Alaska- Gov. Bill Walker has approved the release of $3.6 million to complete the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process for the Ambler Mining District Access Project. This large-scale project was one of several halted by executive order in December 2014 so the Office of Management and Budget could review discretionary spending. The Ambler Road Project is a proposed 200-mile road that would connect the Ambler Mining District in Northwest Alaska with the Dalton Highway and Fairbanks. The decision is in response to an Aug. 24 request from the Alaska Industrial and Development Export Authority (AIDEA) to release the funds. No additional state funding is expected to be needed for completion of the EIS process.
After a Record of Decision on the EIS, and if the Bureau of Land Management grants right-of-way and AIDEA decides to pursue a road, it is expected to be supported through a public-private partnership finance structure without additional funding from state government.
Pennsylvania- The Pennsylvania Public-Private Partnership (P3) Board approved a proposal to reconstruct 15 bridges and two interstates in Luzerne County. The bridges are located along a 25-mile section of Interstate 81 and a 10-mile section of Interstate 80. The proposal is part of an adjusted bid, design-build that will allow the designer and contractor to work in close collaboration. The method also allows the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to put greater weight on a contractor’s qualifications in addition to cost factors.
The bridges are fully funded through the current Transportation Improvement Plan. Design will begin in 2019 and construction will be completed by 2023. The P3 Board and PennDOT’s P3 Office were established after the Public-Private Transportation Partnerships Act was signed into law in September 2012 and authorized P3 projects in Pennsylvania.
California– The Salton Sea continues to shrink, but while the waters recede the problems continue to flood in. The previously submerged lake bed (referred to as “playa”) is creating dust that can be hazardous when it becomes airborne. Officials have created a 10-year plan to address air quality and environmental threats from the Salton Sea. The plan was initially funded by the approval of Proposition 1 in 2014 and an additional voter approved $200 million dollars this past June. Phase one of the plan focuses on creating wetlands and other projects to suppress the dust and create new habitats.
An agreement reached by the California Water Resources Control Board last November painted a shared vision among the state, water agencies and environmental organizations for projects and activities over the next 10 years. The California Department of Water Resources is refining its organizational structure to put new resources and expertise in place to centralize and accelerate the design and implementation of critical dust-suppression and habitat projects. A request for qualifications will be issued before the end of 2018 for a project to create deep habitat on the sea’s southern end to support fish and wildlife.
North Carolina– Wake County voters approved more than $1.1 billion in bonds for new school construction and park projects. County officials stated that the new bonds will help the county with more economic development opportunities and make the area a greater attraction for businesses. Broken down, $548 million will be used for the Wake County school system on new construction projects, including seven new schools, 11 major renovations and upgrades to security and computers. Voters could be asked to decide on another school bond referendum as soon as 2020 since county leaders opted to go with two smaller referenda rather than one large one this year.
Another $349.1 million will be used to construct new buildings and provide repairs and accessibility upgrades for Wake Technical Community College. Some of those new buildings include a health science building, a public safety simulation building, an auto and collision repair facility and a 1,200-space parking garage for its Research Triangle Park campus. Additionally, $120 million in bond money was approved for parks, open space and recreation construction in the county. The parks bond would go toward acquiring 1,800 acres for future parks and open space, building 15 miles of greenways and renovating existing parks. Those renovations could range from small projects like adding new benches to larger projects like adding a nature or education center.