Volume 11, Issue 33 - Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Los Alamos National Laboratory
New Mexico - A federal mandate to spur plutonium core production is fueling $13 billion in expansion plans at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).
Congress and the Department of Defense mandated that the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration produce 30 plutonium pits a year by 2030.

Five billion dollars in capital improvements over the next five years and $13 billion in the next decade will serve the lab's expanding workforce.

The lab's director said $3 billion will go toward pit improvements at LANL's current plutonium facility, an accelerator project, and a new-generation supercomputer. He underlined the support infrastructure improvements would provide to the lab's success.

Housing projects, parking garages, and a new highway linking NM 4 to Santa Fe via a new bridge are being planned to reduce commutes from Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Local and state governments would fund the roadwork.

Officials reported that the lab employs about 12,000 people now. They expect to add 1,400 more positions by 2026. According to a recent study, the lab is responsible for creating 24,169 New Mexico jobs through direct and indirect activities, which almost equals the state's manufacturing sector jobs combined.
Statesville Regional Airport
North Carolina - The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) recently released the final draft of its 2020-2029 State Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP). The STIP includes more than 1,700 projects around the state.

Projects are prioritized using technical data as well as input from local communities. Of these, there are 1,319 highway, 86 aviation, 234 bike and pedestrian, six ferry, 50 rail, and 23 public transit projects. About $2.5 billion will be awarded in Fiscal Year 2019-2020 for more than 200 projects.

Notable work includes more than $381 million to construct a new roadway from US-19 Business in Andrews to US-129 in Stecoah; nearly $337 million to relocate a rail corridor around New Bern; more than $250 million to build infrastructure for commuter rail service from Mebane to Selma; and $34 million to construct small to large hangars and make other improvements to Statesville Regional Airport.

During its September meeting, the Board of Transportation is expected to consider final approval of the plan.
Rendering of Belmont Park
New York - Empire State Development (ESD), the state board responsible for economic development, unanimously approved a $1.3 billion project to build an arena and entertainment complex.

The board reviewed a 19,000-seat arena, 350,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, a 250-room hotel, and 43 acres of parking at Belmont Park. The arena, which is expected to cost $955 million and open in Nassau County the fall of 2021, will be the new home of the New York Islanders hockey team.

Before construction can begin, the Franchise Oversight Board needs to approve the state's environmental review, which is expected in the coming weeks.
Texas - Twenty-two local governments are recovering from a ransomware attack on August 16 that shut down or crippled financial systems and other critical operations.

In response to the Texas attack, Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the State Operations Center (SOC) to Level 2 "Escalated Response" with the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) leading a team of agencies to work with the affected entities.

By August 20, DIR officials reported that 25 percent of the impacted organizations - mostly smaller local governments - had shifted from response and assessment to remediation and recovery with several of them returning to operations as usual.

A DIR spokesman declined to identify the towns affected, citing the potential for further attacks. However, the cities of Borger in the Texas Panhandle and Keene near the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex issued statements on their social media accounts that they were targeted in the attack. Borger officials reported on August 19 that their basic and emergency services remained online, but residents were unable to access birth or death certificates, pay their utility bills, or make other payments.

According to a DIR press release, the state of Texas systems and networks were not affected by the attack believed to be carried out by a single threat actor. The cyberassault is one of several ransomware incidents carried out this year around the country against governments including attacks against the cities of Atlanta and Baltimore, Jackson County in Georgia, and Imperial County in California. In May, the city of Laredo, Texas, was a victim of an attack that shut down some of its online services and rendered its email system inoperable.
Hackers also have targeted hospitals, businesses, and other networks. If successful in deceiving an employee into clicking on a link or downloading an attachment, ransomware encrypts a victim's computer and then demands payment, usually in the form of bitcoin, to unlock it. Some governments choose to pay while others refuse.
Typhoon Yutu
Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Department of Commerce's (USDOC) Economic Development Administration (EDA) has issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for communities affected by natural disasters. The department will make $587 million in grants available to aid those impacted by Presidentially-declared natural disasters in 2018, and floods and tornadoes in 2019.

Funding is available to areas with a major disaster designation resulting from hurricanes Florence, Michael, and Lane, typhoons Yutu and Mangkhut, wildfires, and other disasters that occurred during the 2018/2019 calendar year. Grants are made by the EDA's Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) Program and may be awarded to fund construction and non-construction activities in areas that experience sudden, prolonged severe economic dislocation.

There are no deadlines for eligible applicants, and the EDA will accept proposals on a rolling basis.
Route 201 at Wyman Lake
Maine - Half of the state's $350 million highway and bridge funding is at risk if lawmakers fail to put a highway borrowing package on the November ballot. The deadline to approve the bond language is August 30.

Gov. Janet Mills proposed borrowing $239 million over two years, a proposal that included $105 million in bonds. Of the funds:
  • $80 million would go to roads and bridges;
  • $20 million to ports, rail, and air facilities;
  • $4 million to culverts and stream crossings; and,
  • $1 million to the Gulf of Maine Research Institute.
The bond would also bring in $137 million in matching funds from federal and other sources. The governor is also contemplating a session to consider bonds near the end of August.
Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program. The agency will make more than $244 million in grants available for the Fiscal Year 2019.

The CRISI grant program is intended to fund railroad infrastructure upgrades that increase safety, efficiency, and reliability. Eligible projects include those addressing congestion issues, highway-rail crossings, rail line relocation, short-line infrastructure upgrades, intercity passenger rail improvements, and safety technology deployment. Both freight and passenger rail projects are eligible. At least 25 percent of the grant funding is reserved for rail infrastructure work needed in rural communities.

The Railroad Administration will also consider how projects enhance economic vitality, leverage federal funding, improve safety, expedite project delivery, and adopt life-cycle cost accounting. Grant recipients will be held accountable for achieving measurable outcomes, and preference will be given to projects whose proposed federal matching costs do not exceed 50 percent.

Applications must be received within 60 days after publication of the NOFO in the Federal Register. The FRA will offer web-based training and technical assistance for eligible applicants on September 4.
Provident Hospital
Illinois - Cook County Health (CCH) recently filed an application with a state review board to construct a $240 million inpatient and outpatient facility on the Provident Hospital campus adjacent to the current hospital in Chicago's South Side.

CCH plans to build a new eight-story building to house a smaller replacement hospital with 42 medical-surgical beds and six intensive care unit beds, eight operating suites, and 70 outpatient exam rooms. An emergency department with 18 bays is planned.

The hospital, which was built as a privately owned community hospital in 1891, was purchased by Cook County and reopened in 1993 as a public hospital. The debt service on the new facility will be paid for by the health system through patient revenues, not local tax dollars.
Photo by Staff Sgt. Rebecca Imwalle
Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum looks out of an Oklahoma Army National Guard Blackhawk over flooded areas of northeast Oklahoma in May.
Oklahoma - Tulsa's aging levee system is set to undergo $150 million to $200 million in improvements.

Local officials and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) have drafted a preliminary outline of upgrades and cost estimates, which will be refined into an initial report and released on September 16. The final plan is expected in September 2020. Last spring, the Arkansas River flooded the area, prompting local officials and the USACE to hasten the improvement process. The USACE shortened the study time to two years and was able to include the improvements into the Fiscal Year 2021 federal budget.

The project will include filtered berms with toe drains, a landslide impervious blanket, retention ponds, and reconstruction of pump stations.

Local governments will be responsible for one-third of the costs, while the remaining two-thirds will be funded by the federal government.
Photo by Oregon Department of Transportation - Interstate Bridge
Oregon - Eight Oregon lawmakers have been appointed to a new committee that will oversee efforts to replace the Interstate Bridge between Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington. The lawmakers will work with legislators from Washington to revive the decades-old planning project, which failed in 2014.

State of Washington officials have committed to funding an office dedicated to planning and engineering work for the bridge and have earmarked $17.5 million for preliminary project designs.

The consensus among officials is that the current bridge poses safety concerns and its replacement will be the best approach. Additionally, multimodal options such as bus, rapid, and light rail transit will be discussed.

Both states' transportation departments will lead the project while coordinating with transit agencies and Metro. Any project will be contingent on federal funding. The committee will possibly meet for the first time in September.

The Interstate Bridge first opened in 1917 as a single bridge. A twin bridge was added in 1958.
Michigan - Amtrak is considering extending its Wolverine rail line from Chicago to Toronto, a proposal that was discussed during the Michigan Rail Conference at Michigan State University.

The proposal calls for extending the Chicago-Detroit Wolverine train's route through Ontario and into Toronto, a line that currently runs through Kalamazoo.

Though no cost estimates have been released, Amtrak's idea would involve upgrading existing train stations along the way, as well as constructing a new border processing facility. The work would require the cooperation of multiple railroads involved.

Besides the issue of finding funding sources, other specific concerns that need to be addressed are the "slot" through the rail tunnel between Detroit and Windsor, and track upgrades between Windsor Tunnel Portal and VIA Windsor/Walkerville Station.

Officials said it is possible that bus service between rail stations could be implemented as a short-term solution.
California - The State of California Department of Technology issued a request for information (RFI) for Owner Occupied Reconstruction (OOR) to assist the state's Department Housing and Community Development (HCD) in developing a new federally funded program named ReCoverCA.
Using the OOR process on www.RecoverCA.org, the department plans to provide federal disaster funds to assist homeowners in rebuilding or rehabilitating their primary residences after a natural disaster. 

The state is requesting information on existing OOR software systems used in disaster recovery. It is seeking a cloud hosted, Software as a Service (SaaS) OOR system that will integrate with HCD's grant management system (GMS). The system will need to provide live and shared data between the two systems. The state expects the OOR contractor to develop the GMS interface.

Although HCD will release a separate RFP for the program management of the OOR program, this RFI is for the software system solution only.
   View our Government Contracting Pipeline and Texas Government Insider newsletter archives
Kansas - State health officials have told one of the contractors providing services for KanCare, its privatized Medicaid program, that the company is not meeting the terms of its $1 billion contract.

After the Kansas Department of Health and Environment identified several issues with claims and with credentialing medical providers for billing, the contractor developed an action plan and wrote a letter stating it had resolved some concerns and brought others closer to compliance.

However, department officials said they found the corrective measures to be lacking and requested a new plan from the contractor to achieve compliance. They also plan to meet with company leadership to negotiate a resolution.

Kansas has contracted with three health plans, or managed care organizations (MCOs), to coordinate health care for more than 415,000 people across the state enrolled in Medicaid.
Rendering of University Village
Nebraska - The University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) wants to turn a nearby area into a public-private partnership (P3) called the University Village neighborhood.

The vacant, 104-acre expanse could be developed to benefit the university, the city, and businesses alike. Such close proximity could offer easy access to resources and exchange of commerce. UNK officials reason that attractive living, entertainment, and recreational options could help attract students and faculty to the school. At the same time, the school's resources could serve and support surrounding businesses.

Currently, only two UNK facilities, including a residence hall, have been built on the site. A third building, a UNK regional engagement center, is expected to begin construction soon, and once completed will attract meetings and community events.

The university envisions a long-term project with public and private partners investing hundreds of millions of dollars. Concepts include retail and office spaces, residential housing, and parks that would offer a safe and walkable community. So far, $1 million has been invested into roads, water, and sewers for University Village. Much more of these services will be needed to develop the area further.

All development plans are reviewed and approved by the University Village board.
Billings Logan International Airport
Montana - The Billings Logan International Airport will begin a four-year, $55 million renovation project in September. The goal is to increase the number of flights and airlines it can accommodate, as well as give the airport an updated, modern feel. Normal operations will continue during the entire process.

Part of the work involves expanding the airport's two concourses and increasing the number of gates from five to eight. This first phase will include adding an open "great room" that features a glass wall facing the runways. Additionally, there will be a new cafe, bar, and gift shop.

The remodel will focus on expanding all services, including those available on the secure side of the airport, with the goal of making waiting passengers as comfortable as possible.

Major concourse work will begin in the spring and is estimated to finish in two years. Concourse A will be closed first and require some flights to be loaded from the ground outside. Crews will construct heated tunnels to accommodate passengers boarding this way.

Concourse B will begin its remodel by August 2021, and the entire project is estimated to be completed by March 2023.
Funding will come from Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grants, airport funds, and revenue bonds.

Ohio - The University of Akron (UA) Board of Regents appointed Dr. Gary Miller as the university's 18th president on August 14. Miller currently serves as the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay's chancellor. He previously held positions as chancellor of the University of North Carolina Wilmington, provost and vice president for academic affairs and research at Wichita State University, and dean of the College of the Pacific (arts and sciences) at the University of the Pacific. He will succeed interim president Dr. John Green. Miller's UA appointment is effective October 1.

New Mexico - Economic Development Department Cabinet Secretary Alicia Keyes announced Marco Grajeda as the director of the New Mexico Border Authority on August 16. Grajeda previously served as a field representative in the Las Cruces, New Mexico office of U.S. Sen. Tom Udall. Prior to that, Grajeda was a reporter and news director of a public radio affiliate in the state. The New Mexico Border Authority is an executive agency that facilitates trade, job training and economic development efforts along the New Mexico border and is a division within the Economic Development Department.

Mississippi - Grenada councilmembers named La'Keylah White as the new city manager. She succeeds Trey Baker who left to join a presidential campaign as national director for African-American engagement. White most recently was president and CEO of a planning consulting firm in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Prior to that she was a planner with the North Central Planning and Development District (NCPDD) in Montgomery County, Mississippi. She previously held positions as the director of federal and state programs and housing coordinator at the city of Hattiesburg and grant administrator with NCPDD.

Missouri - St. Louis Metro Transit selected Stephen Berry as general manager of public safety. Berry previously held positions as deputy director at the University of South Florida's Center for Urban Transportation Research and the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (LYNX). He also worked as a government consultant at a national training center and at the Florida Department of Transportation. In addition, he was a public safety manager at the city of Palmdale, California.

Colorado - The city of Longmont named Valerie Dodd as director of Nextlight, the city's broadband internet service within its Power and Communications utility. Dodd brings more than 25 years of experience in telecommunications and broadband to her new role. She previously served as vice president for marketing strategy and director of employee experience for a global technology company headquartered in Louisiana.

New York - The Allegany County hired Deborah McDonnell as its new county administrator. McDonell most recently was the village manager of Ossining, New York. Before that she served as city administrator of Poughkeepsie, New York, city manager of Fairborn, Ohio, and director of community development the village of Saranac Lake, New York. McDonnell also was a comptroller for a hotel group and business executive for Saranac Lake Central School District in New York.
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