A roughly 5.6-acre site in the town of Silverthorne in central Colorado could soon see the construction of a combined residential and retail project that will place an emphasis on walkable space.
Silverthorne has issued a Request for Proposals to develop what is being called the Village at Festival Bridge, a project that will be built on land near the Blue River, which runs north to south through the town.
The site is owned by the Newport Beach, California-based Craig Realty Group. If the infill project becomes reality, Silverthorne will serve as its coordinator.
The idea of opening of up the property, which is zoned for a mixed use high-density development, has long intrigued Silverthorne officials who say the project upon completion will attract a “critical mass of people continually present and within a walkable distance to restaurants, retail shops, and entertainment.”
The site, according to town documents, could also pay homage to the Blue River with the construction of buildings “looking outward onto the river, and integrating recreational access and seating along the river.”
Those officials also say the new project could prove a popular local venue for a town whose current population of 4,500 is expected to increase to more than 5,800 in the next decade.
The RFP has a submission deadline of April 14.
By Garry Boulard
Acknowledging that work will continue on a variety of construction projects nationally during the COVID-19 outbreak, John Howard is pushing for enhanced workplace safety precautions.
Howard, the director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, is particularly stressing the importance of physical distancing.
“We should separate workers as much as we can,” Howard remarked during a webinar sponsored by his agency and the National Safety Council.
“And when we can’t, we make sure they’re well-protected,” Howard continued.
Admitting that construction sites are “probably one of our more challenging workplaces,” Howard urged a series of best practices that he wants to see all construction companies embrace.
Those practices include encouraging sick workers to stay at home, requiring foremen to ask workers to self-identify possible COVID-19 symptoms, and screening all visitors to a construction worksite.
Howard also encouraged the practice of supervisors talking to workers about safety matters, otherwise known as “toolbox talks,” but making certain they are done with a physical distance of 6 feet between participants.
Workers should also be discouraged from sharing water bottles, while also disinfecting all such shared equipment as tools and vehicles before and after use.
Companies may also want to consider staggering work shifts in a move to reduce the number of workers at a site at any given time.
On the issue of personal protective equipment, Howard was blunt: “Eye protection is a must. For workers who have to work in close quarters, they should use appropriate personal protective equipment and augment ventilation in those areas.”
Ultimately, Howard echoed the recommendations of other health care experts studying the spread of COVID-19 who have emphasized the need for constantly cleaning and disinfecting.
“Cleaning is getting the dirt out,” he remarked. “Sanitizing is what’s used in public health a lot to get down to a certain level of bacteria—sometimes 95 percent is killed.”
Added Howard: “Disinfection is killing everything. That’s where you want to aim.”
By Garry Boulard
Exactly $3 million in state funding has been secured for a water system decontamination project in Curry and Otero counties.
That funding, approved by New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, is a portion of the nearly $52 million in capital outlay projects submitted to the state legislature earlier this year by the New Mexico Environment Department.
Of the more than 150 primarily water system and wastewater treatment projects approved by lawmakers, the Governor vetoed fifteen.
Among the largest approved projects is the North Star/Culpepper Flats water line in San Juan County, which is receiving $2 million in state money.
The Tierra Amarilla natural gas pipeline extension, also in San Juan County, has been approved for $1.5 million.
Construction of the Winrock Wastewater Plant in Albuquerque has been approved for just under $1.4 million, while $1.3 million is going for the replacement of a cooling tower at the San Juan Regional Medical Center.
The Governor vetoed $200,000 for a water well renovation project belonging to the Ramah Navajo Chapter in Cibola County; and $218,000 for the Coyote Canyon wastewater system improvement project in McKinley County.
By Garry Boulard
Renovation work may begin later this year on one of the oldest and most historic religious structures in the Southwest.
The work will involve removing concrete plaster that was installed more than 60 years ago and has since captured moisture at the San Xavier Mission, located on Tohono O’odham Nation land, roughly 10 miles to the south of downtown Tucson.
Plans call for the 1950s plaster façade of the building’s east tower to be replaced with a lime-washed plaster mixed with cactus juice.
The work is expected to cost at least $3 million to complete, although the price tag could increase to $15 million if all of the Mission’s preservation needs are addressed.
Partial funding for the project is coming from the Philadelphia-based National Fund for Sacred Places.
With construction dating back to 1782, the Mission San Xavier is listed as a National Historic Landmark, attracting upwards of 200,000 visitors annually.
Popularly known as the “White Dove of the Desert,” the mission’s exterior is Moorish-inspired with white stucco details.
By Garry Boulard
Two years after his earlier proposal for comprehensive infrastructure legislation died in Congress, President Trump has renewed the call for a bill that would fund highway, road, and bridge construction projects across the country.
In a press conference, Trump said such legislation could serve as an economic stimulus for a nation currently reeling from the impact of the coronavirus.
“We redo our roads, our highways, our bridges. We fix up tunnels which are, many of them in bad shape, like coming into New York, as you know,” Trump said of the projects he’d like to see funded.
In a tweet, the President argued that with “interest rates for the United States being at zero, this is the time to do our decades-long awaited infrastructure bill.”
Trump is proposing a $2 trillion infrastructure package that he additionally said should be “very big and bold,” with a focus on “rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our country.”
While Trump’s earlier proposal went nowhere in Congress due to a lack of support for increasing the federal fuel tax as a means of paying for new infrastructure projects, this measure may find better sailing owing to its presentation as stimulus legislation.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that for any infrastructure bill to secure support it would have to include funding for “water systems that are so essential,” as well as “broadband because so many people are relying upon telecommunication and social media and the rest.”
If an infrastructure bill is presented in Congress, it would be as part of a Phase 4 stimulus effort.
Phase 1 saw the passage of an $8.3 billion bill designed to spur COVID-19 research and development. Phase 2 targeted paying for emergency sick leave for some workers as well as funding state unemployment insurance funds.
The $2 trillion Phase 3 includes direct relief for U.S. workers as well as funds for hospitals and small business loans.
A Phase 4 bill would most likely not only include infrastructure funding, but also money for states contending with the coronavirus.
Any new infrastructure legislation will not be taken up by Congress until at least April 20, after members return from a scheduled recess.
By Garry Boulard
After several years of planning, a new 24-kilovolt substation may be seeing construction later this year in Las Cruces.
To be built on just under 4 acres on the southeast side of the city, the facility will belong to El Paso Electric, which has said that the station is needed to keep up with a growing consumer demand.
The station will be built off Soledad Canyon Road in the Talavera neighborhood.
Residents in that neighborhood, where house prices range between $350,000 to more than $1.5 million, have expressed their opposition to the project, saying the facility will block views of the nearby Organ Mountains.
Despite those objections, the $5.5 million project has won the approval of the Las Cruces district of the Bureau of Land Management, which said it complies with the agency's management plan guidelines.
El Paso Electric officials say the project, which will also include just over two miles of distribution lines, along with the upgrading of ten miles of existing lines, is expected to be completed by the fall of 2021.
By Garry Boulard
A decision is expected to be announced by the U.S. Air Force later this year or in early 2021 regarding the establishment of a permanent headquarters for the U.S. Space Command.
Analysts believe that the Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, which is currently serving as the Command’s temporary headquarters, has the leg up in the competition to secure the facility.
In early March, Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett said she was inviting “all who think they have a good shot at it, to come and represent their communities for that basing.”
According to reports, state officials in Alabama, Florida, and California also plan to lobby for what could be the $1 billion construction of the headquarters.
Last spring the Air Force released a list of bases being considered for the facility that included Peterson as well as the Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colorado; the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station on the Front Range of Colorado; and the Schriever Air Force Base near Colorado Springs.
Additionally included on that list were the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama; and the Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc, California.
Earlier this year the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corporation launched a $350,000 state-wide media campaign designed to generate public support for Peterson to secure the permanent Command headquarters.
The U.S. Space Command was officially established last summer as the military’s 11th unified combatant command.
By Garry Boulard
Airports around the country are now in line for funding to pay for a variety of construction, rehabilitation, lighting and signage projects as a result of the big COVID-19 relief legislation approved by Congress.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, otherwise known as the CARES Act, brings with it a price tag of $2 trillion, $10 billion of which is specifically designated for publicly-owned commercial airports.
The funding is going directly to the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program, which is designed to help airports with facility and safety upgrades on their property.
Impetus behind the legislation is an effort to make up for a significant loss of revenue currently experienced by airports due not only to a decline in passenger travel because of the COVID-19 outbreak, but also the income that comes from airport tenants, concessions, and parking.
In a statement, Todd Hauptli, chief executive officer of the American Association of Airport Executives, said the $10 billion will “help key people at work, avoid defaults, on bonds, allow critical projects to continue, and assist with recovery efforts that will be massive over time.”
The CARES Act additionally provides $29 billion in grants to airlines for payroll costs, along with another $29 billion for loans.
The significantly increased funding for the Airport Improvement Program is designed to not only support future construction projects, but projects that are already underway.
By Garry Boulard
Work could begin later this spring on the construction of a 50-megawatt solar project that will go up on the northern New Mexico lands of the Jicarilla Apache Nation.
The project, which is expected to cost around $60 million to build, will upon completion provide enough energy for up to 14,000 homes on an annual basis.
Uniquely, the project is a part of the Public Service Company of New Mexico’s PNM Direct Solar program that includes a partnership with the cities of Albuquerque, Deming, and Silver City, not to mention the counties of Grant and Santa Fe.
Institutional partners include the Deming Public Schools and Western New Mexico University.
The idea behind the Direct Solar program is to provide service for such large electric consumers as municipalities and government entities. In so doing, the program will help those entities both meet their own clean energy goals while reducing their carbon footprint.
The Jicarilla Apache Tribe is expected to receive around $1.5 million in lease payments for allowing the project on its land.
The Jicarilla Apache have previously partnered on large energy projects through its Jicarilla Oil and Gas Administration with the condition that any project must provide due regard for land management, road maintenance, and grazing rights.
The Direct Solar/Jicarilla Apache project has now won the unanimous approval of the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission and is expected to be completed by early next year.
By Garry Boulard
In late April, members of the Fort Collins City Council are expected to take up the controversial issue of rezoning the land that was once the home to the big Hughes Stadium.
That stadium on the far west side of Fort Collins was home to Colorado State University’s Rams football team for nearly 50 years until CSU completed its new on-campus stadium in 2017.
After proposals suggesting that the old stadium could be repurposed were rejected, the structure was demolished in 2018.
Since that demolition, both Fort Collins city officials and residents have, sometimes contentiously, been discussing the site’s future.
A proposal to build as many as 1,000 new homes on the property, some geared for middle and low-income residents, has been greatly criticized by neighbors expressing concerns about traffic and density issues.
A group called Paths for Hughes has been pushing for a project that would see less homes and more of an emphasis on open and walkable space.
In early 2019 CSU entered into a $10 million agreement with developer Lennar Homes, which would allow the Denver-based developer to build at least 600 homes.
Lennar has said that it will not pursue its building plans at the site unless the city approves an updated zoning designation specifically allowing for those 600 homes.
By Garry Boulard
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