Volume 12, Issue 23 - Wednesday, June 3, 2020
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.

It's no surprise to anyone that cities and counties are quickly exhausting their budgets and depleting public funding. Local government officials have dealt with COVID-19 for months, and now they are contending with violence, protests, and property damages. Public safety expenditures are huge, and the coffers of local governmental entities are stretched to the limits. In spite of that, mandates to provide citizen services, including public safety, continue.

To say that the lives of public officials are stressed now is a huge understatement. Governors are complaining about actions taken by local officials, and the federal government is threatening to send in the military. Public officials are being sued over COVID-19 restrictions, and testing is still not readily available everywhere. At the moment, there is little relief in sight, and the expenses mount.

When the immediate protest crisis is over, COVID-19 will still be a looming issue. Confrontations occurring today put more economic stress on local governments and result in more job losses. Staff reductions at governmental entities are likely to occur when funding is impacted even more.

It is truly an unforgiving time, and immediate action is required. Leadership is needed to guide the country back to some sort of normalcy.

In times like these, every part of America seeks leadership, especially at the local levels of government. Fortunately, there's evidence that visionary leaders are alive and well.

Numerous local officials are planning to move forward and tackle issues that were of high priority before COVID-19. These are the individuals who will lead the country back to a safer place, but they need help. They will require assistance from investment partners, planning experts, industry leaders, nonprofit organizations, and citizen volunteers.

In some parts of the country, leaders have already formed collaborative initiatives such as public-private partnerships (P3s) to launch projects that will create jobs and stimulate the economy. The more restrictive public budgets become, the greater the demand will be for collaborative alliances. Here are a few examples of upcoming projects that have been announced.

The Yuma City Council in Arizona recently approved a $51.4 million budget increase for the city's Capital Improvement Program (CIP). The city plans for 45 percent of the costs to be covered through grants and private sector investors. The 2021 CIP includes 54 projects, with the biggest chunk, $20.3 million, allocated for the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area. In April, the city announced it would hire a design-build team for the project. No launch date has been set, but a private-sector partner will be selected soon. The city also has announced a regional fiber optic infrastructure project that will be a public-private partnership.

LA Metro Planned Transit Projects map
California - The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) updated a draft of its 2020 Long Range Transportation Plan.

More than $400 billion in projects are identified in the 30-year plan with almost half of the expenditures allocated to capital investments for transit, highway or multi-modal projects.

This includes the construction or improvement of 22 transit corridors and the addition of 106 miles of fixed guideway transit. In total, the 2020 LRTP will expand the Metro Rail network to over 200 stations covering nearly 240 miles.

Investment in active transportation makes up about $6.9 billion of the total, included primarily under the roadways program. Rail and bus transit operations comprise more than one-quarter of the estimated expenses. 

Operations and preservation efforts account for $200 billion of the plan's overall project cost. LA Metro board members are scheduled to vote on the final plan in summer 2020.
Rendering of the Air Train link at LaGuardia Airport
New York - Three stalled infrastructure projects in the state could see some movement after Gov. Andrew Cuomo held what he said were productive talks with President Trump on May 27.

Among the state's infrastructure projects waiting on federal funds and regulatory approvals are the $30 billion Gateway project to improve the Hudson River rail tunnel, the Manhattan Second Avenue subway line extension that will add three new stations to East Harlem, and the $2 billion Air Train line from LaGuardia Airport to Willets Point.

Cuomo also is pushing to accelerate the $8 billion LaGuardia Airport upgrade and $3 billion renovation and expansion of Penn Station as he attempts to stimulate the state's economy.
Garden State Parkway Interchange 154
New Jersey - Newly approved toll increases will fund a $24 billion construction plan approved by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority on May 27.

More than $16 billion in projects will widen sections of the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway, establish a cashless toll payment system, and replace the Delaware River Turnpike Bridge connecting to Pennsylvania.

Among the 29 projects included in the authority's plan is the $2.86 billion Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike bridge rehabilitation-replacement program.

This project involves replacement of 18 bridge decks or superstructures across the state every year at $12 million each over 10 years. This also involves repainting 60 superstructures per year at $500,000 each over 10 years and the rehabilitation of five substructures every year at $10 million per year over 10 years. Planning and design are expected to take 15 months for the first package of bridges.

Flood zone remediation along the Garden State Parkway between the Bass and Mullica rivers and in Great Egg Harbor is projected to cost $1.4 billion. This project involves raising the profile grade of the roadway to move the roadway above the revised 100-year flood plain. The total length of the project is about 7 miles. 

Planning and design are scheduled for five and a half years, and construction is expected to take four years.
Rendering of IndyGo Purple Line station
Washington, D.C. - The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) awarded $891 million to 12 transit infrastructure projects across the nation on May 29.

FTA awarded $100 million to the 2.6-mile extension of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (LACMTA) heavy rail system to the Westwood/Veterans Hospital area. The project includes the construction of two stations.

The Valley Metro South Central Light Rail extension from downtown Phoenix to the South Mountain Village Core will benefit from $100 million in FTA grant monies. The project also calls for the construction of nine additional stations.

Lake County, Indiana is set to receive $100 million for the south shore extension of its West Lake Corridor Commuter Rail System.

Smaller projects receiving funding are:
  • Miami-Dade County, Florida - South Corridor Rapid Transit Project - $99.99 million;
  • Portland, Oregon - Max Red Line Extension and Reliability Improvements - $99.99 million;
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - Downtown-Uptown-Oakland-East End Bus Rapid Transit Project - $99.95 million;
  • Indianapolis, Indiana - IndyGo Purple Rapid Transit Line - $77.5 million;
  • Ogden, Utah - Ogden-Weber State University Bus Rapid Transit Project - $64.5 million;
  • Albany, New Work - Washington/Western Bus Rapid Transit Project - $60.9 million;
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin - East-West Bus Rapid Transit Project - $40.94 million;
  • Vancouver, Washington - Mill Plain Bus Rapid Transit Project - $24.9 million; and,
  • St. Petersburg, Florida - Central Avenue Bus Rapid Transit Project - $21.8 million. 
FTA's Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program will provide the funding to advance the readiness of projects for a construction grant agreement or a full funding grant agreement.
Map of Alternative No. 3 seawall plan
South Carolina - The city of Charleston recently endorsed a federal plan to build a $1.75 billion perimeter storm surge wall around the city's historic downtown. Charleston Peninsula is about 7.8 square miles and is home to approximately 40,000 people.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) presented a National Economic Development plan in April that proposes an 8-mile long 12-foot high seawall, an offshore wave attenuation structure, and nonstructural measures such as home raising to mitigate long-term coastal storm risks. It also recommends that the city prohibit builders from filling creek beds for new houses.

Under the current funding scheme, USACE would fund $1.1 billion of the project and the city would contribute $600 million. 

The plan is preliminary and still requires several months of refinement. The plan also requires authorization and funding from Congress prior to possible implementation. The city is not responsible for any costs associated with the current feasibility phase, which will end in October 2021 with the submittal of a recommended plan to Congress.

If Congress funds the design phase, the city would be responsible for 35 percent of those costs, or an estimated $76 million. If the construction phase earns federal approval and funding, that also is cost-shared.
Rendering of Canastota pocket neighborhood
New York - The state is working on a $300 million plan to repair damaged wetlands along the Erie Canal and develop it into a tourist destination.

The effort is part of the state's Reimagine the Canals initiative that aims to revive floodways and foster new hydrologic connections to replenish three wetlands and benefit farmland irrigation.

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) will use $100 million of the project total for the initiative's early stages that focus on economic development.

More than $25 million of that will be allocated immediately to five initial projects. 

canalside pocket neighborhood will be developed by Madison County in Central New York at a former industrial property in Canastota along the Old Erie Canal. The county issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) for the project. Deadline for submissions is 2 p.m. July 21.

The project site, currently owned by Madison County, is 2.5 acres with 252 feet of frontage on the historic Erie Canal. This project was the winning proposal of the state's Reimagine the Canals competition and has received $1.5 million in grant funding which will be used in direct support of redeveloping the site. 

The preferred redevelopment for the site is a "pocket neighborhood" that includes a mix of housing, creative site design and layout, and reactivation of the canal waterfront. This project is intended to be a pilot project for the NYS Canal system. 
Another early project is the "Brockport Loop" project in Monroe County that will connect SUNY College at Brockport to the Empire State Trail and the village of Brockport through the transformation of a canal guard-gate into a pedestrian bridge and overlook. 

An interactive, hydro-powered illumination of Canal "movable dams" - initially in Amsterdam and Canajoharie in the Mohawk River valley - will celebrate the Canal's heritage and its history as an engineering innovation. 

A new whitewater destination, at the north end of Cayuga Lake near Seneca Falls, will rely on existing water control infrastructure to construct an active water sports course adjacent to the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, to increase eco-tourism and sport visitors to the region. 

The historic Guy Park Manor, on the Mohawk River in Amsterdam, will be reborn as a hospitality destination and a pedestrian bridge constructed across the already-existing Canal lock will provide access to additional overnight accommodation along the Empire State Trail on the opposite side of the river. 

NYPA also plans to spend $65 million on infrastructure improvements such as flood and ice jam solutions near Schenectady. 
The remaining $135 million of the plan's funding will be allocated to research recommended by the Reimagine Task Force, as well as to solutions related to flood mitigation, invasive species prevention, and ecosystem restoration.
City of Tempe
Arizona - Tempe councilmembers called a special bond election for November 3 that would fund $349 million in capital projects and public safety initiatives.

The ballot will contain five separate items for voters to determine.
If approved, up to $134 million in water and sewer improvements would be funded, $74 million would go toward street and storm drain improvements, and $62 million would help preserve municipal infrastructure. The city would commit $45 million to park improvements and community services, and $34 million would go to public safety.

Among the projects is construction of a new fire station for $9.6 million, storm drain upgrades for $8 million, and park infrastructure and equipment replacements for $3.2 million.
Rendering of Portal North Bridge
Washington, D.C. - The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) awarded $302.6 million through its Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Program to 12 projects in nine states.

Two projects by Amtrak and the New Jersey Transit Corporation will receive FY 2019 Good Repair grant funding.

Their Portal North Bridge project will collect up to $55.1 million to replace the existing two-track movable Portal Bridge with a new, 2.44-mile, two-track fixed span crossing the Hackensack River in northern New Jersey.

The FRA also awarded them a grant of up to $36.41 million to reconstruct Substation 41, an electrical facility in Kearny, New Jersey, that powers Northeast Corridor main line services in northern New Jersey into Penn Station New York.

NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will replace 210 catenary structures on the Hell Gate Line between Penn Station and New Rochelle, a project that secured a $30 million FRA grant. MTA's plans to rehabilitate two platforms at Penn Station will get $17.5 million. 

North Carolina's Department of Transportation will accept up to $80 million to upgrade its Piedmont Intercity Fleet with six locomotives and 13 passenger coaches for service between Charlotte and Raleigh.

Up to $11.57 million in FRA funding is going to the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) for its Coastal Bluff Track Bed Stabilization and Seismic Improvements Project that will rehabilitate and upgrade a section of track on sensitive coastal bluffs in Del Mar, California, to protect against erosion. Southern California Regional Rail Authority's project to rehabilitate and mitigate scour on four Ventura Subdivision bridges secured a $6.75 million grant from the FRA. 

In Connecticut, Amtrak's Walk Bridge Replacement Project will get up to $29.9 million to replace the existing movable Norwalk River Bridge with two two-track vertical lift rail bridges. The project includes associated improvements to the embankments and retaining walls on the bridge approaches, new catenary structures, and signal system upgrades.

The Milwaukee North Line Interlocking Improvements project in Illinois will receive up to $12.48 million to rehabilitate and modernize three interlockings on the Milwaukee North Line.

Other Good Repair projects are Pennsylvania's capacity improvements for the Harrisburg Line that will get $8.34 million, Amtrak's plan to improve a section of the Northeast Corridor near Baltimore that will receive $8 million and the Michigan Department of Transportation's rehabilitation of signal and track infrastructure on the Kalamazoo-Dearborn corridor that will get $6.52 million.
Nebraska State Penitentiary
Nebraska - The state's Department of Correctional Services identified a 400-acre tract in southwest Lincoln that could serve as the site for a future prison.

State officials issued a request for information (RFI) in March. In an addendum to the RFI document, they stated the land between Omaha and Lincoln could meet the needs of a 1,600-bed facility that could expand to 3,200 beds.

Department officials said a private company would build the prison under a public-private partnership and the state would operate it, paying for construction over a lease term. Legislative approval is necessary to obtain funding for the lease and prison staff.

Corrections staff estimated the new prison would cost $200 million to build. A request for proposals (RFP) is expected after the RFI process concludes.
Illinois - After the state legislature passed a $40 billion spending bill that authorized a critical tax-and-fee amendment key to the economic viability of casinos in the state, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot started promoting her vision for a larger entertainment complex in the city.

Lightfoot lobbied for the casino plan, but she declined to go into details about the venue's location or what would be included in the entertainment complex.

The city of Chicago requested a site analysis in 2019 by an Illinois Gaming Board consultant that focused on five locations: Harborside Golf Course side at 111th Street and the Bishop Ford Freeway; the former Michael Reese hospital at 31st Street and Cottage Grove Avenue; Pershing Road and State Street; Roosevelt Road and Kostner Avenue; and the former U.S. Steel property at 80th Street and Lake Shore Drive.

Revenues from the casino would support the city's police and fire pension funds and state infrastructure projects in Gov. J.B Pritzker's $45 billion Rebuild Illinois construction plan. The governor said he would sign the bill.
Yeager Airport
West Virginia - Yeager Airport officials said they plan to issue a request for proposals (RFP) this fall for an environmental assessment study to construct two 1,000-foot runway safety areas.

The project, which was included in the airport's master plan update in 2019, will necessitate an expansion into Kanawha County's Coonskin Park. The plan included a 200-foot runway extension to expand the surface to 7,000 feet to better accommodate passenger and commercial aircraft now using the airport.

State legislators wrote to the Federal Aviation Administration in support of the runway safety area project. Work on the study could begin as early as spring 2021. 

The airport also issued an invitation to bid for the construction of a new school of aviation facility that will feature two buildings - a new 12,000-square-foot hangar and a one-story 10,600-square-foot classroom building with parking and apron construction.  Bids are due by 2 p.m. local time June 16.
Washington - The United States Secret Service reported the state of Washington's unemployment insurance program was the target of a Nigerian hacking ring known as "Scattered Canary."

State officials confirmed the theft of hundreds of millions of dollars, but they have been successful in recovering more than $300 million.

In a May 14 bulletin, the U.S. Secret Service reported Washington was the primary target of the hacking group but noted evidence of attacks in North Carolina, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and Florida. Texas also reported a surge in fraud attempts in April.

The criminals allegedly siphoned federal benefits, especially the extra $600 a week included in unemployment checks, by using data possibly stolen in previous consumer data breaches. They took advantage of systems - straining to handle millions of claims - that were designed to process thousands at any one time.

In Washington, individuals residing out-of-state were receiving multiple deposits from the State of Washington Unemployment Benefit Program, all in different individuals' names with no connection to the account holder. Many fraudulent benefits submitted have used personally identifiable information from first responders, government personnel, and school employees.

This fraud network reportedly targeted local banks, credit unions, and large national banks. Federal investigators believe the ring consists of hundreds, if not thousands of "mules," or people who repeatedly file false claims and act as intermediaries for money laundering.

According to one cybersecurity firm, Scattered Canary also engages in student aid and tax return fraud and disaster relief scams.
   View our Government Contracting Pipeline and Texas Government Insider newsletter archives

Oklahoma - Gov. Kevin Stitt appointed Col. Lance Frye as the interim Oklahoma commissioner of health on May 22. Frye serves as the interim department chair, residency program director, and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, and state air surgeon for the Oklahoma Air National Guard (OKANG).

Kansas - The Newton City Commission named Kelly McElroy as city manager on May 26. She will succeed Bob Myers who retired in late 2019. McElroy most recently served as interim city manager and was previously Newton's assistant city manager and development director.

Mississippi - Gov. Tate Reeves selected Patrick Sullivan to serve as chairman of the State Workforce Investment Board (SWIB). Sullivan was the executive director of the Governor's Office of Recovery and Renewal under Gov. Haley Barbour, president of the Mississippi Energy Institute, and a SWIB member.

California - The state's Government Operations Agency named Udaya Patnaik as the first director of its Office of Digital Innovation. Patnaik is the co-founder and chief financial officer for a San Mateo-based strategy and innovation consulting firm. He previously served as rural development specialist at the Rural Community Assistance Corporation.

Michigan - The MBS Airport Commission, which oversees the airport that serves Midland, Bay City, and Saginaw, named James Canders as airport manager at its May meeting. He will succeed Jeff Nagel. Canders has been serving as the airport's assistant manager. He previously served as assistant airport director at Bangor International Airport in Maine.

New Mexico - The Sandoval County Commission appointed Wayne Johnson as county manager, effective July 1. Johnson is the current Torrance County manager and former New Mexico state auditor. He previously served as a Bernalillo County commissioner to and vice-chairman of the ABQ Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority.
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