Ohio– The city of Columbus will be testing self-driving shuttle buses this year and to get those autonomous wheels turning, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has released a request for proposals that will be due Aug. 13. Vehicle testing is to start in October, with service to begin in December and continue into 2019. Each shuttle will hold roughly 12 passengers and an operator will be on-board to take over the shuttle if necessary.
This is a collaborative project between Smart Columbus, ODOT’s DriveOhio, the state agency devoted to autonomous-vehicle research and Ohio State University. The test is a result of Columbus winning the Smart City Challenge in 2016 and receiving $40 million grant from the United States Department of Transportation and a $10 million grant from Paul G. Allen Philanthropies.
The downtown shuttle service will be the first of a three-phase program that will include future testing in other locations of the city. According to the proposal, the fleet operations will be similar to a traditional transit service, with predetermined routes and stops. The first automated-vehicle pilot of the series aims to provide a shuttle service to help circulate people within a developing area adjacent to downtown Columbus. The test is meant to evaluate self-driving vehicles and to develop guidelines for self-driving technology that could be used by cities throughout the country.
North Carolina– New Hanover County is exploring the option of entering into a public-private partnership (P3) for redevelopment of a 3-acre county-owned block in downtown Wilmington. The county issued a request for qualifications to find the most qualified project teams. The top teams will be invited to submit a full development proposal by December.
The county has envisioned a public library, Cape Fear Museum, usable green space and a parking deck. A space needs analysis was recently conducted to identify the needs of both the museum and library. In the new fiscal year, the county plans to conduct a separate study to determine the future use of the existing museum site on Market Street. Proposals will be reviewed at the beginning of 2019 for “Project Grace” and the public will then be given the opportunity to provide input.
New Hampshire– Portions of the New Hampshire Turnpike system may soon be privatized. The state’s public-private partnership (P3) Infrastructure Oversight Committee have considered P3 plan for long-term concession agreements. The three highways chosen for the turnpike project were opened in the 1950s. The project includes developing and operating service plazas and rest areas with dining, fuel and retail concessions along the highways.
The P3 will allow for the sharing of resources to finance, design, build, operate and maintain transportation infrastructure projects. The plan was developed after Gov. Chris Sununu shared a proposal by the New Hampshire Department of Transportation to raise tolls on the turnpikes to accelerate completion of improvements to the roads.
California– Redondo Beach is embracing the Olympic spirit and pitching a design for a new water front Olympic venue for the summer 2028 games. The city originally wanted to build a venue to host water polo, swimming or boating events but the Olympic committee already awarded that project to Long Beach. Instead the city may become the site of cultural events, festivities or a training facility.
A newly formed city subcommittee will work on a formal proposal while city officials work on a bid to acquire a 51-acre site for a public-private partnership. The city envisions a 6-mile course that would start at King Harbor, run south along the coast and loop at the Palos Verdes Peninsula, with spectators watching from the bluffs along The Esplanade