THE QUESTION: (A question pondered as far back as October 1981.) What do you do when the only way for 16,000 cars to get from point A to point B each weekday is to go through congested streets of downtown Miami?
THE ANSWER: The Port of Miami Tunnel (POMT) - a $1 billion tunnel connecting I-395 to the Port of Miami.
THE DILEMMA: How exactly does one build a tunnel (twin tunnels actually) approximately 4,2000 feet long, almost 40 feet in diameter, and 120 feet below the surface of the water?
Don't worry. That shaking you feel isn't an earthquake. It's the construction of the new Tappan Zee bridge across the Hudson River north of New York. I'm kidding of course. Construction on the $3.9 billion project hasn't even started yet, but much of the geotechnical work, not to mention the design, has. Now they are planning on picking up good vibrations with highly sophisticated shoebox-sized sensors posted around the construction site. This is nothing new, but the plan to make the data available online 24/7 is--at least as far as I know. Check back here in a few weeks to see the monitoring page.
But lest you think that the only people interested in the movers and shakers at the bridge are the contractor and the nimbies and gadflies nearby, note this: Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Obversvatory is just downriver on the West side, home to gobs of the largest and most sophisticated earth measuring equipment you'll find. My geotechnical engineer friends tell me that every year Lamont-Doherty hosts an open house, which is generally geared toward kids, but is fascinating for geeks (like me) of all ages. It's usually in early October, so check their website if you're anywhere near New York and take the kids. While you're there you can swing by and see a pretty cool construction site at the new bridge.
For a visual tour of the construction of New York's Second Avenue Subway line, the Big Apple's first major expansion of its subway system since 1932, check out CBS Sunday Morning's video, NYC's subway, still under construction.
Amidst the obligatory interviews on the surface with planners, engineers, and inconvenienced neighbors, the video offers interesting glimpses of the excavation and construction of the first phase of the $4.5 billion project. Phase 1 of the planned four phase, two-track line will provide service from 96th to 63rd Streets and is expected to be complete in December 2016. The new line, once all four phases are completed, is to shuttle commuters up the East Side from Hanover Square to 125th Street.
If you don't have time for the six and half minute video, skip to the photo gallery, Building NYC's Second Ave. Subway, for photos and renderings of the project and equipment. For more detailed information on the project, including monthly project updates, go straight to the horse's mouth at MTA.info.
On the eleventh anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, One World Trade Center steadily progresses toward a late 2013 completion date. The spire on top of the 104-story skyscraper will reach 1,776 feet, a symbolic reference to America's independence. David Childs of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, Architect, is the architect for One World Trade Center, and Tishman Construction is the primary contractor. Although reports vary, the final construction cost of the tower will be close to $4 billion. The current images of One World Trade Center are inspiring and an uplifting image on this day of remembrance.
While the tenth anniversary of 9/11 put the memorial on full display, the 100,000-square-foot museum is currently behind schedule. Delayed by funding, oversight, and financing, construction of the museum came to a halt after the tenth anniversary. On Monday night, however, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum Foundation (chaired by Mayor Bloomberg) and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (controlled by Mayors Cuomo and Christie) signed a memorandum of understanding, resolving the outstanding issues. The parties negotiated additional payments from the September 11 foundation, in an attempt to ensure that no additional public funds are needed to complete the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. Originally planned to open today on the eleventh anniversary, the museum is now likely to open at the end of 2013.
Whose turn is it to take out the trash? With no "rules" about floating debris, the Headquarters for Ocean Policy is faced with a dilemma - who should bear the cost of cleaning up the millions of tons of debris that originated in Japan after the tsunami and is expected to land on the U.S. west coast in the fall? The floating debris pile approaching the U.S. includes, among other things, houses and cars.
What ever happened to tough love? Report shows that members of DOJ staff manipulated hiring process to get their kids jobs.
Sustainable cities beneath the sea? The "highly imaginary concept" of seascrapers is segmented into garbage collection units at the bottom, recycling plants in the middle, and housing and recreational zones at the top.
On July 6, the California State Senate narrowly approved the use of $4.5 billion in proceeds from state Proposition 1A bonds for transportation projects. Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign the bill into law. Full text of the bill can be found here. Senate Bill 1029 is intended to preserve California's rights to about $3.3 billion of federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds for the long-awaited California High Speed Rail.
About $2.6 billion of the state bond proceeds is now dedicated to High Speed Rail, intended to match the $3.3 billion of ARRA funds for a total of about $5.9 billion in funding for the early rail projects. (The remaining $1.9 billion is earmarked for local transit improvements, such as $140 million for new BART cars, $705 million for Caltrain electrification, $61 million for the SF Muni Central Subway, and $500 million for Metrolink and related systems.)
Established in 1934 by an executive order and then made an independent agency in the Executive Branch by Congress in 1945, the Export-Import Bank is the official export credit agency of the United States whose mission is to assist in financing the export of U.S. goods and services to international markets. In 2011 alone, Ex-Im financed approximately $32 billion in U.S. exports, sustaining 290,000 American jobs. Because of the fees and interest it charges borrowers, Ex-Im is a self-sustaining entity which, since 2005, has returned a profit to the U.S. Treasury.
On May 15, 2012, Congress passed the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2012 (H.R. 2072), which extends Ex-Im's authority for an additional three years and, by 2014, will raise the bank's credit exposure ceiling from $100 billion to $140 billion. President Obama is expected to sign the Act into law before May 31, 2012, when the bank's charter is scheduled to expire.
To learn more about this, click here to read the client alert that was written by Jessica R. Berenyi.
California's ambitious plan to build a high-speed rail system linking San Francisco and Los Angeles has been getting quite a lot of attention lately. Although the plan has some high-powered supporters in Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and California Governor Jerry Brown, the level of enthusiasm in Congress has been mixed, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle's Carolyn Lochhead.
Earlier this month the California High Speed Rail Authority approved a revised business plan, slashing its previous $98.5 billion estimate by nearly a third to $68.4 billion, with much of the savings coming from "blended infrastructure." Translation: rather than construct new track for the entire route, the CHSRA's revised plan now includes upgrades to existing track at the San Francisco and Los Angeles ends of the route.
After three years of development, on March 28, 2012, the International Code Council ("ICC") announced the release of its 2012 International Green Construction Code ("IgCC"). The IgCC, a milestone for bringing sustainability into the mainstream, will enable state and local governments to codify green building practice. The IgCC was developed by the ICC in cooperation with key industry partners - the AIA, ASTM International, ASHRAE, the U.S. Green Building Council ("USGBC"), and the Illuminating Engineering Society ("IES").
The ICC touts the IgCC as the first model code to address sustainability issues throughout the entire life of a construction project - from design to certificate of occupancy. Richard P. Weiland, CEO of the ICC, described the IgCC to GlobeSt.com as "a baseline document or regulatory framework that different jurisdictions can use for sustainable construction practices." Wieland further explained that the ICC incorporates the 2011 version of the ANSI/ASHRAE/IES/USGBC Standard 189.1 but allows state and local governments to be flexible in implementation.
Maryland's Lt. Governor Anthony Brown led a joint executive and legislative commission to make recommendations for modernizing Maryland's statutory framework for P3s. The Commission's work led to legislation, designated as SB358/HB576, that passed the House of Delegates this week and is expected to pass the Senate in the coming days. The primary goal of the legislation is to address Maryland's critical infrastructure needs through expertly structured public-private partnerships. The various Maryland departments that oversee capital projects found that increased use of P3s could contribute as much as $315 million to the State's capital budget and create perhaps as much a 4,000 jobs.
Jeffrey Gans, a partner in Pillsbury's Construction practice and among those leading Pillsbury's P3 practice, testified in support of the bill before both Houses in the Maryland General Assembly. "The availability of capital is the most often recognized benefit of a public-private partnership. But as important, is the fact that once the legislation takes effect, Maryland will have at its disposal the ingenuity and entrepenurial spirit that is the life blood of the free market." Mr. Gans' testimony was in specific reference to the language in the legislation that permits unsolicited P3 proposals to be made to any State agency authorized to enter a P3. "The expertise of the best best and the brightest the market has to offer will be motivated to find innovative and profitable solutions to Maryland's infrastructure needs," Gans said.
According to this article by Ben Nuckols, a team of surveyors is in town. They are here to figure out if the Washington Monument shifted or sunk during the 5.8-magnitude earthquake that hit our Nation's capital in August of last year. Although the monument is structurally sound, it will remain closed until August 2013 for repairs. The surveyors' preliminary results are expected in two weeks.
For people living in an area not prone to having earthquakes, it was quite a jarring experience. In fact, one of my colleagues went as far as to take cover under his desk while yelling warnings to our entire floor, but that is beside the point. One can only imagine the thoughts racing through the minds of the employees and tourists in the Washington Monument at the time. Some of the reactions of the people - as well as the damage from the interior - were captured by video camera installed inside the Monument. You can watch videos at the 500 foot level from three different views on the National Park Service website.
Let's all hope the surveyors' findings do not reveal the Washington Monument is tilted as a result of last year's earthquake. Although, even if the obelisk remains in perfect position, I may just keep my feet planted on the ground after watching those videos!
When we posted yesterday about the RFP for the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement, we perhaps missed the most important aspect of the Instructions to Bidders: No Obligation to Award. (It's on page 40, for those keeping track.) Usually this sort of provision is a safety valve. Here, it might be more. The owner apparently still doesn't know where the money will come from. Bloomberg is reporting that a bill is working its way through the New York Legislature to allow Public Private Partnership funding for . . . the Tappan Zee Bridge Replacement.