Volume 9, Issue 33- August 23, 2017
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
At a time when there is scant funding for roads, bridges, water treatment plants, broadband expansion and airport expansions, there seems to be ample funding for urban renewal in most of the country's major cities. The reason is understandable...infrastructure projects are large and have usually been funded by the state or federal government. Unfortunately, that's no longer the case - funding at the state and federal levels of government is no longer adequate or readily available.

So, many large contracting firms are now focusing on urban projects, which are fairly large in size. Major cities throughout the U.S. are focused on urban redesign to create vibrant communities in downtown areas. Parks, trails, green spaces and community gathering places are all being constructed. Green infrastructure is also a high priority. Engineering design firms, construction contractors, landscaping companies and playground equipment suppliers are in high demand. Cities are also enhancing Wi-Fi access, moving to IoT (Internet of Things) technology and launching renewable energy projects. Funds for these types of projects are coming from various sources and as a result, lots of attention is now focused on what's happening at the local levels of government. 

Funding for the urban projects is coming from numerous grant programs at the federal level. Foundations and nonprofits are also providing funding. Crowd sourcing provides revenue and bond packages are being approved by voters who see the local needs as critical.

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The 926 ports throughout the United States serve as the gateway through which 99 percent of overseas trade passes, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. Ports are responsible for $4.6 trillion in economic activity, which is roughly 26 percent of the U.S. economy. Maintaining a port's facilities will greatly extend its lifespan, and its estimated that ports will spend $154.8 billion from 2016 to 2020 on expansion, modernization and repair. 

 Larger ships need deeper navigation channels, typically 45 feet deep or more, to be able to access a port. As ships continue to grow, the majority of existing port infrastructure will not be able to accommodate these larger vessels. Ports need to add cranes to ensure they can reach the cargo on wider ships, increase the size of the container yard to hold cargo and supply sufficient power to pull ships into port. 

 Recommendations for improving ports were provided in the 2017 Infrastructure Report Card and they include the following: Increase overall investment into the freight program, to ensure ports can effectively distribute and receive goods as ships continue to grow in size; appropriate funds to the congressionally-authorized projects to ensure that projects crucial to freight movement are completed in a timely manner; ensure that ports have a seat at the table as states create and execute freight plans; adopt new technologies to reduce wait times at docks, boost efficiency, and increase security; and improve freight and landside connections to strengthen the entire freight system and reduce congestion that is costly to the economy when moving goods.

A deepening project will be taking Charleston Harbor to 52 feet from its current 45-foot level. Once complete, South Carolina's Port of Charleston will be the deepest navigation channel on the East Coast.


Indianapolis- A gas tax hike of 10 cents per gallon has provided additional funding for the city of Indianapolis. Mayor Joe Hogsett wants to spend $107.7 million more on projects through 2020. Hogsett recently introduced his 2018 budget of $1.1 billion to the city and county councils. Between now and 2021, Hogsett's plan calls for spending $124.4 million to overhaul streets, $61.2 million for street resurfacing, $74.5 million for bridge rehabilitation, $8 million to replace bridges and $35.7 million for sidewalks and curbs. 

One of the higher costing projects listed on the Department of Public Works' website is the widening and improvement of 82nd Street from Hague Road to Fall Creek Road. That project, set to begin in the spring, is slated to cost $14.5 million. The increased gas tax, which brought the total tax to 28 cents, went into effect in July. The city is anticipating $8 million from the tax this year, $12 million in 2018, $18 million in 2019 and $15 million in 2020.
Wisconsin- Brown County Executive Troy Streckenbach introduced a $225 million building and renovation plan in May. The funding comes from a tax on hotel and motel guests and a new implementation of a six-year, 0.5 percent sales tax. Projects highlighted in the plan included a county jail expansion, which could cost up to $20 million. Upgrades to the downtown East Branch libraries and $5 million towards the $15 million cost of a science and technology building at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay are also in the plan. 

Currently under discussion is the replacement of the Veterans Memorial Arena, built in 1958, with an expo center. The cost has been pegged at $93 million and naming rights are projected to cover some of the cost. The expo center will have about 120,000 square feet and the adjacent Shopko Hall would be replaced with about 43,000 square feet of flat space.
Connecticut- Interstate 84, west of the Connecticut River to the area of Sisson Avenue, is getting realigned and moved to the ground at a cost of $5.3 billion. The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT) is in the planning stages to either remove the viaduct structure that carries I-84 through Hartford or bring the highway down to ground level. 

CDOT has identified the ground-level option over replacing the viaduct, which has reached its 50-year life expectancy. Portions of the highway that are placed underground would have caps placed over them to allow for streets, pedestrians and development. Shifting the highway would move the rail line between Sigourney and Walnut streets. The shift will also require the relocation of the station currently located on Union Place. The project remains on schedule for a final design to start in 2021, with construction starting sometime in 2022 or 2023.
California- The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is issuing a request for qualifications (RFQ) for the historic machine shop site in Sausalito. Potential commercial uses for the property, located on 25 Liberty Way, include marina-oriented light industrial and office and retail space. The 1.7-acre site includes a 37,800-square foot machine shop building that was built in 1942. The shop was part of the Marinship Shipyard where vessels, known as Liberty Ships, were constructed during World War II. In 2016, the machine shop building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

The site is zoned a public institutional district, and is subject to the Marinship Overlay District, which is dedicated to preserving the area for Sausalito residents. RFQ responses are due by Sept. 29. This is the first phase of a two-phase solicitation process. Based on the review of qualifications the VA will invite offerors to participate in the request for proposals.
California- Market Street in San Francisco is getting transformed at a cost of $604 million. The project lacks full funding and because of that, the overhaul will happen in several segments with the first slated for construction by the end of 2018. The project will provide protected bike lanes, streetscape improvements and will make the 2.2-mile stretch of road compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA improvements include new curb cuts, crosswalk alignments and the replacing of brick sidewalks that have become slippery when wet and are uneven after 40 years of wear and tear. 

The proposed plan is to replace the bricks with a pre-cast concrete paver of some kind. In addition, Public Works is updating the curb ramps for ADA compliance, making sure curb cuts are aligned from one side of the street to the other, adding curb cuts to the transit islands, installing audible pedestrian signals and more.
Ohio- Community opposition regarding the location of a new jail on Angola Road has Lucas County Commissioners looking for new land to build a $145 million prison. The original plan called for a 650-bed jail and a state-funded 150-bed community-based correctional facility on 30 acres of land. In walking away from the purchase agreement for the Angola property, the county will lose $13,750 provided by the Lucas County Economic Development Corp. 

The funding was used as earnest money. Officials have four months to find a new location for the project, if they want the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to contribute $15.2 million towards the proposed community-based correctional facility. Officials have said the current jail is unsustainable financially. The aging nine-story jail has a leaking roof, broken pipes and faulty elevators.

Tennessee- Johnson City commissioners are drafting a request for proposals (RFP) to see if it would be feasible to have a private entity manage the Freedom Hall Civic Center. The possibility of transferring the property leads to questions for the Attorney General about the sale of alcohol on the premises since local schools get priority use of the facility.  

The city commissioner hopes the private entity involved would take full control of the establishment. Currently, the city does not have a revenue sharing expectation and plans to end its $250,000 a year subsidy to keep the facility operational once private management is in place. The only revenues Johnson City receives from current Freedom Hall events derive from parking, concessions and rental fees. Renovations to the facility, totaling $11 million, are almost complete and the city hopes a single owner and promoter can attract the public to the center. An RFP is set to be put out sometime next month with reviews of proposals to take place by the end of the year.
Florida- In July, Alachua County purchased 211-acres of property near Micanopy for $1.03 million from the YMCA. While many in the county hope the land is used to continue to provide children affordable recreational activities, the county is exploring options for the area. County officials plan to create a request for proposals (RFP) for those who are interested in purchasing the property. 

The RFP process will also include dates for county employees and the public to tour the property and make recommendations on what should be done with the property. The county would like to see the camp run through a private-public partnership, by the county alone or by a private organization. Camp McConnell's assets include a greenhouse, horse stables, an Olympic-size pool, standard cabins and counselor lodgings.
Washington State- The Mountlake Terrace City Council is moving forward with plans for $1.1 billion in federal funding for a new light rail. The city is concerned with the rising cost of the project, stressing the need for it to be built efficiently and without going over budget. City council members have been asking the Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority to pursue a variety of options for increasing parking near the light rail station, something that is not included in the current plan. 

The council has suggested using a private-public partnership for a parking lot that would border the light-rail to cut down on costs. In addition to cost, the city is also concerned about environmental preservation, reinstating tree preservation, protection, and replacement regulations formerly in city code and suggesting clear, sound-barrier walls rather than a brick one.
Maryland- The Howard County Planning Board approved zoning amendments for the proposed new county courthouse. The permit deems the property as "Employment Center-Industrial" which allows developers to be more flexible when submitting plans for the site. County officials are planning for the 30-acre property to include 227,000 feet of space for eight courtrooms and a 600-space parking garage. The project is expected to be completed by 2021. 

The county put out an expression of interest in July for proposal submissions to be part of the private consortium of consultants who will handle design, construction and maintenance of the courthouse. Submissions are due by Sept. 20. The county will review and choose the top three submissions before moving into the request for development round. The county hopes to have chosen the private consultants, including an architect, construction contractor, financier and operation and maintenance group within a year. The consultants would work as part of the public-private partnership (P3) the county aims to use to finance the project.
Nebraska- Southeast Community College's (SCC) Beatrice and Milford campuses may be getting new student housing. The SCC Board enacted state-required policy for the school to use the construction manager at-risk method to build the projects. 

The college is considering a public-private partnership (P3) for the project. The housing facilitates are part of the college's master facility plan. SCC officials have been working on other first phase campus projects that include expansion of the diesel technology program at the Milford Campus, new classroom buildings in Beatrice and Milford, and a health sciences center at the Lincoln Campus.
Virginia- Virginia Beach could soon see a new Veterans Affairs (VA) outpatient clinic in the city's Princess Anne Commons thanks to a push for officials to consider a public-private partnership (P3) for the project. For this partnership, Virginia Beach would provide land it currently owns, the Princess Anne Commons and the developer would build the new clinic and lease it to the VA.  

The VA is interested in leasing a facility that would provide 155,169 square feet of usable space and 1,050 parking spaces. It would provide primary medical, mental health, eye care and other services. New congressional funding for a clinic to serve South Hampton Roads sparked the project. The $18.14 million allocated for the clinic is part of $274 million that Congress approved for leasing 28 new or replacement VA outpatient clinics around the country.

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