Volume 9, Issue 37- September 20, 2017
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
Local contractors throughout the U.S. like to be able to anticipate upcoming opportunities. Not all, however, know how to uncover that type of information. Our researchers analyze lots of public documents so identifying upcoming opportunities is common for them. Here's a bit of advice about how to do it, as well as some interesting opportunities - most of which have not yet been announced.  

The research team has a couple of favorite information sources. One way to uncover lots of upcoming government opportunities is to simply take a look at any public organization's Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). This is typically a multi-year budgeted planning document that describes high-priority projects. Another valuable source of information is a city, county, university, hospital district or school district operating budget. Budgets are totally different from CIPs but when both are analyzed together, it's possible to get a valuable glimpse of projects that are currently on the drawing boards. 

Some cities have already approved new CIPs for 2018 but other cities have fiscal years that begin a little later and their capital improvement program budgets are just being finalized. The best thing about a CIP is that it will provide detailed project pages that designate timelines and funding estimates. Here are a few examples of the types of great information that can be captured. 

The city of Raleigh, N.C., recently finalized a 2018 CIP that documents projects valued at about $335.4 million. The largest project is a new $165.2 million Civic Campus, which will consolidate city services and staff in one location. 

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The majority of dams in the United States are privately owned with the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) owning and operating six of the ten largest U.S. reservoirs, six of the 10 largest U.S. embankment dams and 50 percent of all federally-owned dams. 

Approximately 95 percent of the dams managed by the USACE are more than 30 years old, and 52 percent have reached or exceeded the 50-year service life for which they were designed. According to the USACE, the cost to fix all dams that need repair would be at least $24 billion. At the rate of current budget funding, that would stretch the process out 50 more years. 

According to the Federal Emergency Management Association, a series of dam failures in the 1970s resulted in a national focus on inspecting and regulating dams. In 1972, a tailings dam in Buffalo Creek, W. Va., failed and within minutes, 125 people were killed and over 3,000 were left homeless. In 1977, the Kelly Barnes Dam in Georgia failed, killing 39 people, most of them college students. The benefits of having dams is to maintain flood control, water storage, irrigation, mine tailings, electrical generation, debris control and navigation. Dams were never intended to be deadly or the creators of destruction. 

In February, the Oroville Dam spillway in northern California was breached due to faulty design, construction and repair status. The spillway allowed water to seep under its floor and accumulate. Eventually, the pressure lifted a concrete slab into the water flowing down the chute and that initiated a chain of events that largely wrecked the structure. The most critical repairs on the dam are to be completed by Nov. 1. More repairs are planned for 2018.

Paul Trombino III
President Donald Trump announced plans last week to nominate Paul Trombino III to be head of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Trombino headed the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) for five years before resigning in November 2016 to become president of an engineering firm. 

At the IDOT, Trombino was responsible for a $1 billion annual budget, 9,400 miles of Iowa highways and 4,300 bridges. Prior to his time with the IDOT, Trombino was with the Wisconsin DOT for 17 years and has degrees in civil engineering and economics. He also served as president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. Trombino must still be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
Utah- The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) wants to start a pilot project to tax the number of miles a motorist drives, as a possible replacement to the state's gas tax. Several states, such as Oregon, have already begun such pilot programs. As cars become more fuel efficient and more electric cars come online, there will be less patrons at the pumps and gas taxes will dwindle. This will decrease funding for road maintenance and construction. 

UDOT is interested in testing out such a program with 100 volunteers possibly by 2018. Volunteers can install a device in their car that tracks miles driven and fuel consumed. They are charged 1.5 cents per mile. They receive a monthly statement, which also gives credit for the gas taxes they paid. The driver pays the difference between the gas tax, which is 30 cents per gallon, and the mileage fee, or receives a refund, if the gas tax total was more than the total road fee. Utah and other state officials say such fees would be more likely to come into larger play in 20 years or so.

The Federal Highway Administration announced on Aug. 31 that it has $3.1 billion in unused highway funding and plans to share the money with state transportation agencies throughout the United States. The largest allotment from this 2017 highway funding redistribution goes to Texas in the amount of $280 million. California will receive $274.5 million, Florida gets $158.6 million, Pennsylvania gets a total of $154 million and $145.3 will go to New York. 

The Nevada Department of Transportation (DOT) plans to use its $21.6 million for upgrades to Interstate-15/U.S. Route 93 Garnet interchange in the southern part of the state. The Delaware DOT has $20 million for a grade-separated interchange in Kent County, paving and road improvements in Sussex County and design for a bridge rehabilitation in New Castle County. About $1.4 billion in unused distribution funds come from the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act money and $1.2 billion comes from the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act highway and freight discretionary grants.
Washington, D.C.- A $2 billion redesign of the Smithsonian Castle's south campus was announced three years ago. The project is anticipated to start by 2022 with funding expected to come from both federal appropriations and private funding. The Smithsonian Institution put the project on hold because funds were only available for the Air and Space Museum's renovation, which is expected to cost $1 billion, making it the most costly project the Smithsonian Institution has ever undertaken. 

The redevelopment of the 17-acre south campus plans to have new entrances, skylights, visitor amenities and a removal of the edges of the Enid A. Haupt Garden. The Castle's Great Hall will be restored with a new entrance to the Enid A. Haupt Garden and the underground Ripley Center. A two-level underground expansion will include a cafe, retail store and reconfigured Ripley Center education space. The Castle will also be upgraded to meet safety requirements, including seismic reinforcement. Two contemporary art galleries will be constructed along with an auditorium beneath the Sculpture Garden. The circular fountain at the Hirshhorn Museum will be lowered by a level.
Pennsylvania- Pittsburgh International Airport is primed for a $1.1 billion downsizing and transformation. The current landside building would be abandoned, the tram would stop running and the number of gates would downsize from 75 to 51. New construction would include a $783.8 million landside building between airside's C and D concourses with new security and baggage facilities. Also added would be a 3,000-space parking garage totaling $258.8 million and $57.1 million for roads needed once the tram and current landside building are closed. 

Still up in the air is what would happen to the existing landside building, which houses ticket counters, the security checkpoint and baggage claim. The authority has budgeted $20.3 million for its demolition, but it could be marketed to developers. Authority officials plan to finance the new construction, which it hopes to start in 2019, through 20- to 30-year bonds, grants, passenger facility charges and revenue from natural gas drilling on airport property.
Minnesota- Four bids for the proposed Southwest Light Rail line have been rejected and the Metropolitan Council plans to release new project specifications in October with bids to be due in December. The entire project is budgeted at $1.858 billion with the federal government slated to pay about $929 million. But that money is not guaranteed, and the application for the full funding grant agreement from the Federal Transit Administration is expected to be delayed. 

To date, more than $187 million has been spent to advance the project. The rejected project bids ranged from $797 million to $1.08 billion. The council wants to try and avoid any changes requiring a new process of municipal consent or environmental review.
West Virginia- On Oct. 7, a $1.6 billion bond election will take place for the Roads to Prosperity Highway Program referendum. The bonds would be sold to pay for road work in Monongalia County and then paid back with car sales, gas taxes and an increased fee for motor vehicle registration. Eight projects in Monongalia County would be funded with the general obligation bonds. The projects, totaling $230 million, include the following:

- Work on .59 mile of the Mileground from Donna Avenue to County Route 857, Easton area - $15 million; 
- Widening the Mileground from the Roundabout to the Morgantown Municipal Airport - $27 million; 
- Improving and widening the Green Bag Road from the Kingwood Pike to White Park - $16 million; 
- Improving and widening West Run Road - $13 million; 
- Widening, improving drainage and adding a sidewalk to part of Van Voorhis Road - $11 million; 
- Improving and widening Beechurst Avenue from Sixth to Eighth streets, near the Seneca Center shopping plaza - $8 million; 
- Building directional ramps at the Interstate 79 Star City interchange and improving Chaplin Hill Road - $40 million; and 
- Constructing a new connector from I-79 to Morgantown - $100 million.

Projects would advance as they become ready and would begin with those that don't need rights-of-way purchased or utility work before construction can start. 
Maryland-  For fiscal year 2018-2019, the Washington County Board of Education has nearly $20.5 million in capital improvement plan (CIP) requests.

Almost $11 million of the requested CIP money would fund construction of the new Sharpsburg Elementary School. An additional $5.9 million would fund an urban educational campus project in downtown Hagerstown. Both of these projects are currently in the design phase. Also included in the CIP money is $2.6 million for a roof replacement at Boonsboro Elementary School and the second phase of a roof replacement at South Hagerstown High School. 

In fiscal year 2019-2020, a second round of funding requests will be made, including a $6 million request for a downtown educational campus, which is projected to cost around $19.2 million.

California- Lake Tahoe Community College (LTCC) president Jeff DeFranco's first State of the College Address focused on several projects taking place that could increase enrollment. One of the upcoming projects that could combat low community college enrollment is to create student housing on campus.  

By 2022, the school intends to be a residential campus and solve the housing problem for South Lake Tahoe students. In the meantime, the school plans on providing interim housing support. Within the next year, the LTCC hopes to secure a private partner to start building their housing on campus.
Tennessee- Concerns over cost has led the Lebanon City Council to reconsider design plans for the West Side Park. The current cost projections are close to exceeding the $5 million loan authorized last spring by the council. 

Park design consultants met with council members to discuss the proposed layout of pathways, pavilions, restrooms, a central water feature, inclusive playground, event space, food truck plaza and dog parks. To lower the cost projection and keep all planned elements, city council members are considering the construction of an amphitheater to run as a public-private partnership.
New Hampshire- A 12-member task force was appointed by the Manchester Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center last week to make recommendations on the future of New Hampshire's only hospital for veterans. The appointment came in the wake of whistleblower allegations of substandard treatment and conditions at the facility. 

Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin visited the hospital in August and announced that a task force would explore bringing a full-service veterans hospital to New Hampshire by teaming up with other hospitals in the state or forming a public-private partnership to improve care. The hope is that a new partnership could not only bring better care, but also bring better facility maintenance. The group's comprehensive review will include listening sessions, focus groups and a website.
Colorado- The Pueblo County Commissioners Board approved adding a question to the November ballot on whether to increase the county's sales and use tax. If voters approve, the funds would pay for a new jail and treatment center. Several sites were considered for the project, and the location is not yet finalized. There are two options to build a new jail, one of which would include building a $139 million facility with a 200-space parking lot. 

The second option would be to build a $123 million jail at a remote site. Both proposed facilities would be 270,041 square feet. The task force has determined that refurbishing the detox and substance abuse treatment center could play a critical role in helping reduce the surging population at the jail. The center would be leased and staffed through a public-private partnership. The current proposal for the center is estimated to cost around $10 million. A consulting firm has been hired to assess the desirability and feasibility of the project and findings are expected soon.
Kansas- After a special workshop last week, city leaders are recommending the renovation and expansion of Century II, the city's 48-year old convention and performing arts center. The Century II facility would then be leased on a long-term basis by a private operator. 

A hired consultant found that joint real estate development plus operational improvements can generate between $77 to $85 million in investments to offset upgrades to Century II. The city plans to launch a community engagement process in October to get feedback on the preliminary recommendations.
Vermont- Vermont Life magazine may soon be part of a public-private partnership (P3). The state  has released solicitations for the promotional magazine and is considering full purchase, a licensing agreement or a P3. The magazine has over $3 million in accumulated debt. 

State officials want the publication to continue its print version, along with the digital version. But the plan is to hand operations over to a successful bidder. Bids are due by Nov. 17.
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