New York/New Jersey- The planning process for a new trans-Hudson rail tunnel is moving forward in New Jersey this month. A final environmental impact statement will be issued next spring to allow for construction to get underway in 2019. The tunnel would run between North Bergen and New York’s Penn Station and is part of a regional Gateway initiative for infrastructure improvement in the region.
The project will require building a tube in each direction for rail transit and alleviate concerns over whether the existing tunnel would ever shut down due to damage suffered during hurricane Sandy. Plans for the new tunnel were released for public review, along with an environmental impact study, and Federal and state officials are collecting public comments on the tunnel through Aug. 21. Questions over funding for the $13 billion project have urged officials to explore creating a public-private partnership for the tunnel.
Alabama- Athens State University is preserving its historic character while modernizing the campus with a new master plan. Around 50 projects on the master plan were presented to the school’s board of trustees as part of a capital campaign.
Some of the projects include Founders Hall miscellaneous renovations for $13.68 million, a future academics building for $8.75 million, library renovations for $3.3 million, McCain Hall renovations for $1.6 million, McCandless Hall renovations for $2.4 million, Sanders Hall renovations for $5.2 million and Waters Hall renovations for $4.1 million. Another project includes the renovation of the Carter Physical Education Building, built in 1964, for $7.5 million and $4 million to bring the campus up to code. The plan also calls for standardizing campus signs, revitalizing landscapes and the construction of a pedestrian and bicycle path. The university plans to raise money for all projects through its capital campaign and public campaign, which will launch in 2020.
Indiana- Last week, Purdue University trustees approved plans to finance and award construction contracts for a new large animal and equine hospital, to renovate the West Lafayette campus Agricultural and Biological Engineering Building and to build a new Bioscience Innovation building on the Hammond campus. Trustees approved $35 million for phase I of the 76,600-square foot animal and equine hospital. Construction is scheduled to begin in September 2018 and finish in May of 2020. Future phases will include construction of a new small-animal hospital, with a final phase to construct a food animal hospital.
The $80 million renovation and addition to the Agricultural and Biological Engineering Building calls for the demolition of an existing portion of the facility, a 125,000 square-foot addition and renovations to the more than 37,000 square feet of existing space in the building’s northern portion. The construction time frame runs from October 2018-October 2020. Construction on the $40.5 million Bioscience Innovation building is scheduled to begin in August 2018 and finish in April 2020. Once the new facility is occupied, Gyte Annex, which currently houses some of these academic areas, will be demolished. Other projects include the renovation of more than 6,500 square feet at the Heine Pharmacy Building, HVAC projects in Lynn Hall of Veterinary Medicine and Stewart Center and work in the bathrooms of Hillenbrand and Earhart residence halls.
Virginia- In November 2016, the County Board of Supervisors for Albemarle County approved a contract with an engineering services company, to evaluate the possibility of moving the Albemarle General District Court, Albemarle Circuit Court and the Albemarle County Administrative Office out of the city. The county has set aside nearly $40 million from its Capital Improvement Program budget to fund the project. Now, almost one year later, a decision has yet to be reached and there is growing contention over where to house the court buildings.
The county had five different options on the table, but right now only two are being explored. The first option would be to renovate the former Levy Opera House, demolish the surrounding buildings, build a new three-story general district court on the site and renovate the current court complex for $39.7 million. The second option would be to build a new court complex outside of the downtown area, move the General District Court and office building into the Charlottesville court facility, against the wishes of the city, and build a new administrative building for a total estimated cost of $37.7 million.
The option for keeping the courts downtown has not been officially taken off the table, but the county board has decided to pause on that option until they have a chance to fully explore the possibility of a public-private partnership. The criminal justice community is strongly opposed to dismantling the current county court system but the downtown location poses major parking problems. The county board is expected to make a decision by the end of this year.