Volume 11, Issue 36 - Wednesday, September 11, 2019
Mary Scott Nabers, President & CEO, Strategic Partnerships Inc.

Student enrollment in colleges and universities throughout the U.S. continues to grow. Data tells us that no matter what the economy does, young men and women realize the importance of getting a degree. Statistics from the Institute of Education Services point to the fact that even during the Great Recession from 2007-2009, student enrollments maintained a level constant as young men and women entered or re-entered institutions of higher education.

Because of the high demand, thousands of options await and university leaders compete aggressively for new students. To be successful, it is extremely important for educational institutions to offer attractive facilities, appealing campuses, enticing living quarters, quality food choices, and access to entertainment. There is no hard and fast statistic that denotes what students prioritize first, but it is obvious that most want state-of-the art facilities. That fact is resulting in thousands of new opportunities for contractors of all types.

Officials at the University of North Texas' Frisco campus recently announced that talks are underway to launch a number of significant campus renovations that are designed to catch the attention of prospective students. The university is attempting, in conjunction with private-sector partners and investors, to connect the campus to the Fields development, which will be home to the National Golfers' Association of America as well as a new city park which is in the planning stages now. Other campus upgrades are outlined in the campus' master plan including a new student housing facility, additional parking, and more. Officials hope to have some parts of this major plan finalized and ready for use by 2023.

Puerto Rico hurricane damage
Washington, D.C. - The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) authorized state departments of transportation (DOTs) to divvy up more than $3.9 billion in federal highway program funds.

The FHWA designates it the "August redistribution," a budgeting practice under which the agency shifts federal funding authority out of accounts that are projected to have unused obligation limitation spending for the year and redirects it to where states are ready to use it. This allows state DOTs to apply funding in the few remaining weeks of the fiscal year to other projects.

Some notable redistribution amounts include almost $498 million to Texas, more than $330 million to California, $223 million to New York, and $178 million to Florida.

On Sept. 10, the FHWA also announced it would distribute $871.2 million in Emergency Relief (ER) funds to assist 39 states and U.S. territories.
FHWA's ER program reimburses states, territories, federal land management agencies, and tribal governments for eligible expenses associated with damage from natural disasters or other emergency situations.

The funds help to pay for the reconstruction or replacement of damaged highways and bridges along with the arrangement of detours and replacement of guardrails or other damaged safety devices.

This Emergency Relief funding includes awards of:
  • More than $220 million for Puerto Rico to continue repairs following Hurricanes Irma and Maria;
  • More than $157 million to California, including more than $115 million for 2017 winter storms;
  • Nearly $110 million for Tennessee, the bulk of which is for severe storms in 2019;
  • About $68 million for the March 2019 storms in Nebraska;
  • More than $18 million for flooding in Mississippi in 2018 and 2019;
  • More than $12 million for volcanic eruption and earthquakes in Hawaii; and,
  • More than $6.5 million for tribal governments for a variety of disasters in California, Michigan, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
Rendering of Portal Bridge
New Jersey - Gov. Phil Murphy and New Jersey state lawmakers are calling on the federal government to help fund a replacement for the Portal Bridge. The swing bridge opened in 1910 over the Hackensack River, and is now notorious for malfunctioning, often leaving railroad commuters stranded. It's estimated to cost $1.6 billion to replace.
On weekdays, about 450 trains carry more than 200,000 people over the bridge. If it fails, it would have major implications for the Northeast Corridor. Amtrak reports that the bridge malfunctions in the open position about 15 percent of the time.

The state of New Jersey has committed $600 million toward the replacement, and preparation projects already have begun, including a $31 million preliminary design phase shared between NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak and a final design funded by a Federal Railroad Administration grant of $38.5 million.

Workers would be able to start immediately if the federal government provided the much-needed $1.6 billion.
James R. Thompson Center
Illinois - The state is planning to sell the James R. Thompson Center (JRTC) and relocate its workers to a new office space with Gov. J.B. Pritzker saying he is open to the idea of creating a public-private partnership (P3) to manage the process.

According to the state's request for proposals (RFP), the center's original design and current work environment are inefficient for a government building. Deferred maintenance and delayed capital projects to repair and modernize the building have increased to more than $320 million.

The state is seeking a partner to manage the sale of the JRTC, assess the state's real estate holdings in Chicago, and create a plan to relocate state workers to a new facility. This can include new construction on vacant land, or renovation of an existing Chicago property. Additionally, the state wants a partner who can negotiate an ownership stake in the new site.

The RFP details an aggressive timeline and hopes to relocate JRTC workers beginning in 2021. Also, the buyer will have to enter an agreement with the city and the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) to maintain operation of the Clark/Lake CTA station occupying part of the building.
Baton Rouge flooding in 2016
Louisiana - A $1.2 billion federal grant could be available next spring to help Louisiana reduce the risk of flooding. Though not enough to eliminate flood risk, the money would help ensure future funds are spent as effectively as possible.

The money will pay for several types of projects such as constructing flood protection, collecting data, and developing computer modeling that will assess, predict, and prepare for water movement throughout the state. Local governments will use the data and modeling tools to prioritize long-term projects and planning.

According to the federal guidelines, at least $600 million must be spent in the 10 parishes that suffered the most damage in 2016 floods.
Honolulu rail facing east near Waiawa station
Hawaii - The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) approved a revised recovery plan for Honolulu's $9.2 billion rail transit project, clearing the release of $744 million in federal funding.

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation's (HART) updated plan addresses two concerns the FTA identified in March of this year, both of which were related to the financial plan for the project.

After the contract to build the City Center section of the rail is awarded next year, the $744 million will be released. Honolulu is seeking a private development partner for the City Center section of rail, which will run from Middle Street through Downtown Honolulu to the terminus behind Ala Moana Center.

Any future public-private partnership (P3) for the last four miles from Middle Street to Ala Moana Center must either be equal to or less than the cost estimates submitted and approved by the recovery plan.

A 0.5 percent surcharge to the state general excise tax and a 1 percent increase to the transient accommodation tax also will fund construction of the project.
Under Secretary of Energy Mark Wesley Menezes, left, tours the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Washington - The U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE) has chosen the site of a new national grid energy research facility.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Washington, will be the home of the complex, which is expected to cost tens of millions of dollars, as well as attract additional funding and researchers.

The facility will allow researchers to develop modern improvements for the nation's utility grid to make it more resilient, secure, reliant, and flexible.
Seed funding for the complex will come from the state and federal levels. 

For planning and design work, the Trump administration is setting aside more than $5 million for the next fiscal year, and lawmakers are working to secure $8.3 million from the state to purchase equipment for the facility.

The USDOE has prioritized accelerating the development of rechargeable lithium-ion battery technology. However, the current generation of batteries may not be practical in terms of costs and storage needed to implement them on the grid. The new PNNL facility will allow testing of next generation, grid-scale storage systems under realistic operating conditions.

New technologies could include flow batteries and aqueous zinc and sodium systems. The goal is to test, validate, and improve technology to make it scalable for use by utilities.
Murphy Hall at UCLA
California - There are at least 68 seismically deficient structures at the University of California (UC) Berkeley, and 18 at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). The deficient buildings range in category from "severe" to "serious" risk to life, according to new reports in response to a UC Board of Regents 2017 directive calling on campuses to undertake a seismic risk assessment.

At UCLA, the Young and Powell libraries pose a serious risk to life as they are large and highly populated. More buildings include Murphy Hall, which is home to campus administrators, and the Luskin School of Public Affairs building, which holds hundreds during classes.

Other UC campuses at risk of ground shaking during earthquakes include Irvine, Riverside, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco.

Costs to repair range from 20 percent to 100 percent of the cost to rebuild from scratch. At UC Berkeley, initial estimates exceed $1 billion.

For decades, UCLA and UC Berkeley have been leaders in seismic retrofits. UCLA has invested more than $2.8 billion, and UC Berkeley has spent more than $1 billion, to strengthen buildings that are at risk of extensive damage.
U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C. - Two key transportation hearings are set for September 11 as Congress reconvenes from its August recess and attempts to pass spending bills to fund the federal government by the start of the next fiscal year on October 1.

The fate of the $287 billion highway reauthorization bill is awaiting action after the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee advanced it in July. Also known as America's Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019, the bill would finance the repair and maintenance of roads and bridges over five years. 

The Senate's banking, commerce, and finance committees are the most likely ones to work on the bill with an eye on securing Senate approval by the end of the year. If the current version of the bill were enacted, the funding would reflect a 27 percent increase over the U.S.' current spending.

A hearing of the House Highways and Transit Subcommittee will focus on reasons agencies and municipalities are considering congestion pricing and tolling intended to reduce traffic congestion and pay for repairs and maintenance. Leaders in New York, Seattle, and the Washington, D.C. area are considering congestion pricing.

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will conduct a hearing with Acting Deputy Administrator Patricia Cogswell of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on the agency's operations.

Senators on the committee could review several new changes at the TSA, which is conducting an audit of its expedited screening for flight crews to review potential insider threats, according to agency officials. It also is redeploying hundreds of TSA employees to the southern border and testing facial recognition technology at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.
The Minnesota River contrasts with the Mississippi River.
Minnesota - Pollution regulators are saying Minnesota must find a way to cut the Minnesota River's sediment levels in half, or else face natural consequences such as vegetation loss, decreased fish populations, and the clogging of Lake Pepin. The muddy river is also responsible for most of the sediment polluting the Mississippi River in the state.

In a series of new reports, regulators estimate the task will take 25 years and cost up to $360 million. A study last winter showed the river is contaminated with E. coli and fecal coliform bacteria, which come from failing septic systems and livestock manure. 

Sediment concentrations have improved, but that has been offset by the greater volume of water it now carries due to increased rainfall, fewer wetlands, and farming practices that increase runoff water.

The reports detail several cleanup strategies, one of the most important being to improve soil health. The $360 million will likely come from federal and state funding, as well as from private sources and landowners.
University of Massachusetts Amherst North Apartments
Massachusetts - The University of Massachusetts Amherst will seek a public-private partnership (P3) for an estimated $200 million project to construct new student housing.

University trustees voted on September 5 to issue a request for proposals (RFP) to develop a project to build modern, apartment-style housing for about 730 undergraduate students and 165 graduate students and replace about 170 graduate family units with contemporary two-bedroom units.

Site development will require the razing of two apartment complexes. The university plans to open the new housing in phases starting in fall 2022.

Trustees began the project with a request for information in June 2017 and advanced it with their preliminary approval to undertake a project analysis in September 2018 that included a student housing market study and procurement options analysis that led to the authorization to issue the RFP.
   View our Government Contracting Pipeline and Texas Government Insider newsletter archives
Kaukana's Veterans Memorial Lift Bridge
Wisconsin - A $75 million Multimodal Local Supplement (MLS) grant is available from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) to address transportation needs throughout the state.
Funding is available to local and tribal governments.

The project selection process will include local government committees. The selection will be competitive and involve stakeholder input and review. Projects will rate higher if they demonstrate economic impact, provide greater connectivity, or are shown to have greater cost-effectiveness than other options.

One project to already have received a portion of the MLS grants is repair work to Kaukana's Veterans Memorial Lift Bridge, which the U.S. Coast Guard ordered to be operational by May 2021. The MLS program will provide 80 percent of the $2.2 million needed. When complete, the project will open access to the Fox River Lock System to motorboats, canoes, kayaks, and commercial boats. The system connects Lake Winnebago to the Fox River Valley.

Other MLS project awards will be announced in early 2020. After the Kaukana project is funded, remaining grant monies are:
  • County - $26.08 million;
  • City/Village - $18.45 million; and,
  • Town - $28.71 million.
The minimum project cost for counties, cities, and villages is $250,000. The minimum project cost for towns is $50,000. WisDOT will reimburse local governments up to 90 percent of total eligible costs. WisDOT plans to conduct webinars in late September and early October to provide an overview of the program and answer questions.
Courtesy - Events DC
Washington, D.C. - The District of Columbia announced September 5 that it is taking bids for the demolition of RFK Stadium.

Officials at Events DC, which manages the 47,000-seat stadium, said the demolition would pave the way for building a $500 million recreation and event space over the next five to seven years. Annual maintenance, security, and utility costs that total $3.5 million also factored in the decision to raze the stadium.

RFK Stadium is famous for hosting the Washington Redskins football team in the 1980s and 1990s. It also was once home to the Nationals and Senators baseball teams, as well as the D.C. United soccer team that vacated the stadium in 2017.

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser said in August 2018 she would like the football team to return as an anchor for a complex with retail, restaurants, and affordable housing. However, the district would need to acquire the land from the federal government. Under current lease terms, the land is limited to sports and recreation use.

Events DC officials said the razing could take up to a year after a contractor is selected, with demolition targeted for completion by fall 2021.
Madagaska-Edmundston International Bridge
Maine - The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced that it is awarding the state of Maine $61 million in federal funding to replace several deteriorating bridges.

Through the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America Program, the state's department of transportation is receiving $36 million to replace the Madawaska International Bridge which serves as a border crossing over the Saint John River.

In Cumberland County, four bridges on Interstate 295 that were built in the 1950s will be replaced once the state receives $18.9 million through the Competitive Highway Bridge Program.

The state also will receive $6.1 million to replace three rural bridges in Franklin County.
California - Manteca councilmembers are set to review a draft request for proposals (RFP) for a facility assessment of City Hall, including the police department.

The current city hall was built in 1975 when Manteca had a population of about 13,000. The city's population is now growing closer to 72,000 residents.

Officials are considering four options for a new city hall: building on the current civic center site, relocating to a site on Union Park Road near a golf course and baseball field, retrofitting Library and Wilson parks, or using the city parking lot near West Yosemite Avenue and South Maple Street.

Mayor Ben Cantu is advocating a downtown location where the project could attract new businesses and restaurants to open.
A previous needs assessment in 2006 produced a preliminary concept featuring two- to three-story buildings on the current civic center site for $20 million.
Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced more than $1.8 billion is going to states to continue battling the opioid crisis. The money will help expand access to treatment and support near real-time data.

A $900 million, three-year cooperative agreement with states, territories, and localities will advance the understanding of the overdose epidemic and help scale-up prevention and response activities. Additionally, all 50 states are getting $932 million in State Opioid Response grants, which support prevention, treatment, and recovery services.

Funding from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also will help state and local governments with overdose data and near real-time tracking. This type of surveillance data has improved significantly over the past decade, and these funds will allow this critical work to continue across the country.

Wisconsin - Gov. Tony Evers appointed Missy Hughes as secretary and chief executive officer of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), effective October 1. Hughes previously served as chief mission officer and general counsel for an organic food brand and independent cooperative. She also served as a board member on the Organic Trade Association and on the U.S. Department of Agriculture Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture. Hughes succeeds former WEDC Secretary Mark Hogan who resigned on September 3.

California - Toks Omishakin has been appointed director of the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans). Previously, Omishakin served as deputy commissioner for environment and planning at the Tennessee Department of Transportation and director of healthy living initiatives in the Nashville mayor's office. This position requires Senate confirmation. Omishakin will take over for acting director Bob Franzoia who has filled in since Laurie Berman retired in June.

Florida - The Madeira Beach City Commission hired Robert "Bob" Daniels as city manager on August 27 to a two-year contract. Daniels was hired in July as the city's interim manager. He succeeds Jonathan Evans who accepted a position as city manager of Riviera Beach. Daniels most recently served as town manager for Melbourne Beach and police chief in several Florida cities and Buckeye, Arizona.

Iowa - Gov. Kim Reynolds announced her intent on September 5 to appoint Kelly Garcia as director of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS). Garcia, a deputy executive commissioner at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), currently oversees HHSC's health, developmental, and independence services. Previously, she served as HHSC's deputy chief of program and services and interim deputy executive commissioner of health, developmental and independence services. Garcia's appointment is subject to confirmation by the Iowa Senate. If confirmed, she will begin her new role on November 1 and succeed Interim Director Gerd Clabaugh who filled in after Jerry Foxhaven resigned in June.

Georgia - The Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority board of directors named Chris Tomlinson as executive director on September 5. Tomlinson previously served as the authority's interim executive director. He also leads Georgia's State Road and Tollway Authority as executive director. Prior to that position, he was general counsel for the Georgia Department of Transportation and state of Georgia, deputy director of the Georgia State Financing & Investment Commission, and director of legal services for the Georgia State Property Office.

Virginia - The Virginia Beach City Council selected Deputy City Manager Tom Leahy as acting city manager on September 3. He succeeds Dave Hansen who stepped down. As deputy city manager, Leahy oversees the departments of public works, public utilities, communications and information technology, management services, and finance. Previously, he was the city's director of public utilities and water resources manager. Before joining Virginia Beach in 1980, Leahy worked in research and development for chemical and technology companies.
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