Volume 11, Issue 18 - Wednesday, May 8, 2019
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.

The recent Panama Canal expansion created what some call "a whole new world" for U.S. ports. Megaships now carry more tonnage, cargo is more diverse and much more of it is shipped throughout the world ... especially to U.S. ports. Contractors are in high demand to help ports update infrastructure, add new rail lines, construct more storage facilities, enhance security and improve the efficiencies of port operations. Meeting the increased demand is a top priority at all U.S. ports and billions will be spent to make them competitive.
The largest tonnage port in the western hemisphere is the Port of South Louisiana. Last year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers launched a project to deepen the port's ship channel to 50 feet - the same depth as the Panama Canal. About the same time, South Louisiana began initiating other significant projects including one to enhance its rail system to accommodate the increase in freight. More projects are under consideration.

The Port of Baltimore is also undergoing change. An upcoming project will modernize the Seagirt Marine Terminal Berth 3. This project will add a second berth capable of serving larger container ships at the port.  More upgrades are planned including enhanced landscaping. The Maryland Port Administration was awarded $6.56 million from the federal BUILD 2018 Infrastructure Grant program and it will be a funding source for part of the project's $32.8 million estimated cost. The remainder of the project's cost will be covered by the State of Maryland and a private port operator. Solicitation documents are expected before December.

Burns Harbor Port in Indiana will be soliciting bids later this year to create one of two new railyards which will be only one segment of a $20 million expansion project. Planned enhancements include the creation of two new railways, the addition of 4.4 miles to the port's 14-mile rail network and construction of a new 2.3-acre cargo terminal with multimodal connections for handling cargo transfers to ships, barges, rail cars and trucks. Burns Harbor is the only port in Indiana that handles international shipments.  A very busy port, it handles about 9,000 rail cars, 75 ships, 350,000 trucks, 375 barges and 200 Great Lakes vessels each year. 

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Washington - The 2019 Legislative Session came to an end over the weekend with lawmakers in Washington State supporting House Bill 1160, an appropriations bill that will provide $9.98 billion towards transportation projects over the 2019-2021 biennium. Funding from HB1160 will support a preliminary plan for the Cascadia Rail service that was unveiled in 2018.

The proposed coastal line will connect Portland, Oregon, with Vancouver, Canada and include an eastern spur connecting the city of Spokane with Seattle. The first part of the plan, led by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), is to create a new interstate high-speed rail authority for the region. Up to $895,000 is approved for this task along with an additional $224,000 in direct state appropriations from the Multimodal Transportation Account. Another $671,000 will need to come from business interests and government officials in Oregon and the Province of British Columbia. The state appropriation will not be shared until funding from other partners is released.

The authority would be responsible for ensuring that the trains and routes selected for the project could deliver service at 250 miles per hour. The authority would also provide a singular contact point for communities along the proposed routes and would handle the preparation of environmental impact reports at the federal and local levels. In addition to forming a high-speed rail authority, WSDOT has been tasked to review regulations, laws and agreements throughout Washington, British Columbia and Oregon. Recommendations by WSDOT will be due to the Washington State Legislature, Governor's Office, and governments of Oregon and British Columbia by Dec. 1, 2020. WSDOT has estimated that the rail line could cost anywhere from $25 billion to $40 billion.
Maryland - Prince George's County Public Schools (PGCPS) has proposed an innovative public-private partnership (P3) that will allow officials to build schools faster and at a much lower cost. The 2019 Maryland General Assembly session came to end on April 8, and Prince George's County's Build to Learn Act was not passed. The proposal was to build and renovate 18 schools by 2026, providing improved and new facilities for 24,000 students.

The county did claim success though at receiving $1.5 billion in state aid for education, youth athletics, beautification and street improvements. The county has an $8.5 billion backlog in school construction needs. The county and school system now want to hire a private company to manage construction of five to seven new schools this fall.

The private company selected will design the building and finance its construction and will also do large-scale maintenance, including electrical and HVAC systems. County and state funding, including payments to the contractor, will kick in once students are in the building. The county plans to invest $25 million to $30 million annually for the next 30 years in school construction. Once bids from private companies are received, school and county officials will determine if building with the traditional process will be less expensive than with the P3 model.
TxDOT's preliminary I-35 expansion in Austin
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) gave Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) officials a glimpse of a possible $8 billion expansion to Interstate 35 on Monday night that adds proposed lanes to every section of the highway in Austin and two subterranean tunnels close to The University of Texas-Austin.

TxDOT representatives delivered a presentation and video to CAMPO board members that showed one managed lane both northbound and southbound from U.S. 290 East to Texas 45 South and two tunnels that would go from Airport Boulevard to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The preliminary plan is likely to undergo multiple revisions in the years to come as outreach efforts collect public feedback, TxDOT officials said.

CAMPO members voted to inject $400 million to boost the project higher up state and federal funding priority lists.
Construction on the project, which CAMPO board members voted to include in their regional transportation plan, could begin as early as 2022 with completion wrapping up after 2027 should funding be secured.

CAMPO board members also earmarked $75 million for access roads on U.S. 183-A from RM 1431 to Avery Ranch Boulevard and $25 million in upgrades to the RM 620-Anderson Mill Road intersection.
Bob Mumgaard/PSFC
Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued a request for information (RFI) on enabling technologies for a commercially viable fusion power plant on May 3 with responses due by June 5.

Based in part on a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine strategic plan that calls for the U.S. to start a national research and technology program, DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) is seeking technologies that would lead to the construction of a pilot fusion plant that produces electricity at a low capital cost.

Realities in the national and global energy marketplace highlight the growing need for flexible, carbon-free, and highly dispatchable power generation at much less than 1 gigawatt of electrical output (1 GWe) scale, according to the DOE. Fusion costs are expected to be much lower with electricity rates estimated at about 3 cents per kilowatt hour.

Research scientists Alessandro Marinoni at the MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) and Max Austin at The University of Texas at Austin recently discovered potential evidence at the DIII-D National Fusion Facility that could lead to a more stable environment for fusion to occur, even under high pressure.
Jefferson Memorial
Washington, D.C. - 
The mayor of the District of Columbia submitted the district's FY 2020-2025 Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) at the May 2 meeting of the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) for its review. The Commission found that several projects and studies may significantly affect federal interest and require coordination with NCPC and affected federal agencies.

Total spending for the six-year plan is estimated to be $8.45 billion and adds 38 new projects to a list of 212 ongoing projects from the previous CIP, which is part of the District of Columbia's FY 2020 Proposed Budget and Financial Plan.

The district hopes to allocate $1.89 billion for FY 2020 for hundreds of projects such as: $647 for the District Department of Transportation, including $61.8 million for streetscapes and beautification, $51.3 million for the expansion of the Streetcar line and $42 million for the Circulator; $361 million for D.C. Public Schools (DCPS); and $37.8 million for the District of Columbia Public Library (DCPL) to include $18 million for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial central library.

Other budget requests include $85.7 million for the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), to include $67.5 million for recreation and community centers and $18.2 million for parks and pools.
Texas - Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials have provided $9 million in grant funding to the state of Texas under the Operation Stonegarden Grant Program. Texas has now received a total of $13 million of the $30 million authorized in Operations Orders by DHS.

Funding will support the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), Kickapoo Traditional Tribe and 16 other local law enforcement agencies in eight Texas border counties. Those counties include Cameron, Kenedy, McMullen, Presidio, Starr, Sutton, Val Verde and Webb.

The funds will support:
  • upgrades to flight displays, global positioning systems and overtime for DPS personnel supporting United States Border Patrol;
  • body armor and overtime for Town of Laguna Vista officers participating in border patrol operations;
  • patrol vehicles for officers and deputies working overtime from the City of Falfurrias, City of Laredo, McMullen, Refugio and Starr counties, as well as the Kickapoo Tribe; and,
  • overtime and other operational costs for local agencies such as the counties listed above and the cities of Eagle Pass, Harlingen and Junction and the Town of Combes.
Up to $90 million is available in total funding throughout the United States for Fiscal Year 2019.
Louisiana - Despite not having secured $1.2 billion in anticipated federal funding, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development is issuing a request for qualifications (RFQ) to begin its Watershed Initiative for flood-control related projects.

The RFQ is for development of computer models to gauge the extent of the program's projects by surveying various waterways such as channels, rivers and bayous as well as hydraulic structures.
Watershed Initiative efforts will model every watershed in the state, and officials estimate a contract to oversee the program would cost up to $50 million.
Little Rock - In Arkansas, the City of Little Rock will issue a request for qualifications (RFQ) for an electric-scooter provider. Little Rock is still in an ongoing pilot program that began in January to deploy electric scooters in the downtown area for visitors and residents commuting needs.

City ordinances permit scooters to be ridden on the streets in the central business district and on sidewalks in some residential areas. Currently, the pilot program between the city and a scooter company is set to expire in September 2019 after a recent extension. The RFQ will be for a longer term presence in the city.
Maine - The Department of Corrections (DOC) will build a new pre-release center in Machiasport.

The new facility will be located on the existing property of the Downeast Correctional Center and house up to 50 minimum-security prisoners and employ 15 staff. Funding is already approved through a state government bond and construction is expected to take 24 months before opening. DOC is working with the Bureau of Real Estate Management to craft a request for qualifications (RFQ) for an architectural design for the project.
Florida - City Council members in St. Petersburg approved a final draft of the city's Complete Streets Implementation Plan at their May 2 meeting to cap a yearslong effort to plan for the community's transportation future.

"Today is an important day for the future of transportation in our city," Mayor Rick Kriseman said. "This plan has wide-ranging support across our city and is bolstered by national data showing that Complete Streets equal safe streets."

A statement released by the city provides an overview of a vision and blueprint for the city's streets for the next 20-plus years. The plan is scheduled to be updated every five years based on project assessments, changing conditions and public engagement. The resurfacing and reconfiguration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street and 30th Avenue corridor bike improvements served as pilot projects prior to the council's adoption.
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Virginia - The Norfolk Airport Authority recently posted a request for qualifications (RFQ) for advertising, marketing and public relations services to assist in the planning, development and implementation of a broad range of advertising, marketing and communication services for the Norfolk International Airport.

The contract calls for, among other items, consistent messages and strategies for advertising the Norfolk International Airport that are designed to increase passenger traffic and position the airport as the premier gateway to Hampton Roads and Northeast North Carolina.

Questions are due May 10. In order to be considered for selection, offerors must submit a complete response to this RFQ no later than 2 p.m. EST on May 31. The proposals deadline is of the week of July 8. The authority will post a notice of intent to award during this week. Contract start date is set for Aug. 1.
Ohio - City of Bowling Green leaders are exploring a feasibility study for a new city building.

Planning for future facility needs spurred the City Council to begin the process with a study that would evaluate sites at the City Administrative Services Building, which was built in 1903, Wood County Senior Center and a North Church Street residence and determine space requirements.
The study would identify senior center deficiencies and related maintenance costs to see if it could potentially be retrofitted for continued use by the city.

Officials said the budget for this year incorporated evaluations for the site of the current City Hall at 304 N. Church St. and a residential property at 316 N. Church Street, which the city recently purchased.
Michigan - Charlevoix City Council members are hoping a request for qualifications (RFQ) for additional housing could provide the Charlevoix Municipal Golf Course with a financial boost.

The City Council directed staff to develop a RFQ at its Monday meeting that would place housing along the golf course and city-owned tracts. Ideally, the plan would allow the city to build small residences on its property and lease the land to assist the golf course and create housing in demand by service industry and skilled trade workers.
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California - The City of St. Helena is set to discuss posting a request for qualifications (RFQ) or Request for Proposals (RFP) on city-owned land for a hotel at the City Council's meeting May 14 with a possible vote set for its May 28 meeting.

St. Helena officials are eyeing 5.6 acres of city-owned land on Adams Street for a possible hotel on a portion of the acreage that also could be used for vines and public green space and a walking path to the Napa River. A consulting firm contracted by the city reported that a 70-room luxury hotel occupying half of the space could produce revenues in excess of $2 million a year for the city in hotel, property and sales taxes.
City's current flag vs. 'The People's Flag'
Milwaukee -  The Common Council of the City of Milwaukee unanimously approved a request for qualifications (RFQ) and request for proposals (RFP) to design and adopt a new official city flag at its meeting May 7 with a new banner in effect by June 2020.

The City Clerk is directed to present the RFQ/RFP to the Common Council for approval within 30 days of the adoption of the resolution and "completion of community outreach, design of the flag, and presentation to Common Council for final approval of a flag design shall be completed by May 31, 2020," according to city documents.

The action comes amid a multi-year grassroots campaign that included a contest open to the public to design a new flag. On Flag Day in 2016, Robert Lenz' "Sunrise Over the Lake" was crowned the "People's Flag"
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New York -  John Paul Farmer, former White House technology policy adviser, is the City of New York's new chief technology officer. Farmer, who created the Presidential Innovations Fellows program, was previously the director of technology and civic innovation at a multinational technology company since 2014. He will take over on June 3 for interim CTO Alby Bocanegra.

Florida - Janice Gilley has been named as the new county administrator at Escambia County, pending a contract negotiation. Gilley is currently the associate vice president of external affairs at the University of West Florida. She previously served on the Escambia County School District board in 1999 and worked in Tallahassee at the governor's office, Florida House of Representatives and the Republican Party of Florida.

Washington - The Port of Tacoma Commission will welcome Eric Johnson as its new executive director. Johnson comes from the Washington Public Ports Association where he has served in various positions since 1988, most recently as executive director since January 2009. In his new role with the commission, Johnson will foster new business and partnership opportunities not licensed to the Northwest Seaport Alliance.

Colorado - The University of Colorado appointed Mark Kennedy as the university's president. Kennedy joins CU from the University of North Dakota where he serves as president. He will assume the presidency in July from Bruce D. Benson, who is retiring after 11 years as president. Kennedy was previously a U.S. congressman from Minnesota and an executive at an American department store chain and food manufacturer.

Alabama - Tuskegee University recently selected Jami Reynolds as its new CIO. Her career includes positions as chief information officer, chief technology officer and director of information technology at Garrett College; director of the Office of Technology Support for George Mason University's College of Education and Human Development; and IT manager, senior business analyst and business process engineer at North Virginia Community College.

California - The City of Indian Wells announced Chris Freeland as its new city manager May 2. Freeland will take office on May 13 after serving in various positions with the West Covina community, including as city manager since 2015. Freedland succeeds current Indian Wells city manager Wade G. McKinney who is retiring after joining the city in 2013.

Washington - Gov. Jay Inslee named Laura Blackmore as the Puget Sound Partnership's executive director. Blackmore is the deputy director and tribal liaison at the agency where she has been since 2015. Before beginning her tenure with PSP, she worked at Cascadia Consulting Group and owned a consulting firm. She will take over for Sheida Sahandy who is leaving the position.

Rhode Island - Bryant University president Ronald Machtley announced his retirement after serving for 23 years. Machtley will continue in the position until May 2020. As a Navy veteran and former congressman, he accepted the president's office at Bryant when it was still a college.

Illinois - The Illinois Tollway recently selected José Alvarez as the agency's new executive director. Alvarez previously served as chief of staff  for the State Superintendent of Education for Washington D.C. Schools, deputy chief of staff for the CEO Chicago Public Schools, and chief operating officer and chief of staff for the Chicago Housing Authority.

Pennsylvania - Geographic Information Officer Henry "Hank" Garie is adding chief data officer to the list of his job titles with the City of Philadelphia. The fifth-largest city in the U.S. is combining the two positions to allow Garie to manage open data portals and GIS applications. Garie replaces previous CDO Tim Wisniewski who stepped down in January.

Michigan - The City of Ferndale named Interim City Manager Joseph Gacioch as its permanent city manager. He came to the city as project manager in 2012 and then advanced to chief innovation officer in 2013. In 2015, he was promoted to assistant city manager. Gacioch succeeds former City Manager April Lynch who left in February 2019 to become the associate vice president for human resources at the University of Detroit Mercy.

Texas - Effective June 30, Phillip Ayala will become the Texas Department of Public Safety's (DPS) newest inspector general. Ayala replaces Rhonda Fleming who is retiring after 35 years of service. The current regional director of the DPS Central Texas Region has held multiple positions within the agency since he began his career there in 1996 as a highway patrol trooper at the state Capitol in Austin.
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