Volume 10, Issue 16- Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
President Trump has promised to shorten the time it takes for federal agencies to approve environmental reviews and issue permits for large public projects. Many have scoffed at the Administration's claims. But maybe - just maybe - change is in the wind. 

Last week, department heads signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) outlining the implementation of an executive order to speed up the regulatory processes. The event was seen as a momentous win for public officials who have often waited decades for environmental reviews to be completed. Yet, before the cheering ended, the Natural Resources Defense Council cautioned against fast-tracking environmental reviews. The organization called the move an ideological attack on environmental safeguards. Their objections will likely slow the process of change. There is no argument that a new federal permitting process has the potential to save trillions of dollars. But, environmentalists argue that a balance must be maintained between expediency and environmental protection. 

Delayed projects are extremely costly for all stakeholders - and that includes taxpayers. The average time to complete an environmental impact study took only 2.2 years in the 1970s but by 2011, the average time it took for such a study had jumped to 8.1 years. Currently, 148 energy and transit projects are stalled in National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review, tying up nearly $230 billion in private investment. Getting through the regulatory process in a couple of years is definitely not possible today.

A 2015 report by the nonprofit group Common Good found that permitting delays increase costs for major infrastructure projects by approximately 5.1 percent per year. Project costs are projected to be high when a federal review process begins but with when it takes 10-12 years to get permits, the delay often kills the project completely.

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Washington D.C.- The U.S. Department of Transportation's (USDOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced last week that more than $1 billion in Emergency Relief (ER) funds to help 32 states, several U.S. territories and Federal Land Management Agencies (FLMA) repair roads and bridges damaged by storms, floods and other unexpected events. FHWA's ER program reimburses states, territories and FLMAs for eligible expenses associated with damage from natural disasters or other emergency situations.  

The funds help to pay for the reconstruction or replacement of damaged highways and bridges along with the arrangement of detours and replacement of guardrails or other damaged safety devices. Some of the damages go back as far as California's 2005 winter storms, a 2009 Tsunami, and the World Trade Center disaster. Approximately $263.7 million will be used to repair damages caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. This includes awards of $75,000,000 to Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey; $97,000,000 to Florida as they repair damage from Hurricane Irma; and $70,000,000 to assist in Puerto Rico's rebuilding after Hurricanes Irma and Maria. View the complete list of recipients here
Ohio- Kent State University recently revealed design options for its new College of Business Administration building. The university estimated the cost for the building at about $72.3 million when the plan was approved. The new building will be on Main Street in Kent and will serve as an anchor for the university's front campus. The construction is part of Kent State's $1 billion campus transformation plan, which the university is trying to complete without issuing debt. 

The first phase of the project is expected to cost $220.8 million and be funded through a public-private partnership and philanthropies; a model the university is calling a P4. This system would ask the developer to use philanthropy for the traditional revenue sources of a public-private partnership. The plan was approved by the Kent State Board of Trustees in March and preliminary designs were released to the public last week.
Washington D.C.- U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry has announced a request for proposals (RFP), potentially worth up to $1.8 billion, for the development of two new exascale supercomputers for the United States Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratories. The timeframe is between 2021 and 2023 to complete the computers. The new supercomputers funded through this RFP will be follow-on systems to the first U.S. exascale system named Aurora, which is currently under development at the Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) and scheduled to come online in 2021. The RFP also envisions the possibility of upgrades or even a follow-on system to the Aurora supercomputer in 2022-2023. 

The new systems will provide 50 to 100 times greater performance than the current, fastest U.S. supercomputer. Funding for the RFP is being provided jointly by the DOE Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The Office of Science and NNSA are also partners in the Department's Exascale Computing Project. The plan is to deploy one of the systems to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and the other at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif.
Georgia- State officials are looking to hire a hotel consultant to help design a planned 1,010-room convention hotel on the Georgia World Congress Center campus. The Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) has released a request for qualifications (RFQ) for a consultant that would provide support and recommendations through 50 percent of the design development of the hotel. That includes input about the meeting space, lobby and guest rooms. 

The hotel will have up to 100,000 square feet of conference space. The hotel is estimated to cost between $320 million and $350 million. It would be financed through state-issued bonds. State lawmakers have already approved GWCCA to issue bonds for the project for up to $400 million. The hotel is estimated to open in December 2021.
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California- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is looking for a developer to finance, build and run a housing facility in West Los Angeles. The developer would potentially build more than 1,000 housing units and then lease the land free of charge from the department. The developer would finance, design, construct, renovate, operate and maintain the new housing units. 

The first project is the renovation of the 51,000-square-foot Building 207 for housing homeless and at-risk homeless veterans. The campus is located between Brentwood and Westwood, near Interstate 405. The project is part of its broader redevelopment master plan of the area. The Draft Master Plan, which guides the overall redevelopment of the campus, has been in place since September 2016. The VA will present its plan and take public comment on April 26.
Louisiana- A former casino's parking garage, located off Interstate 10 at the western entrance to Lake Charles, has remained standing despite its condition and reputation as a place for squatters. The 600-space garage has been abandoned for over a decade when Hurricane Rita came through. Police regularly respond to reports of suspicious activity there. The city has left the garage standing in hopes that this existing garage might entice an investor interested in developing the lakefront. 

The city plans to send out request for proposals regarding lakefront development in the next few months. If there is no interest in the structurally sound parking facility, the city plans to demolish it. Tearing it down would cost about $700,000, renovating the garage would cost about $1.5 million and rebuilding it would cost around $6 million. The city is open to any developer that has real financial means for it to become a mixed-use area with a heavy focus on food and beverage.
Pennsylvania- The North Penn School District is close to releasing a request for proposals (RFP) for an outside expert in behavioral threat assessment. The consultant would identify the district's security strengths and needs. 

Last month, the school board authorized a request via the safe school committee to move forward with an RFP, meaning it can be posted as soon as staff are finished writing the request. Additionally, the safe school committee presented the school board with a list of proposed security initiatives the board could implement in their upcoming budget. Those initiatives include a unified mass notification system for internal communications, enhancements to security systems at North Penn High School and extra surveillance cameras.
Hawaii- Hawaii is moving forward with plans to ask private developers for input on how to transform that state's largest boat harbor into a world-class marina. The Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor has been in disrepair for years. The Department of Land and Natural Resources' Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation is considering several sites to redevelop the boat harbor. 

The state wants to know from community members what they think it should do with the harbormaster's office and parking lot, the old fuel dock, the triangle parking lot used by surfers and beach goers and the former haul-out area. Plans for the harbor include a private-public partnership (P3) and the possibility of mixed-use development.
Florida- The Riviera Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for a master developer for Phase II of the waterfront Marina Village. The Riviera Beach Marina Village is a 23-acre area between the Intracoastal Waterway and U.S. Highway 1. The city and CRA have spent about $35 million on this site in preparation for redevelopment. Plans for the second phase call for a mixed-use project that includes a hotel, additional restaurants and shops that will sit on about 6 acres located within the interior of the district, which fronts the marina. 

A pre-submittal conference, which is mandatory for anyone submitting a proposal, is set for May 14 at the Marina Event Center. The RFP is due by May 31. In May 2017, the Riviera Beach CRA adopted new objectives that reset Marina Village's master plan to clarify the city's interest, plan, approach and priorities. The CRA is now seeking a development partner with experience and a successful track-record in planning, designing, constructing, leasing, operating and marketing mixed-use real estate ventures. The goal is to open the second phase by the spring of 2021.
Alabama- After being awarded a $12.7 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant from the United States Department of Transportation, the Alabama State Port Authority plans to develop a new automobile terminal at the Port of Mobile. Plans have been in the works for years and construction on the terminal is expected to begin in late 2019. 

The new terminal will handle up to 160,000 import and export vehicles a year, including automobiles, military vehicles, trucks and other rolling stock. The Port Authority intends to develop the project using a public-private partnership. This will allow the concessionaire operating the terminal to make capital contributions and cover operating expenses.
Washington State- Washington State Ferries (WSF) plans to convert three of its Jumbo Class II boats, the Puyallup, Tacoma and Wenatchee, from diesel to hybrid electric power. A study was performed in 2017 on the transition and a request for proposals is now being planned for design and implementation. It's yet to be decided if it will be one boat or all three at once and how charging would work at which docks. The three boats are only three of the fleet's 22 boats, but they are the largest at 460 feet and consume 26 percent of the fuel. In addition, they are all over or near 20 years old and in need of propulsion overhauls. 

Hybrid technology would mean a 90 percent reduction per vessel in emissions and fuel consumption which would save about $14 million a year. It will cost about $35 million for each boat conversion. Some of the money would come from the federal Volkswagen settlement, led by the Environmental Protection Agency, that exposed the car maker's illegal installation of software that cheated emissions tests on many of its diesel vehicles. Washington State is receiving $112.7 million from the settlement and that money is going toward efforts to reduce air pollution from transportation.
Nevada- The Las Vegas Stadium Authority plans to release a request for qualifications (RFQ) for a construction monitor to oversee the building of a stadium for the Raiders and University of Las Vegas football. The stadium will hold 65,000-seats and construction of the indoor football stadium is estimated to cost $1.8 billion. The goal is to complete the stadium, located on Interstate 15 and Russell Road, by the summer of 2020 in time for that year's National Football League season. 

It only took an hour and a half for Clark County to sell the bonds necessary to help finance the planned stadium to 43 institutional investors. The bonds are part of the public's $750 million contribution. Because there won't be enough parking spaces to accommodate people for stadium events on-site, the Raiders football team is looking to develop off-site solutions. The Raiders also have started looking at development this summer of a $100- million team headquarters and training facility near Henderson Executive Airport.
Ohio- Streetsboro city employees are moving into a temporary office building while they wait on the construction of a new city hall. The current city hall is the former Wise Elementary School. Renovations on the facility took place in 1993 and a fire station was added to the end of the building a few years later. 

The city is looking to use revolving loan fund dollars to demolish all but the fire station portion of the old Wise School, using dollars allocated by the state. The city is considering a public-private partnership for the new city hall. More details on the plans will be available at the April 23 council meeting. The city is on track to move into its temporary space in mid-May.
Washington D.C.- The United States Department of Transportation's (USDOT) Maritime Administration (MARAD) announces the availability of $19.6 million in federal funding to support capital improvements and employee training at small U.S. shipyards. The grants are provided through the Small Shipyard Grant Program, and help eligible shipyards modernize operations, increase efficiency and reap the benefits of increased productivity. American shipyards continue to create new jobs and strengthen the economy. 

In 2013, U.S. shipbuilders directly employed 110,000 Americans and produced $37.3 billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Available to U.S. shipyards with less than 1,200 production employees, the grants support a variety of projects; including capital and related improvements, as well as equipment upgrades that foster ship construction, repair and reconfiguration. The grants can also be used to cultivate maritime training programs intended to enhance employee skills and productivity. Applications for the grants are due by May 22. MARAD intends to award grants no later than July 23, 2018. Additional information can be found here.
Florida- Miami-Dade County wants a new civil and probate courthouse to replace the historic Miami-Dade County Courthouse. The current building has fallen into disrepair with problems such as mold and terminates. Currently, two county-owned properties are being considered for the courthouse. These properties include a 21,000-square-foot site on the northwest corner of Flagler Street and a 42,000-square-foot parking lot at 155 NW Third St. 

After a $390 million bond measure was defeated for the courthouse in 2014 the county has begun to pursue a public-private partnership (P3). Miami-Dade is doing a two-step solicitation in which developers turn in their qualifications and experience by May, and a shortlist submits specific courthouse plans and cost by January 2019. The county commission is scheduled to decide on a P3 in April of 2019.
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May 3
Grant Thornton will be hosting a webinar, "A local funding model for the nation?" from 1-1:30 p.m. on May 3. The landscape for funding Los Angeles has become a world leader in local transportation funding solutions. Through its Measure R and Measure M referenda that authorized local incremental sales taxes, it has created a revenue stream of more than $100 billion over the next 40 years to fund transportation improvements. In parallel, LA Metro launched its own highway program and set about investing funds across several modes of transportation. The webinar will explore these initiatives and other transportation funding options for local government. Register for the webinar here.

Speakers include: Brien Desilets, Head of Infrastructure Advisory, Grant Thornton; Lan Saadatnejadi, Former Executive Officer of LA Metro's Highway Program; and Naveen Lamba, Data Analytics Director, Grant Thornton.
July 23 and 24
The P3 Airport Summit will be held July 23 and 24 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, 1 Market Place, San Diego, Calif. Several speakers, including Mary Scott Nabers, will examine airport infrastructure challenges faced nationwide and offer lessons learned and best practices in project delivery, procurement and life-cycle asset management. The event will provide keynotes, case studies, panels, workshops and diverse networking opportunities. 

Attendees with little experience in the development and operation of the P3 model will benefit from industry experts presenting their knowledge and valuable insights into market trends crucial for business decisions. Attendees include senior management from firms in the construction, engineering, architecture, legal, investment and consulting industries as well as senior business and facility administrators from airports. Join over 1,000 industry leaders, public owners and stakeholders for this two-day event with a packed agenda. Register for the summit here
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- Phillip Eng has been appointed president of Metropolitan Transporyation Authority (MTA) Long Island Rail Road. He succeeds Patrick Nowakowski, whose resignation took effect last week. Eng joined the MTA in March 2017, when he was appointed chief operating officer. From October 2017 through January, Eng concurrently served as acting president of MTA New York City Transit. 
- President Trump has nominated Marine Corps Colonel Lorna M. Mahlock to serve as a brigadier general in the United States Marine Corps. If confirmed, she will be the first black female to fulfill the position. Mahlock currently serves as the deputy director of operations, plans, policies, and operations directorate at the Marine Corps' headquarters in Washington, D.C. 
- Maine Gov. Paul LePage has nominated Lt. Col. John Cote, a veteran of the Maine State Police, to serve as the agency's new chief. LePage will replace Col. Robert Williams as chief of the state police. Williams retired earlier this year. Cote has been with Maine State Police for almost three decades and has spent the last two years as the agency's deputy chief. 
- The Henderson City Commission named William L. Newman Jr. as Henderson's next city manager in Kentucky. Newman will serve as assistant city manager for roughly two months under retiring City Manager Russell Sights, who steps down June 30. Newman joined the city in August 2008 as assistant city manager under Sights, supervising the community development, codes enforcement and engineering divisions. 
- The Pensacola City Council has approved Ginny Cranor's appointment as fire chief in Florida. Cranor, who was a battalion chief, took over as fire chief April 12. She replaced David Allen, who retired on the same day.
- Andy Feinstein will become the University of Northern Colorado's next president. He will replace Kay Norton, who will retire at the end of this academic year. Feinstein serves as the provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at San Jose State University. 
- Richard A. Koubek has been elected as the Upper Peninsula school's president. Koubek, the executive vice president and provost of Louisiana State University, begins his tenure at Michigan Tech on July 1. He succeeds Glenn D. Mroz, who has served as president since 2004 and is stepping down to rejoin the university's faculty. 
- Terrell McSweeny, who has served as a Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) since April 2014, has issued a statement announcing her resignation later this month. Prior to joining the FTC, McSweeny served as Chief Counsel for Competition Policy and Intergovernmental Relations for the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division. 
- Joan Ferrini-Mundy will assume the role of president of the University of Maine on July 1. Ferrini-Mundy is currently the chief operating officer of the $7.8 billion National Science Foundation. She will replace Susan Hunter, who has been the University of Maine's president since July 2014. 
- Scott Blackburn, the acting executive in charge for the Office of Information and Technology at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), announced his resignation from the agency April 17. Blackburn has served in this role at the VA since October 2017, after VA Chief Information Officer Rob Thomas retired from the post. Blackburn has worked at the VA since 2014. 
- Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray has announced that David Bowdich has been appointed as deputy director of the FBI. He is replacing Andrew McCabe. Bowdich had served as the bureau's associate deputy director since April 2016. He will oversee the management of all FBI personnel, budget, administration and infrastructure, as well as the inspection and insider threat programs. 
- Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Mignon Clyburn has announced that she will be stepping down from the position. She has served in that role since 2009 and is currently serving her second term in the position with the FCC.
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