Volume 8, Issue 17 - July 20, 2016
Elected officials seek budget fixes during year of increased expenses
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
In somewhat turbulent economic times, it's interesting to note that spending by public officials at the state levels of government is on the increase for 2016.  That reverses a trend that dates back to 2008.

Since 2011, state spending, throughout the country, has held steady at about $1.5 trillion per year. However, as the fiscal year for most states nears its end, budget planners are not as optimistic about the coming year and most are proceeding very cautiously. Many states experienced aggressive revenue growth in 2015, but oil and gas prices will negatively impact some in 2016. 

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States using 'smart signs' to improve safety, traffic
Latest technology part of traffic management programs being implemented in U.S.
Transportation officials nationwide are turning to technology solutions to address both safety issues and highway network congestion mitigation. One of the available solutions is becoming a growing trend among state and local governments - the use of "smart signs."

Installing smart signs (Caltrans photo)
Just this week, state departments of transportation (DOTs) in Colorado and California announced the testing and phasing in of the use of smart signs to help with traffic management while also decreasing the number of car crashes.

The Colorado system takes input from both vehicle detectors and cameras to process and share information with motorists regarding real-time traffic conditions. That information is posted on overhead digital signs, advising if lanes are closed, the safest speed in a particular lane - allowing motorists to react in anticipation of traffic problems as a result of motor vehicle accidents, disabled vehicles, etc.

California's smart sign use is part of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) SMART Corridor on Interstate 80. Caltrans claims phasing in of the program will give the state claim to having the most sophisticated high-tech network of its kind. Smart signs are to be used in conjunction with other state-of-the-art technology elements, and the major goal is to reduce accidents on this stretch of highway that carries up to 270,000 vehicles daily and has traffic congestion of the same magnitude.

Other states using smart signs as part of their traffic management efforts report motor vehicle accidents have been reduced an average of 30 percent, while road capacity has increased about 22 percent, according to Colorado DOT.

Minneapolis was the first American city to implement a system of smart signs. Seattle was two weeks behind Minneapolis but ahead of the rest of the country when it implemented using overhead smart signs in 2010.  The Seattle signs were installed on I-5 in Seattle and I-90 and SR 520 between Seattle and Bellevue. The smart signs display variable speed limits, status of traffic lanes and real-time information to alert motorists to roadway conditions ahead of them. An almost immediate decrease in traffic crashes was reported by the Washington DOT.

While traffic management technology is expensive, most transportation experts agree that it is far less expensive than the millions of dollars more that it would cost to build new lanes to increase capacity on major roadways with traffic congestion.

As the nation's population grows, more vehicles are on the country's roads and highways and traffic congestion grows exponentially. The use of smart signs and other traffic management technologies is becoming a trend geared toward mitigating traffic backups and improving the motoring public's safety.

Indiana 10-year plan supports P3s, innovation
Pence seeks to have $1 billion investment by state shore up business climate
A 10-year plan for Indiana to invest $1 billion in innovation through public-private partnerships (P3s/PPP) and startups was recently announced by Gov. Mike Pence. Pence indicated that these innovations will be bolstered by tax incentives and grants and will depend on indiana_logo collaborations among government, education and research institutions, communities and the private sector.

"Indiana's thought leaders, job creators and public-private partnerships are making tremendous strides in innovation and entrepreneurship today," Pence said, adding that he is hopeful that this 10-year plan will create even more interest.

Some of the highlights of the plan include working with the state's secondary schools to encourage students to develop an interest in innovation and entrepreneurship; supporting education, research and entrepreneurial practice at the state's post-secondary education and research institutions; and expanding opportunities for small businesses.

The state's efforts to institute the plan will be led by the Indiana Economic Development Corp. Pence said he will ask the State Legislature to invest $500 million of the Indiana Public Retirement System investment fund into early-stage and mid-market Indiana companies and continue its $30 million annual investment in the state grant fund for such companies. He also is seeking two $100 million investments over 10 years  toward the venture capital investment tax credit as well as toward innovation and entrepreneurship education programs. 
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Georgia, S. Carolina to partner on $75M bridge project
russell_mcmurry South Carolina and Georgia will partner on a project to replace two bridges on Interstate 20. The project, which is expected to cost $75 million, will replace existing structures over the Savannah River and the Augusta Canal, while adding lanes on the interstate to Exit 1 in South Carolina. Officials said the project is vital to ensuring the safety, security and efficiency of carrying both people and goods between the states. Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) Commissioner Russell R. McMurry (pictured) called the bridge replacements "critical," adding that it is "imperative that the bridge infrastructure meet modern demands" because of economic growth of the two states. The two bridges are now more than 50 years old. After studying construction staging, hydraulic concerns and future maintenance costs, the best long-term solution was deemed to be replacement of the bridges. Transportation experts say that the collaborative effort between the two states will help expedite the project. GDOT and the South Carolina Department of Transportation will share preliminary engineering and construction costs. GDOT will procure the project through a design-build contract to expedite delivery. Bids are expected to be sought in fall 2018.
California school district considers calling bond vote
Upgrading campus security and emergency alert systems, bringing electrical and technology infrastructure up to date, improving modern technology access and making health, safety and handicapped accessibility improvements would be part of an $8.3 million bond vote studied by a California school district. The Corning Union High School District is contemplating calling a bond referendum that would include 18 projects. Among those projects would be roof repairs, installation of an all-weather field and track to conserve water, replacing portable classrooms, restrooms and school facilities.
Chicago O'Hare aiport to undergo huge expansion
ohare_logo The fourth busiest airport in the world - Chicago O'Hare International Airport - is about to undergo a multi-billion-dollar expansion. The most recent expansion plan, announced recently by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, will add more gates, larger terminals and amenity upgrades. The airport is due for an expansion. The airport's international terminal has not been expanded since it opened 23 years ago. The projects, according to Emanuel, will not be paid for by taxpayers. The expansion plan, which is expected to be completed by next year, comes on the heels of Emanuel's January announcement of a deal worth $1.3 billion with two airlines to build a new runway. The airport recently received federal grants totaling $45 million for runway construction and a taxiway system.
Oklahoma school district calls $2.825M bond election
Two propositions will be on the ballot Aug. 23 for voters in the Anderson Public School district in Oklahoma. The first proposition, valued at $2.825 million, will include construction work on school facilities as well as new furniture, fixtures and equipment. The remaining $250,000 of the more than $3 million bond proposal, proposition two, is for transportation equipment. School officials are hopeful to construct a new computer lab, and double the size of the library that the school long ago outgrew. The second proposition dealing with transportation needs would be to purchase three new buses. 
Developers sought for mixed-income facility in NY
shola_oatoye Developers are being sought through a request for proposals (RFP) for  a new mixed-income building for Upper East Side, New York. Plans have been filed by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. It would be located adjacent to Holes Towers on First Avenue.  Plans are for the building, which would be built on land that is currently a playground, to include half market-rate and half affordable housing units. There will be 300 units. The RFP also suggests a minimum of 5,000 square feet of community facility space. NYCHA Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye (pictured) said the RFP resulted from an "extensive and meaningful engagement process that will continue as the development moves forward." On the "wish list" of amenities sought by those who attended sessions to discuss the project were improved seating and gardening area, improved lighting, additional parking areas and an upgraded playground. Developers will have until Sept. 30 to respond to the RFP. 
Texas school bond issue could be as much as $43.5M
Improvements to school district campuses, possible construction of a new junior high and construction of a new athletic field and performing arts center could push a proposed Smithville, Texas, school bond issue to more than $43 million. Board members are debating options that would result in a bond total of anywhere from $39.9 million to $43 million. Option one would make upgrades and changes to every campus, including the proposed new $19 million junior high and new athletic facilities that include a new football stadium and a 5,000-seat regulation track. Some school buildings would be demolished and others would get additions. That option carries a price tag of $39.9 million. Option two, with a $43.5 million price tag, has most of the same projects as the first option, but would also feature an expansion of the current junior high, possibly to include a cafeteria. Also new would be an $11.9 million,1,200-seat performing arts center and black box theater. Trustees have until Aug. 22 to call a November bond referendum. 
Florida county plans $551M beach protection plan
brevard_county The Satellite Beach and Indian Harbour Beach areas in Brevard County, Fla., will benefit from a plan recently approved by county commissioners. The $551 million beach protection plan will address a 7.8-mile section of the beach called the "midreach" area. The project will be paid for with $272.19 million in federal funds, $112.88 million from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and $165.83 million from proceeds from the county's 5 percent Tourist Development Tax. The goal is to preserve the beach areas for recreation and tourism while protecting residences, businesses, roads and other infrastructure from storm damage and preserve sea turtle nesting areas. Part of the project will create a 4.5-acre offshore artificial reef, which will be designed to prevent damage to natural coquina rock formations caused by the beach nourishment project. The reef would be completed on land and then moved offshore next summer.
Ohio district floats bond issue for new high school
Officials in the Dover City Schools are hoping for a successful bond issue in November to support construction of a new $26 million high school. The bond issue would put a 4.4-mill levy on taxpayers in the district for 30 years. If the amount were to be paid off sooner, the tax would end sooner.  The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission would kick in more than $20 million toward the construction costs. The existing library, cafeteria and gym space would be preserved from the existing school. The library and cafeteria areas would be converted to office space, storage and meeting areas. The gym would be used for practices and various competitions.
$27B transformation of MTA stations, cars planned
The state of New York is planning to provide $8 billion toward a $27 billion New York City mass transit system (MTA) project that will result in the addition of 1,025 new subway cars and 31 rebuilt stations. Things are moving fast on the project already, as a request for proposals (RFP) for the first three of the rebuilt subway stations is expected to be released later this week. Those three stations are located in Brooklyn and include the Prospect Avenue Station, 53rd Street Station and Bay Ridge Avenue Station. A "design-build" method will be used to complete the projects, with a private developer responsible for the design and construction of an entire project. The transformation was called a "recreation of the MTA" by Gov. Andrew Cuomo when he made the announcement of the MTA plans. The transformed stations will include enhanced lighting, improved signage, countdown clocks, better cell connectivity and Wi-Fi. The above-the-ground portion of the rebuilds will feature new canopies, service announcements and neighborhood maps. The new subway cars will feature wider doors, flip seats, Wi-Fi, USB chargers, digital customer information displays, digital ads and security cameras. 
Baltimore to seek bids for new courthouse facility
Private-sector proposals will be sought after the Baltimore City Circuit Court asked the Maryland Stadium Authority (MSA)  to act as an agent to find a developer for new courthouse facilities. Officials hope to determine if there is an alternative to a proposal from 2011 that concluded that it would cost about $600 million to renovate the current facility and build a new one nearby. The judiciary is now looking at alternatives, including public-private partnerships (P3s/PPPs) and even an alternative location. The stadium board eventually voted to work with the Circuit Court to solicit private proposals, with information from the stadium board expected within about six months. There is no plan as yet on how such a project would be financed, even if it were a P3. Circuit court facilities generally are not the responsibility of the state, but of the local jurisdiction. As far back as the 2011 report, city facilities were described as unsafe, dysfunctional and inefficient. The report also noted that by 2020, the Circuit Court would need a total of 800,000 square feet. 

News about public-private partnerships (P3s)

P3 to build affordable housing for Hawaii homeless
More than 200 affordable housing units will build a community for homeless individuals in Honolulu. A growing homeless problem has led the state toward supporting the homeless community to be called Kahauiki Village. The residences will be modular homes that were purchased by a Hawaii businessman in 2011 to provide housing for more than 5,000 people who lost their homes or were displaced by the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. The state has agreed to lease the property for a price of $1 per year for the next 10 years. Honolulu will pay for the $4 million project to install water and sewer lines in the community. The affordable housing units will rent for $400-$500 per month. The first phase of the project is expected to begin early next year.
UNM, developer partner on $35M innovation project
Ground was recently broken on a $35 million public-private partnership (P3/PPP) that will be the home of University of New Mexico (UNM) students studying as part of the entrepreneurial education programs. The six-story, 160,000-suare-foot facility (as seen in the accompanying artist's rendering), has been named Lobo Rainforest. The developer will own and develop the facility in a collaborative effort with UNM. The developer will have a lease agreement with the university, which will manage and operate the facility. The residence portion of the facility will be home to 300 students. The facility will also include meeting rooms, collaboration spaces and a cafe and will offer access to the latest high-tech equipment and other cutting-edge technology. The building will house the UNM Innovation Academy and several business startup organizations working to develop the university's technologies. 
Collaborative effort on bridge will mitigate traffic
A public-private partnership (P3/PPP) that involves the Illinois Department of Transportation, the CenterPoint Intermodal Center, the city of Joliet and Will County will see that a long-awaited bridge over the Des Plains River at Houbolt Road in Juliet is finally constructed. The bridge, said state officials, is necessary to help facilitate traffic in and out of the CenterPoint center. The addition of the bridge will also help mitigate traffic problems caused by the addition of other large companies that are moving into the south end of Joliet. Officials say about 11,000 vehicles will initially cross the bridge when it is completed, which includes more than 6,600 trucks.  The project will include a toll bridge on Houbolt Road over the river and nearby railroad track that CenterPoint will build at a cost of $150 million to $170 million. The state will put up $21 million to widen Houbolt Road and reconfigure the current interchange. The Illinois Department of Transportation is in hopes of beginning construction of the bridge by 2017 and have it completed by 2018.
Transit station bids to be sought in September
metro_transit Bids are expected to be sought in September for the $25 million Mall of America transit station facelift in Bloomington, Minn. In spite of being short $8.75 million in funds toward the project, Metro Transit is still hopeful to complete the project before the 2018 Super Bowl in Minneapolis. Design of the station is reportedly 90 percent complete. Improvements will be better lighting, improved signage and brighter colors. There will be a separate entrance for buses from the Blue Line stop, which should make transit trips faster. When completed, the project is expected to save operating costs of about $1.3 million per year thanks to increased efficiencies. The project currently is funded by $2 million from Metro Transit, $5 million from the city of Bloomington, $2.25 million from the Counties Transit Improvement Board and $7 million from the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement program. A November 2017 completion date is the goal. 
Georgia partnership will build hotel, convention center
Ground was broken recently on a public-private partnership (P3/PPP) project that will result in construction of a hotel and conference center in Alpharetta, Ga. Three private-sector firms will join the city in this $112 million project that will provide the foundation of Phase II of a nearly 90-acre mixed use Avalon development. The Hotel at Avalon will be connected to a 65,000-square-foot Alpharetta Conference Center. The hotel will feature 300 beds and will have a local chef-driven restaurant, a fitness center, pool, valet service and club. The new conference center will have a 10,000-square-foot ballroom and will feature six salons, six meeting rooms, boardroom, reception area, outdoor venues and more. Both are slated to open in early 2018.
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