Volume 9, Issue 31 - August 9, 2017
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
Early one recent Saturday morning, half a dozen residents of Hamtramck, a city of 22,000 in Michigan, spent the morning patching potholes along a city street in an area of town where they live. The citizens worked with 900 pounds of cold patch asphalt, which they had jointly purchased with no assistance from the city, and did the work themselves. While this is hard to believe...it really happened. Most city streets in Hamtramck are pitted with potholes and the people who drive the streets regularly know the potholes are dangerous. Rather than wait for help from the city, some citizens decided to take matters - and shovels - into their own hands. 

The citizen-led project was successful and it garnered so much attention that an online GoFundMe campaign was launched with the goal of collecting $5,000 to address other street maintenance needs in 120 more residential blocks. Citizens offered to donate their labor as well if the funds could be raised. 

Hamtramck is another financially distressed city located in Michigan that has been struggling with revenue shortages due to issues beyond its control - weakening property tax revenues, rising employee pension costs and declining state and federal funding. But, city leaders have been so active, creative and successful in pursuing grant funding of every type, the city was recently the focus of a major business publication.

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Nearly $79 million in the latest round of Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (Infra) grants will benefit rail projects. U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Secretary Elaine Chao notified House and Senate authorizing committees of 10 projects selected by the agency for grants. Under the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, the USDOT has proposed the funding for freight-related rail, port and roadway infrastructure projects to Congress. The FAST Act, which provides long-term funding certainty for surface transportation infrastructure planning and investment, authorizes $305 billion over fiscal years 2016 through 2020 for highway, highway and motor vehicle safety, public transportation, motor carrier safety, hazardous materials safety, rail, and research, technology and statistics programs. Congress has 60 days to approve or disapprove the following projects to be funded:

* $12.3 million to La Plate County, Colo.: The project to realign 1.7 miles of U.S. 550 includes automated anti-icing systems and a southbound truck climbing grade for a "critical route" for freight trucks moving between Colorado and New Mexico.  
* $9.9 million to the Northern Columbia Basin Rail Road project: The Port of Moses Lake, in partnership with the Washington State Department of Transportation, would be awarded the grant toward a $30.3 million project to complete construction of the Northern Basin Rail project. Plans include construction of a new 4.5-mile line along the Wheeler Industrial Corridor and rerouting existing aging rail infrastructure to the new route. Crews would construct 3 miles of new rail lines to access industrial land adjacent to the Grant County International Airport and upgrade and modernize 3 miles of existing rail line;  
* $9.85 million to the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor project: The project entails construction of efficiency improvements that also would allow the Ports of Indiana to increase their cargo-handling capacity. Upgrades include construction of a new 2.3-acre bulk berth facility, a truck-barge-truck conveyor system, a new westside rail yard and new rail connection that will connect the port's main terminal with the new rail yard, dockside improvements and construction of a truck marshaling yard.
$8.67 million to the Taylor County Florida Competitiveness and Employment by Rail project: The effort calls for rehabilitating the Georgia & Florida Railway, including upgrades to 19 active warning public grade crossing devices. Plans also include rebuilding 90 public and private grade crossing surfaces, hardening 16 bridges to support increased traffic, installing 70,000 crossties and resurfacing 80 miles of railway between Foley, Fla., and Adel, Ga.;

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched the Water Finance Clearinghouse, a web-based portal to help communities make informed financing decisions for their drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure needs. The Clearinghouse provides communities with a searchable database with more than $10 billion in water funding sources and over 550 resources to support local water infrastructure projects. It consolidates and expands upon existing EPA-supported databases to create a one-stop-shop for all community water finance needs.

The Water Finance Clearinghouse gives local decision makers an opportunity to search for available funding sources for water infrastructure as well as resources (such as reports, webpages, and webinars) on financing mechanisms and approaches that can help communities access capital to meet their water infrastructure needs. State, federal, local, and foundation funding sources and resources on public-private partnerships, asset management practices, revenue models and affordability approaches are included in the Clearinghouse.The Water Finance Clearinghouse is updated in real-time, following a crowdsourcing model. States, federal agencies, and other water sector stakeholders have the ability to suggest edits and new resources or funding options at any time through the Contributor Portal. Stakeholders can use this interactive feature to manage how their programs and initiatives are displayed in the Clearinghouse.
Indiana- Last week, Purdue University trustees approved plans to finance and award construction contracts for a new large animal and equine hospital, to renovate the West Lafayette campus Agricultural and Biological Engineering Building and to build a new Bioscience Innovation building on the Hammond campus. Trustees approved $35 million for phase I of the 76,600-square foot animal and equine hospital. Construction is scheduled to begin in September 2018 and finish in May of 2020. Future phases will include construction of a new small-animal hospital, with a final phase to construct a food animal hospital. 

The $80 million renovation and addition to the Agricultural and Biological Engineering Building calls for demolition of an existing portion of the facility, a 125,000 square-foot addition and renovations to the more than 37,000 square feet of existing space in the building's northern portion. The construction time frame runs from October 2018-October 2020. Construction on the $40.5 million Bioscience Innovation building is scheduled to begin in August 2018 and finish in April 2020. Once the new facility is occupied, Gyte Annex, which currently houses some of these academic areas, will be demolished. Other projects include the renovation of more than 6,500 square feet at the Heine Pharmacy Building, HVAC projects in Lynn Hall of Veterinary Medicine and Stewart Center and work in the bathrooms of Hillenbrand and Earhart residence halls.
Florida- Jacksonville City Council members received a proposed 2017-18 budget by Mayor Lenny Curry that would focus on the city's historic waterfront. Plans would include expanding the network of water taxis with new stops in the Brooklyn and Riverside neighborhoods. Other changes include adding a Southbank kayak launch site that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, purchasing land for a future city-owned rowing center in Arlington, extending the Southbank Riverwalk for pedestrians and bicyclists, and beginning the process of cleaning up a section of McCoy's Creek. 

If approved by city council members, the $5.1 million in projects would also include the installation of docks where the Jacksonville Port Authority bought property for a planned cruise ship terminal that was never built. These improvements would be a multiyear project that winds through the Brooklyn neighborhood, an area that has spawned construction of apartments and restaurants.
Minnesota- Blue Earth County Board of Commissioners has agreed to renovate and build on the county's 60-year-old government center. The project will be split into four parts with funding coming from a combination of borrowed money and funding reserves. The center's parking ramp will be replaced at a cost of $7.3 million; an additional 38,000 square feet will be added to the building at a cost of $7.5 million; renovation costs will run $6.3 million and $2.7 million will be spent on design, testing and other work. 

Additional space that is added to the building will help consolidate several departments into one location and will free up room at the nearby historical courthouse. The center's addition will include an unfinished basement for gym equipment and showers for employees to use. The county also plans to replace the current 220-space parking ramp with a 340-spot parking structure. Construction is set to begin in 2018.
Louisiana- Louisiana is looking for a solution to water retention after floods devastated parts of metro Baton Rouge and Lafayette in August 2016 and northeast Louisiana the previous March. Area flooding damaged or destroyed an estimated 113,000 homes and left tens of thousands in shelters. 

Stressing a need for regional cooperation, Gov. John Bel Edwards is dispensing money to local parishes that house three watersheds most impacted by the floods- the Amite watershed in metro Baton Rouge, the Vermilion in the Acadiana region and the Ouachita in northeast Louisiana. The Acadiana region will receive $30 million, while the capital area will get $221 million and $27 million will be spread throughout north Louisiana. Funds were allocated based on the severity of flooding in 2016. In total, the state will spend $313 million on flood mitigation.
Indiana- The Dubois County Airport Authority has been working towards getting Huntingburg Airport's runway extended by 500 feet in length and widened by 25 feet. A tunnel will be built over County Road 200 West near the end of the new runway to keep car traffic flowing normally. Officials plan to open bids on the first part of the estimated $9-million project for roadway and tunnel work by next year. Moving forward is dependent on receiving the $3 million in funding that the Federal Aviation Administration and Indiana Department of Transportation have promised to the project. 

Officials are expecting federal funding for the rest of the project, including $1.25 million in 2019 for reconstructing the runway and runway extension; $1.8 million in 2020 for the taxiway extension, paving and electrical work; $1.3 million in 2021 for widening the runway and $710,000 for lighting for a taxiway. The airport also has real estate that was deemed as shovel-ready by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation in 2011. The Huntingburg Airport Technology Park has almost 200 acres that are available for development.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) under the U.S Department of Transportation recently proposed a Private Investment Project Procedures (PIPP) plan to encourage participation and investment in areas such as project planning, development, finance, design, construction, maintenance and operations. 

As detailed in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), recipients of Federal funding for public transportation projects would be allowed to identify specific FTA regulations, practices, procedures or guidance documents that may be an impediment to the use of a public-private partnership (P3) or private investment in that project. Recipients of federal funding for public transportation projects will be able to apply and have certain FTA requirements waived. Under PIPP, the FTA would not have the authority to waive National Environmental Policy Act requirements or provisions of the Federal Statute. The FTA will accept public comments on the NPRM until Sept. 29.
New Hampshire- City councilors of Portsmouth released a request for quotation (RFQ) for the redevelopment of the 107,000-square-foot, four-story, Thomas J. McIntyre Federal Building located on a 2.1-acre site in the central business district. City officials are interested in entering a public-private partnership (P3) to develop the lot into office space, hotel space, residential lots or a mixed-use facility with new pedestrian walkways that will reconnect the site with Daniel, Penhallow and Bow streets. 

The city is hoping to solicit proposals within the next few months so that the council can review the proposals and candidates in December. Private companies interested in developing the property should consider the preferences of the council members as well as feedback from the citizens.
Kentucky- The Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet is seeking proposals to develop a sports entertainment complex on 12-acres of land located next to the Kentucky Exposition Center, currently owned by the state. The request for proposals (RFP) publicizes that the complex should include a meeting space, a restaurant and a lounge so that guests of the convention center can stay on site for entertainment. 

The remainder of the RFP was intentionally left very open-ended to encourage a wide variety of proposal ideas. Proposals are due by 3 p.m. on Oct. 3, but before the proposal can be actualized, the Kentucky General Assembly will need to approve the project, which will likely cost $25 million.
Virginia- In November 2016, the County Board of Supervisors for Albemarle County approved a contract with an engineering services company, to evaluate the possibility of moving the Albemarle General District Court, Albemarle Circuit Court and the Albemarle County Administrative Office out of the city. The county has set aside nearly $40 million from its Capital Improvement Program budget to fund the project. Now, almost one year later, a decision has yet to be reached and there is growing contention over where to house the court buildings. 

The county had five different options on the table, but right now only two are being explored. The first option would be to renovate the former Levy Opera House, demolish the surrounding buildings, build a new three-story general district court on the site and renovate the current court complex for $39.7 million. The second option would be to build a new court complex outside of the downtown area, move the General District Court and office building into the Charlottesville court facility, against the wishes of the city, and build a new administrative building for a total estimated cost of $37.7 million. 

The option for keeping the courts downtown has not been officially taken off the table, but the county board has decided to pause on that option until they have a chance to fully explore the possibility of a public-private partnership. The criminal justice community is strongly opposed to dismantling the current county court system but the downtown location poses major parking problems. The county board is expected to make a decision by the end of this year.
Washington State- The Port of Port Angeles is preparing a feasibility study to make a case for moving an advanced wood products company to the port. The port is planning to fund the study by applying for a state Community Economic Revitalization Board grant for about $50,000 with the port funding the remaining balance. The proposed advanced wood production company would produce cross-laminated timber (CLT) which is made by gluing multiple layers of alternating-grain lumber together. CLT is common overseas and the trend is gaining popularity in the United States as a material for multi-story buildings. 

Port Angeles is a uniquely beneficial location to move an advanced wood products manufacturing plant because there is potential to combine this process with recycled carbon fiber from the nearby Composite Recycling Technology Center to reinforce the CLT. If it can be proven to be economically viable, the port would consider a public-private partnership to run the operation. While the advanced wood product industry is growing, the industry is facing a few hurdles mainly because CLT is not recognized as a standard material for construction so building with it requires extra permitting. An additional hurdle relates to the sustainable harvest calculation set by the state's Department of Natural Resources which has not been adhered to in the past years, making it difficult to anticipate future wood supplies.
Kentucky- In May of this year, the state of Kentucky announced plans to demolish the Capital Plaza Tower along with plaza structures and parking garages, the Fountain Place shops and the Frankfort Convention Center and redevelop the area into a new state office building and parking garage. The Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet has offered the space for a public-private partnership (P3), to be guided by local input and has received over 40 responses to the bid for a request for proposals. 

In advance of submitting the proposals, respondents submitted various questions about the applicability of city, county and state regulations related to building codes and other questions focused on water quality regulations. Answers to these questions were released Aug. 2, after the necessary resurveying of property lines and boundaries was conducted. The release of these answers pushed back the deadline for proposals from Aug. 25 to Sept. 12, subsequently delaying the deadlines for selecting a winner and awarding the contract.

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