Volume 9, Issue 36- September 13, 2017
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, coastal cities will, without question, soon be reviewing flood prevention infrastructure planning. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other governmental agencies are too stretched at the moment to help, but most regions don't intend to wait. The devastation caused by flooding has become entirely too common. 

Cities will obviously seriously consider public-private partnership (P3) engagements. That's because the funding can be readily available and this is a critical need that should be addressed immediately. Flood prevention infrastructure is specifically designed to mitigate the economic and physical damage that is caused by storms, heavy rain and hurricanes.  

Here's why flood prevention infrastructure is so critical...and why there's little doubt that it will be addressed sooner rather than later: 

* Projections are that 10 million people will experience the trauma of coastal flooding by 2050; 
* The Environmental Protection Agency estimates annual damages from flooded areas will rise significantly in the near future; 
* Public demand for preventative projects makes storm water fees a viable financing option; and 
* The average 100-year floodplain will likely increase 45 percent by the year 2100. 

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The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has announced the opportunity to apply for $500 million in discretionary grant funding through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program. The TIGER grants are to be awarded on a competitive basis for projects that will have a significant impact on the United States, a metropolitan area or a region. The fiscal year (FY) 2017 Appropriations Act specifies that TIGER Discretionary Grants may not be less than $5 million, unless the project is located in rural area and then the minimum TIGER Discretionary Grant size is $1 million. The grants may also be as much as $25 million. The deadline to submit an application for the FY 2017 TIGER grant program is Oct. 16. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 appropriated $500 million, available through Sept. 30, 2020, for these National Infrastructure Investments.  

Webinars on How to Compete for TIGER Discretionary Grants will be held from 2-4 p.m. (Eastern Time) on Sept. 18 and 19. To register, visit the TIGER Webinar Series webpage

Providence, R.I., received a $13 million TIGER grant from the USDOT for a $17-million connector project. Construction is scheduled to start in the spring of 2018. Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza unveiled a plan for transforming Kennedy Plaza into being less like a commuter hub and more like New York City's Bryant Park.  

The transformation will include confining bus stops to Washington Street, which will become two-way in the plaza and be restricted to buses only. Cars and other traffic will be directed onto Fulton Street, which will be two-way with parallel parking on both sides. At the center of the plaza, a new walkway will allow pedestrians to get from Fulton and Washington streets to the plaza and park. Space gained by reducing the bus presence will be improved with shaded seating, landscaping and public art. The bus area between the skating rink and Burnside Park will be removed, creating a single connected park from the Biltmore to the post office. Buildings will be added near the rink for offices, eateries and bathrooms.

Once a powerful hurricane on the Caribbean and southern Florida, Hurricane Irma was downgraded to a tropical depression Monday as it continued to push north through Georgia and South Carolina, following several Floridians as they sought refuge in other states. Bands of rain were spread out hundreds of miles from the storm's center which caused flooding in Florida's neighboring states. Irma will continue to show its presence with 2 to 5 inches of rain, and as much as 8 inches in isolated pockets, expected through today across South Carolina and northern portions of Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi into Tennessee and North Carolina. On Tuesday, the tropical depression was downgraded even further to a post-tropical cyclone. 

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has been traveling the state and assessing the damage. President Donald Trump is expected to visit Florida on Thursday. As of 6 p.m. on Tuesday there were 4.7 million residents without power, according to updated reports on Gov. Scott's website. Today, those without power in Florida have dropped to 4.4 million. Restoring power is also a priority in other states that received powerful winds and rain. In many areas, fuel remained a scarce commodity, but eleven states have joined Florida in waiving weight and driver restrictions to move goods more quickly into the state, including fuel. 

The Keys, a series of low-lying islands, were hit especially bad. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates that 25 percent of homes on this cluster of islands are destroyed and about 65 percent are damaged, according to initial figures from FEMA. 

Most commercial airports in Florida reopened Tuesday, but activity was limited and hundreds of flights were canceled or delayed. The airport in Key West was closed except for emergency flights and was not expected to reopen until Friday. 

Across the southeast people now have to contend with destroyed homes, flooded cities, swollen rivers and debris in the streets. The clean-up has begun, but no set dollar amount of damage has been reported and no set amount has been approved by Congress. The destruction from Hurricane Harvey is like a déjà vu for those witnessing the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. It may take days, weeks or even months, but normal life will eventually return to these resourceful states. 

For those in designated areas in Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, registering online, at www.DisasterAssistance.gov, is the quickest way to register for federal assistance, including FEMA assistance.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) released a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for a proposed higher-speed rail route between Washington, D.C., and Richmond, Va. That 123-mile section is part of the larger 500-mile Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor that will run from D.C. to Atlanta. The completion of the draft environmental report moves the project one step closer to the construction phase of the Southeast Corridor. 

The preferred alternative in the DEIS calls for increasing maximum train speeds from 69 mph to 79 mph between D.C. and Fredericksburg, Va., and to 90 mph between Fredericksburg and Richmond. The total cost of the D.C.-Richmond route is estimated at $5 billion in 2025 dollars. The FRA and Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation will accept public comments on the DEIS over the next 60 days. Based on public feedback on the statement and preferred alternative, the agencies will prepare a final environmental impact statement.
Colorado- Eagle County commissioners approved $29.5 million to expand the Eagle County airport in Gypsum. The funding, which comes from airline fees, will pay for the expansion of the terminal, adding air bridges and improving traffic flow. 

Construction is scheduled to begin in April 2018, after the winter flights end with the conclusion of the ski season. For the 2018-19 winter season, commercial gates will move from the terminal to the Vail Valley Jet Center when construction begins. By the winter of 2019-20, the new terminal should be completed.
Iowa- Iowa State University is working towards building a $21.2 million research facility for feed milling and grain science and has received $14 million in donations towards their funding goal. The location for the feed mill and grain complex will be on 10 acres of university-owned land southwest of the intersection of Highway 30 and State Avenue in Ames. 

That land, managed by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, has been the site of crop research, seed operations and crop yield performance trials for more than 50 years. Fundraising for the project will continue, and a timeline will be developed as detailed plans and design work progresses. In the future, plans for construction will be presented for approval to the Iowa Board of Regents.
Kentucky- A $56 million renovation plan was announced last week by the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Law. The facility, built in 1965, will receive a new main entrance that faces Memorial Hall and enters into a 122,513-square-foot building, a 26 percent expansion. 

That space will include 11 new classrooms, a new 185-seat moot court room for trial training and more than 20 group study rooms. A new, third floor will be added with three classrooms that can be converted into one large multipurpose room that can accommodate as many as 400 people and can open onto a roof terrace. The building is scheduled to open in fall 2019.
California- San Mateo City Council members are reviewing funding options for flood control improvements in the North Shoreview and parts of North Central neighborhoods where property owners will be asked to form an assessment district. In 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency mandated insurance for about 1,600 residents with mortgages that live in a flood zone along the San Mateo Bayfront. The project would cost $23.5 million and would include enhancing the levee and two pump stations. 

The city council discussed forming the North Shoreview Flood Control Assessment District following a survey of property owners who showed a majority support for taxing themselves for the next 20 years to help cover the nearly $2.4 million cost of levee repairs. The city will mail ballots in mid-October and, if a majority of respondents agree, would form the district with levies assessed on property tax bills next fiscal year.

Maryland- The Salisbury University Foundation razed the long-vacant Temple Hill Motel this past week. The land will be used as a parking lot as the foundation decides what to do with the property. A suggestion for the former motel property is to convert it into a mixed-use property, including 600-unit student housing. 

The suggested plan also includes turning the land into a public-private partnership, similar to the foundation's Court Plaza. In 2016, the foundation paid $6 million for roughly 8.5 acres, which included a motel, Court Plaza shopping center and a commercial office building that was finalized on Feb. 9.
Massachusetts- The Amesbury Carriage Alliance announced it intends to suspend the sale of the Heritage Center building while a newly created task force reviews the facility's status. The former factory building at 29 Water Street was purchased for $200,000 in 2004 and was supposed to house the Amesbury Carriage Museum and the Amesbury Chamber of Commerce. 

After discovering that refurbishing the building would cost up to $6 million, the alliance decided to auction the property on Sept. 12 at a starting bid of $55,000. City council members and the mayor have objected to the sale so the task force will now seek a public-private partnership (P3) for the building.
Illinois- Downtown Bloomington is getting revitalized and in May, the city council unanimously approved the creation of a nine-member task force focused on potential opportunities. Areas of interest include parking, public places, walkability and beautification. 

While the task force's recommendations are not due until December, one suggestion has already gained popularity and spurred motivation- the creation of a hotel district through a private-public partnership. While previous projects have failed, both the task force and the city's 2015 master plan highlight the need for a new development downtown. These recommendations have attracted the attention of firms interested in developing the land without seeking financial assistance from the city.
West Virginia- A public-private partnership (P3) may be the answer to make Beech Fork State Park in Wayne County a lodge and conference center. Wayne County officials intend to build a 75-room lodge with a restaurant, meeting rooms, indoor pool and recreation facility. 

A 2012 feasibility study suggested the lodge could inject $2 million annually into the county. Two bonds were issued for the project in 2015 but they were blocked by the Legislature. The state government also authorized $5.5 million for the project in 2012, but the funds are still waiting to be spent.
New Jersey- The first phase of work officially began on rehabbing Hinchliffe Stadium following the Labor Day weekend. The funding for this project was approved by the voters back in 2009 for the city to use a $15 million bond for the project. The first phase is estimated to cost $1.5 million, which is part of a more ambitious plan to save the 9,500-seat stadium. The first phase will rehabilitate the stadium's facade along Liberty Street, restore four ticket booths and replace decorative features such as the old terracotta tiles and metal gates. 

The city has as much as $10 million earmarked for the project, but it was always the city's intent to seek a public-private partnership (P3) for the remaining phases of the project. The city has hired an architect, retail development firm and a law firm to consult on the project. There are still many details to be clarified, one among them is where all the visitors will park. For now, the city of Paterson is glad the Hinchliffe Stadium project is underway and hopes that it will showcase the historical significance of this stadium in a modern way for today's citizens and visitors to enjoy and help boost the local economy.
Illinois- The village of Plainfield is currently in the engineering and pre-construction phase of a new park-and-ride facility. The facility will take up about 10 acres of a 58-acre lot that the village owns. The village is considering a public-private partnership (P3) approach to develop the remaining property, seeking to put office and light-industrial development sites on the land. 

A P3 presents the village with opportunities to develop the property in different ways, promote economic development and help create jobs and revenue. The park-and-ride facility will include an entrance drive from Van Dyke Road, a traffic signal and turn lanes off the roadway and a 1,600-square foot building with restrooms. Landscaping, a detention pond and rain garden, storm sewer improvements and construction of a water main to the site will also be included in the construction.
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