The New Mexico Department of Transportation has issued a Request for Proposals regarding the upkeep and rehabilitation of a series of pedestrian overpasses in Albuquerque.
Those overpasses, or bridges, are located on the popular Tramway Multi-Use Trail, which runs parallel with the Sandia Mountains on the east side of the city.
The bridges go over New Mexico State Road 556, also known as the Tramway Boulevard.
The structures were all originally built in the early 1980s and have suffered some deterioration due to use and weather conditions.
The RFP is specifically looking for engineering services to determine the condition of the decks, piers, and abutments, among other elements, connected to the overpasses.
The RFP has a submission deadline of June 16, with a contract to be awarded either this coming September or October.
Last year, the New Mexico Department of Transportation received just over $32.2 million in funding for bike and walking path projects throughout the state.
That money came through the Transportation Alternatives Funding program, which is designed to encourage the building and upkeep of non-motorized vehicle infrastructure projects.
By Garry Boulard
Among the numerous COVID-19 impacts on the nation’s construction industry, one of the more longlasting may be the building of health-centered housing communities.
Dennis Frenchman, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Real Estate, has announced the inauguration this fall of a new course that will be focused entirely on developing and building such communities.
The course, which is geared for architects, real estate investors, city planners, and health technology entrepreneurs, will underline the importance of factoring in health care considerations in the building of residential space.
“As the concept of health and well-being is continuously adjusting to people’s needs, especially during health crises such as the one caused by COVID-19,” notes the publication Multi-Housing News, “focusing only on site selection and building materials is no longer enough.”
Health-centered housing communities, according to sources, will see an emphasis put on both architecture and technology in a move to promote healthy living. The construction of such communities is thought to be more likely to occur, at least initially, in the nation’s towns and smaller cities.
Such communities will additionally have open courtyard spaces where residents can interact, with space also provided for entertainment and community events.
The syllabus for Frenchman’s course, which will be taught on the campus of both MIT and Harvard University, notes that with seniors seeking convenient housing options and younger generation members pursuing better work/life balances, a “confluence of medical and real estate trends” is coming together.
Bringing together the goals of the nation’s housing industry with those of the medical care industry may be less complicated than imagined, contends the Multi-Housing news: “There’s a huge pool of resources out there that could be used to establish community health care centers and other localized places of care, and provide support to people in their homes.”
By Garry Boulard
colorado's peterson air force base secures temporary headquarters slot for us space command headquarters
Located adjacent to the Colorado Springs Municipal Airport, the Peterson Air Force Base has now been officially selected as the temporary headquarters for the U.S. Space Command.
In an announcement, the Department of the Air Force said it had chosen Peterson in part because it has the “infrastructure required to support both the Space Force and Space Command.”
The temporary status of the headquarters is good for only 6 years. In a statement, Colorado Governor Jared Polis hailed the Air Force decision, adding: “I will continue urging the President and the Air Force to make Colorado the permanent home of the U.S. Space Command.”
In making its temporary headquarters decision, the Air Force also said it is engaged in a site-selection process reviewing a number of locations that could be “eligible for consideration to host the permanent U.S. Space Command headquarters.”
That reviewing process will entail what the Air Force calls a “comprehensive and transparent analysis,” before a final location is decided upon.
Securing a permanent headquarters would prove lucrative for any base and surrounding community, spurring in the process up to $1 billion in new training and administrative facility construction.
In an interview with Air Force Magazine, Reggie Ash, defense development officer with the Colorado Springs Chamber and Economic Development Corporation, said he thought Peterson will ultimately get the nod for the permanent headquarters.
Noting that Peterson already has in place facilities to accommodate the Space Command, Ash observed: “Moving the Command costs hundreds of millions of dollars, and it takes several years to rebuild that infrastructure.”
The Air Force is expected to make an announcement regarding where the Space Command headquarters will be located early next year.
By Garry Boulard
A nearly 12-acre site in northeast El Paso is slated for the construction of 84 new single-family homes.
The project belongs to an El Paso-based group called the Northtowne Village Joint Venture, and will go up on vacant property in a section of the city populated with some residential and commercial growth.
In the spring of 2019, Northtowne Village Joint Venture submitted the winning bid for the property that was then owned by the utility El Paso Water.
That $6.9 million bid for a larger 73 acres was subsequently approved by the utility’s Public Service Board. Earlier reports indicated that it could take as long as seven years to fully develop the larger site, which could ultimately see the construction of up to 500 homes.
Earlier this year, the City Plan Commission approved the development plan for the 84-home project.
In making its decision, the commission said the plan protects the “best interest, health, safety, and welfare of the public in general.”
Northtowne Village Joint Venture, which is led by long-time El Paso builders Bob Bowling III and his son Greg Bowling, had asked in that development plan to reduce the city-imposed required lot area at the site from 4,000 square feet to 3,360 square feet.
The Plan Commission report on the project, which will go up off McCombs Street, south of Sean Haggerty Drive and west of Dyer Street, also said it would bring with it “no negative effect on the natural environment, social economic conditions, and property values in the vicinity and the city as a whole.”
Members of the El Paso City Council have now unanimously approved the site development plan for the project.
City documents state that if no work is started at the site within the next 4 years, the official approval of the plan will no longer be valid.
By Garry Boulard
Kenneth Hassett, former chairman of the Council of Economic advisers, is feeling optimistic about the nation’s chances for an economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent economic shutdown.
“I’ve been really positively impressed by how quickly things are turning around,” Hassett, who also serves as a White House economist, recently said in a press conference.
“I was pretty depressed by how bad it looked a few weeks ago,” continued Hassett of the current economy. “But you can really see it turning on faster than I thought.”
In a subsequent interview with CNBC, Hassett remarked: “I think definitely you’re looking at a very strong third quarter, a very strong fourth quarter, and probably a great next year.”
Hassett’s predictions are at odds with other forecasts, including the Washington Post, which is warning that the nation’s unemployment rate could well “remain above 10 percent in 2021, a level unseen since the Great Depression.”
In a new report, The ABCs of the Post-Covid Economic Recovery, the Washington-based Brookings Institute warns that even once the national economy begins to reopen, certain factors will serve to dampen any immediate recovery.
“Travel will be less common, businesses will have to space workers and customers further apart, restaurants will be serving fewer customers at a time, and sporting events, concerts, and other activities involving large crowds will probably remain off limits for a long time,” says the report.
Kenneth Kriz, a University of Illinois economics professor, has noted that only 6 percent of the economic forecasts he has compiled are predicting a swift recovery by the end of this year or early next year.
On the contrary, Kriz notes that up to 40 percent of the economists are forecasting a longer recovery, with the economy not coming fully back until the end of 2021. Another 40 percent are seeing a recovery that could take several years, similar to the pattern seen in the years after the Great Recession.
But Kris, as quoted in the newspaper Muscatine News, added that if there is another pandemic this year, a lot of the current forecasts, “go out the window, and we’ve have to scramble again for solutions.”
By Garry Boulard
Members of the Lafayette City Council have approved purchasing a nearly 2-acre site in a downtown section of the city that may see the eventual construction of an administrative office.
The site is located on the east side of South Public Road in a neighborhood with a mix of residential, retail, and office development.
For the last several years the property, which is thought to be highly desirable because it is less than one mile from Lafayette’s downtown core, has belonged to Boulder County.
The county had earlier announced plans to build on that site, but abandoned those plans when it instead purchased an existing structure on the same thoroughfare to be used as county offices.
In response, city officials argued in favor of buying the land. It has been noted that a transit-oriented development could be built at the site because it is located next to a Regional Transportation District Park-n-Ride station.
A report compiled by city staff describes the land as “desirable, and acquiring it has significant strategic value.”
The report continues: “Rarely do opportunities of this nature present themselves, and it’s appropriate and advisable to pursue them when they emerge.”
The site was additionally described as “one of the larger undeveloped pieces of land in downtown Lafayette.”
City officials have additionally noted that because of the property’s zoning classification, it could also see the construction of a restaurant, residential, or retail project.
The purchase price for the land is $610,000.
Reports indicate that that purchase may be finalized sometime in July.
By Garry Boulard
New Mexico State University has issued a Request for Proposals for facility work on its Grants campus.
The project is centered on the renovation and upgrading of the school’s Walker K. Martinez Hall, a structure that was originally built in 1978.
The nearly 80,000 square foot building, located on the east side of the campus, is expected to see an upgrading of its HVAC system as well as its fire alarm infrastructure.
Also included in the project is the renovation of the structure’s restrooms in order to make them Americans with Disabilities Act compliant; roof replacement; and the installation of a new roof drain and overflow.
The renovation, as designed by the Albuquerque-based Van H. Gilbert Architects, will additionally see the installation of new restroom flooring; plumbing, electrical, and lighting fixtures; and new ceiling, door, and frames.
The building is one of the most-frequented structures on the campus, housing offices, classrooms, and meeting spaces.
The RFP has a submission deadline of June 16.
By Garry Boulard
A new form of a survey undertaken by the Census Bureau shows that construction firms, so far, have been less affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and economic shutdown than other industries.
What is being called the Small Business Pulse Survey indicates that 33 percent of construction firms nationally said they had been impacted by the virus.
That number is significantly smaller than the retail sector, of which 53 percent said they had endured some sort of impact; and the transportation and warehousing sectors, where 53 percent reported an impact.
Sectors most affected by the virus and shutdown include educational services, which reported a 74 percent impact; arts and entertainment with a 75 percent impact; and the food and accommodations industry, with a devastating 83.5 percent impact.
The Pulse Survey, which received responses from 22,449 small businesses, is a new Census Bureau service designed to specifically track COVID-19 related business trends.
According to a statement issued by the bureau, the results of the survey “will inform government response and recovery planning as well as help businesses make decisions.”
As planned, the Pulse Survey, in future studies, will keep track of “location closings, changes in employment, disruptions in the supply chain, the use of federal assistance programs, and expectations concerning future operations.”
Overall, just north of 51 percent of small business nationally said they had experienced a large negative impact due to the virus, with 38 percent reporting that the virus and shutdown was having only a moderate negative impact.
The smallest response grouping, at 7.6 percent, came from businesses saying the virus and shutdown had had little or no impact on their operations.
Conducted during the week of April 26 to May 2, the survey additionally showed that many construction companies have actually added to their headcount, although employee hours had often been deceased.
Just under 43 percent of responding construction companies said the virus and shutdown had caused supply chain disruptions; with 33 percent saying that they have had to close down a work site for at least one day.
The percentage of all small businesses in Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico impacted by the virus and shutdown ranged between 45 and 49 percent, roughly tracking the national trend.
The survey additionally showed that some 72 percent of responding construction firms said they had applied for Payroll Protection Program support, with 42.6 percent actually receiving a loan.
By Garry Boulard
Plans are in the works for the construction of 23,000 square feet of new lab space on the Boulder campus of the University of Colorado.
That space will be built beneath the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, which is a research department at the school with a faculty of more than one hundred scientists.
The overall program, in a series of large buildings, houses atmospheric science, space physics, and planetary science research.
The lab has been an active participant in the nation’s space program for more than seven decades and is primarily funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
What is ultimately expected to be a $100 million project, will also see the renovation of existing space in the A-wing of the compound, as well as upgrades to office space in the B and S wings.
The facility’s 56,000 square foot X wing was built just over seven years ago at a cost of $32 million.
School officials hope to issue a Request for Proposals for the big project sometime early next year.
By Garry Boulard
The more than 20 year-old Duck Park Vista Apartments complex in downtown Phoenix is in line for an extensive upgrading and reconfiguration.
The facility is owned by the city’s housing authority Phoenix Housing.
Located at 1125 N. Third Street, across the street from the historic Grace Lutheran Church, the complex’s 56 affordable units will be expanded into 201 units.
As planned, the new layout of the complex will see 75 workforce units and 126 affordable units.
Also included: a community room, fitness center, commercial space on the building’s first floor, and outdoor courtyard area.
A release from Phoenix Housing said the Duck Park’s upgrading is primarily designed to “create more affordable housing opportunities in the heart of the city.”
Work on the upgrading of the complex could begin in the fall of 2021, with a rough November 2023 completion date.
By Garry Boulard
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