California- San Mateo City Council members are reviewing funding options for flood control improvements in the North Shoreview and parts of North Central neighborhoods where property owners will be asked to form an assessment district. In 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency mandated insurance for about 1,600 residents with mortgages that live in a flood zone along the San Mateo Bayfront. The project would cost $23.5 million and would include enhancing the levee and two pump stations.
The city council discussed forming the North Shoreview Flood Control Assessment District following a survey of property owners who showed a majority support for taxing themselves for the next 20 years to help cover the nearly $2.4 million cost of levee repairs. The city will mail ballots in mid-October and, if a majority of respondents agree, would form the district with levies assessed on property tax bills next fiscal year.
Connecticut- Interstate 84, west of the Connecticut River to the area of Sisson Avenue, is getting realigned and moved to the ground at a cost of $5.3 billion. The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT) is in the planning stages to either remove the viaduct structure that carries I-84 through Hartford or bring the highway down to ground level.
CDOT has identified the ground-level option over replacing the viaduct, which has reached its 50-year life expectancy. Portions of the highway that are placed underground would have caps placed over them to allow for streets, pedestrians and development. Shifting the highway would move the rail line between Sigourney and Walnut streets. The shift will also require the relocation of the station currently located on Union Place. The project remains on schedule for a final design to start in 2021, with construction starting sometime in 2022 or 2023.
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.
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.