Volume 9, Issue 23 - June 7, 2017
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
An abundance of rail safety projects are about to be launched. That's because commuter and intercity passenger railroads must meet a federally mandated December 2018 deadline to implement Positive Train Control (PTC) systems. And, it's also because the federal government just awarded millions to help transit agencies throughout the U.S. meet that deadline. Additionally, cybersecurity is increasingly becoming a concern for the commuter rail industry and funding is available for adding cybersecurity as a safety component to rail systems. 

Unlike most other project-related funding which has been placed in limbo by the proposed Trump budget, funds for train safety projects have not been affected. Last week, the Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Transit Administration announced the recipients of $197 million in funding for train control system projects. While that is good, a total of $455 million was requested for 27 eligible projects. The ones that were not funded will likely be launched with assistance from alternative funding sources. 

The most recent federal funds were made available through the FAST Act, the $305 billion, five-year transportation funding bill that was signed into law in December 2015. PTC Systems prevent collisions, derailments and wrong-track switching. A number of projects also received funding for back office systems, communications equipment and onboard hardware.

From human organs to houses, the decreased cost and increased attention to three-dimensional, or 3D, printing is putting these machines in the hands of several industries that are eager to try them out and make prototypes. 

Mars Ice House NASA Habitat Challenge
NASA is experimenting with 3D printers by taking them to the final frontier. Testing a 3D printer on the International Space Station was the first step towards establishing an on-demand machine shop in space. Three-dimensional printing offers a fast and inexpensive way to manufacture parts on-site and on-demand, a huge benefit to long-term missions with restrictions on weight and room for cargo. 

NASA just completed phase 2 of their $2.5 million 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, an architectural competition to design a colony in space. The goal is to not transport materials from Earth, but use what the planet has to offer for construction. Phase 3, which is currently under development, will focus on fabrication of complete habitats and will debut in August. View more on an out of this world challenge. 

 When astronauts head to Mars, they will need a safe place to stay on a planet with an atmosphere that doesn't provide protection from high-energy radiation. For researchers at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., the best building material for a new home on Mars may lie in an unexpected material: ice. Nasa experts, designers and architects came up with a Mars Ice Dome.

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Tom Wolf
Pennsylvania- Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced that $550 million will be used for bridge and highway projects across Philadelphia that will involve paving 235 miles of roads and repairing and replacing 35 bridges. The funding comes from Act 89, a comprehensive piece of state legislation that allocates funding to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. 

The construction is expected to extend the service life of highways and bridges around the city and improve infrastructure in the area. The major projects include; I-95 Betsy Ross Ramps and Adams Avenue Connector in Philadelphia, widening U.S. 322 in Delaware County, U.S. 202 bridges over Amtrak in Chester County, replacing the Route 452 bridge in Delaware County, I-95 overhead bridges in Delaware County, rehabilitating the JFK Boulevard bridge in Philadelphia, improving the Pottstown signal system in Montgomery County, resurfacing U.S. 13 (Bristol Pike) in Bucks County and improving the Route 41/Newark Road intersection in Chester County.
Oregon- On Monday, Deschutes County released its proposed $358 million budget for fiscal year 2018. Included in the budget is the Deschutes County Road Department, proposing to spend $650,000 to begin work on improvements to the Old Bend-Redmond Highway corridor to improve traffic flow and to provide an alternative route between Bend and Redmond. These improvements would take place over the next two years. The Road Department is also proposing completion of the Huntington Road/Deer Run Road paving project near the City of La Pine and improvements to the Burgess/Day Road intersection. 

The 9-1-1 Service District is proposing completion of a new Public Safety Communications and computer-aided dispatch project. The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, in partnership with Deschutes County Health Services, other law enforcement agencies and external partners, is proposing the creation of a Crisis Stabilization and Sober Center in Bend to better address the needs of citizens in crisis who have been referred to law enforcement. The operating cost of the proposed program is $1,006,717 and would be shared by county departments and participating agencies. A public hearing and final budget deliberations are scheduled for June 26, at 10 a.m.  
U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will provide $527.8 million in airport infrastructure grants to 584 airports across the country as a part of the FAA's Airport Improvement Program (AIP). Various airport infrastructure projects will be covered under the AIP such as runways, taxiways, airport signage lighting and marking. These projects could potentially create thousands of jobs. Airports are promised to a certain amount of AIP funding every year based on passenger volume. If an airport's capital project needs exceed their available entitlement funds, discretionary funding can be provided by the FAA as a supplement. Currently, the FAA is providing discretionary funding to 38 airports based on their high-priority project needs. Some of the airports receiving discretionary grants include: 

- Chicago O'Hare International in Chicago, Ill., $60 million - The first grant for this airport will be used to begin the construction phase of Runway 9C/27C to begin which is expected to be in commission in 2020. The second grant will be used to reimburse the airport for costs related to the construction of Runway 10C/28C which has been in commission since October 2013. 
- Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., $20 million - The airport is being reimbursed for a runway extension project completed in 2014 that extended Runway 10L/28R to enhance airfield capacity.  
- Asheville Regional Airport in Asheville, N.C., $18.2 million - The airport is currently in the seventh phase of a nine-phase project. The funding will be used to build a temporary runway while Runway 17/35 is rebuilt and relocated 75 feet to the west to satisfy FAA design standards. The lighting and navigational aids will also be relocated. The entire project is estimated to take 13 months.
- Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport in Pullman-Moscow, Wash., $16 million - The airport in currently in phase four of an eight-phase project to realign Runway 6/24 to meet FAA design standards. The project also includes additional runway grading, drainage and the construction of an electrical building. The project began in late May and is expected to be done in fall 2020. 
- Dillingham Airport in Dillingham, Ark., $14 million - The funds for this airport will be used to rebuild Runway 1/19 to ensure structural integrity of the runway pavement. This project is expected to begin summer 2017 and be done by winter 2018.  
The FAA is expected to issue AIP grants over the next several weeks to take advantage of the summer construction season. The timing of the grants will ensure that the projects will be well underway or completed by the winter season. View all projects receiving discretionary grants here
The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is proposing a 35-story mixed -income rental building with approximately 500 apartments and a ground-floor community facility. The apartments will be split between affordable pricing and market-rate pricing. The plot that the building is proposed to be built on is currently functioning as a parking lot and home to a trash compactor. The plan is in the early community engagement process for the Next Generation Program (NextGen). LaGuardia Houses was selected for the NextGen program because of its high repair needs, available land, and revenue potential. Currently, the city estimates that about $70 million in capital repairs are needed to renovate the 60-year-old buildings. Apartment interiors are estimated to cost $36 million and exteriors are to cost about $19 million. Six of the nine buildings in the complex faced damages during Hurricane Sandy and will receive $26 million for repairs. The future developer will be required to sign a 99-year ground lease and commit to the 50/50 affordable to market rate split.  

The RFP is expected to be released in the fall or winter of 2017 with the city choosing the winner in spring 2018. The city will choose the developer whose plan most closely reflects the concerns of the community. After the developer is chosen, the agency will start the participatory budgeting process where feedback from residents will be sought after to make the best improvements at LaGuardia Houses. NYCHA plans to allocate half the revenue from the new development for infrastructural upgrades in LaGuardia Houses. Construction is expected to begin in 2019. NYCHA is hoping to develop underutilized spaces at two to four sites per year over the course of the 10-year strategic plan. NYCHA plans to provide 10,000 more affordable apartments through redevelopments. The city has already released four RFPs for redevelopments around the Five Boroughs.
California- A new study conducted on 145 courthouses in Los Angeles County show that many are seismically unsafe and would cause substantial loss of life in the case of a major earthquake. The Judicial Council that oversees policy-making at the state court level is trying to create a plan to improve the safety of the courthouses. Retrofitting the courthouses to increase their structural integrity could cost anywhere from $140 million to $200 million per courthouse. 

Currently, the state does not have the funds for these projects because the $1.4 billion dedicated to court construction was tapped into by the state during the financial recession earlier this decade. The Judicial Council plans to ask the legislature to return the money so that is can retrofit the courthouses in the county. The council is going to focus on improving safety, accessibility and security of the courthouses rather than designing building that were purely for aesthetics.

Kansas- Kansas City recently put out a request for qualification (RFQ) to survey the interests of private companies for designing, building and financing a new, single terminal at the Kansas City International Airport. The RFQ was put out after the city reconsidered an exclusive deal with an engineer firm based out of Texas. Bidding opened May 30 and firms will have just three weeks from the time of the announcement to submit their bids in what is called a "Swiss challenge." This type of challenge allows a firm who makes an initial, unsolicited proposal for a public project to allow other bids to be made on the proposal. 

The initial proposer then gets to match or offer a better bid than what is deemed the best bid of the new lot. The RFP ask that the proposal submissions include plans to design, build and privately finance a 750,000-square foot terminal with a 6,500-spot parking garage. The terminal must have 35 gates, which can be expandable to 42 gates. Kansas City has already received two bids and expects to receive qualifications from additional firms for a project that could cost around $1 billion.
California- The city of San Jose recently released a request for information (RFI) seeking technology companies to use the city and its assets as a demonstration site for autonomous vehicle (AV) technology. Five corridors that the city is hoping AV technology can help provide mobility solutions are identified in the RFI. The RFI requests information on not only how the vehicles would operate on real roads but also how they would interact with other moving factors. The city is open to all types of ideas for the application of AV technology from autonomous shuttles to alleviate first-mile/last-mile transportation issues to a ride summoning system. 

The city is considering the numerous advantages that AV technology can provide such as greater mobility for seniors and persons with disabilities, decrease of traffic congestion, safety improvements and data gathering ability. The city is hoping to utilize the thousands of data points about traffic flow, ridership statistics and road conditions collected by each vehicle to best plan how the transportation infrastructure should be designed in the future. The city has emphasized that it is looking to enter a partnership where local agencies have access to ridership data to serve the public, instead of one where the private company owns all the data. In addition, the city has made it known that it is crucial that AV technology will be used to meets the needs of marginalized residents. The city will hold a responder conference on June 22. Responses are due by July 28.
South Dakota- The city of Yankton, Dive In Yankton and an engineering firm will be hosting a public open house this evening to gather input for the Yankton Aquatic Facility Master Plan Project. Dive In Yankton is a group of citizens promoting the construction of the aquatic facility project in Yankton. There are currently large monetary costs tied to the new aquatic facility and the city is looking to establish a public-private partnership to finance the project. 

The existing aquatic facility in the city, Fantle Memorial Pool, is over 70 years old and while the city has regularly maintained the pool, some residents feel it is time for a new facility. The new aquatic facility is seen as having the potential to attract new residents as well as providing recreational activity for existing residents. Yankton has previously attempted to build a new aquatic facility, but the project did not come to fruition after voters rejected a bond issue that would have provided the $6.3 million needed. Advocates have observed towns nearby such as Mitchell, Huron, Norfolk and Vermillion that built new aquatic facilities recently and are hopeful they can do the same, especially since the new facilities in those towns have been successful.
New York/New Jersey- The committee overseeing Amtrak's $20 billion Gateway Program is considering using a public-private partnership (P3) to build and finance portions of the new train tunnel running under the Hudson River through Pennsylvania Station in New York City. Federal funding for the Gateway Project is uncertain due to changes in transportation budgets under the Trump Administration. 

While the committee is considering private partnerships, the groundwork for procurement has not been laid out yet and the Gateway Program Development Corporation does not have a permanent director. Members of the board along with a professional search firm are working together and a permanent director is expected to be established by September. Additionally, the board recently voted to hire a law firm to create a procurement process so that the development corporation can utilize the interest of private corporations in completing this very necessary transportation project.The massive project is needed to alleviate pressure on NJ Transit. As of June 2016, NJ Transit accommodated an average of 1 million commuters between New Jersey and New York City per average weekday.
The State Department's Office of Global Partnership put out a request for information (RFI) that is due June 12 for an innovation platform to modernize the department's antiquated tech system. The department is opening bids to the private sector in hopes of developing a web-based resource center that can provide technical assistance and guidance about innovative tools and practice to different offices within the State Department. 

The Department wants the platform to be scalable to service a global user base and has left the project requirements broad to encourage creative solutions such as hackathons, crowdsourcing and brainstorming.

June 18-20
SelectUSA Investment Summit will be held June 18-20 at the Gaylord Hotel - National Harbor in Washington, D.C. During the event, Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI), with assistance from the Association for the Improvement of American Infrastructure (AIAI) will facilitate a 3-hour symposium covering the basics of Public-Private Partnerships. Experts from throughout the U.S. will be on hand to provide hands-on assistance to attendees. 
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