Volume 12, Issue 38 - Wednesday, September 16, 2020
Transportation leaders seek FAST Act extension, emergency funds
Washington, D.C. Transportation leaders from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and 87 other organizations co-signed a letter on September 9 urging Congress to extend current surface transportation funding for one more year.

The one-year “turn-key” suggestion comes as the September 30 expiration date approaches to renew federal funding for the country’s surface transportation and its infrastructure.

AASHTO’s executive director said an extension of the Fixing Surface Transportation (FAST) Act is essential for giving the states’ departments of transportation (DOTs) a lifeline through the 2021 construction season for planning, letting, and building projects.

In addition, the letter’s authors also sought $37 billion in emergency federal funding for the DOTs and $32 billion for public transit agencies that are slowly recovering from a drastic drop in revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
BART to receive $1.2B grant to increase Transbay Tube capacity
California – The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system earned a $1.2 billion federal grant for its Transbay Corridor Core Capacity Program to reduce crowding and increase service.

A 30-day congressional review preceded the action by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

The Core Capacity Program will allow BART to increase the number of transbay trains it operates during its busiest period to 30 per hour in each direction. In the FTA’s annual report on the Capital Investment Grant Program released in March, BART’s Transbay Corridor Core Capacity Program received the highest rating in the country for a large project.

Four elements of the program are:
• Addition of more than 250 railcars to provide the trains needed to increase capacity through the Transbay Tube;
•Modernization of train control via a new Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) system that will allow up to 30 trains per hour through the Transbay Tube;
•Construction of a new railcar storage yard at the Hayward Maintenance Complex to accommodate up to 20 rail cars needed for higher frequency service; and,
•Enhancement of BART’s electrical systems by building five new substations in San Francisco and the East Bay to feed its traction power substations.

BART officials expect demand for transbay travel to rise significantly once the region’s economy recovers after the COVID-19 pandemic.
NY office issues RFI for data visualization website integration
New York – The state’s Office of General Services (OGS) is seeking information on business intelligence technology solutions that enable storytelling with data.

Through its request for information (RFI), the office is attempting to gain a comprehensive understanding of the technology, software, and necessary skills to enable data visualization for website integration and display.

Currently, the office’s Drupal-built website is unable to integrate or automate interactive data visualization displays. Also, OGS manages its data with agency programs that do not enable direct publishing to the website platform.

OGS does not intend to replace existing tools to manage agency data or intend to take over the management of program data. Instead, it needs a tool to serve as an extension of website functionality insofar as it allows the office to take any set of raw data, build a display, and publish the display on its websites.

RFI responses are due by October 20.
Land authority searching for designer to redevelop Utah prison site
Utah – The Point of the Mountain State Land Authority issued a solicitation for consultant services to provide lead planning and urban design in the creation of a Framework Master Plan for the redevelopment of the 700-acre Draper Correctional Facility that will be vacated in 2022.

This site, known as The Point, will be a central focus of the planning and public engagement process, but it is one part of an all-encompassing plan for the region in the heart of what has become a high-tech center in the Silicon Slopes.

The Utah Legislature has charged the Authority with redeveloping the approximately 700-acre Draper Correctional Facility site following the move of the prison to a new location in 2022. Legislation directs the Authority to focus on job creation, workforce development, quality of life for residents, workforce housing, environmental sustainability, high-quality transit, recreational opportunities, and creating a nationally recognized research center.

An overarching visioning process has been completed, and five working groups, consisting of governmental, educational and industry leaders, have been organized to further develop vision elements to guide the planning and development of the project.

Some of the high-priority concepts these groups have identified are to create an iconic, vibrant mixed-use community, and to serve the site with a high-quality, future-focused multi-modal transportation system.

A mandatory virtual pre-submittal meeting will be at 3 p.m. MDT on September 21. Statements of qualifications are due by noon MDT on October 6.

A selection committee will determine a shortlist of no more than six firms on October 15. Following an interview process, up to three of the shortlisted firms are scheduled to be announced on October 27. They will be invited to participate as a finalist in Stage II which will be a competitive design charrette.

The selected finalist will be announced on December 18, and the anticipated initiation of the scope of work is January 4, 2021.
FTA awards $928M grant to Minneapolis light rail extension
Minnesota – Minneapolis’ Metropolitan Council is looking forward to the completion of the Green Line Light Rail extension after receiving a full funding grant agreement for $928.8 million.

The council executed the agreement with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) on September 14 for the extension of the 14.5-mile line that is anticipated to open in 2023.

Also known as the Southwest Light Rail Transit (LRT) Project, the $2 billion extension will add 16 stations serving Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, Edina, Hopkins, Minnetonka, and Eden Prairie.

The project includes 15 new passenger stations, plus one station deferred for later construction, and 44 new or modified structures:
  • 29 new bridges (light rail, pedestrian, roadway, and freight rail); 
  • Seven modified bridges; 
  • Six pedestrian tunnels; 
  • Two cut-and-cover LRT tunnels; 
  • 117 retaining walls; and, 
  • 153,000 track feet.

Once completed, it will be Minnesota’s largest ever public works project.
Alaska airport's $220M cold storage facility enters design phase
Alaska – The Alaska Energy Authority and a cold storage company are proposing a $220 million cargo storage and warehouse facility at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

Bolstered by a $21 million federal grant, the energy authority will move forward on the design and engineering this fall for the $87.9 million Phase 1 of the 715,000-square-foot cold storage and climate-controlled air cargo transfer facility.

Groundbreaking is scheduled for winter or spring 2021. The facility would be complete and operational by the summer of 2022.

Phase II is projected to include up to 525,000 square feet of quick cargo transfer and air cargo storage. Wide-body aircraft parking may be added to the project during this phase, but that will depend on final building configuration and federal line of sight requirements.

The project was conceived as a cargo transfer facility, but further analysis revealed Alaska’s lack of cold storage and the long-term food supply insecurity for the largest seafood producer in the nation.
Transportation, neighborhood projects top Charlotte bond election
North Carolina – The Charlotte City Council called a $197.23 million bond election for November 3 that will address the city’s transportation, neighborhood improvement, and affordable housing needs.

More than $102.73 million will be directed to transportation projects including:
  • $20.3 million to construct Northeast Corridor Infrastructure (NECI) projects providing pedestrian and bicycle connections to the LYNX Blue Line Extension; 
  • $18 million to construct phase one of the Bryant Farms Road extension from Elm Lane to Rea Road; 
  • $15 million to build new sidewalks and pedestrian safety infrastructure; 
  • $10.32 million to enhance the Monroe Road streetscape between North Wendover Road and Eaton Road; 
  • $8 million to supplement street resurfacing funding from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT); 
  • $7.61 million for congestion mitigation projects in Steele Creek, South Charlotte, and University City; 
  • $4 million to expand the bicycle network; 
  • $4 million to maintain traffic signal system coordination; 
  • $4 million to upgrade traffic control devices; 
  • $4 million to repair and replace bridges; 
  • $2.5 million to complete the Idlewild Road/Rama Road and Monroe Road intersection improvements in partnership with NCDOT; 
  • $2 million to implement Vision Zero and transportation safety projects; and more.

Affordable housing efforts would receive $50 million if the bond election passes, and $44.5 million would go toward neighborhood improvement projects including $30 million to complete five Comprehensive Neighborhood Improvement Program areas and $14.5 million for infrastructure investments in six opportunity corridors.

The 2020 bond referendum is the final bond of the four-bond series often referred to as “The Big Ideas.” The city originally adopted the Big Ideas Community Investment Plan in fiscal year 2014, with bonds planned over eight years in 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2020.

As The Big Ideas come to a close with the FY 2021 Budget and 2020 Bond Referendum, the city’s FY 2021 – 2025 Capital Investment Plan (CIP) includes two new bond years: 2022 and 2024.

These bond years have been purposely held blank in anticipation of the completion of the 2040 Comprehensive Plan. Once complete, the Comprehensive Plan, along with project planning and design work from the Advanced Planning and Design Program, will guide the development of a five-year CIP that best supports the next 20 years of growth and development in Charlotte.
Florida to replace Cortez, Anna Maria Island bridges
Florida – As Anna Maria Island residents grapple with daily traffic congestion caused by repeated openings of the Cortez Bridge on State Road (SR) 684, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is forming a public committee to assist with the design of a replacement.

A 2019 study recommended a 65-foot high-level fixed-bridge as the preferred alternative. Analysis at the time estimated the total project cost at $72.97 million with three phases of construction.

Bridge inspection reports conducted between 2008 and 2012 showed that Cortez Bridge, which was built in 1956, is functionally obsolete because of lack of shoulders, nine-inch concrete curbs separating the travel lanes from the sidewalk and old-style bridge railings.

The corrosive salt water environment contributes to the deterioration of the bridge, which has exceeded its 50-year service life.

FDOT also anticipates late 2021 completion of the design phase for an estimated $76 million project to replace the Anna Maria Island Bridge, the island’s second structure connecting to the mainland.

This project involves replacing the existing bascule Anna Maria Island Bridge with a high-level fixed bridge. FDOT will construct the new bridge approximately 14 feet to the south of the existing bridge and provide 65 feet of vertical navigational clearance.

The maximum height of the surface of the roadway will be about 74 feet. The bridge will consist of two 12-foot travel lanes (one eastbound and one westbound), 11-foot shoulders in each direction, and 10-foot sidewalks on each side of the bridge.
Wichita State University planning new smart factory facility
Kansas – Wichita State University and an industry partner launched The Smart Factory @ Wichita, a new 60,000-square-foot space featuring a full-scale production line, dedicated space for select ecosystem sponsors, and experiential labs exploring smart factory capabilities.

A smart factory is a highly digitized and connected production facility that uses technologies such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, and robotics to manufacture products.

The net-zero impact smart building will be on a smart grid in the Partnership 7 building on the university’s Innovation Campus. It will include an end-to-end smart production line that will further promote advanced manufacturing methods and technologies.

University officials expect the facility to open to clients, industry partners, and students in 2021.
California reissues RFP for 9-1-1 cybersecurity assessment
California – The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) rereleased a request for proposals (RFP) for a single firm to conduct a statewide cybersecurity assessment of the Next Generation 9-1-1 system (NG 9-1-1). 

Cal OES has begun the buildout of the NG 9-1-1 system using five different contracts to provide a National Emergency Number Association (NENA) i3 compliant system for California. The contractor will complete an evaluation of the disaster recovery and cyber-related vulnerability or risk assessment to ensure the NG 9-1-1 system’s resiliency, reliability, redundancy, and serviceability. 

The selected bidder will complete a cybersecurity assessment of the existing NG 9-1-1 system, which is being built out in phases based on the transition of the 45 Selective Routers to Next Generation Core Services (NGCS). The first Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) are scheduled to go live in December 2020. 

Due to the system’s size, the bidder will be required to complete an assessment using a sample set that is sufficient to ensure the network, which includes 4,000 network end points, complies with NENA i3 security requirements and that cyber security and system recovery measures are in place. 

The final date of submissions is September 25 by 3 p.m. PT. 
Texas, California lead pack in public school construction spending
Washington, D.C. - Texas, California, and Washington led state spending on public school building construction, according to a new report by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

The report titled “Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education: FY18” analyzed data from the National Public Education Financial Survey, a component of the Common Core of Data (CCD). The CCD is the primary NCES database on public elementary and secondary education in the United States.

According to the NCES, all 50 states and the District of Columbia spent $51.3 billion combined on school construction in FY 2018.

Texas topped the list with $8.71 billion spent on public school building projects, and California came in second with $8.04 billion. The gap between second and third places was more than $6 billion with Washington spending $2.58 billion.

Rounding out the top 10 were:
  • New York - $2.23 billion; 
  • Minnesota - $1.74 billion; 
  • Georgia - $1.63 billion; 
  • Florida - $1.61 billion; 
  • Illinois - $1.53 billion; 
  • Maryland - $1.45 billion; and, 
  • Ohio - $1.41 billion. 

State education agencies (SEAs) in each of the 50 states report these data annually to NCES.
Virginia county commits $15M to recruit P3 broadband partners
 Virginia – Plans for public-private partnerships (P3s) for broadband service are developing in Louisa County.

The county’s board of supervisors approved $15 million for a P3 that would involve partnering with electricity providers that would supply high-speed internet, specifically fiber-based broadband.

A local electric cooperative that serves 22 counties is contemplating an application for $100 million from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

By allocating $15 million to the project, Louisa County leaders hope to be among the first areas to be considered by that co-op or others for partnerships.
Oklahoma – The Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) named Shawn Davis as director of operations and Bill Wilkinson as Division 3 construction engineer. Davis previously served as director of construction for the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority. Wilkinson previously served the department as the Division 3 maintenance engineer in Ada.

Nevada – Dr. Melody Rose began her tenure as chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education on September 1. Rose most recently served as president of Marylhurst University. Prior to that, she was chancellor of the Oregon University System and vice provost for academic programs and instruction at Portland State University.

Tennessee – The Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority selected Jason McBride as director of properties at Memphis International Airport (MEM). He succeeded Angela Washington who retired on July 30. McBride most recently served as the MEM’s manager of general aviation airports. Prior to that, he was general aviation supervisor and aviation maintenance service lead.

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services appointed Perryn Ashmore as acting chief information officer (CIO). He took over for Jose Arrieta who resigned on August 28. Ashmore is currently the principal deputy CIO.

Louisiana – The Central Louisiana Regional Port announced Ben Russo as the port’s new executive director on September 10. He succeeds the late Blake Cooper as executive director. Russo previously served as president of a business development and energy consulting firm and oversaw wholesale origination for a power company.
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