Volume 12, Issue 40 - Wednesday, September 30, 2020
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.

The federal government funds public transportation projects throughout the U.S. and the process is designed around an abundance of planning. Once plans are finalized, it’s possible to monitor upcoming projects of all types. Today, there are few projects, if any, that do not contain large technology components. Smart transportation is no longer the future – it is the foundation of every aspect of public transportation today. 

There’s a rigid process that governs how the federal funding is apportioned to states. All metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) in every state are required to develop two basic documents—a fiscally-constrained Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) and a short-range program known as a Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), with a four-year horizon.  

A TIP is developed in cooperation with state and public transit providers and cost estimates for the projects should never exceed projections. Here are some examples of upcoming projects outlined in these types of planning documents:

Maryland
The Baltimore Regional Transportation Board approved the 2021-2024 Transportation Improvement Plan in August 2020. One example of the type of technology components found in transportation projects is an upgrade to the city’s Transportation Management Center. The projected cost is $6,150,000. This funding will be used to upgrade the central computer system which controls and communicates with traffic signals in the field. A complete replacement with a new system is planned and that will include hardware and software enhancements, installation of communication equipment, a copper cable network and a new camera control system. 

Microtransit, 100 miles of rail in Metro's $400B long range plan
California – The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) board of directors approved the $400 billion 2020 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) on September 24.

The 30-year plan aims to deliver mobility benefits to the region through major capital projects, programs, partnerships, and policies as it aims for four goals of better transit, less congestion, complete streets, and access to opportunity.

It details how Metro will add more than 100 miles of rail, invest in arterial and freeway projects to reduce congestion, such as the Interstate 5 North enhancements project, and add more ExpressLanes. Metro plans to add more bicycle and pedestrian projects, such as the L.A. River Path Project, to close the 8-mile gap in the path between Elysian Valley and Maywood and to provide good bicycle access to downtown Los Angeles.

The plan calls for improving the transit rider experience by prioritizing bus travel on Los Angeles County’s busiest streets, including Wilshire Boulevard and Flower Street, and implementing the recommendations of the NextGen Bus Plan to make bus service more frequent and faster.

Furthermore, Metro will invest in technology and promote innovative new mobility options such as Microtransit — which are smaller, on-demand vehicles — and use freight-focused technologies.

The 2020 LRTP includes more than $200 billion for operations and State of Good Repair, as well as $38 billion in funding that returns to local transit agencies to maintain the local transportation system.
$7.4B estimated by USACE to restore Florida's aquatic ecosystem
Florida – Efforts to restore the Everglades will need an estimated $7.4 billion over the next 10 years to return to its schedule, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

On September 17, the Corps provided an overview of its draft strategy for the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration, the largest aquatic ecosystem restoration effort in the nation. The project will span more than 18,000 square miles and is designed to improve the condition of more than 2.4 million acres.

Engineering performed as early as the 1880s to make south Florida more habitable severely altered the natural flow of water to and through the Everglades. The construction of roads, canals, and levees created barriers that interrupted the natural flow of water that’s necessary for the Everglades to survive.

Upon Congressional authorization of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) in 2000, the federal government and the state of Florida entered into a partnership to implement 68 projects that would restore, protect, and preserve water resources in central and southern Florida, including the Everglades.

However, from 2007 to 2014 no Congressional funding was approved, leading to a fair grade in a 2017 status report. Now, the Corps is seeking an additional $1 billion to assist in completing projects on time and defending against sea level rise.

Renewed budget efforts by the state in 2019 helped the South Florida Water Management District to expedite the $1.4 billion Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir Project. The reservoir is designed to reduce damaging discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the coastal estuaries and provide storage, treatment, and conveyance for an annual average of 370,000 acre-feet of additional water to the Central Everglades.

The district broke ground on the reservoir’s water-cleansing Stormwater Treatment Area, which is expected to be complete in 2023. The Corps will build the 10,000-acre storage reservoir, which is expected to be complete in 2028.

USACE plans to release its final 2020 Integrated Delivery Schedule on October 22.
$335M awarded in airport safety/infrastructure grants
Washington, D.C. – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awarded $335 million to 80 airports in a new round of safety and infrastructure grants.

The total includes $300 million from the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) and $35 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act grants to equal a 100 percent federal share.

Three Alaskan airports were among the top designees for funding with McGrath Airport set to receive $33.76 million to improve erosion control, install airfield guidance signs and miscellaneous navigation aides. Additional projects will reconstruct an apron, runway, taxiway, runway lighting, and taxiway lighting. Nome Airport will collect $21.59 million to rehabilitate a runway, and Juneau International Airport will get $15.69 million to reconstruct a terminal building.

The Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport will receive $39.23 million to extend a taxiway, Memphis International Airport will get $31.16 million to build a de-icing pad, and Jackson Hole Airport will accept $28.53 million to reconstruct a runway.

Other grants will be used for a variety of critical infrastructure and safety projects. The projects include purchasing aircraft rescue and firefighting equipment, conducting airport master plan studies, and installing airport perimeter fencing.
Ohio university planning for $278M heat and power plant
Ohio – Plans for a $278 million on-campus combined heat and power (CHP) plant at The Ohio State University gained approval from the Ohio Power Siting Board. 

The proposed site for the CHP facility is at John Herrick Drive and Vernon Tharp Street. It will produce thermal energy powered by natural gas while introducing electricity generation on campus. It will serve as a primary source of heating and electricity to the Columbus campus. 

It will include the installation of two natural gas combustion turbine generators and one steam turbine generator. Output capacity is projected to be 105.5 megawatts in summer and 85.1 megawatts in winter. Maximum heat input is 314.8 million Btu per hour. 

All equipment will be housed within a building that is 60 feet high, according to documents filed with the board. Cooling towers will extend 27 feet above the roof. Two steel stacks will extend to a total height of 125 feet. 

Sitework is scheduled to start in November, and structural construction will commence in June 2021. Plant operations are expected to begin in October 2022. 
Iowa DPS issues RFP for Global Navigation Satellite System
Iowa – The state of Iowa Department of Public Safety (DPS) issued a request for proposals (RFP) for Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) measuring software and devices. 

Full-time reconstructionists as well as technical collision investigators at the Iowa State Patrol will use the software to gather critical details and data at collisions and in crime scene investigations. 

Software will need to work with DPS’ existing forensic diagramming software, link to the DPS’ small unmanned aerial system (sUAS or drone) operations through the ground control points, import data into existing plane and survey data from the state’s Department of Transportation database, and provide precise position measuring of .3 inches horizontally by .6 inches vertically. 

Respondents will provide preventative maintenance and inspection on a bi-annual basis, general user training, and administrator training. 

The deadline for RFP proposals is 3 p.m. October 23. 
Construction to begin in 2022 on $64M interchange in Glasgow
Delaware – The Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) is in the design and planning phase of a $64 million project to build a grade-separated interchange at U.S. 40 and State Road 896 in Glasgow.

The roads will be realigned so SR 896 travels over U.S. 40.

DelDOT’s monitoring program shows large peak hour volumes and substantial congestion on U.S. 40 in this area. Traffic conditions will likely deteriorate further with proposed development in the area.

Plans call for erecting two new traffic lights and adding a walking and biking trail to connect Glasgow Avenue and Peoples Plaza to Glasgow Park.

Safety and traffic operations improvements will be constructed in four phases over 26 months. Construction is expected to start in fall 2022 and conclude by fall 2024.
FRA awards $320.6M for rail service safety, reliability
Washington, D.C. – The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) awarded $320.6 million in Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grants to 50 projects in 29 states. 

Selected projects include a variety of railroad investments that improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of freight and intercity passenger service. 

Nine of the projects were chosen because they specifically address safety at highway-rail grade crossings, and deter illegal trespassing, which is the leading cause of rail-related deaths in America. Other projects expand, upgrade, or rehabilitate railroad track, switches, yard, and station facilities to increase performance and service delivery. 

The Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago Intercity Passenger Rail Service Project will receive the most CRISI monies with $31.8 million to upgrade communication and signaling, extend rail sidings, improve at-grade crossings, extend yard lead track, and reconstruct and modify new turnouts and mainline track in Wisconsin and Minnesota on Canadian Pacific’s Soo Line serving Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota. 

Multiple opportunity zones in Maine will benefit from CRISI funding to support the Pine Tree Corridor 286K Capacity and Safety Improvements project. More than $16.87 million will go toward replacing about 75 miles of rail, installing approximately 55,000 ties, upgrading 72 grade crossings, and strengthening five bridges in central Maine between Waterville and north to Mattawamkeag. 

Up to $15.62 million will go to the Trespass Prevention and Pedestrian Safety Enhancements on the Michigan Line to eliminate trespasser hotspots along the rail line from Dearborn to Kalamazoo, Michigan by improving eight grade crossings, closing another crossing, and installing approximately 157 miles of right-of-way fencing. 

Improvements to the Continuous Welded Rail and Corridor Improvement Program on the Buckingham Branch North Mountain Subdivision in Virginia will get up to $13.67 million for work on the line between Charlottesville and Clifton Forge, Virginia. The project will install continuous welded rail and improve associated ballast over approximately 70 miles. It will upgrade 14 grade crossings and five railroad bridges as well as install drain systems in the Afton railroad tunnel liner to reduce ice buildup. Clearances in two additional railroad tunnels will be improved. 

North Carolina will receive up to $13.16 million to rehabilitate three railroad bridges, construct two new sidings, install about 83,500 new crossties, replace rail along approximately 6 miles of track, and construct two new storage and two new switching yards on the Aberdeen, Carolina & Western Railway (ACWR) located in south central North Carolina. The track improvements will take place along a 70-mile rail segment between Charlotte and Star, North Carolina, and an additional 33 miles from Star to Aberdeen, North Carolina. 

Almost $10.36 million will fund one grade separation and associated road alignments along the U.S. 60 and BNSF Thayer-North Rail Corridor in Webster County, Missouri. The project also closes eight additional at-grade crossings. 

More than $10 million will go toward improving the Kiamichi Railroad in southeast Oklahoma, northeast Texas, and southeast Arkansas. Most of the project work will be in Oklahoma in Tribal Lands of the Choctaw Nation. The project replaces approximately 23 miles of rail and 15 turnouts, reinforces 31 bridges, resurfaces 17 curves, restores 13 miles of track, and upgrades nearly 36 road crossings across four subdivisions. 

Idaho’s Magic Valley Rail Safety and Capacity Expansion is set to receive $7.5 million to expand the Eastern Idaho Railroad Gular Yard facility in Rupert, Idaho. The project consists of extending the yard track and adding a new passing track to relocate switching operations that currently block the crossing at State Highway 24 and 8th Street. 
City of Worcester publishes request for ERP, utility billing software
Massachusetts – The city of Worcester is seeking software and professional services required to implement a new software systems environment to address the city’s needs related to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). 

City officials are planning to replace Worcester’s current software systems environment with a new system or combination of systems that are more efficient and customer- and user-friendly, provide remote access, offer online employee and retiree self-service, and increase reporting and analytic capabilities. 

The city desires these functional areas of the new ERP software: 

  • General ledge and financial reporting; 
  • Budgeting – operating; 
  • Budgeting – capital; 
  • Purchasing; 
  • Bid and contract management; 
  • Accounts payable; 
  • Miscellaneous receivables; 
  • Cash management; and, 
  • Project accounting and grant accounting. 

Additional required functional areas are: 

  • Treasury management; 
  • Fixed assets; 
  • Compensation; 
  • Personnel management; 
  • Learning and performance management; 
  • Recruitment and onboarding; 
  • Benefit administration; 
  • Time entry and scheduling; and, 
  • Payroll. 

Deadline for RFP submissions is 10 a.m. October 21. Vendor demonstrations will be scheduled the week of November 16. 

The City will be soliciting proposals, through separate RFPs, for the selection of a replacement water utility billing software system and tax billing software system. Each of these solicitations will be evaluated independently, and subject to award, independent of the other. The city expects that each of these systems will be able to interface with one another once the systems have been identified. 

It plans to replace its Public Safety Records Management System (RMS), which will reach system end of life in December 2021. The replacement system has not yet been identified. 
Transit study to provide future opportunities in Owensboro
Kentucky – The city of Owensboro will be conducting a transit study with recommendations of sites to move its downtown station. The Transit Network Study also will be used to develop a five-year plan for 2021-2026 and a separate five-year plan for 2026-2031.

The study will evaluate the existing and potential transit route network as well as existing or potential facilities to serve as for future growth and financial needs. The geographic focus of the study will include all current service areas of the Owensboro Transit System (OTS).

The study also will evaluate staffing levels, hours of operation, and will include input from the community. The deadline for the request for proposals transit study solicitation is October 29.
Airport customer satisfaction survey released amid COVID-19
Airports are suffering revenue drops amid the coronavirus pandemic, but they are scoring points with air travelers avoiding crowds and long lines.
 
In J.D. Power’s 2020 North America Airport Satisfaction Study released September 23, Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport surged from seventh to first in overall customer satisfaction index ratings. 

Miami International Airport ranked second, and McCarran International Airport came in third in the mega airport category.

Dallas Love Field climbed to the top spot for customer satisfaction among large airports after ranking second in 2019. Tampa International Airport and John Wayne Airport, Orange County tied for second among large airports for passenger satisfaction. 

Indianapolis International Airport claimed the top spot in the medium category. Palm Beach International Airport’s score earned it second place, and Southwest Florida International Airport took third place. 

Mega airports are those that serve 33 million or more passengers per year, large airports serve 10 to 32.9 million passengers per year, and medium airports serve 4.5 to 9.9 million passengers per year. 

The study, which was fielded from August 2019 through July 2020, measured overall traveler satisfaction with mega, large, and medium North American airports by examining terminal facilities, airport arrivals and departures, baggage claim, security checks, check-ins and baggage checks, and food, beverage, and retail. 

According to J.D. Power, airport passenger volumes reached 40 percent of year-ago levels over the Labor Day weekend. Thirty percent of travelers say their opinion of the airport they traveled through has improved after seeing its response to the pandemic. More than two-thirds (68 percent) say their opinion has not changed and 2 percent say they have a more negative view of their airport since the pandemic. 
Upcoming P3 Higher Education Summit
Connect with higher education business officers, developers, and industry partners for three days of project delivery and market discussion at the virtual P3 Higher Education Summit on October 28-30. 

This year’s agenda is designed to deepen understanding on the value proposition behind public-private partnerships (P3s) and alternative project delivery models, and the role they are playing in the delivery of higher education infrastructure.  

Mary Scott Nabers, president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc., will be one of more than 75 leading practitioners presenting their firsthand observations of a variety of campus facility projects of all sizes from around the country. 

The P3 Higher Education Summit is one of the largest gatherings of higher education business officers, campus planners, developers, and P3 experts in the country. Attendees include senior management from firms in the construction, engineering, architecture, legal, investment and consulting industries as well as senior business and facility administrators from colleges and universities from around the country. 

Stay connected and informed. Discover new project opportunities. Meet with industry and learn how colleges and universities are approaching projects in the post-COVID era.  

Register now to secure the early registration price of $249! 
$55M high school renovation on schedule despite future bond sale
Oregon – The St. Helens School Board plans to continue forward with renovating St. Helens High School despite a vote to delay the sale of bonds until November 2022. Voters approved a $55 million bond measure in May to conduct renovations at the high school.  

Due to financial struggles that have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic, school officials decided to delay when the tax would show up on voter’s tax bills by delaying the sale of bonds. School officials announced that strong financial management tactics applied during their 2016, voter-approved middle school construction bond has allowed them to set aside $5 million and plans to use that funding to begin work on the high school renovation project. 

The district is currently in the pre-design phase of construction for the new school. On September 23, the school board approved a professional services agreement with an architectural firm for work on the school’s renovation.
PEOPLE ON THE MOVE
California – The California State University board of trustees appointed Joseph Castro as chancellor of the California State University, effective January 4, 2021. He will succeed Timothy White who is retiring. Castro most recently served as president of California State University, Fresno. Before joining the Fresno campus, he was vice chancellor of student academic affairs and professor of family and community Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. 

North Carolina – The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) selected Jennifer Fehribach as general manager of bus operations. Prior to joining CATS, Fehribach served as the chief operating officer for the Regional Transit Authority in New Orleans, Louisiana, and managing director of operations at the Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority in Texas. 

Oregon – The city of Monmouth named Martha “Marty” Wine as its new city manager. She will take over for Interim City Manager Chad Olsen. Wine has been serving as city manager of the city of Tigard, Oregon. Before that, she was assistant chief administrative officer for the city of Renton, Washington. 

Georgia – The Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services selected Renee Byrd-Lewis as its new executive director, effective October 19. Current Executive Director Ellen Gerstein will transition to a support role and assist her until December 31. Byrd-Lewis previously led community relations and corporate engagement strategies at a telecommunications equipment company and served as vice president of strategic communications and positioning at Georgia Gwinnett College. 

Iowa – The North Iowa Council of Governments (NIACOG) promoted senior planner Myrtle Nelson to executive director. She will succeed Joe Myhre. Nelson is scheduled to start her new position on November 2. Before joining NIACOG, she was the community development director at the city of Mason City, Iowa, and senior planner for the city of Fort Dodge, Iowa. 

Florida – The Nassau County board of commissioners named Taco Pope as county manager on September 16. He will take over for Michael Mullin, who will remain the county attorney. Pope most recently was the county’s assistant county manager. Prior to that, he was director and assistant director of planning and economic opportunity. 
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Devin Monk, Editor
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