Volume 11, Issue 29 - Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.

Here's hoping our loyal readers will understand as we announce that my column (the one usually placed here each week) will appear 'every other week' in the future.

I'm juggling a few too many balls right now as the SPI Team expands and begins providing more services. Lately, I've found myself more often than not finishing up the columns late at night and long past our newsletter content deadline.

See you back here next week for another column!
Regional Transit Master Plan
Michigan - Transit planners revealed ideas for projects across several counties as part of their 2020 to 2045 vision. The plan calls for $10 billion in projects that include new rail lines, bus rapid transit routes, airport services, and more. The potential projects would require $4 billion for near-term priorities, and $5.7 billion for aspirational goals in Washtenaw, Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties in the Ann Arbor-Detroit region.

One of the possible projects is the Ann Arbor-to-Detroit commuter rail, which would require $135 million in capital funding and $16 million annually for operations and maintenance. The rail would run from the Ann Arbor Amtrak station to the Michigan Central Train Station or the Detroit Amtrak station.

Another component of the vision includes $7.6 million per year for airport services such as express busing from Downtown Detroit and other nearby economic centers. Light rail and bus rapid transit are part of the future goals. Improving local bus routes is a priority as well, which would require more than $232 million per year. This would focus on modifying routes for greater efficiency, expanding service, adding routes, and upgrading infrastructure.

Planners also seek to enhance Fast Service, Arterial Rapid Transit, Bus Rapid Transit, and Commuter Express modes. The plan will be presented in August in Macomb County, and in September in Oakland County.
Texas - Transportation officials with Houston's Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro) are reporting cost savings of $400 million that would expedite several bus and rail expansions.

A $400 million drop in the estimated cost of one of the proposed projects - the extension of the Green and Purple lines by combining the two lines as they travel to Hobby Airport and focusing on a Broadway route - saw its projected cost drop to $1 billion if the savings are realized.

Construction of two desired park and ride connections is another project that could go before voters in November as part a $3.5 billion bond referendum to fund the first part of the authority's long-range plan.

Other projects could include extensions of three light rail lines, more than 70 miles of proposed bus rapid transit, and several park and ride amenities. The savings also could allow for a $336 million extension of the light rail line from Hobby Airport to the Monroe Park and Ride lot close to Interstate 45. A proposed $60 million relocation of the Kingwood Park and Ride also could be on the ballot.

The Metro board chairwoman said officials would make a final decision later this month on what projects will be included in the bond package.
Rendering of Penn's Landing
Pennsylvania - Efforts are underway to redevelop a civic space and park at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia in a project that is expected to generate $2 billion in investment in highway infrastructure and related improvements.

On July 23, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) closed an Interstate 95 ramp in Philadelphia for two years to facilitate the I-95 Girard Avenue Interchange Project, which is part of a $312 million project to replace an I-95 viaduct, reconstruct and improve several on- and off-ramps, and rebuild a section of I-95 pavement.

This project ties into a partnership between PennDOT, the city of Philadelphia, and the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) to connect the city's neighborhoods to the Delaware River by redeveloping Penn's Landing.

Plans call for reconstructing the bridge spanning I-95 between Chestnut and Walnut Streets into an 11-acre civic space that attracts people to the waterfront, extending the South Street Pedestrian Bridge to improve that connection, and constructing a 2-mile section of the Delaware River trail between Spring Garden Street and Washington Avenue. City of Philadelphia officials have committed funding to the civic space and trail, which are scheduled for completion in 2024.

The park and civic space will include a new skating rink, water features, a café, and a variety of other active and passive uses. According to the DRWC website, the project is expected to generate approximately $1.6 billion of new revenues benefiting the city, school district, and commonwealth. Potential future development includes two parcels that could bring 1,500 new housing units, 500 hotel rooms, and more than 100,000 square feet of retail, dining, and entertainment to the waterfront.

Preliminary engineering, and design are underway. Design, permitting, and construction documents will be completed by the end of 2019. Construction of the project is estimated to take approximately three years.
Oklahoma - A series of public meetings has begun to identify the next round of Metropolitan Area Projects (MAPS) sales tax initiatives. Ideas range from enhancing professional basketball facilities to expanding public transit and reducing homelessness.
The new MAPS 4 is expected to include $780 million to $1 billion in projects, depending on which ones the City Council approves. The most recent MAPS 3 ended Dec. 31, 2017 and raised more than $777 million.

Other ideas include a bicycle trail estimated at up to $1.6 million per mile; sidewalks at up to $450,000 per mile; and new parks upgrades at up to $80 million. A new soccer facility was also proposed to help capture tourism dollars, which would cost up to $30 million.

A key item on the agenda involves creating a fund that would pay for the maintenance of new developments. An Aug. 6 City Council meeting will cover the revenue estimates and project design sustainability.
Rendering of JFK Airport
New York - The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has issued a request for information (RFI) for the redevelopment of John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport's Central Hub. The Port Authority is seeking input on how to turn the 14-acre site into a space that can accommodate commerce and recreation, serving travelers and employees alike. The project is part of a larger $13 billion plan to transform and modernize JFK Airport.

The RFI solicits ideas from design and development firms that specialize in multi-use commercial developments or large-scale public spaces. Potential uses for the space include retail and dining, offices, and recreational offerings for passengers and employees. The redeveloped JFK Central would be accessible from the new Terminal 1 and Terminal 4.

Respondents may submit concepts focusing on commercial use, public use, or both. The future request for proposals (RFP) will be informed by responses to the RFI.
Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that more than $400 million is still available to help rural businesses lower their energy costs.

The USDA is encouraging farmers, small businesses, and agricultural producers to apply for financing that could help with renewable energy systems and energy efficiency upgrades.

The funding is provided through the USDA's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). The funding may be used for systems such as anaerobic digesters, biomass, hydropower, geothermal, and more. It also may be used to upgrade heating, ventilation, and cooling systems as well as insulation, lighting, and refrigeration.

REAP has already provided funding to several applicants such as a loan to a Kentucky farm to install a photovoltaic array system on top of its ham processing facility, and a biogas project in North Carolina received $6.5 million for an anaerobic digester to help with waste disposal.

The USDA accepts applications for REAP funding year-round.
Aloha Stadium
Hawaii - Gov. David Ige signed into law Act 268, which grants $350 million to the redevelopment of Aloha Stadium. The project will convert the 44-year-old stadium into a sports and entertainment district, complete with hotels, restaurants, retail stores, and more.

Aloha Stadium will now be under the jurisdiction of the Stadium Authority, and the Hawaii Community Development Authority is authorized to facilitate the project that consists of constructing a new stadium and developing land to accommodate the mixed-use area.

Funding will come from $20 million in capital, $150 million in general obligation (GO) bonds, and $180 million in revenue bonds. The project's environmental impact study is underway and could take 12 to 18 months.
California - The City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks recently commissioned a consulting firm to conduct a feasibility study to examine the impacts of a gondola-type system, also known as an Aerial Transit System (ATS), at Griffith Park.

The large, 4,200-acre park sits near downtown Los Angeles and is an iconic destination for tourists and locals alike. However, its popularity has brought heavy traffic to areas in and around the park, a trend that's expected to continue into the future.

The study will seek to:
  • Analyze the pros and cons of an ATS, with estimates of potential ridership and analyses of existing transport platforms;
  • Explore in-depth ATS technologies and best practices, including current technology, operations and maintenance costs, and comparisons of operating ATS in other urban areas;
  • Define and analyze proposed alignment alternatives, with considerations for start and landing stations, viewing areas, and potential impacts on surrounding wildlife and communities;
  • Analyze reliability and safety for patrons, as well as effects on emergency services;
  • Foster engagement and relations with the community interested in the project; and,
  • Assess the financial feasibility, with considerations for funding requirements and sources, and rider fees.
Officials at the firm said they would develop recommendations for city staff and potential tram routes. Public outreach and a final report are planned for this fall.
Montana - Glacier Park International Airport is about to undergo the largest expansion in its history after the Flathead Municipal Airport Authority recently approved a draft concept and budget for the $100 million project. Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in September 2020.

The airport's north wing will be built out with six full-size holding rooms and jet bridges. The project also calls for another security lane to be added, as well as larger circulation areas, a greeter lobby, and holding space with more automated and efficient baggage service. Additionally, most of the food service options will be located inside the security checkpoint.

The Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Airport Improvement Program will contribute $5.7 million to the project, while the majority of funding will come from the airport's savings, loans, federal grants, and investments from air carriers.

A firm is already helping with planning and design. The next steps include selecting a contractor, and finalizing the design and contracts.
Courtesy - Arizona Department of Transportation
Arizona - Gov. Doug Ducey and the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) announced that the state secured a $90 million federal highway grant on July 22 to add lanes along 23 miles of Interstate 17 as part of an estimated $320 million highway project in Arizona.

The Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant will fund the expansion and improvements of I-17 north of Phoenix, including a flex lanes system between Black Canyon city and the Sunset Point Rest Area.

These flex lanes along 8 miles of I-17 north of Black Canyon City will operate as a separate two-lane facility to carry one direction of traffic at any one time depending on need, with movable gates at end to control access. They also could provide extra lanes in one direction if an incident closes the regular I-17 lanes in the area between Black Canyon City and Sunset Point.

The improvements to I-17 north of Phoenix are one of the state's transportation priorities because that area regularly experiences heavy congestion due to crashes, disabled vehicles, and increased weekend traffic, according to a press release.

Legislators and Gov. Ducey recently passed a state budget that included an investment of $130 million in state funds to allow full construction of third lanes along the highway between Anthem Way and Black Canyon City as part of the larger I-17 improvement project. Environmental studies for the I-17 corridor north of Phoenix are scheduled for completion later this year.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, this round of the INFRA discretionary grant program is making available between $855 million and $902.5 million for projects that help rebuild America's infrastructure.
   View our Government Contracting Pipeline and Texas Government Insider newsletter archives
Sunnyside Yard
New York - City planners and consultants are creating a master plan to develop the 180-acre Sunnyside Yard in New York City following a $2.6 million feasibility study that concluded that decking over the site is possible. The study proposed different land-use scenarios, including residential buildings and acres of open space for the site between Long Island City and Sunnyside.

Mayor Bill de Blasio's Sunnyside Yards proposal has gained the most traction. It includes up to 24,000 housing units and residential buildings as high as 69 stories. Of the housing, 7,200 would be affordable units as part of his affordable housing plan.

The master plan could be the start of conceptualizing a mixed-use space that will accommodate residential buildings, office and commercial space, educational facilities, and recreational areas.

The 18-month master planning process will be underway for another six months followed by an environmental review and public approval process.
Wisconsin - Local transportation projects will be eligible for up to $75 million in grants after Gov. Tony Evers signed the state's 2019-2021 budget.

The one-time grants will pay up to 90 percent of total eligible costs with local governments funding the balance. The grants are available to counties, towns, villages, and cities for projects related to roads, bridges, transit capital and facility grants, bicycle and pedestrian amenities, railroads, and harbors.

Local government committees will be included in the selection process that requires project completion within six years for grant approval. Counties are eligible for up to $26.67 million in grants, cities and villages may apply for up to $19.03 million, and towns may receive up to $29.29 million in state grants.

In addition to this supplemental funding, the Legislature and Gov. Evers approved a 10 percent General Transportation Aids (GTA) increase for a $66 million total over the biennium.
Washington - The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has released an executive summary of their Ultra-High-Speed Ground Transportation (UHSGT) business case analysis. The findings follow a preliminary feasibility study conducted in 2017 and 2018 that outlined the potential benefits of a UHSGT system in the Cascadia megaregion. The system would connect Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, and other points in-between and beyond.

The system would carry passengers at speeds as high as 250 miles per hour. The latest study finds that trips between Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland would take less than an hour, with approximately 21 to 30 round trips made every day. The UHSGT would potentially carry up to 32,000 people every hour.

The analysis estimates that up-front construction costs will be between $24 billion and $42 billion, and that the system will reduce carbon emissions by 6 million metric tons over the first 40 years. The analysis includes complete technical reports on the strategic, economic, environmental, and financial case for the UHSGT system.
New Jersey - More than $30 million in grants will help New Jersey counties and municipalities with large truck traffic. The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) is awarding 25 grants through the Local Freight Impact Fund (LFIF) for projects ranging from road improvements to bridge replacements. The grants are being awarded for Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19).

The majority of projects involve pavement preservation across a dozen counties.

Other notable projects include $4 million for new construction of a truck bypass and access road in Gloucester County, $1.7 million for construction of a freight bypass in Mercer County, and $1 million for the replacement of a bridge in Union County.

Project eligibility is evaluated based on several factors including traffic volume, large truck traffic, crash frequency, existing conditions, and more. The LFIF program aims to help New Jersey enhance the safe movement of large truck traffic and support transportation opportunities.
Maryland - Park officials are conducting environmental reviews to relocate the Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Canal NHP Park Headquarters from Hagerstown to Williamsport, Maryland. They also are working with Georgetown and Washington, D.C. officials to create a new plan for the canal, which opened in 1831.

The headquarters' current location is a 20-minute drive from the nearest park location in Williamsport. The site of the new headquarters and visitors center is on land of a former lumber company in the park.

In the canal's prime, mules towed boats full of cargo along the waterway. Operating for nearly 100 years, the canal was a lifeline for communities along the Potomac River as coal, lumber, and agricultural products floated down the waterway to market. Over time, transit options improved and the mules and boats became part of an interpretative historic ride. The park closed the ride in 2011 because the canal locks and boat were in disrepair.

The new canal plan aims to preserve and interpret the 19th century transportation canal from Washington, D.C., to Cumberland, Maryland, by enabling the resumption of the mule-drawn boat service and improving six points of interest along a 1-mile stretch.

Proposed improvements - either minor or substantial - include work on Mile Marker Zero where Rock Creek meets the Potomac River, Rock Creek Confluence where the canal veers from the creek, The Locks, a sequence of locks in the 30th Street area, and Wisconsin Avenue Cut-Out where Wisconsin Avenue spans the canal. Other areas targeted for improvements are the Market Plazas, Stone Yard, and Aqueduct.

Maryland - Gov. Larry Hogan appointed Diane Croghan to serve as deputy chief of staff in the Office of the Governor for labor, housing, education, human services, and health matters, effective July 31. She takes over for Tiffany Robinson whom Hogan recently appointed as the state's secretary of labor. Croghan currently serves as chief of staff at the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. Before joining the administration, she served as County Executive Steven Schuh's chief of staff at Anne Arundel County. She also had held positions in the House of Delegates and Senate of the Maryland General Assembly.

Virginia - The Crater Planning District Commission recently hired Ron Svejkovsky as its new director of transportation planning. He replaces David Hyder who accepted a position with an engineering firm in Raleigh, North Carolina. Svejkovsky will oversee management of the Tri-Cities Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and will work with Virginia's transportation departments. He previously served as a district planning manager and transportation planner for the Virginia Department of Transportation and as a MPO planner for the Greenville Urban Area MPO and city of Greenville, North Carolina. He also was an adjunct instructor in the Department of Urban Planning at East Carolina University.

North Carolina - Northampton County appointed Charles Jackson as its new county manager on July 15. He takes over for interim County Manager Bob Murphy who filled the position after former County Manager Kimberly Turner resigned in February. Jackson previously served as a council budget analyst at the city of Richmond, Virginia, and budget analyst with the city of Raleigh, North Carolina. He also was a senior policy analyst with the North Carolina Division of Medical Assistance.

Alabama - Dothan Regional Airport has named Adam Hartzog as its new airport director. He succeeds long-time airport director Art Morris who will remain as an airport adviser and special projects coordinator. Hartzog has served as Dothan's deputy director since November 2014. Before joining the airport, Hartzog was an aviation planner for a private company in Montgomery, Alabama, and a customer service representative at Auburn University Regional Airport.

Virginia - Krystal Onaitis was recently appointed as the new city manager for the city of Covington, Virginia. She replaces interim City Manager Clay Goodman who held the position after former City Manager Richard Douglas resigned in February. Onaitis previously served in various positions for the city of Richmond, Virginia, as a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program manager, a management analyst, an administrative project analyst, and executive assistant to the mayor. She will begin her new role on August 1.

California - Laguna Niguel councilmembers named Tamara Letourneau as their new city manager on July 16. She takes over for interim city manager Bob Hall who filled the position after former City Manager Kristine Ridge accepted the city manager position at Santa Ana, California. Letourneau is currently the assistant city manager of Costa Mesa, California. She previously served in several positions in California as city manager of Yorba Linda and Sierra Madre and as assistant to the city manager in Claremont. She is an adjunct professor at her alma mater, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona as well as at the University of La Verne. Letourneau is scheduled to start for Laguna Niguel on Aug. 12.
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