Tennessee– Tennessee hopes to start work by summer on an estimated $70 million project aimed at easing the Chattanooga traffic bottleneck at the intersection of interstates 24 and 75. That is anticipated to take 3 years. Funding is coming from the Improving Manufacturing, Public Roads and Opportunities for a Vibrant Economy (IMPROVE) Act, introduced in January to help fund the state’s $10 billion backlog in road projects. The Act raised fuel taxes for the first time in nearly 30 years.
The I-24/I-75 project is one of 23 projects in Hamilton County estimated to cost a total of $600 million. Despite the influx of money from the IMPROVE Act, funding is still a big concern for many of these projects being completed. Tennessee officials are concerned the state could lose $178 million annually in several years unless Congress addresses expected shortfalls of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, the last federal funding bill that passed. Of the 962 total state projects envisioned under Tennessee’s IMPROVE Act, 288 are now underway, 20 are in the construction phases and 10 bridge projects have already been completed.
Oklahoma– Oklahoma’s Gilcrease Expressway project began in the 1950s to create a loop around the city. But the planned loop stalled at a necessary crossing of the Arkansas River west of downtown. The route of the five-mile, four-lane tollway, which will include an adjacent multiuse trail, was approved by the state in April. The plan should be finalized by May 2018, with construction to begin late in the summer.
The estimated $290 million cost will be funded through a public-private partnership. The plan is to issue a request for information and then a request for proposals. The private partner will be responsible for about a third of the total cost, and will be repaid first out of the tolls. The other two-thirds will be funded through a partnership of six government entities – the city of Tulsa, the Indian Nations Council of Governments, Tulsa County, Oklahoma Transportation Authority, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the federal government. Appraisals are underway on 20 parcels and an offer will be made soon on right-of-way acquisitions.
The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) wants to develop technology that scans the faces of travelers as they enter and leave the U.S. without passengers getting out of their car. In addition, the capability must be able to account for environmental elements such as lighting, windshield tint, vehicle speed and infrastructure. The scanning technology must also account for traffic and occupant behavioral factors such as sun glasses, hats, driver looking away or an obstruction of facial view. Finally, the system must account for diversity in passenger demographics and socioeconomics – access to and use of mobile electronic devices.
DHS has posted a public notice calling on technology companies to submit proposals for the system by January 2018. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is interested in both standalone and multi-configuration integrated system approaches. All proposals should detail the requisite camera parameters and infrastructure requirements, and characterize the impact of technical and operational challenges. The agency is hosting an industry day in Silicon Valley on Nov. 14 to give businesses more information. The directorate anticipates making awards for $50,000 to $200,000 for up to four phases, ranging from proof of concept, prototype, a complex test and a full-fledged pilot.
ouisiana- The city of New Orleans expects to spend $15 million to convert Esplanade Avenue and Gov. Nicholls Street wharves into the final major piece of a 3.2-mile-long Tricentennial Park consisting of a variety of riverfront projects. The city swapped the Public Belt Railroad to the Port of New Orleans in exchange for the two commercial wharves. The agreement between the Public Belt Railroad and the port, directs the port to work toward the creation of an economic development district that would include the riverfront from Spanish Plaza to Bywater, but exclude any port facility within that area, such as the cruise ship terminal at the downriver end of Bywater.
While the plan for now, calls for mostly open park space along the riverfront, the city is not ruling out the possibility for revenue generating facilities. A proposal is in place to create an economic development district that would cover the area, allowing the city to gain additional revenue from any attractions that may be built there.
Other parts of the overall riverfront redevelopment include a new $37 million ferry terminal at the foot of Canal Street, a $7.3 million pedestrian bridge to the terminal over the Public Belt Railroad tracks, a $400 million redevelopment of the World Trade Center into a hotel and condos and a $7.5 million refurbishment of Spanish Plaza. The series of projects will be completed over the next several years