts, global temperatures are expected to rise 3.6 degrees over the next decades.

Climate change ramifications reach far beyond energy and clean air, but if one focuses only on energy, there are critical questions to consider. Can the country's infrastructure actually accommodate an adequate amount of renewable energy sources? Will technology advances impact the energy industry as significantly and as positively as experts hope?




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Oregon leaders look to private sector for roads projects
State DOT simplifies processes, rules to encourage transportation P3s
Simplify and streamline ... that's what Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) officials had in mind with their recent revisions to the department's administrative rules governing the Oregon Innovative Partnerships Program (OIPP). The OIPP is responsible for developing partnerships with private entities to help secure state transportation projects.

In announcing the changes, OIPP Senior Project Executive Art James (pictured) said the revisions "cut off time and give us a more direct route to getting to negotiations on a project."

Legislation was passed in 2003 by the Oregon Legislative Assembly that allowed for the department to solicit from the private sector concepts or proposals addressing transportation projects. It also allowed for the acceptance of unsolicited transportation projects via public-private partnerships (P3s).

Since then, the process for entering into a P3 has been a two-step endeavor, said James. A firm seeking to offer an unsolicited proposal for a project would offer a conceptual proposal, and OIPP would analyze it and test the waters to see if other firms were interested in offering a competing proposal of their own. If the proposal had merit, then OIPP would ask for proposals from all interested firms, select which it deemed to be the best proposal and then enter into negotiations with that private-sector firm. However, OIPP found that there generally was not enough information in the conceptual proposals to determine all of the details, slowing down the process of analyzing proposals. Now, OIPP will seek detailed, rather than conceptual proposals, which should streamline the process and cut down the time from receipt of a proposal to negotiations and signing of an agreement.

Other changes in the policy include streamlining regulations and administrative rules so they are "more intelligible" and much clearer for the reader, said James. The Oregon Transportation Commission, ODOT's policy body, will be brought into the loop at various stages - such as before a solicitation, during negotiations and to approve the type of agreement into which OIPP enters.

Oregon transportation officials are hopeful that not only will the new processes and streamlined rules and regulations speed up the process for P3s, but that they will also encourage more private-sector participation in these collaborative efforts.

North Carolina voters approve $2 billion bond election
Proposition passes with two-thirds majority; money to go to colleges, universities
Last week, voters in North Carolina approved a $2 billion bond proposition that will fund projects throughout the state, including upgrades to universities and the state's water infrastructure. The initiative, called Connect NC, passed with two-thirds of the votes.

"This is the best of North Carolina," Gov. Pat McCrory said of the positive results. "This was a bi-partisan effort with Republicans and Democrats from the mountains to the coast, both in the legislative and executive branches, coming together to accomplish something that will have a significant impact for the next generation."

About two-thirds of the total dollar amount will go to the state's colleges and universities. North Carolina's 17 universities will see $980 million, most of which will go toward facility construction. Another $350 million will be spent by community colleges, primarily for new construction, repairs and renovations on the 58 junior college campuses around the state. The money dedicated to higher education institutions will be directed toward facilities for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), as well as for the training of health care professionals.

The bond money spent on water infrastructure projects will be focused on smaller cities and towns that need to build and repair water and sewer systems. That amount is $309.5 million.
Another $75 million will go to state parks, and the North Carolina Zoo, located just outside of Asheboro, will get $25 million of the bond funding for upgrades to support facilities, trails and exhibits.

This was the first statewide bond election since 2000, when voters approved $3.1 billion in construction spending for the University of North Carolina (UNC) system and community colleges. UNC President Margaret Spellings just started her job March 1. She said, "It is a great day for education in North Carolina. It is a thrill to experience firsthand the citizens of this state uniting around this mighty engine that is the University of North Carolina."

State officials have said the new state debt won't require a tax increase, pointing to an affordability study that showed the state had ample capacity to handle the $2 billion in new borrowing.

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California planning two tunnels for water project
Cities and communities in Southern and Central California would pay the majority of the costs of a massive project that could deliver water from the north. The $25 billion endeavor would include the construction of two tunnels, each four stories high, that would run for 35 miles under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, where the state's two largest rivers meet in Northern California. The project is designed both to send water to cities and farms in the south and to reverse damage water planning has done to the state's environment and wildlife. At least 35 native fish, plants and animal species in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta are now considered endangered. Construction on the project could run through 2029. State water planners still must win approval from federal and state wildlife agencies. The issue of transporting water south from the rivers has plagued the state for decades, and voters rejected a proposed canal project in 1982. This project is not scheduled to go before voters.
Indiana approves $1 billion in highway, bridge funding
The Indiana Legislature has approved a four-year transportation infrastructure program that will invest more than $1 billion in the state's highways. "This is truly a long-term solution for infrastructure and our local communities," Gov. Mike Pence said. "It could be described as a historic investment for local roads and bridges." The money will come from several different sources, including federal transportation dollars, $490 million from state reserves, a trust fund transfer of another $100 million, fees on electric and hybrid vehicles and an existing 1.5 cents-per-gallon gas tax that will bring in $276 million. At least half of the trust fund transfer is required to go to counties with fewer than 50,000 people and must be used for repairing existing state highways and bridges. The legislature also formed the Funding Indiana's Roads for a Stronger, Safer Tomorrow (FIRSST) task force, which will plan the state's long-term transportation future. The committee's goal is to devise a plan for upgrading and modernizing Indiana's roads and bridges and determine funding mechanisms to pay for that. Its members will meet throughout the year and present their recommendations to the legislature when it convenes again in 2017.
Arkansas presents $4.8 billion transportation plan
Planners with the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD) have released the draft 2016-2020 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). It contains a comprehensive list of 695 projects the state plans to implement by 2020. The program amounts to $4.8 billion of construction projects. The largest single item on the list is a $631 million project to rebuild Interstate 30 through downtown Little Rock. In order for a project to be eligible for federal funding, it needs to be included in the program, according to AHTD administrators. The last time the state updated it was in 2012, but officials with the Arkansas Highway Commission have amended the process for updating the STIP going forward. Planners will now be able to amend the program annually, allowing for more flexibility in the planning process. "We categorize the STIP as a living, breathing document," said Randy Ort of the AHTD. Members of the public will be able to submit comments on the draft version of the STIP until May 2.
Board approves expansion plans for Orlando airport
The board of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority last week formally approved a $1.8 billion expansion of the Orlando International Airport (OIA). The project will construct a south terminal at the airport. The terminal project is included as part of the airport's capital improvement plan for fiscal years 2016-2023, which was presented to board members last week. Construction could begin as soon as next year, and the first phase of the project would open in 2019. It would include between 16 and 21 new gates. The airport began a $1.3 billion project in 2015 that will expand its tram system and build a train station. The entire expansion program, which could add 120 new gates at OIA, is expected to take about 25 years. The design phase of the south terminal was begun last year, but the board members are holding off on construction contingent on meeting a threshold of passengers that pass through the airport, which was built to accommodate 24 million passengers annually. That threshold is "six consecutive months of airport traffic totaling 38.5 million passengers on a rolling 12-month calendar." In 2015, the Orlando airport saw 38.8 million passengers, and it is on pace to see more than 41 million in 2016.
Portsmouth approves $75M bond for plant upgrade
Members of the Portsmouth, N.H., City Council last week authorized a $75 million bond that will pay for the bulk of a project to upgrade the Peirce Island wastewater plant. The entire project will cost $83 million and take four years to complete. The city plans to borrow that amount from the state's revolving fund loan program, which would entail a 20-year term at 2.5 percent interest. City officials announced at the beginning of March that they had reached a deal with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to build the new plant in an effort to reduce nitrogen discharge from the current facility. "It pains me we've been polluting the water for so long," said Mayor Jack Blalock (pictured). "We've been violating the Clean Water Act since 1985, and we have to stop." The agreement with the EPA calls for the construction to be completed by December 2019.
Knox County to issue RFP for diversion facility
Knox County, Tenn., commissioners have delayed for 90 days the release of a request for proposals (RFP) seeking a partner to provide services for the county's proposed substance abuse and mental illness diversion facility. Commissioners had been expected to issue the RFP this week but put that off to gather feedback from stakeholders. They had previously solicited bids for the project but received only one proposal. The treatment facility is intended to help treat addicts and the mentally ill who would otherwise be placed in the county's jail system. The county commission has formed a safety center committee to facilitate the creation and opening of the facility. The committee members include Knoxville city and Knox County officials, both in government and law enforcement, along with professionals in health care, social work and mental health. The city and county also have worked with state officials to plan the diversion facility.
Utah university gets $32M for performing arts center
Utah Valley University officials announced last month that they had raised $20 million for the construction of a new performing arts center. Last week, state funding in the amount of $32 million was approved for the project, leaving the school just $2 million to $3 million short of its $55 million cost estimate. "We believe this exciting announcement solidifies just how important the arts are to the community and state," university President Matthew Holland said. "This is a crucial piece in providing a full university experience and atmosphere." The facility will be a 140,000-square-foot complex that will include a theater, recital hall, concert hall and dance performance venue. Architectural plans will be completed by the fall, and groundbreaking could occur as soon as November. The building at Utah Valley University's Orem campus was one of four Utah System of Higher Education capital development priorities that received state funding last week.
St. Paul seeks $4.5 million to fix slopes in park
City officials in St. Paul, Minn., are seeking $4.5 million in grant funding to pay for repairs to unstable slopes in Lilydale Regional Park. The park is a popular site for fossil hunting for residents and school trips. The grants would go toward improving the stability of the park's Brickyard Trail, Cherokee Heights Ravine and North Knob area, where erosion is causing sediment to trickle down into Pickerel Lake and into the Mississippi River. Officials hope to re-open the Brickyard Trail in the summer if access issues can be improved. It has been closed since a landslide in 2013. The city council approved a motion last week to seek the grant funding. Should it come through, city staff members would present the project's plan to the public before any work starts.
Littleton studying next phase of Complete Streets
Leaders in Littleton, Mass., have received a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) that will help city officials begin to study the second tier of the Complete Streets program. Complete Streets is a method of transportation planning that prioritizes safety and multiple modes of mobility: automobiles, public transit, bicycles and pedestrians. Littleton was the first Massachusetts city to adopt the Complete Streets model in 2013, and its program was named by national advocacy organization SmartGrowth America as the top-ranked program of its kind in the nation the following year. As it begins implementing Tier 2 of the program, the city will review transportation options, including the condition of pedestrian paths, trail networks, community facilities and its current capital improvement program. The money will pay for the development of a prioritization plan, which should be completed by Aug. 1, according to Town Administrator Keith Bergman (pictured).
Portland redoes RFP for development of former school
Officials with the city of Portland, Maine, will reissue a request for proposals (RFP) to develop the vacant Thomas B. Reed School. The city had issued a request for qualifications in 2015, the responses to which proposed to transform the school into housing for senior citizens. Local residents objected to language in the original draft of the resulting RFP that allowed for especially high housing density. After accepting the feedback, city planners have drawn up another RFP, which they will present to the public at a meeting March 29. The language of the revised solicitation does not prescribe the uses to which the school property can be put. "We're trying to provide more flexibility for the developer," City Councilor David Brenerman said, "and to have a project that is economically feasible and acceptable to the greatest number of people." The 34,000-square-foot building sits on 2.5 acres of land.
Collaboration Nation
News about public-private partnerships (P3s)

Orange County seeks developer for Dana Point Harbor
Orange County, Calif., has released a request for qualifications (RFQ) seeking a firm to redevelop county-owned land at Dana Point Harbor. The project calls for construction of the harbor's commercial core, two marinas, a hotel and 52 boat slips. Under the proposed public-private partnership (P3), the selected developer would design, build, finance and operate those portions of the harbor over a 50-year lease. Ownership of the property would then revert to the county. Officials have been planning the redevelopment of Dana Point Harbor since the formation of a "revitalization task force" in 1997. The project's original cost estimate, when it included just the commercial core, was $140 million. The county does not yet have an estimate for the expanded scope. Responses to the RFQ are due June 20. From those submissions, the county will select applicants to submit a project proposal with cost estimates. Dana Point Harbor generates more than $82 million in revenue annually, largely due to the 50,000 boaters it attracts each year.
Army secretary calls for P3s to cope with budget cuts
Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy last week pointed to the military's declining budgets as a reason it needs to increase the use of public-private partnerships (P3s). The Army's budget has decreased about 40 percent since its height during the war in Afghanistan. "Public private-partnerships truly have a practical value, because every dollar you can save in one area can be recommitted to spending in other areas," Murphy said. "By reducing overhead costs, we can better fund those who are on the front lines." He gave as an example a project that will construct a solar energy facility at Fort Hood, Texas. It is expected to generate about 65 megawatts of electricity for 40,000 soldiers and their families. "For this one project alone, we'll save $168 million over the course of that contract," he said.
Port San Antonio plans P3 to build workforce housing
Port San Antonio is near an agreement to develop residential housing units for employees who work at or near the port. The $20 million public-private partnership (P3) agreement calls for the redevelopment of almost 300 townhome-style apartments at the 374-unit Billy Mitchell Village complex, a 1940s property on 43 acres of port-owned land. It would triple the residential supply for the port and its surrounding area. "The ability to offer additional quality housing in closer proximity to employers at the port and elsewhere in southwest San Antonio creates a win-win for our customers, their employees and the area surrounding the port," said Port San Antonio President and CEO Roland Mower (pictured). The property was built initially for military families at Kelly Air Force Base. Port San Antonio has been redeveloping the former base for 20 years and assumed ownership of the residential property in 2010. The port itself renovated a number of the apartment units in 2011 and has seen steady demand for those residences since then.
FRA issues RFP for high-speed rail system
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to identify a private partner who will design, build, finance, operate and maintain a high-speed passenger-rail system to operate within an unspecified high-speed rail corridor. There is no federal funding available for such a system as yet. In the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, Congress required the U.S. Department of Transportation to issue the RFP. However, the legislation also prohibited any federal agency from acting on proposals submitted under the RFP without further action by Congress. Potential rail corridors identified in the request include the Northeast, California, Empire (between New York City and Upstate New York), Pacific Northwest, Gulf Coast, Chicago Hub, Northern New England and the Southeast. The corridors' boundaries are defined in the RFP. Responses are due Aug. 31.
Tennessee P3 bill reserved for transit projects only
Legislation allowing public-private partnerships (P3s) to finance transportation projects is making its way through the Tennessee General Assembly, with bills passed through committees in both the House and the Senate. The senate bill, however, was amended last week to remove highway and bridge projects from the legislation, leaving public transportation as the only projects that can be built using the model. State Sen. Bill Ketron (pictured), the bill's author, said that projects that could be built via a P3 include light-rail lines or a possible monorail linking Murfreesboro to Nashville. The latter project would run along the median of Interstate 24 and is a project that Ketron has promoted. The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) estimates that it would cost $2.3 billion to construct. The Senate Transportation Committee approved the amended bill last week, and the House Transportation Subcommittee did the same this week. The legislation also would permit developers to submit unsolicited proposals.

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