Volume 11, Issue 34 - Wednesday, August 28, 2019
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.

We live in a world of smartphones, computers, and 24-hour news cycles. We can obtain information and data on almost anything with a few clicks on a computer. Not much is hidden, or difficult to obtain, or out of reach - except occasionally public information.

In a country where longstanding laws ensure that public information is ours for the asking, it's sobering when public data is hard to come by or simply unavailable to us. It's also frustrating when a request for public information involves time, persistence, and more patience than most citizens have. Taxpayers, businesses, reporters, and researchers who encounter road blocks to public information tend to be some of the most frustrated individuals on Earth, especially when they are well versed in the laws that guarantee transparency to government information.

Transparency in government has long been, and will continue to be, an issue discussed and argued by elected officials and citizens alike. What exactly does the law guarantee? How accessible should public information be to the public at large?

Everyone knows the process. We've been taught to ask for public information through a public information request (PIR), Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, or an open records request (ORR). If the request made is for a document in the possession of a governmental entity or a public official, it should be available to any requestor in a timely manner.

Still frame of Hudson Tunnel project animation
New Jersey - The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey submitted an updated financial plan to the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) on August 23 that trims $1.4 billion from its proposed Hudson Tunnel project to build a new tunnel and rehabilitate the existing North River Tunnel.
Project partners are now seeking $5.4 billion from the FTA's Capital Investment Grant Program. They also restated their construction cost commitments of more than $5.55 billion, including $2.7 billion from the Port Authority's capital plan.

Cost-savings would reduce estimated expenses to $9.5 billion for construction for the new tunnel and $1.8 billion for the rehabilitation for the existing tunnel, which form part of the Northeast Corridor (NEC), the most heavily used rail line in the country, according to a press release.

Authority officials submitted a new financial plan that includes a more advanced level of design and extensive analysis of risks and associated mitigations, an efficient contracting plan with fewer contract packages, and expanded consideration of delivery methods such as design-build.

One significant update brought the level of design to the 30 percent threshold, which is customary for such projects to advance at the federal level for funding requests.

The initiative is part of the authority's Gateway Program that plans to deliver rail infrastructure projects between Newark, New Jersey, and Penn Station in New York City along a 10-mile segment of the NEC. 
Fiveash Regional Water Treatment Plant
Florida - Fort Lauderdale's failing drinking and wastewater systems are forcing officials to create a new utility action plan. A 2017 report estimated the water and wastewater systems will require $1.4 billion to fix.

The plan includes $124 million to repair, or up to $280 million to replace, the Fiveash Regional Water Treatment Plant. Built in 1954, the plant was designed to treat 8 million gallons per day.

The city's aging water and sewer pipes continue to break without warning, adding rising repair costs. Officials are planning a short-term fix for the water treatment plant while they consider a long-term strategy. However, the lowest bid for the work came in $15 million over budget. The project will be rebid in a few weeks.

Another priority will be mapping the precise locations of all the city's water pipes and valves. Many are more than 50 years old and have not been maintained for years. This project could take two to three years and require up to $6 million, funding that officials have yet to find.
California - The California Transportation Commission has allocated more than $1.1 billion for 133 highway projects across the state. The projects are part of the State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP), including 47 fix-it-first projects funded by Senate Bill 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017.

The Senate Bill 1 projects cost an estimated $994 million and will improve 880 lane miles, 30 bridges, 474 congestion-reducing devices, and 83 culverts.

Notable projects include pavement preservation on U.S. Highway 101 ($17.1 million) and Route 1 ($16.8 million) in Mendocino County; two bridge projects on Highway 101 in Humboldt County, totaling more than $26 million; and $4.3 million in pavement preservation on U.S. Highway 101 in Humboldt County.

Another $10.5 million is going to the Trade Corridor Enhancement Program, which focuses on improving truck and freight corridors. The SHOPP focuses on providing funds for safety improvements, emergency repairs, and highway preservation and upgrades.
Rendering of fairgrounds coliseum
Oklahoma - Councilmembers in Oklahoma City adopted a resolution August 27 to define a $978 million Metropolitan Area Projects (MAPS) 4 package that will go before voters in a December 10 election.

Sixteen quality-of-life MAPS 4 projects will appear on the ballot as a single capital investment program. If approved, the projects would be funded by a temporary penny sales tax, effective April 1 and keep the sales tax rate the same.

All projects would be under the oversight of City Council and a volunteer advisory board.

MAPS 4 projects are:
  • Park upgrades and construction - $140 million;
  • Chesapeake Energy Arena enhancements and maintenance - $115 million;
  • Four new youth centers - $110 million;
  • Sidewalks, bike lanes, trails, and streetlights - $87 million;
  • Bus rapid transit, park and ride facilities, and bus stop upgrades - $87 million;
  • Small business innovation district - $71 million;
  • New fairgrounds coliseum - $63 million;
  • Homelessness - $50 million;
  • Mental health and addiction - $40 million;
  • Family justice center - $38 million;
  • Animal shelter - $38 million;
  • Multipurpose stadium for soccer - $37 million;
  • Beautification - $30 million;
  • Freedom Center and Clara Luper Civil Rights Center - $25 million;
  • Criminal justice diversion hub - $17 million; and,
  • New senior wellness center - $15 million.
The MAPS program began in 1993 with all projects completed in 2004. Since then, voters have approved two more MAPS programs.
Denver International Airport
Colorado - Denver International Airport (DIA) leaders are planning to rebid a terminal renovation project after terminating a public-private partnership (P3) contract, effective November 12.

Renovations included work to raise capacity and strengthen Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security checkpoints by moving screening areas to the upper level and consolidating airline check-in counters.

However, escalating change order costs prompted DIA officials to exercise a "for convenience" clause on August 12 to extricate the airport from an overall $1.8 billion contract that included a 30-year agreement to operate concessions.

Now its officials are working to limit the renovation project cost to an estimated $770 million, seek new bids, gain Denver City Council approval for a new contractor, and keep the project on track for completion in November 2021.
The project scope is set to be scaled down to still achieve that budget and timeline by removing the concessions component and making other adjustments.
Port Manatee
Florida - New facilities are needed to keep up with growth at Port Manatee near Tampa Bay. The 1,100-acre property currently holds warehouses that are full, with cargo handling at an all-time high.

Manatee County commissioners recently approved a $33 million capital improvement plan for 2019-2020. Included is a $15.1 million investment to extend berth four, which will allow two vessels to use berths four and five. This project is scheduled for completion in February 2024.

Other parts of the plan include $7.7 million to expand the intermodal container yard, $4 million to improve the port road, $2.9 million to rehabilitate berths six, seven, and nine, and nearly $4 million to make other additions and upgrades.

The port's master plan calls for a 25-percent expansion with three additional berths and a container yard. However, it may cost $127 million over the next five years, and $500 million over the next 20 years, to build adequate facilities.
Louisiana - The State Bond Commission has allowed the Superdome's governing body to sell up to $350 million in bonds. The money will be used to fund part of the stadium's $450 million renovation, which has been a key point in discussions to keep the New Orleans Saints in the city.

The Superdome Commission, made up of team executives and the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District (LSED), will sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) which will extend the Saints' lease and allow the project to begin next year. The LSED is a state agency-political subdivision comprised of seven members appointed by the governor of Louisiana.

Design proposals have been in the works for over a year. The upgrade's first phase is estimated to cost $100 million and will include removing 80,000 square feet of interior ramps and installing escalators and elevators, as well as constructing a large kitchen and food-service area.

The financing deal outlines one-third of the total project costs, or $150 million, to be funded by the Saints. The LSED will issue bonds to cover $210 million, and the remaining $90 million will be funded by the state.
Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport
Hawaii - The Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole is getting $40.4 million for improvements. The funds were released by Gov. David Ige and will go toward terminal upgrades to increase capacity and improve efficiency and security for passengers.

The new design will consolidate the pair of existing major terminals and checkpoints into a single, 77,000-square-foot terminal. The change will improve passenger flow and include additional concession space, along with a baggage system that will be able to accommodate oversized bags.

Improvements include a centralized security area and six-lane passenger screening checkpoint building. The baggage system will be upgraded with an explosive detection system, which will improve work efficiency for Transportation Security Administration agents.

Other improvements include new restrooms in both the public area and in the terminal areas, as well as two covered bag drop areas.
Sioux Falls Arena
South Dakota - After more than a year of analysis, a study group commissioned by the city is advising leaders to demolish the Sioux Falls Arena and minor league baseball stadium.

The two facilities, a convention center, and the multipurpose Denny Sanford Premier Center form a city-owned events campus.

In its final recommendations to the mayor and City Council, the committee advised demolishing the 58-year-old arena, increasing the Sioux Falls Convention Center floor space by 60,000 square feet, forming a public-private partnership for the construction of a second hotel, and razing the 51-year-old Birdcage stadium which is home to the Canaries minor league baseball team.

The committee, which was tasked solely with studying the existing site, was silent on relocating the team and did not propose a location for a new venue. 

A spokesperson for the mayor's office said that after the study group submits its final report, the city will develop a master plan based on the recommendations and hire engineers and consultants to begin the project.
Texas - The Texas A&M Transportation Institute's (TTI) 2019 Urban Mobility Report discovered inefficiencies in transportation infrastructure and recommended fixes for such issues. The solution to the $166 billion-per-year problem is to add more roads and transit options, maximize efficiency in existing systems, make better use of land, and reduce and balance demand through telework and work-hour adjustments.

The TTI has made available its How to Fix Congestion guide, an interactive map of congestion conditions that includes ways to address gridlock.

Billions of hours are wasted every year on inefficient travel. The current transportation infrastructure can't meet the growing travel demand that's been fueled by job growth and the bounce-back that occurred after the 2008-2009 recession. Commuters at every level are now affected by increased trip times from overcrowded systems.

Researchers are calling for strategies to address travel through urban corridors, and stress that taking a balanced and diversified approach will lead to the best solution.
   View our Government Contracting Pipeline and Texas Government Insider newsletter archives
Washington, D.C. - A new amendment to a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) rule will allow national energy lab directors to conduct and fund early stage and precommercial technology demonstrations designed to attract private-sector interest and foster investment.

Previously, lab directors were limited to three methods of supporting technology transfers. They could obtain, maintain, license, and assign intellectual property rights; increase the potential for the transfer of technology; and provide widespread notice of technology transfer opportunities.

DOE modified the rule to add a fourth option of early stage and precommercial technology demonstrations and remove barriers that limit private-sector interest and demonstrate potential commercial applications of any research and technologies borne of laboratory activities.
Tennessee - The University of Memphis filed a $35 million permit for new construction of a music building.

The new building will be called the Scheidt Family Music Center at the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music.
The 90,000-square-foot facility will be double the size of the university's current music school and have a 900-seat capacity. It also will include multiple rehearsal rooms, faculty studios, and two recording studios.

In 2014, a $40 million capital campaign was launched for the project. The building is expected to open by summer 2021.
Rhode Island - Amtrak's train station in Providence is receiving $25 million to fund improvements. Providence Station is served by Amtrak and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's commuter-rail system, ranking 11th for ridership out of 530 stations nationwide.

The renovation project includes enclosing an outdoor patio which will add interior space, repairing major issues with the roof, improving pedestrian access to and from Providence Place Mall, and creating a more accessible location for Amtrak police.

Financing comes from a $12.5 million grant from the Federal Railroad Administration, $7.25 million from Amtrak, and $5.25 million from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation.
Iowa - Iowa's Metro Waste Authority (MWA) board approved plans to construct a single-stream material recovery facility (MRF) in the Des Moines area. The $10.9 million contract will be awarded to a firm that will provide equipment for a facility that can handle up to 25 tons per hour, or 45,000 tons annually.

The firm's bid also includes a future option that will allow another $2 million for expanding to 60,000 tons annually.

Iowa's MWA plans to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for the construction of a municipal MRF. The project is estimated to cost about $24 million, and the RFP will target recycling equipment manufacturers who can design, build, and install an automated single-stream sorting system.

Material is currently processed by a firm whose contract expires in 2021. The firm said that if their contract is extended, they will invest $5 million to $10 million in new equipment.
Sculpture of the Wright brothers' first flight
North Carolina - The National Park Service (NPS) is preparing a General Management Plan Amendment for the Wright Brothers National Memorial, which will protect park resources, improve the visitor experience, share the story of the Wright Brothers, and maintain the important commemorative landscape. 

A review will take place to consider what the park's planning issues and objectives are, as well as how conditions have changed. This will aid in the management of park facilities and operations, and the plan will focus on wayfinding, circulation, facilities, and vegetation.

The goal is to identify appropriate locations for new park offices, warehouses, an education center, and walkways and trails within developed areas of the Memorial. This includes permanent solutions for staff office space, office and storage space for the bookstore, an off-road walking path, pavilion area, trailer sites, trails for undeveloped land, parking, and visitor center facilities.

Site development and environmental assessment plans are needed to help with the decision-making process.

New Jersey - Andrew Saporito has been named the executive director of the South Jersey Port Corporation. Saporito most recently served as a senior advisor of special projects in the Port Department at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey where he first started his port career by working in planning and development, auditing, real estate, and leasing. He also worked as a manager in port sales, leasing, and facility operations and management. Saporito also served at the New Jersey Marine Terminals as general manager and assistant director of business development.

Michigan - The city of Linden recently selected Ellen Glass as the new city manager, effective September 3. She takes over for Police Chief Scott Sutter who filled in as interim city manager since September 2018 after Paul Zelenak left the position. Glass previously served as deputy clerk and clerk of the village of Vernon, Michigan.

West Virginia - The City of Morgantown recently hired Jonathan Vrabel as the new director of the Morgantown Municipal Airport. He replaces Mick Galusky who retired earlier this year. Vrabel has worked as a senior vice president and chief operating officer at Capital Region Airport Authority in Lansing, Michigan. He also served with the Cleveland Airport System as deputy commissioner of airport operations, public safety, and security and commissioner of strategic initiatives and security. Before joining Cleveland's system, Vrabel was an airport operations coordinator-manager at Dayton International, station manager for an airline carrier, and airport operations supervisor at Albany International Airport.

Kansas - Gov. Laura Kelly appointed DeAngela Burns-Wallace as the state's chief information technology officer on August 21. Burns-Wallace replaces Lee Allen who served in the position since July 2018. She previously served as the state of Kansas' Department of Administration secretary. Before joining the state, she was the vice provost for undergraduate studies at the University of Kansas and assistant vice provost for undergraduate studies and enrollment management at the University of Missouri. Burns-Wallace also was an assistant dean of undergraduate admission at Stanford University. Before that, she served as an assistant for legislative affairs at the U.S. Department of State and held various positions at U.S. embassies in South Africa and China.

Utah - Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi selected William "Bill" Peperone as the city's first director of development services, effective September 3. Peperone will lead the department, which was established July 1. He previously served as a senior planner and assistant director with time as the principal planner at Salt Lake City's Community and Economic Development Department, the president of a private land development company, and an executive with a homebuilder. Peperone also served as an Orem City Councilmember.

Florida - The City of Delray Beach named Michael Cernech to be its new city manager on August 20. He succeeds former City Manager Mark Lauzier. Cernech previously served as city manager, deputy city manager, and assistant city manager for the city of Tamarac, Florida. Prior to joining Tamarac, he was city manager of Shavano Park, Texas, and held various positions in local government since 1993.
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