Volume 12, Issue 50 - Wednesday, December 16, 2020
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
Industry leaders throughout America are sounding alarms about the dire state of water infrastructure in the U.S. A new report warns that too many public officials are ignoring repercussions that can be anticipated because of underinvesting in drinking water resources and wastewater systems each year. That pattern has persisted far too long, and the result of inattention to a critical resource poses a significant risk and literally assures greatly increased future costs.

Annual expenses in American households are already increasing, and water and wastewater failures could increase costs by more than seven times over the next two decades. Businesses that depend on an abundance of water are in the highest risk category until something changes.

Currently, there are about 300,000 waterline breaks every year. That’s the equivalent of a break in a water line every two minutes. In 2019, costs of approximately $21.7 million were incurred through treated water losses because of pipeline leaks. Without an immediate focus on water infrastructure, repair costs could escalate by at least another $48 million by 2039. To further clarify potential future costs, water resources of businesses that rely on water availability could represent a cumulative annual spend of $250 billion by 2039.

Some parts of the country, however, are focusing on water problems. As these governmental entities work to repair, upgrade, and expand water infrastructure regionally, thousands of contracting opportunities are emerging.

Over the next four years, Sarasota County plans to spend $500 million on utility improvements. The county’s largest wastewater plant, Bee Ridge Water Reclamation Facility, will be upgraded to advanced wastewater treatment standards. Design plans for the facility’s expansion are being finalized. The county also will update its reuse and water systems. Work is scheduled to begin early in 2021 on a number of projects related to water infrastructure.

The Northwest Florida Water Management District’s $89.6 million 2020-2021 budget contains plans for many water projects. Some that are outlined include $51.6 million for water plant restorations associated with various waterways, $8.1 million for other watershed restorations, $7.7 million for water supply and resource development, $4 million for Hurricane Michael recovery efforts, and $2.1 million for data collection projects.

California paves way for $2B in future transportation projects
California – The state’s Transportation Commission approved $2 billion in future improvements for 56 new projects and allocated an additional $565 million for current projects throughout California to reduce traffic congestion, enhance freight movement, and increase transit service.

Funding for these projects comes from three programs created by the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 and includes three years of funding from 2020 to 2023.

Caltrans, the San Diego Association of Governments, and North County Transit District will receive $106.4 million for improvements along the San Diego segment of the Los Angeles-San Luis Obispo-San Diego rail corridor, including $36.2 million for future phases of bluff stabilization in the city of Del Mar.

These improvements are part of the North Coast Corridor Program, a comprehensive package of highway, rail, and environmental enhancement projects along Interstate 5 from La Jolla Village Drive to State Route 78.

In Central California, the Stockton Diamond Grade Separation Project will eliminate freight and passenger train interferences, which will both improve the efficiency of the freight network and allow for expanded passenger rail service.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s NextGen Bus Speed and Reliability Improvements will add 80 miles of bus priority lanes in southern California to keep buses moving despite traffic.

In Northern California, the Bay Area Rapid Transit Train Control 1 Modernization Project will add more trains per hour along the Transbay Corridor that moves people to and from San Francisco and the East Bay.
Minnesota, California, Florida rated most IT-ready states
The Internet Association trade group released a map representing its analysis of information technology (IT) readiness in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.

SITARA, or the State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Information Technology Advancing Reform Achievements, used an established baseline of participation in programs recommended by the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

The map provides examples and data that may be used to strengthen public sector IT infrastructure now and in the future while factoring states’ unique circumstances.

It shows where additional support, whether from the federal government or through the budgeting process, can help states and territories move beyond baseline metrics, to ultimately help them provide a modern and secure IT infrastructure to their employees and the general public. Most states are preparing for cyber threats appropriately, but almost all are beginning their IT modernization plans.

Minnesota scored the highest among the 50 states with its “Very Good” score of 14 points on a 21-point scale. Joining it in achieving that rating were California and Florida with 13 points. Twenty-four states earned “Good” scores, and 23 states and the District of Columbia garnered “Getting Started” scores. None achieved “Exceptional” or “Excellent” ratings.

SITARA also determined that additional support, whether at the federal level or through the budgeting process, can help states and territories improve their modern IT and cybersecurity preparedness. Among territories, only Puerto Rico scored “Good,” while two territories earned “Getting Started” or “Baseline,” and two rated as “Needs Help.”

Most states lack a cloud first statute that requires the prioritization of cloud solutions. Thirty-two states have a cloud-related strategy, but only three have adopted a cloud first statute.

According to the association, most states are missing at least one of the three key components of a modern digital government experience. Although 20 states are undergoing a modernization effort through a Digital Service Team (DST), Innovation Focused Group, or other Digital Service Plan, seven states have a basic digital government experience with one having the characteristics of a modern digital government experience.
Board authorizes funding agreement for $1.8B Portal North Bridge
New Jersey – The NJ Transit board of directors authorized a full funding grant agreement with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to build a new $1.8 billion Portal North Bridge across the Hackensack River.

Pending federal reviews, the final stage of the Capital Investment Grant (CIG) will proceed to replace the 110-year-old Portal Bridge, which suffers from congestion and mechanical issues.

Authorization of this agreement will allow NJ Transit, with the assistance of Amtrak, to construct, operate, and maintain a new Portal North Bridge and 2.44 miles of related railroad infrastructure. The project will benefit the busiest section of railroad in North America by:
  • Eliminating the moveable span. 
  • Improving reliability. 
  • Increasing train speeds.  
  • Removing conflicts with maritime traffic.  

The replacement, which will be preliminarily owned by NJ Transit and maintained by Amtrak, is designed as a high-level, fixed span bridge that will allow marine traffic to pass underneath without interrupting rail traffic. Once full construction begins, the remainder of the Portal North Bridge Project is estimated to take approximately five years.

To help fund the project, the FTA will provide $766.5 million through the CIG program and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will provide $57.1 million through the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) program. The remainder will be allocated by New Jersey’s local share of $811 million and Amtrak’s obligation of $261.5 million. The agreement includes financing for 25 new multilevel rail cars to further increase capacity.
Ann Arbor district embarks on $1B school construction schedule
Michigan – The Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education reviewed a draft of the district’s 10-year capital spending plan for a portion of its $1 billion bond approved by voters in 2019.

If the final plan is approved by the board after two public hearings this month, then the district will start by focusing construction on the southeast area of the district.

The draft plan calls for building a new Mitchell Elementary to open in 2024 on the site of the current campus. Additional elementary schools are planned for Burns Park, Angell, Pittsfield, and Patengill to open between 2024 and 2027.

A feasibility study is planned in 2021 to determine options for staging areas for students while construction is underway in the northeast area of the district. Based upon the study results, work would be scheduled for Logan, King, and Thurston elementaries.

Southwest construction projects include improvements to Dicken and Lakewood elementaries as well as significant renovations to Eberwhite, Bach, and Lawton elementaries.

Projects in the northwest section of the district will begin later in the schedule. Among those efforts is work on the A2 STEAM and A2 Open campuses as well as Abbot, Haisley, and Wines elementaries.

In order to achieve minimal disruption to students as they progress through grade levels within the district, the plan sets a schedule that starts with construction at the elementary schools and then shifts to work on the high schools and ends with projects at the middle schools.

Intermediate-scale improvements are planned for several middle school campuses starting in 2029 at Clague, Scarlett and Tappan in 2030, and Forsythe in 2031. Major projects are scheduled for Slauson, Clague, Scarlett, Tappan, and Forsythe between 2029 and 2038.

The Pathways to Success high school will undergo renovations from 2022 to 2023 to transform it into a campus with a community college atmosphere and add a gymnasium. Significant work is planned at Pioneer, Community, and Huron high schools.
Valley Metro light rail extension receives $638M federal grant
Arizona – Valley Metro’s $1.35 billion South Central Light Rail extension received $638 million in federal funding, according to an announcement by Arizona’s senators. The extension project will receive $530 million from the Federal Transit Administration’s Capitol Investment Grants Program and $108 million from the Federal Highway Administration.

Valley Metro plans to extend its light rail system by five miles from downtown Phoenix to the South Mountain Village Core via Central Avenue and 1st Avenue.

The project includes track improvements along McKinley Street, 5th Street, and 3rd Avenue in downtown Phoenix, expansion of the existing Operations and Maintenance Center, purchase of 17 light rail vehicles, and construction of two park and ride lots with a total of 376 parking spaces.

By extending the light rail line, Valley Metro intends to improve mobility and satisfy existing and projected travel demand in this highly transit-dependent corridor by connecting the corridor to regional activity centers including Arizona State University’s downtown and main campuses, downtown Phoenix, and the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

The extension is expected to support existing and planned economic and transit-oriented development opportunities throughout the South Central Avenue corridor. Revenue service is anticipated to begin in 2023.
Planners to develop 15 options for $1B Baton Rouge bridge
Louisiana – The Capital Area Road and Bridge District is evaluating 15 potential crossings for a new bridge over the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge.

Department of Transportation and Development representatives and consultants estimate the cost of the bridge could reach $1 billion and are considering a mix of public-private partnerships (P3), tolls, and gas tax revenues to secure funding.

Planners will present the set of 15 crossings to the public in 2022 for review before narrowing the list to three alternatives that summer and beginning a two-year environmental study.

Created by the state Legislature, the district is charged with designing and building a span that would alleviate traffic congestion on the Interstate 10 bridge in Baton Rouge which transports almost 150,000 vehicles daily.
Maryland releases strategies for connected, automated vehicles
Maryland – The state’s Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV) Working Group released a Strategic Framework on December 14 that serves as a call to action for stakeholders across the state to stake a claim in CAV technology implementation for their communities.

The framework encourages state and local agencies, academia, and the private sector to join the state in the safe, efficient, and equitable integration of CAV technology.

Strategies will employ public education and outreach, planning and policy, early deployment and testing, infrastructure, and workforce development.

The framework is the result of a survey and public comment period that gathered more than 600 responses and spawned one-on-one stakeholder conversations with research and academia, for-profit and non-profit associations, emergency responders, various levels of government, CAV-related service businesses or developers, vehicle manufacturers, and members of the public with a general interest in CAV technology.
Nevada city to issue RFI for residential development
Nevada – The City Council in Boulder City authorized staff to issue a request for information (RFI) for input to develop 45 acres on land known as Tract 350 that borders the Boulder Creek Golf Club.

City leaders hope to solicit information on interest for a residential development, and the potential development options that may be proposed as part of such purchase bid.

The objectives are to obtain information about proposed site zoning, potential development densities, potential development product, developer interest in all or a portion of Tract 350, and challenges to development as perceived by potential bidders.

City officials hope to learn from the industry what types of housing products, housing densities, amenities, street profiles, and associated information should be considered in the preparation for a future bid opportunity package.

Existing zoning for the parcel is a mixture of 15,000-, 10,000-, and 7,000-square-foot residential lot size minimums for single-family home developments. The current master plan designation is “LDR,” or Low Density Residential. The city’s master plan defines Low Density Residential as development with lots no smaller than 5,000 square feet.

Information gleaned from the responses to this RFI will assist the city in the preparation of a bid offering to sell Tract 350. Previous solicitations garnered no bid submissions because of significant restrictions and costs.

The RFI submission deadline will be February 25, 2021.
Florida seeking information on mobile kiosks for health records
Florida – The Bureau of Clinic Management and Informatics in the Department of Health (DOH) issued a request for information (RFI) for input on a mobile kiosk interface for its Electronic Health Record (EHR) software.

The state’s 67 county health departments desire to transition the client intake process to a self-service model. It is anticipated that this project will encompass a device being placed in the lobby of a county site that allows the client to self-guide through intake-related tasks.

These departments use a Health Management System (HMS) for clinic management operations including patient registration, scheduling, financial eligibility, billing, service and time reporting, care coordination, patient billing, receivables processing, and tracking.

The EHR includes clinic visit functions, medical history, vitals and measures, chief complaint, review of systems, physical exam, assessment and plan, progress notes, electronic laboratory ordering, and resulting and electronic prescribing.

Based on the RFI responses, the Florida Program Office will determine the feasibility of issuing a competitive solicitation for these services.

Among the goals of the RFI are to gather information about:
  • Reducing client lobby wait times. 
  • Improving efficiency of the client intake process. 
  • Increasing the accuracy of client information contained within the HMS. 
  • Reducing close contact interactions with clients during the intake process. 

RFI submissions are due by 5 p.m. on January 8, 2021.
Transit administration awards $40.9M grant to Milwaukee BRT
Wisconsin – The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) awarded a $40.9 million grant to the East West Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project in Milwaukee.

The nine-mile East-West BRT, which is the first-of-its-kind in Wisconsin, will allow Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) to better connect major employment, education, and recreation destinations through downtown Milwaukee, Marquette University, Milwaukee’s Near West Side, Wauwatosa, and the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center. A four-mile segment will operate in exclusive bus lanes.

Total cost of the project is $55.05 million with $40.9 million in funding provided through FTA’s Small Starts Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Program.

The BRT project team recently released a request for qualifications (RFQ) as part of the process to secure a construction contractor. RFQ submissions are due by 2 p.m. CST on December 22. An invitation for bid will follow, and MCTS anticipates it will award the contract on March 22, 2021. Construction is set to begin in spring 2021 with revenue service starting in fall 2022.

Additionally, the project team is currently working to select a manufacturer for 11 battery-electric buses. This will be the first time these ultra-modern vehicles are used in southeast Wisconsin.
Aspen explores P3 for multifamily affordable housing project
Colorado – Aspen councilmembers ended a marathon discussion on a $330 million affordable housing concept by authorizing consultants and staff to continue modifying the plan and prepare a request for proposals (RFP).

The City Council envisions entering a potential public-private partnership (P3) that would develop a 300 unit-plus multifamily facility at the city’s Lumberyard property featuring underground parking and four-story buildings. The concept plan includes 48 studio apartments, 140 one-bedroom units, 106 two-bedroom apartments, and 16 three-bedroom units.

City staff will work on a schematic design as they draft the RFP. In January, councilmembers will likely determine goals and a timeline for securing a partnership with a developer. The design and land use approval process are scheduled for 2021 to 2022. Construction documents and building permit applications would follow in 2022 to 2023, and construction would tentatively start in 2024.
Michigan – The Birmingham City Commission selected Thomas Markus as its new city manager, effective January 1, 2021. He will succeed Joe Valentine who resigned in October. Markus was Birmingham’s city manager from 1989 to 2010. Most recently, he served as a city clerk in Lawrence, Kansas.

Arkansas – Gov. Asa Hutchison appointed Jonathan Askins as director of the Department of Transformation and Shared Services Division of Information Systems as well as the state’s chief technology officer. He will take over for Yessica Jones who resigned in November to take a position in the private sector. Askins most recently served as director of expert client management in the government business sector. Before that, he worked at the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.

California – Contra Costa County selected Monica Nino as the new county administrator on December 8. She will succeed David Twa who is retiring. Nino most recently served as San Joaquin county administrator. Prior to that, she was chief executive officer for Stanislaus County.

Maryland – The University System of Maryland board of regents named Dr. Gregory Fowler as the next president of University of Maryland Global Campus, effective January 4, 2021. He will take over for Interim President Dr. Larry Leak who filled the position after Javier Miyares retired in September to take an advisory position to Chancellor Jay Perman.

Ohio – The Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority named David Robinson as chief financial officer (CFO) and Patricia Talbott as director of paratransit. Robinson most recently served as CFO of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio in Cincinnati. At her previous role with First Transit in Northern California, Talbott was responsible for the day- to- day oversight of service operations.
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Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
Mary Scott Nabers, Publisher
Devin Monk, Editor
Ph: 512-531-3900
Government Contracting Pipeline, a publication of Strategic Partnerships, Inc., is a free, weekly newsletter detailing important happenings nationwide and the premier source for federal, state, and local government news and contracting opportunities.
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