Volume 8, Issue 20 - August 10, 2016
Public information must be available to the public
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
Last month, President Obama signed a bill that had reached his desk. The new statute had only one objective - to improve the federal government's slow responses to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The intent of the congressional sponsors was clearly to make government more transparent to the people it serves. If that can be accomplished it would be a wonderful thing.

Sadly, too many governmental agencies rely on outdated excuses for their slowness and occasional reluctance to release public information. Most blame the slowness on a lack of resources to process FOIA requests and other information. That excuse is no longer adequate and a number of cities and states have launched bold initiatives designed to remedy that situation and ensure that public information is easily available to citizens.



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Aviation trust fund keeps airport construction soaring

Billions awarded annually for improvements
To date, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced $1.3 billion in grants to airports nationwide for Fiscal Year 2016 through the Airport Improvement Program (AIP). The program provides grants to public agencies - and, in some cases, to private owners and entities - for the planning and development of public-use airports that are included in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS).

The AIP is paid for by the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, which is primarily supported by excise taxes on passenger tickets as well as cargo and fuel taxes. Congress recently reauthorized spending from the trust fund through the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016.

The Lake Charles Regional Airport in Louisiana will receive a $1.2 million AIP grant announced this week to update its taxiway lighting system. The airport will replace the outdated taxiway lights with LED lights and put wiring that is currently buried into conduit.

Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport officials in Montana recently announced a $3.5 million grant to fix one of their airport's taxiways and upgrade its lighting system. An additional $2.3 million has been allocated to construct a runway.

New York's Syracuse Hancock International Airport will receive $2.4 million in two grants. The first grant of $1.9 million will be used to replace outdated passenger-boarding bridges in the airport terminal. The second grant of $500,000 will be used for design services to help reconfigure exit taxiways.

The Airport and Airway Trust Fund was established in 1970 to provide a dedicated source of funding for the U.S. aviation system separate from the general fund. The fund carried a balance of $14 billion at the beginning of the fiscal year.

AIP grants can be used for up to 75 percent of eligible costs at large and medium airports and up to 95 percent of eligible costs at small and general aviation airports. Eligible projects include improvements related to airport safety, capacity, security and environmental concerns. AIP funds are available for most airfield capital improvement projects if the FAA determines the projects are justified based on civil aeronautical demand. Qualifying airports must be publicly owned; privately owned, but designated by the FAA as a reliever; or privately owned, but schedules at least 2,500 annual enplanements.

New Hampshire enacts P3 legislation
Jurisdictions all over the country have been discovering the benefits of public-private partnerships (P3/PPP). New Hampshire has become one of the latest states to pass legislation making it easier to utilize the P3 model for infrastructure projects.

New Hampshire's Senate Bill 549, which takes effect Aug. 15, authorizes the commissioner of the state's Department of Transportation to enter into certain contracts with private entities for transportation infrastructure projects and establishes a P3 oversite commission to advise on 
Gov. Maggie Hassan
P3 proposals.

"A solid, modern and safe transportation infrastructure is critical to the success of our people and businesses, and public-private partnerships can play an important role in advancing our transportation goals. This includes bringing commuter rail from Boston to Nashua and Manchester, which will boost our economy, create jobs and help keep more young people in New Hampshire by ensuring that our people and businesses have the full range of modern transportation options that they need," said Gov. Maggie Hassan.
Upcoming contracting opportunities

EPA awards $10.7 million to clean up brownfield sites
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $10.7 million in supplemental funding to clean up contaminated brownfield properties. EPA plans to provide supplemental funding to 33 successful Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) grantees, helping more than 40 communities carry out cleanup and redevelopment projects. The supplemental funding to each grantee ranges from about $200,000 to $500,000. A full list of recipients is available at www.epa.gov/brownfields/fy16-rlf-supplemental-funding-list.
Pennsylvania to prep turnpike for smart cars
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for a financial advisor and another RFP for a legal advisor to support a broadband network public-private partnership (P3/PPP) project. The project involves the design, construction, financing, operation and maintenance of an expandable broadband network in the Pennsylvania Turnpike right of way. It will include fiber-optic cable and wireless antennas and towers. The network must be designed to meet future communication and travel-related needs, including those associated with smart vehicle use. The financial advisor would help the commission evaluate project proposals and developers' financial and operation plans and draft P3-related financial documents. The legal advisor would evaluate proposed project delivery methods and plans, required permits and approvals identified by P3 proposers and other P3-related documents. Responses to both RFPs are due Aug. 18.
Kentucky airports to receive $20M for renovations
Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky has announced $20 million for renovations to airports in his state. Pavement improvements are needed at 34 general aviation airports. The following projects are scheduled to begin this year: Big Sandy Regional Airport (Prestonsburg), $2.4 million; Tompkinsville-Monroe County Airport, $1.1 million; West Liberty Airport, $750,000; Russellville-Logan County Airport $1.6 million; Wendell H. Ford Airport (Hazard), $750,000; Morehead-Rowan County Airport, $250,000; Williamsburg-Whitley County Airport, $250,000; Sturgis Municipal Airport, $1.3 million; Harlan Airport, $750,000; Georgetown-Scott County Airport, $1.5 million. 
Orlando airport preps for new $1.8B terminal
The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority is preparing to begin construction on a new 16-gate south terminal. The $1.8 billion expansion includes a central energy plant, security checkpoint, ground transportation facility, taxiways and associated infrastructure. The new terminal is part of the airport's $3.1 billion capital improvement plan. Construction is scheduled to begin in May and complete in 2018. 
Three California bridges identified for retrofits
Paintersville Drawbridge, Photo by Tom Hilton
The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has proposed seismic retrofits for three bridges in the Sacramento region to bring them up to current requirements for withstanding earthquakes. The cost to retrofit the Mokelumne River Bridge, the North Sacramento Undercrossing Bridge and the Paintersville drawbridge is estimated at $38 million.
Michigan schools to improve technology, safety
Voters have approved a $76 million bond for Clarkston Community Schools in Michigan to pay for safety, technology and building projects. The funds will be used to create secure entrances into the school, install new camera systems, upgrade fire alarm systems and improve traffic flow and parking as well as other technology and site improvements. 
Colorado school district adds $300M bond to ballot 
Aurora, Colo., public school board members approved a $300 million bond issue to be added to the November election. If the measure passes, the funds would be used to build two new schools, replace one middle school, add classroom space to other schools, install extra security cameras, upgrade computers and heating and air conditioning systems and other projects.
New York state to invest $5M in drones
Photo by Don McCullough
As part of a White House initiative to accelerate the safe integration of the commercial drone industry, the state of New York will invest $5 million in developing the drone industry. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the program to help create a hub for unmanned aerial systems innovations and manufacturing. The project will include planning and designing a traffic control infrastructure, standardized testing and rating and an innovation district dedicated to unmanned systems in a corridor between Syracuse and Rome, N.Y. 
El Paso ISD bond panel to recommend $668.7M bond
A bond committee for El Paso Independent School District has adopted a list of projects to include in a $668.7 million bond election to present to the city council. Council members will vote on Aug. 16 whether to schedule a Nov. 8 bond election. Most of the proposals involve remodeling or rebuilding existing campuses in an effort to consolidate some schools.
Projects included in the proposal are $73.9 million to rebuild Coronado High School, $56.8 million to remodel Burges High School and $47.8 million to consolidate an elementary and middle school into a pre-kindergarten through 8th grade campus. Committee members also urge spending $42.3 million to consolidate another middle school and elementary school into a pre-kindergarten through 8th grade campus and $39.6 million to remodel Jefferson High School and the Silva Health Magnet high schools.
Austin to make $167M water system improvements
The city of Austin, Texas, has been approved for a $167 million loan from the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) to finance reclaimed water system improvements and an advanced metering infrastructure project. About $87 million will be used to finance the planning, design and construction costs associated with reclaimed water system improvements. The project includes improvements at two of the city's wastewater treatment plants and the construction of a reclaimed water storage tank, pump station and approximately 74,000 feet of reclaimed water transmission pipeline. About $80 million will be used to pilot test and install 230,000 advanced meters. 
Collaboration Nation
News about public-private partnerships (P3s)

Honolulu seeking bids to retrofit 52K streetlights

Honolulu's city and county officials are preparing a request for proposals (RFP) to replace 52,000 streetlights with LED lighting through a public-private partnership (P3/PPP). The city previously conducted an LED retrofit pilot project that showed significant cost savings, greater efficiency and increased visibility. 
New Mexico P3 to build $63.5 million rec center
Hobbs, N.M. commissioners have approved a contract to build $63.5 million recreation center. The facility will include meeting areas; an indoor soccer field; a multi-use indoor court, an indoor lap pool, therapy pool and recreation pool and an indoor track. The project is a public-private partnership (P3/PPP) among the City of Hobbs, Hobbs Municipal Schools, New Mexico Junior College, the J.F Maddox Foundation, University of the Southwest and Lea County.
Atlanta transit authority considers creative mixed-use
The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority has proposed a mixed-use project that would include four high-rise towers to be built on top of the Arts Center station. The authority has entered into discussions with a developer for the 6.2-acre site. Officials want to make the development a creative attraction in the midtown area. 
Arkansas creates P3 to advance financial technology
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson announced a public-private partnership (P3/PPP) to expand the state's High Tech Accelerator initiative. A financial services technology company
Gov. Asa Hutchinson
will partner with an accelerator program at the state's Venture Center to boost the development of startups focused on financial technology through 2018. "Arkansas is developing a national reputation for technology both as a result of the major technology companies in Arkansas and because of Arkansas leading the nation in computer science education.  Our new high tech accelerator initiative is an innovative way for the state to attract new technology companies and to support our existing industry," said Hutchinson in a statement. The next phase of the initiative will include a comprehensive accelerator plan to be presented to the state legislature in January. 
US and Australia to cooperate on smart infrastructure
The United States and Australia have formed a collaboration to work on transportation priorities. The two countries will seek to advance public-private partnerships (P3/PPP), intelligent transportation systems and unmanned aircraft systems. A memorandum of cooperation has been issued to enable the exchange of information, data and best practices. "In this era of globalization and interdependence, cooperative partnerships around the world are a necessity and we're fortunate to have great friends in Australia who understand this imperative," said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx. Foxx is meeting with Australian transportation officials to learn more about Australia's experience with P3s and to identify strategies that could foster the growth of successful P3s in the U.S. 

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