Volume 11, Issue 48 - Wednesday, December 11, 2019
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc. 

When public entities commission a study, it's safe to assume that one or more, usually large, projects will follow. For some companies, following government studies is how they manage to get ahead of their competitors.

Most large government projects require a study of some sort - project feasibility, projected population growth, transportation patterns, public transit ridership, water usage, user demand projections, flooding trends, environmental assessments, etc. Companies with expertise conduct the studies, and their work is detailed and time consuming. Interestingly enough, studies don't have a long shelf life so project decisions are usually made quickly when a study ends.

Here are a few examples of current studies that will definitely lead to contracting opportunities.

New York
A $16.9 million study that began in 2018 should be completed by the end of December, and opportunities will be available in early 2020. The study was designed to provide an in-depth look at the cost and best options for making the Metropolitan Transit Authority's (MTA) subway system accessible to people with disabilities. MTA has proposed $5 billion, as part of its $51.5 billion capital spending plan, to make 66 subway stations more accessible by adding elevators or ramps. The proposed 2020-2024 capital plan also will fund the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway - a cost of $3.8 billion per mile for a 1.5-mile extension. The East Side Access project connecting Grand Central to the Long Island Railroad will be extremely large. Cost projections have been stated at upwards of $11 billion. Due to the extremely high costs of these projects, the MTA is expected to request a study to examine other transit projects in cities comparable to New York.

Downtown Atlanta
Georgia - Metro Atlanta's Regional Transportation Plan is being updated to keep the region moving through the year 2050. Planners estimate nearly $173 billion will be needed to make improvements to roads, offer more public transit options, and expand the area's network of multi-use trails.

About $102 billion will be set aside for infrastructure maintenance and safety. These projects will include resurfacing roads, repairing bridges, replacing older buses and rail cars, and implementing "smart" traffic signals that will be able to connect to vehicles for added safety.

Key interchanges also will be upgraded, expanded, or replaced to reduce heavy congestion and bottlenecking.

A new interchange will be constructed at Interstate 85 North at McGinnis Ferry Road in Gwinnett County. Reconstruction will occur at other key interchanges such as Interstate 285 North at Ga. 400 in Fulton County, I-85 North at North Druid Hills Road in DeKalb County, and Interstate 20 East at SR 20/138 in Rockdale County.

Investments also will be made in public transit, including to the light rail on the Atlanta BeltLine and Clifton Corridor. The streetcar network will also be extended, and bus rapid transit will be expanded. Officials have yet to provide specific funding estimates.

Nearly $10 billion will go toward accommodating alternative ways of traveling, including expanding bike-ped trails and encouraging people to carpool, use public transit, or work from home. The plan is open for public comment through December 13, and it is anticipated to be adopted in February 2020.
University of Nebraska Medical Center
Nebraska - A project that could cost as much as $2 billion is in the early planning stages, according to officials with the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Nebraska Medicine, the two entities involved with the project.

A new state-of-the-art research and patient care facility is being planned, which will likely include several new buildings on the northwest corner of the medical center campus.

Several towers also could be constructed for research and inpatient care; however, all plans are preliminary concepts. No final planning has been completed.
Hollywood Burbank Airport
California - The California High-Speed Rail Authority's proposed bullet train path is leading officials to consider creating a tunnel under the Hollywood Burbank Airport.

Despite a lack of funding, California must proceed with designing the estimated $80 billion system, including completing all environmental documents by 2022. Part of this process involves detailing the train's exact route, and the rail authority says that building the Burbank airport tunnel could help the train comply with speed and trip time requirements that are part of state law.

The proposed segment would be created under the airport's Runway 826, which runs east-west. Burbank airport emphasizes that the train station will be within walking distance of one of its new passenger terminals.
Downtown Oklahoma City
Oklahoma - Voters approved the MAPS 4 sales tax proposition by more than 71 percent on December 10 that will fund 16 public improvement projects in Oklahoma City.

MAPS, which was first known as the Metropolitan Area Projects, is funded by a temporary penny sales tax that is expected to raise $978 million over the next eight years.

The MAPS 4 projects are:
  • Park enhancements - $140 million for park system improvements;
  • Chesapeake Energy Area - $115 million for capital maintenance and fan and vendor upgrades;
  • Youth centers - $110 million to build four new youth centers;
  • Transit - $87 million for advanced transit, bus purchases, signal prioritization, bus stop upgrades, land acquisition, and future planning;
  • Sidewalks, bike lanes, trails, and streetlights - $87 million for these improvements;
  • Innovation District - $71 million to support this district including $15 million to fund the construction of a small business development center, $25 million to improve connectivity in and around the district, and $10 million to create an "Innovation Hall";
  • Fairgrounds Coliseum - $63 million to build a new arena with $25 million in supplemental funding from hotel occupancy tax revenues;
  • Affordable housing - $50 million for projects that help reduce homelessness;
  • Mental health and addiction - $40 million including $22 million to build a new restoration center, $11 million to build two new health crisis centers, and $7 million to fund temporary crisis housing;
  • Animal shelter - $38 million to build a main animal shelter to replace the city's current facility;
  • Family justice center - $38 million to support the construction of a permanent facility to be operated by a nonprofit. The program was originally created by the Oklahoma City Police Department;
  • Multipurpose stadium - $37 million for a venue to host professional and high school soccer, concerts, and other events;
  • Beautification - $30 million to improve entrance gateways, airport approaches, pedestrian bridges, and roadway landscaping in addition to at least $1 million for new trees;
  • Senior health and wellness - $30 million to build a new senior wellness center and $15 million for an operating fund for scholarships to enable low-income seniors to use the MAPS senior centers;
  • Freedom Center and Clara Luper Civil Rights Center - $25 million to renovate the city's Freedom Center and construct the civil rights center; and,
  • Diversion hub - $17 million to create a diversion hub to relieve pressure on the Oklahoma County jail and work with low-level offenders.
The MAPS 4 program will be overseen by a volunteer advisory board that makes recommendations to the Oklahoma City Council, which has final oversight.
Rendering of reimagined Rainbow Centre
New York - Empire State Development (ESD) is changing course on redevelopment of the Rainbow Centre in downtown Niagara Falls.

ESD officials previously focused their efforts on developing the former mall site into a resort. Now, they are seeking design and engineering services to repurpose the facility's remaining space into a high-density, mixed-use development.

Public access and walkability, improved commercial opportunities, and enhanced parking are desired qualities for the project.

Other desired features are:
  • Breaking up the scale of the facility by establishing a pedestrian "street" that passes through the lower two levels of the structure;
  • Cladding of the parking ramp to incorporate architectural features that would lessen its monolithic appearance;
  • Undertaking additional concrete and elevator rehabilitation efforts, as well as waterproofing measures;
  • Adding additional elevators in strategic locations to better facilitate use of the parking ramp by surrounding properties; and,
  • Undertaking circulation improvements and incorporating state-of-the-art parking revenue control systems (PARCS) into the parking ramp.
These improvements would create up to 200,000 square feet of space that could be used for attractions, other entertainment venues, or partnerships with the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute, which occupies part of the Rainbow Centre.
Cascade Dam overtopping in 1982
Colorado - Officials are considering the safety of hundreds of dams across Colorado, including 27 high-hazard structures that are located near people. These high-hazard dams average 95 years old and are deemed unsatisfactory by state inspectors.

On January 1, 2020, new rules will take effect requiring dam designs to account for expected increases in atmospheric moisture associated with rising temperatures. Officials are contemplating the $100-million-per-year cost to boost resiliency.

A recent $1.6 million study helped in developing the new rules, recognizing that sudden intense rainfall could blow through existing spillways.

Because most dams are privately owned, repair decisions are left to owners. The cost to repair a dam can be hundreds of millions of dollars, which leads to owners often forgoing any fixes. However, the state can impose restrictions on a dam's water storage limits, creating incentives for owners to make repairs.

During the next 12 months, state inspectors will determine where repairs and reinforcements must be made. Dam owners may be eligible to receive funding for repairs through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Suburban water providers, farmers, developers, and state planners are now calling for the construction of new dams and the expansion of existing dams.
Courtesy of James G. Howes
Maryland - After a long period of negotiating, the state of Maryland and a major transportation firm have secured $103 million in additional funding needed for the Howard Street Tunnel expansion project. The project aims to remove a freight bottleneck and increase the Port of Baltimore's shipping container traffic.

In total, $466 million will be spent on the project, which is now fully funded by state, private, and federal sources.

Clearances will be increased through the tunnel and at 22 bridges, allowing trains to carry containers stacked two high. Currently, the tunnel is about 18 inches too short for double-stacked containers. The project calls for notching the tunnel's ceiling, lowering the floor, and installing steel crossties.

The project is estimated to take three to four years, during which time freight traffic will be allowed to move through the tunnel.
Rendering of Virginia science center
Virginia - A public-private partnership (P3) between the Children's Science Center and the Science Museum of Virginia, the Commonwealth of Virginia, Loudoun County, and private philanthropy is helping to launch a $75 million campaign to build a world-class interactive science center.

Only $10 million more is needed to fully fund the Launch the Future campaign, which aims to create a 70,000-square-foot science center located at the Kincora development in the Dulles Technology Corridor.

The facility will feature large-scale, interactive exhibits focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM); themed experience zones; space for classrooms, temporary exhibits, and gatherings; a highly-efficient and accessible design; and access to nature with an adjacent public park.

The new science center will be an extension of the Science Museum of Virginia. Donations are being accepted to help complete the campaign by December of next year.
Austin Minnesota Wastewater Treatment Plant
Minnesota - The Austin City Council unanimously approved a plan to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant. At $78 million, the upgrade will include expanding the facility's capacity from 8.475 million gallons per day to 10.4 million gallons per day. This is necessary to meet both residential and industrial needs over the next 20 years.

Austin's population is expected to increase 15 percent by 2040, and the facility's new capacity will be required to serve the demand.

Additionally, one of the city's largest industrial clients is anticipated to increase its flow output by nearly 700,000 gallons per day by 2040. The upgrade will be required to meet new phosphorous standards, while not increasing pollution discharge.

Officials hope to secure state funding and grant money to reduce the city's portion of the costs. Engineering and design work are anticipated to begin in 2020, with construction starting in June 2021.
Birmingham MAX Transit bus
Alabama - Birmingham leaders are building a $48 million high-capacity bus transit system to connect riders in west and east Birmingham to job and health-care centers in the city.

The Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority will operate the 10-mile route. Buses will serve 25 neighborhoods with 15-minute intervals during weekday rush hours and 30-minute gaps in off-peak times and weekends.

A $20 million grant from the Federal Transportation Administration, $20 million from the city, and other smaller grants will fund the project. Construction of two terminals is scheduled to begin in fall 2020.
   View our Government Contracting Pipeline and Texas Government Insider newsletter archives
Rendering of Lehigh terminal connector
Pennsylvania - The Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority (LNAA) board recently approved a $49.1 million Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for fiscal year 2020 that includes several infrastructure projects for Allentown-area airports and airparks.

LNAA is investing $17.7 million in the initiatives with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Bureau of Aviation contributing the remainder.

Construction of a $22 million security checkpoint and terminal connector at Lehigh Valley International Airport is set to begin in January 2021.

The airport plans to build an elevated connector linking the main terminal and departure building. It also will relocate the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint from an underground tunnel to the second floor and expand it from two screening lanes to four. Officials said they anticipate the project will take 18 months to complete. 

LNAA also committed CIP funds to a master plan update and obstruction removal at Queen City Airport CIP as well as the second phase of construction of a new terminal building at Braden Airpark.
Route 51 crosses the Castor River bridge
Missouri - The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) is seeking letters of interest from design-build teams for its Bootheel Bridge Bundle project.

The goal of the project is to improve 15 bridges that are part of the Southeast District's asset management plan. This includes repairing and replacing bridges as necessary, which is estimated to cost about $22 million and begin procurement in early 2020.

Main objectives include completing the project on or before December 31, 2023; using, innovation to provide quality structures and address as many locations as possible, minimizing inconvenience to the public by increasing construction speed and flexibility, and improving safety.

The agency has identified 10 additional bridges that can be added to the project for potential value.

Letters of interest may be submitted electronically or by mail and must be received no later than January 10, 2020. The request for proposals (RFP) process is tentatively set to begin in March 2020.
Flooding in the village of Hatch
New Mexico - The village of Hatch regularly experiences storm runoff that causes residential, commercial, and agricultural damage. After years of planning, a $12.7 million project led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) will move forward with design and construction of an earthen dam in lower Spring Canyon.

Funding for the project will come from federal, state, and local sources, including three legislative appropriations totaling more than $2.2 million.

The USACE and the Dona Ana County Flood Commission will sign an agreement marking the end of the feasibility study, which identified flooding concerns, overflow sources, and potential solutions.

The dam will prevent Spring Canyon from overflowing and flooding the village, which has seen its streets covered with as much as 3 feet of water.
Oklahoma - The city of Tulsa is considering a public-private partnership (P3) to build a Route 66 interpretive center and commercial complex across from Cyrus Avery Plaza.

The 12,000-square-foot museum would be located on 5 acres near the Mother Road Market at 11th Street and Lewis Avenue, and be part of a $40 million mixed-use development at the location. Officials hope to break ground on the project by the end of 2020. 

A study conducted earlier this year identified three potential locations based on five criteria, which include proximity to landmarks; proximity to hotels, restaurants, and vacant property; available incentives such as opportunity zones; density; and access and connectivity.

Officials are now seeking a firm that will be responsible for operating the museum.
Illinois - The city of Evanston's Economic Development Corporation (EDC) is recommending the city issue a request for proposals (RFP) to redevelop a vacant lot into a mixed-use development with commercial and residential uses.

The EDC's recommendation is set to go before City Council for possible approval on January 14, 2020. Once home to a gas station, the city now owns the property at the northwest corner of Church Street and Darrow Avenue.

RFP information suggests that applicants may consider in their submissions a church-owned vacant lot west of the property.

Pennsylvania - Gov. Tom Wolf announced his intent to nominate Yassmin Gramian as secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). Gramian currently serves as the department's executive deputy secretary. She will succeed PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards who will become general manager of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) in January 2020.

Missouri - Kansas City councilmembers unanimously approved the appointment of Earnest Rouse as acting city manager on December 5. He succeeds Troy Schulte who accepted a position as Jackson County administrator. Rouse previously served as assistant city manager and director of general services.

Georgia - The city of Sandy Springs selected Andrea Surratt as its new city manager. Surratt currently serves as city manager of Bozeman, Montana. She takes over for John McDonough who accepted a position as city manager of Greenville, South Carolina. Surratt previously served as assistant city manager of Hickory, North Carolina.

New York - The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) named Anthony McCord as chief transformation officer. He most recently worked at a private company in Montreal where he was the site director at the University of Montreal Health Centre.

Maryland - The Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation board of directors selected Benjamin Wu as president and chief executive officer, effective December 18. Wu is the current deputy secretary and chief operating officer of the Maryland Department of Commerce. He previously served as U.S. deputy under secretary of commerce and U.S. assistant secretary of commerce for technology policy under President George W. Bush.
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