Hawaii- Cost-cutting continues to help make the completion of the Honolulu Rail Project a reality. After years of delays and cost over-runs, the troubled 20-mile light-rail line has a new plan in place. According to a new draft recovery plan, an array of cost-cutting measures will be put in place to help avoid another funding shortfall. Measures include: eliminating lighting in-between stations along the rail line, deferring construction of the $315 million Pearl Highlands Center, modifying sound barriers and re-designing overhead canopies. This coupled with a $188 million increase in tax revenues might be just enough to get the project across the finish line by the new target date of 2026.
The project stands as the largest public works project in state history. At its inception in 2012, the 20-mile span was originally billed at $5.26 billion with a 2020 completion date. The project is now forecasted to total nearly $9 billion and be completed by 2026. The city violated its agreement with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) when construction and cost overruns lead to delays. This in turn has caused the FTA to freeze $744 million of the total project funds until the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit comes up with a recovery plan. The city hopes to partner with a private developer and acquire alternative funding to unfreeze federal funds and finish the remaining 4.1 miles of the rail line. A new contractor for this public-private partnership (P3) is set to be selected in September.
Capital Metro officials in Austin are considering issuing two requests for proposals early next year for new ticket vending machines and for a consultant to study its fare system. The goal is to speed up the loading of passengers and reduce the use of cash. New technology is needed as existing ticket vending machines are unable to accept credit cards due to new chip technology and should be replaced with newer technology such as reloadable smart cards, according to Reinet Marneweck, the chief financial officer for the transit agency.
Passengers now use outdated magnetic stripe cards that are purchased for daily, weekly and monthly passes that would gradually be replaced by the new smart cards. The agency currently spends about $3.1 million annually to collect about $24 million in fares. Agency officials are also considering offering passes at more retail locations and to purchase mobile passes at retail locations to reduce the use of cash. Other plans include the addition of onboard fare validator boxes on each bus instead of only on MetroRapid buses.
Connecticut- University of Connecticut (UConn) Health is the state’s public academic health center, which includes John Dempsey Hospital, UConn School of Health, UConn School of Dental Medicine, The Graduate School, UConn Medical Group, dental clinics, research laboratories and more. This week, the health system took a step in pursuing a public-private partnership (P3) by releasing a national solicitation of interest letter. The letter is a request for proposals from health organizations across the country interested in partnering with the Farmington-based health system.
The General Assembly passed legislation in June 2017 requiring UConn Health’s Board of Directors to begin the process of establishing a P3 and to submit a report to the legislature by April. The three-page report summarized the network’s efforts, the rationale for the partnership and the process needed to move forward. UConn Health was established in 1961. In recent years, the health network opened its $203 million outpatient pavilion – a 300,000 square-foot facility – and the $318 million inpatient University Tower, which has 169 inpatient beds. The 384,000 square-foot tower was funded through general obligation state bonds. UConn Health’s annual budget has been about $1 billion over the last five years – with about 22 to 24 percent coming from state appropriations.
New York– New York City has committed $250M to closing gaps in the Manhattan Greenway. The 32.5-mile greenway currently has gaps in Inwood, Harlem, Washington Heights, Midtown and East Village. Plans for the greenway span all the way back to 1993, and the completed vision will result in more than 1,000 acres of open space along the Hudson, East and Harlem rivers.
Some of the projects include the city investing $41 million to build out a new waterfront esplanade at Academy Street along the Sherman Creek. Conceptual design will begin in 2019 and construction will commence in 2021. An estimated $101 million has been allocated for construction on the Harlem River Greenway Link. Construction is expected to begin in 2021. With a $100 million budget, the East Midtown Greenway will connect pedestrians to the Andrew Haswell Green Park to the north at East 61st Street and will provide a transportation connection to the south, where the Greenway ends. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2019. View the entire Manhattan Waterfront Greenway vision here.