Volume 11, Issue 30 - Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.

Civic outreach plans are critical components of success for large public projects. In spite of data that proves it, public officials often neglect to develop or implement these types of plans. And, experienced contractors often fail to insist on them.

Why is that? Could it be because there has been too little attention on why large projects sometimes languish or fail? Almost every project that encounters problems lacks a good civic outreach plan. One might almost think a civic outreach plan should be required because it forces attention on all the tough questions that must be answered.

There are many reasons why civic outreach plans are important, but consider just two:
  • Media outlets provide news 24 hours of every day, and reporters scramble to find enough news to keep the public interested. They know, however, that local political news can be golden, especially if there is any controversy whatsoever. That type of media coverage will absolutely capture the attention of the local community; and,
  • Political causes are now quite sophisticated, even at the local levels of government. People interested in any issue know how to manipulate public perception. If stakeholders don't understand why or how something is being done, they can become disenchanted. Then, with a little effort, it is possible to sabotage public perception.
Public officials must not just offer transparency. It is now necessary for them to communicate well and justify their actions. A business case must be outlined so that taxpayers, stakeholders, and citizens understand the logic behind any and all types of large initiatives. Not only is it important to educate the community, but also it is necessary to message to internal stakeholders. All parties deserve, and will demand, to be informed. This is not an easy task or one that will evolve well without a well-developed plan. Communication and civic outreach can make or break even the best projects.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker
Massachusetts - Gov. Charlie Baker revealed an $18 billion transportation plan to reduce congestion and add capacity to the state's transit system. The plan covers everything from tax credits for telecommuters to dedicated lanes for transit buses and a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) expansion. The proposed bill would allow the state to borrow money to fund the projects.

Under the plan, nearly $5.7 billion would go to the MBTA for a major overhaul of bus routes, purchase of low- and zero-emission vehicles, and up to 200 double-decker cars for commuter rail lines.

Other projects include improvements to the roadways around the Cape Cod Canal bridges, new traffic signaling technology to eliminate bottlenecks on local roads, and preparations for rising sea levels.

Baker said that, if enacted, the proposal would add almost 100,000 seats to the transit system over time.
The National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C. - National Parks Service officials are reporting that U.S. national parks are facing a deferred maintenance backlog of almost $12 billion. Projects have been building up over recent decades and now endanger park visitors and staff.

Several iconic properties are in need of significant repairs. These include the National Mall in Washington, D.C., which needs about $655 million for infrastructure work, and the Arlington Memorial Bridge, which requires $250 million to replace entirely.

The Grand Canyon National Park needs $313 million for repairs, $100 million of which would go to fixing and replacing the water system on the canyon's south rim. In San Francisco, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area requires $324 million for repairs, including $9 million for a plumbing upgrade.

To fund the maintenance, a bill has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would pay $1.3 billion per year for five years.
Pennsylvania - The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership is funding a study that will examine the future of downtown roads and how they should be used. The study will be conducted over a 12-month period, and will also involve the city of Pittsburgh, the Port Authority, and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission.

The goal is to see how to efficiently manage transportation around billions of dollars of recent investments in the downtown area. In the last decade, $5.2 billion has been invested, and another $3.5 billion in projects is coming.

The study will examine how to reduce single-passenger vehicles, create stopping areas for ride-sharing-services, and place future bike and pedestrian paths. The study will cover multiple aspects of transportation - transit, personal vehicle, shared services, and pedestrians.
Washington, D.C. - The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee moved an appropriations bill that would disperse $3.5 billion through the U.S. Department of Transportation over the next five years to carbon-reducing transportation projects. One billion dollars in grants also would be available for highway infrastructure that serves electric-, hydrogen-, or natural gas-powered vehicles.

The committee's bill also would allocate $4.9 billion in funding to bulwark thoroughfares against natural disasters. It establishes an annual competition for $1 billion over five years for resiliency projects across the country, including those that improve resilience in coastal states and funds for emergency evacuation routes.

This funding is part of the America's Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA) of 2019, the largest amount of funding provided for highway reauthorization legislation in U.S. history. The ATIA bill authorizes $287 billion from the Highway Trust Fund over five years in investments to maintain and repair America's roads and bridges and stimulate the economy.
Courtesy of BW Productions
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announces his 'Infrastructure: Foundation for Success'  initiative as National Governors Association chairman at the NGA Summer Meeting in Salt Lake City on July 26.
Utah - The National Governors Association (NGA) has a new mission after incoming chairman Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued a call to action to upgrade the country's aging or vulnerable infrastructure.

Hogan presented his "Infrastructure: Foundation for Success" initiative to association members at the NGA Summer Meeting on July 26 in Salt Lake City.

The yearlong initiative pushes for the repair, enhancement, and modernization of the U.S. infrastructure by innovating solutions to obstacles, creating partnerships with the private sector, and improving project review processes. It also encourages utilizing smart technologies and enhancing cyber-defenses.

Built upon four pillars of reducing congestion, expediting critical projects, protecting infrastructure, and increasing investments in infrastructure by exploring new revenue options and supporting public-private partnerships, the initiative will help governors and other state leaders solve challenges with their roads, bridges, airports, railways, transit, energy, water, broadband internet systems, and other infrastructure.

Founded in 1908, the National Governors Association is the nonpartisan organization of the nation's 55 governors.
Proposed Mobile River Bridge and Bayway in Alabama
Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) officials announced almost $856 million in infrastructure grants on July 25 for 20 projects around the country.

Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grants serve to create opportunities for federal, state, and local governments and the private sector to partner on funding infrastructure, using novel methods to refine processes for building projects, and improving accountability for projects that are completed. INFRA grants also spur investment by state, local, and private partners.

USDOT divided award categories into grants of at least $25 million for large projects and at least $5 million for small projects.

Some large projects are:
  • The Alabama Department of Transportation will be awarded $125 million to construct a new six-lane cable-stayed bridge with more than 215 feet of vertical clearance to carry I-10 across the Mobile River channel;
  • The Maryland Department of Transportation will be awarded $125 million to raise the vertical clearance of the Howard Street Tunnel, Baltimore, to facilitate movement of double-stack trains on an important freight rail corridor;
  • Space Florida will be awarded $90 million to replace the Cape Canaveral Spaceport Indian River Bridge in Florida with new twin high-level bridges, to allow transportation of oversized vehicles to launch sites;
  • The Missouri Department of Transportation will be awarded $81.2 million in INFRA funds to complete two critical upgrades along I-70;
  • The Oregon Department of Transportation will be awarded $60.4 million to make a series of improvements to roadways on the north side of Bend, Oregon;
  • The Rhode Island Department of Transportation will be awarded $60.355 million to rebuild the Providence Interstate 95 Northbound Viaduct;
  • The Mississippi Department of Transportation will be awarded $52.4 million to complete the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS) in Mississippi; and,
  • The City of Temecula, California, will be awarded $50 million to construct a two-lane northbound collector/distributor system along I-15.
Some small projects are:
  • The South Dakota Department of Transportation will be awarded $13.01 million to support a bridge replacement project over the Missouri River in Pierre;
  • The Southeast Arkansas Economic Development District will be awarded $10.52 million to rehabilitate a 91.3-mile continuous shortline railroad corridor between McGehee, Arkansas, and Tallulah, Louisiana;
  • The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) will be awarded $9.02 million to rehabilitate riverbank infrastructure along the Cuyahoga River at Irishtown Bend;
  • The West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOT) will be awarded $9.4 million for the WV2 Proctor to Kent project; and,
  • The North Central Council of Governments (NCTCOG) and Texas DOT will be awarded $8.78 million for a series of seven projects involving seven bridges in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Fact sheets for all projects may be found here.
Courtesy of Aaron Bender
Washington - Altogether, $808 million in bonds is being proposed for capital improvements to schools in Tacoma and Puyallup. Projects include replacing schools, adding new fields, and updating existing schools with safety and security measures.

Tacoma Public Schools proposed a $535 million bond which has yet to be approved and is expected to change with public input. Projects would include replacing schools, updating existing schools with safety and security measures, and adding new fields.

Replacing schools would cost $321 million and include Downing, Fawcett, Hunt, Lowell, Skyline, and Whittier elementary schools, as well as Bryant Montessori.

The bond also seeks district-wide implementation of controlled access vestibules, security cameras, card readers for staff, and intercoms. These improvements would cost $26.7 million.

Athletic courts and fields would receive $21.4 million for new construction and various upgrades. Additionally, many schools would get improvements to plumbing, mechanical, electrical, ADA, drainage, ventilation, ceiling, and flooring. The Tacoma bond is expected to be on the ballot in February 2020.

The Puyallup School Board approved a $273 million bond to be put on the November 2019 ballot. If voters approve, the money will go toward consolidating portables and smaller buildings into the main school building at Puyallup, Rogers, and Walker high schools. If the Puyallup bond passes, the design and planning phases could start in January 2020. Construction would begin 10 or more months later.
Hudson River tunnel tubes
New York - Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey recently signed legislation to officially establish the Gateway Development Commission. This allows the states to pursue and receive federal funding for the Hudson River tunnel project and the Northeast Corridor Gateway Program, as well as borrow and explore other types of funding.

Cuomo signed New York Bill So6372A, and Murphy signed New Jersey Assembly Bill 5570, which were both passed last month by the states' legislatures.

The Hudson River tunnel project is estimated to cost $13 billion, while the Northeast Corridor Gateway Program is expected to cost a total of $30 billion. Projects include replacing cross-Hudson River transportation systems, designing and constructing a new Hudson River rail tunnel, and improvements to Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan.
Interstate 95 in Virginia
Virginia - The 179-mile stretch of Interstate 95 through the state is the focus of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) study aimed at improving traffic flow. The first phase of the study is complete and has been released, showing problem areas that lead to congestion and crashes.

According to VDOT's study, the Occoquan and Fredericksburg areas have the most problems, and the I-95/I-64 intersection is the worst for crashes.

There are currently 11 projects underway that will address some of the problems. Of these are the toll-lane extension project in Stafford County, and the Rappahannock River crossing projects that include two new bridges.

The study, which is similar to the study performed on Interstate 81, could lead to projects and funding. The next phase will focus on possible solutions to the problems.

The next meetings on the study will be held in September and November, after which the Commonwealth Transportation Board will analyze the findings and determine how to proceed.
Nice Memorial Bridge
Maryland - The Gov. Harry W. Nice Memorial/Senator Thomas "Mac" Middleton Bridge project will see a crucial vote on July 31, which will determine whether the project is eligible for federal loans or other critical funding. The project involves widening the bridge to handle increased traffic flow on U.S. Route 301, and is estimated to cost $768.6 million.

The current bridge was constructed in 1940 and spans 1.7 miles with only two lanes. The proposed project would replace the bridge with a four-lane structure to relieve congestion. Planners are currently debating whether to include a bicycle and pedestrian lane.

Funding would be provided through Maryland toll revenues, debt, and federal support. A low-interest federal loan could cover as much as one third of the total cost to replace the bridge.
   View our Government Contracting Pipeline and Texas Government Insider newsletter archives
Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport
Alaska - Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, the world's fifth busiest air cargo airport, is getting major construction projects to accommodate an increasing volume of cargo traffic. Last year, the amount of cargo handled at the airport grew by 2.5 percent, and it's estimated to continue to grow. Two new storage buildings are among the proposed projects.

On the west side of the airport, a 1.5 million square foot cargo building is planned for development. On the land to the east of the airport, a 700,000-square-foot cold cargo storage building is planned. The cost to design, engineer, and build the two facilities is estimated at $370 million. Construction could begin in 2020, as the buildings are expected to open in the following year.

Other major projects include rehabilitation and reconstruction of taxiways and runways, terminal escalator replacement, horizontal and vertical infrastructure repairs, and American Disabilities Act (ADA) parking and access upgrades. Less significant projects include replacement of electronic terminal guidance signs and fuel containment sumps, gate access control improvements, tug road reconstruction, joint seal repairs, and replacement of lead-in lights.
Rendering of Gansevoort Peninsula
New York - Planners released a preliminary concept on July 24 for Manhattan's first public beach at Hudson River Park's Gansevoort Peninsula after nearly two decades of planning. Most recently, the New York City Department of Sanitation used the site as a salt repository.

Based on artists' renderings, park features will include a sandy beach area with kayak access and space for sitting, a salt marsh, habitat improvements, a sports field, picnic areas, and lounge chairs.

Officials at the Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT), a partnership between New York state and city, projected an 18-month construction timeline that would start in late 2020.

The Gansevoort Peninsula park project is part of about $900 million in projects at Hudson River Park, including Pier 57, sports fields, and a commercial office pier.
Arizona - A new hotel, resort, complementary retail development, conference center, or combination of all uses could be coming to Gilbert Regional Park.

The town of Gilbert issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) for a development on 10 acres of town-owned land at the park. RFQ submissions are due Sept. 4 after which the town will develop a shortlist of respondents to participate in a request for proposals (RFP) due November 4.

The park is undergoing development of its own by the town's parks and recreation department.

The first phase of improvements to the 272-acre park features a playground and 6,000-square-foot splash pad and is on target for completion in September. The next development phase allots 47 acres to public-private partnerships, one of which is a 25-acre water park set to open in 2021.
Site of Morro Bay wastewater treatment facility
California - The California Coastal Commission approved the city of Morro Bay's sewer project, which includes construction of an estimated $125 million reclamation facility. The project will be funded by increased household water and sewer bills resulting from the passing of Proposition 218 in September 2018.

City officials also are applying for a low-interest loan from the state, as well as an Environmental Protection Agency federal loan.

The water reclamation will include a new 1 million gallon per day advanced treatment facility, two new lift stations, approximately 3.5 miles of pipelines, and wells to inject the purified water into the groundwater aquifer, which may be extracted for reuse through the city's existing infrastructure.

The current schedule includes a construction start as early as September 2019 and project completion by 2022.
Wheeling Suspension Bridge
West Virginia - Highway and city officials continue to discuss options for the Wheeling Suspension Bridge after a tour bus compromised its integrity in June. The 170-year-old bridge will remain closed to motorists as repairs and improvements are made; however, it will remain open to pedestrian traffic.

Inspection reports indicate that damage has been done to the bridge's stay cables. The state plans to not only repair the structure, but to also put in place hard barriers between the bridge's entrances and on Wheeling Island. Hard barriers would prevent dump trucks, tour buses, and other large vehicles from crossing the bridge.

Officials are considering other options such as implementing toll stations, weigh stations, cameras for ticketing, and other options that will prevent a similar incident from happening in the future. The priority is to keep heavy traffic off the bridge.
The bridge is scheduled to be completely renovated in 2021, and officials hope to stay on schedule despite the recent damages.

Arkansas - The state's Board of Corrections named Dexter Payne as Arkansas director of the Division of Correction on July 26. Payne previously served in several leadership positions with the division including as deputy director of institutions, superintendent/warden, deputy warden, major-chief of security, captain, building lieutenant, building sergeant, and correctional officer/corporal. He takes over for Wendy Kelley who was appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchison as the state's first secretary of corrections in the governor's cabinet.

Oregon - The Roseburg City Council selected Nikki Messenger as its new city manager July 22. She replaces former City Manager Lance Colley who retired in February. Messenger had been serving as interim city manager since April. She joined the city in 1995 as an engineering technician and then worked for a private engineering firm and Douglas County Public Works. She returned to the city of Roseburg in 2006 and was promoted to public works director in 2008.

South Carolina - The Board of Trustees for the University of South Carolina (USC) approved retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Robert "Bob" Caslen Jr. as the university's new president on July 19. He takes over for Harris Pastides who is retiring at the end of July. Caslen previously served as superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and as the University of Central Florida's interim chief financial officer and senior counsel to the president.

California - Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Steve Gordon as the state new director of the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) on July 23 as part of a strike team the governor formed to head the DMV. Gordon held leadership positions in the private sector as a managing partner, vice president of global service operations, and principal consultant. He also co-founded a private firm, served as a network engineer at an airline company, and was vice president of technical services for a global IT, networking, and cybersecurity company. Gordon also worked as an auditor for the county of San Diego.

Pennsylvania - Joe Cullen, chief investment officer for the Montana Board of Investments, has been selected as the new chief investment officer for Pennsylvania State University, effective Sept. 16. He replaces John Pomeroy who retired in December 2018. Cullen previously oversaw institutional portfolio management at a private investment firm in Boston and served in senior investment positions at Amherst College in Massachusetts and at a private asset management corporation as a senior manager in its public markets group. He is a charterholder as a financial analyst and alternative investment analyst and holds financial risk manager certification from an international association of risk professionals.

Minnesota - McLeod County has hired Julie Erickson to lead its new Health and Human Services Department, formed by a merger of the county's Public Health and Social Services divisions. Erickson will serve as the department's director after working as a health unit coordinator for the Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota under the Minnesota Office of Child Support and as a child support officer for Hennepin County Child Support.
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