Volume 12, Issue 30 - Wednesday, July 22, 2020
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
While congressional leaders work diligently to develop the next COVID recovery bill, other interesting legislation also is being discussed.

Many of the conversations focus on public funding options after COVID-19. There are no disagreements when it comes understanding the critical funding needs that will be front and center for cities, counties, states, schools, and hospitals as the country begins to emerge from a total focus on the coronavirus.

Many public projects and initiatives will have to be addressed. First of all, crumbling, inefficient and unsafe infrastructure, of all types, must be a priority. Secondly, jobs will be a critical component of the successful re-establishment of economic stability.

It is already apparent that a great deal of new funding will flow to long-standing federal programs. That’s a good thing because public officials already are aware of how those programs function. However, a number of new bills under discussion relate to the provision of additional and innovative ways for governmental entities to secure funding for projects that would stimulate the economy, create jobs, and address aging infrastructure. One particularly interesting new concept being evaluated is tax-exempt COVID recovery bonds.

Illinois unveils $21.6B transportation plan for FY 2021-2026
Illinois – The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) released its $21.26 billion FY 2021-2026 Proposed Highway Improvement Program on July 21 that includes $3.15 billion in FY 2021 projects. 

Accounting for an anticipated decrease in motor fuel tax revenues that would be deposited into the state’s Road and State Construction Fund, IDOT developed a program that prioritizes the maintenance and preservation of the state’s existing roads and bridges. 

The FY 2021-2026 state program schedules $6.14 billion for reconstruction, resurfacing, widening, and preservation. This includes $1.02 billion for interstate resurfacing projects. 

IDOT is planning $4.68 billion to address bridge needs across the state with $884 million of that allocated for culvert replacements and repairs. 

Almost $1.37 billion will go toward safety and system modernization projects such as interchange reconstructions and traffic and safety improvements. 

The state also will program $2.6 billion for expansion projects that add new lanes to existing roads or for new roadways on new alignments. 

IDOT will provide local governments with $622.8 million in funding for these special programs: 

  • $219.7 million for the county consolidated program; 
  • $40.3 million for high-growth cities; 
  • $100.9 million for townships in need; 
  • $90 million for the township bridge program; 
  • $42 million for upgrading local truck routes; 
  • $39.8 million for state matching assistance; and, 
  • $90 million for fostering economic development. 

The program allocates $3.54 billion for 2021-2026 projects in Cook County including major reconstruction of two Interstate 55 intersections. This project is set to receive $148 million for interchange reconstruction, bridge replacement, and utility adjustments at Lorenzo Road and at Illinois 129, as well as construction of auxiliary lanes. The plan includes $4.9 million in FY 2021 funding for design, location, and environmental studies.
New York revs up $750M electric vehicle infrastructure program
New York – Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on July 16 that the state would commit $750 million to expand electric vehicle (EV) use and reduce overall statewide carbon emissions 85 percent by 2050.

Several new “Make Ready” initiatives also will support New York’s new collaboration with 14 other states and Washington, D.C. to boost electrification of diesel buses and trucks by 2050.

The EV Make-Ready Program will create a cost-sharing program that incentivizes utilities and charging station developers to install electric vehicle charging infrastructure in places that will provide a maximal benefit to consumers.

A New York State Public Service Commission order caps the total budget at $701 million and will run through 2025, with $206 million allocated toward equitable access and benefits for lower-socio-economic and disadvantaged communities.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is allocating $48.8 million from the Volkswagen diesel emissions settlement to transit bus and school bus operators and EV charging station owners to advance local growth of electric vehicle infrastructure, clean public transportation and transit options, and electric school buses.

These initiatives and others will provide funding for the infrastructure required to support more than 50,000 Level 2 charging plugs and 1,500 public direct current fast charger stations in New York.

In addition, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority will offer a $40 million pollution reduction prize, a $25 million clean personal mobility prize, and a $20 million clean medium- and heavy-duty vehicle innovation prize.
Mayors continue plea for $250B in flexible spending aid for cities
Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) renewed its request for billions in flexible spending aid in a July 21 letter to congressional leaders.

Earlier this year, more than 300 mayors penned a budget request of $250 billion in direct, flexible emergency assistance to cities of all population sizes.

The urgency to their pleas is a severe decline in tax revenues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The USCM and National League of Cities surveyed more than 2,400 local officials, of which 96 percent reported budget shortfalls and 88 percent forecast “painful reductions in revenue this year.”

Although $150 billion was allocated for state and local governments in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, only 38 cities qualified for direct assistance because of the 500,000-resident population threshold included in the law.

Those cities that received that direct federal aid were not allowed to use those resources to mitigate the shortfalls in their local budgets.

As of July 21, most American cities have received no direct assistance at all, the mayors wrote as they asked that cities of all sizes be eligible for federal aid, and that it be flexible enough to support the individual budget needs of cities.
New Hampshire city agrees to EPA's $230M infrastructure plan
New Hampshire – The city of Manchester will spend $230.75 million over the next 20 years to clean up combined sewer outflows (CSOs) into the Merrimack River.

The city, the state, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reached a settlement on July 13 in which the city agreed to implement a 20-year plan to control and significantly reduce overflows of its sewer system, which will improve the river’s water quality.

Manchester's combined sewer system, when overwhelmed by rain and stormwater, frequently discharges raw sewage, industrial waste, nitrogen, phosphorus, and polluted stormwater into the Merrimack River and its tributaries.

The consent decree includes 19 remedies such as a $22 million upgrade to improve the handling of solid waste at the wastewater treatment plant to reduce discharges of phosphorous.

Significant construction is planned for the Cemetery Brook drain with a $22.2 million project extending it from the river outfall to Queen City Avenue at Elm Street and three additional $20.9 million projects that will take it from Queen City Avenue to Beech Street and Valley Street to east of Mammoth Road.

The city also will design and construct projects to separate the combined sewers for areas adjacent to the Cemetery Brook drain. These drainage and sewer separation projects will together address the largest drainage basin in the city and produce the greatest volume of CSO reduction.

Other projects included in the consent decree are the construction of a new drain and sewer separation in the Christian Brook drainage basin, which will remove the third largest brook from the wastewater collection system.

The proposed consent decree also requires the city to implement a CSO discharge monitoring and notification program, which will include direct measurement of all discharges from six CSO outfalls estimated to be more than 99 percent of all of the city’s total CSO discharge volumes.
Arizona issues RFI for public-private highway broadband input
Arizona – The state’s Department of Transportation (ADOT) is seeking input on leveraging broadband expansion along highways.

ADOT’s request for information (RFI) is collecting input to assist potential public-private partnerships (P3s) with installation or operation of broadband conduit along major interstate and highway routes.

Coordinating with the Arizona Commerce Authority, ADOT is exploring P3s that would lead to the development of fiber-optic infrastructure across Arizona, creating more affordable opportunities for wired and wireless broadband connectivity in rural communities.

ADOT encourages firms and other stakeholders to respond with information that would lead to a successful future request for proposals (RFP) to expand connectivity along key interstate and state highway routes.

In addition to enhancing broadband connectivity, ADOT plans to use the fiber to provide “smart highway” technology such as overhead message boards, traffic cameras, weather stations, and wrong-way driving detection technology. The infrastructure also will help lay the groundwork for emerging technology such as connected and automated vehicles.

ADOT has fiber-optic conduit along freeways in the Phoenix and Tucson areas, as well as a stretch of Interstate 10 near Eloy for a pilot dust detection and warning system.

RFI submissions are due by August 17.
New York claims largest clean energy solicitation in U.S. history
New York – The state of New York published the largest combined clean energy solicitations ever issued in the U.S., seeking up to 4,000 megawatts of renewable capacity to combat climate change.

New York’s second offshore wind solicitation seeks up to 2,500 megawatts of projects, the largest in the nation's history, in addition to last year's solicitation which resulted in nearly 1,700 megawatts awarded.

The request for proposals (RFP) includes a multi-port strategy and requirement for offshore wind generators to partner with any of the 11 prequalified New York ports to stage, construct, manufacture key components, or coordinate operations and maintenance activities.

This solicitation has the potential to bring New York State halfway toward its goal of 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035. Funding for port investments will include $400 million in both public and private funding.

The $400 million is comprised of $100 million in Empire State Development grant funding, $100 million in low-interest financing, and $200 million in private-sector matching funds for a public-private match.

Projects that will be operational quickly will be prioritized in order to help restart New York’s economy and drive additional private investments in the industry and directly support offshore wind projects.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is overseeing the RFP requiring applicants to submit proof of eligibility starting August 5 and participate in a competitive bid proposal. NYSERDA will host a webinar on this RFP and the submittal process for potential proposers at 1 p.m. EDT on August 4.
Wisconsin planning $54.6M freight-rail bypass in Milwaukee
Wisconsin – A $54.6 million freight-rail bypass project is moving forward at the Muskego Yard in Milwaukee.

The Muskego Yard Freight Rail Bypass Project is one of the infrastructure projects needed to prepare the corridor for additional round-trips between Milwaukee and Chicago by the Amtrak Hiawatha Service.

This Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) project will create a new double-track mainline through Muskego Yard that will become the primary route for freight traffic traveling though Milwaukee.

It also will rehabilitate and replace the more than 100-year-old bridges across Burnham Canal and the Menomonee Valley River and install a traffic control system.

A public involvement phase is set to end on August 7, and environmental clearance and preliminary engineering are expected to be finished by summer or fall 2020. Final design is anticipated by the third quarter of 2022, and construction is scheduled for late 2022 to 2023.

WisDOT received a $26.6 million Federal Rail Administration (FRA) grant to complete final design and construction.
PennDOT awards $30.2M to multimodal mobility, safety projects
Pennsylvania – Twenty-seven highway, bridge, transit, and bike and pedestrian projects will receive $30.2 million from the state’s Multimodal Transportation Fund.

Gov. Tom Wolf announced on July 16 that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) selected projects that will improve mobility and safety and bolster commercial projects.

The city of Philadelphia is set to receive $2.7 million to construct multimodal transportation safety improvements along Market Street from 2nd to 6th streets.

Penn Hills township is set to receive $2.5 million to improve segments of 31 streets in need of repair, and Harrison township will use $3 million for signalization of and improvements to the intersection of Route 366 and Pleasant Avenue.

Benezette township will get $2.9 million to reconstruct 5.6 miles of Winslow Hill Road, and Rush township will put its $2 million in state funding toward repair and rehabilitation of Casanova Road, Casanova Spur, Chestnut Street, and McCord Road.

PennDOT based its selections on safety benefits, regional economic conditions, the technical and financial feasibility, job creation, energy efficiency, and operational sustainability.
Illinois airports to receive $31M for infrastructure improvements
Illinois – Three airports in the state are set to receive $31 million in federal funding for safety and capacity upgrades after the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) committed $1.55 million.

The projects are made possible by $27.9 million in supplemental discretionary funding through the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program (AIP), with IDOT providing the matching funds to maximize the funding opportunity and accelerate construction.

Quincy Regional Airport will receive $9 million in AIP funding with $500,000 from both state and local sources for runway construction.

The University of Illinois Willard Airport will get $9.9 million from the AIP with $550,000 in both state and local contributions to reconstruct its runway.

An apron construction project at Chicago Rockford International Airport was awarded $9 million from the AIP and $500,000 from both state and local matching sources.
Alaskan city to issue RFI for Harbor Point development
Alaska – The city of Sitka will issue a request for information (RFI) to collect input on residential or recreational tourism development alternatives for the Harbor Point area.

A 17-acre coastal tract near the ferry terminal on Halibut Point Road is being considered.

Harbor Point is the sole piece of undeveloped city-owned waterfront property. It is zoned for residential development, but rezoning may be considered for commercial/industrial development, according to a draft RFI.

For residential use, the development of high-end, single-family detached homes is proposed. Use of Harbor Point for recreational tourism would complement the expanding cruise ship terminal nearby.

The parcel is characterized by lower elevation, fairly rough terrain, but apart from shoreline areas, it contains no steep slopes. Much of the site is occupied by mature forest. The site also is close to a sanitary sewer line and water main.
State IT agencies participating in cybersecurity automation pilot
Maryland – A cybersecurity pilot research project at Johns Hopkins University is exploring automated processes in reacting to cyberthreats.

Information technology (IT) divisions for the states of Texas, Arizona, Louisiana, and Massachusetts are implementing Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) tools developed by the university’s Applied Physics Laboratory. Maricopa County in Arizona is another participant in the pilot.

The SOAR tools are a subset of the laboratory’s Integrated Adaptive Cyber Defense (ICAD) readiness guidelines that promote automation of repetitive tasks related to cybersecurity. ICAD is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and National Security Agency.

Quite often, IT and cybersecurity professionals are limited to making phone calls, sending emails, or conducting meetings for information sharing during a cyberthreat. The SOAR tools improve response teams’ abilities to keep pace with the attacks by freeing team members to focus on more complicated tasks and decision making.

The project’s lead investigator said a similar pilot project allowed participating corporations to reduce their average response time to certain alerts from 14 hours to nine minutes.
Indiana city authorizes $16M bond sale for waterfront park project
Indiana – The Fishers City Council authorized the sale of $16 million in bonds to develop the first of three phases of Geist Waterfront Park.

The project site is about 49.26 acres, is adjacent to Geist Reservoir, and is in a natural, unimproved state.

In 2018, the city acquired the parcel to develop a unique, one-of-a-kind recreational amenity that includes a beach, walking and hiking trails, boardwalk, kayak launching area, shelters, picnic areas, bike trails, and playground equipment, among other features.

The bond sale will pay for the initial design, acquisition, and construction of the park. City documents state an interest in a public-private partnership (P3) for the operation and maintenance of the park.
Arkansas – The state of Arkansas selected Nolan Leatherwood as its new chief information security officer (CISO). Leatherwood had been serving as interim CISO since April 2018. He previously served as a security analyst and UNIX system administrator with the Arkansas Department of Information Systems.

Colorado – The University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder) named Austin Jamar “JB” Banks as associate vice chancellor and dean of students on July 13. Before joining CU Boulder, Banks served as associate vice chancellor and dean of students for student affairs at Winston-Salem State University and in various roles at Appalachian State University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Florida – The Sanford Airport Authority appointed Tom Nolan as its new president and chief executive officer. The authority oversees the Orlando Sanford International Airport. He will succeed Diane Crews who is retiring. Nolan most recently served as executive director of Palm Springs International Airport in California.

Tennessee – Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced Mark Sturtevant as the city’s new director of development. Sturtevant most recently served as director of Nashville’s Metro Public Works department. Prior to that, he was director of development at the city’s Metro Development and Housing Agency and special projects manager at the Metropolitan Transit Authority.

Ohio – The Lexington City Council appointed Deana Allen as the city’s new city manager. She had been serving as Interim City Manager after the departure of former City Manager Chris Coker in November 2019. Allen previously served as Lexington’s police chief, captain, lieutenant, and sergeant.

South Carolina – The Charleston County Council voted to make Bill Tuten the permanent county administrator. Tuten had been serving as acting administrator since January. He previously served as the county’s special project liaison. He also held numerous positions with U.S. senators from South Carolina.
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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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