Voters in more than two dozen Maricopa County school districts will be asked in the November election to decide upon a series of bond proposals designed to upgrade facilities.
The Chandler School District hopes to see passage of a $290 million bond, which will be earmarked for facility upgrades, as well the land acquisition for two new schools.
A $236 million bond will be used to renovate a number of school buildings, while updating safety and security systems, in the Paradise Valley Unified School District.
Voters in the Deer Valley School District will decide on a $175 million bond that will be designated for school building renovations, safety and security upgrades, and also improving technology.
A $152 million bond will be used in the Dystart Unified School District to pay for general facility renovations, as well as the acquisition of land for a new high school.
The Tolleson Union High School District has proposed a $125 million bond for the construction of an undefined number of school buildings needed in response to future growth, as well as new safety and security upgrades.
A $90 million bond in the Madison Elementary School District will go for school renovations, building maintenance, and security and safety facility improvements.
Maricopa County, the home to Phoenix as well as the fast-growing cities of Glendale and Mesa, is by far the largest county in Arizona with a population of more than 4.4 million.
By Garry Boulard
Legislation that could result in the construction of any number of sequestration facilities and carbon dioxide pipelines across the country is moving through Congress.
The Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies Act, otherwise known as USE-IT, was introduced earlier this year by a bipartisan group of Senators and is designed to support carbon utilization and direct air capture research.
In so doing, according to the legislation’s proponents, the bill would also provide funding for the development and building of carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration research centers.
As proposed, the bill would provide up to $85 million in funding for direct air capture technology research, as well as research on how to use carbon dioxide for commercial products.
The legislation, which has been approved in the Senate as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, promotes “carbon capture technologies that take carbon out of the air and find productive uses for it,” said Wyoming Senator John Barrasso in a statement.
The chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Barrasso added that such “promising technologies could result in significant emissions reductions.”
The legislation is currently being studied by members of the Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife.
By Garry Boulard
A large swath of land situated between Interstate 25 and the Denver’s historic Lincoln Park neighborhood could see a major repurposing in a way that would impact area transportation infrastructure.
The Burnham Yards has serviced trains for more than 100 years. At the height of its operations was the location for not only dozens of interconnecting railroad tracks, but also upholstery shops, a blacksmith, and a foundry.
Built by the Denver and Rio Grande Railway in 1874, the yard, eventually owned by the Union Pacific Railroad, was finally closed in early 2016.
Since then state and city leaders, along with Union Pacific officials have been trying to imagine a new use for the property, which remains populated with buildings in varying conditions.
Now, the Colorado Department of Transportation has announced that it is on the verge of purchasing the site with the goal of using the space as the home for a new passenger rail system.
The CDOT is also interested in the site because it could provide space for a possible sectional realignment of I-25 in the downtown Denver area.
The physical transformation of the Burnham Yard would obviously be a large project that would take years to be realized.
For now, CDOT officials have confirmed that a purchase agreement for the land may be announced sometime before the end of the year, with the deal finalized in early 2020.
According to Historic Denver, the yards’ existence was vital to area rail development in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
“The only way the Denver & Rio Grande could build a rail line in a remote wilderness hundreds of miles from the nearest metropolis and then successfully maintain that line and its rolling stock,” notes the publication, “was with a bustling repair shop like Burnham Yards.”
By Garry Boulard
Another Colorado school district experiencing unprecedented growth, owing to its proximity to Denver, hopes to build a new elementary school to accommodate a recent unprecedented increase in enrollment.
The Lewis-Palmer District 30 is based in the town of Monument, around 52 miles to the south of Denver.
While Monument has seen its population quadruple in the last two decades, from just under 2,000 to more than 8,000 people, the school district’s enrollment has more than doubled during that same period of time.
According to a study conducted earlier this year by a construction market information service called Metrostudy, the district is expected to add nearly 700 new students between now and 2024, as well as in excess of 1,500 students in the next decade.
District officials have additionally noted that portable classrooms have recently been set up at one of the middle schools and several elementary schools to accommodate the enrollment increase.
In response, members of the district’s Board of Education have approved putting on this November’s ballot a $29 million bond that will pay for the construction of an elementary school in the town’s Jackson Creek neighborhood.
As planned, the new elementary school will be built on land owned by the district to the immediate west of the Bear Creek Elementary School at 1330 Creekside Drive.
The Bear Creek facility was created to serve students from the former 60 year-old Grace Best Elementary School, which was closed in 2010.
Once the new elementary school is built, the Bear Creek school will serve middle school students.
Voters in the district last November rejected a $36 million school facility construction bond by a 66 to 34 percent margin.
A later survey indicated that many district voters thought the ballot language for the 2018 was confusing and that the bond might be used for other purposes.
This time, the ballot’s clear language specifically states that it is a “single purpose bond” for the building of a new elementary school.
By Garry Boulard
Not counting residential projects, the volume of construction starts nationally took a significant hit last month, dropping from $51.6 billion in August to $34.7 billion last month.
According to the Cincinnati-based software service Construct Connect, the biggest reason for the drop is a decline in what are described as “mega-project” start-ups.
“Whereas August featured 5 projects of a billion dollars or more each, totaling $18.7 billion,” reports the site, “September had only two such undertakings, combining for $2.3 billion.”
The report also indicated that construction starts in September were down by 1.8 percent compared to September of 2018, but comparing this September’s numbers with an average of the last five Septembers going back to 2014 actually showed a 2.2 percent increase.
Industries seeing the greatest drop in construction starts volume include hotels and motels, retail, laboratories, and amusement projects.
Construction starts were up in the private office and parking garage segments.
Construct Connect additionally notes an addition of around 7,000 new construction jobs in September, which, while still on the plus side, was noticeably lower than the more than 26,000 new jobs recorded in September 2018.
At the same time, the national construction industry’s unemployment in September stood at a historically low 3.2 percent. That figure was also reached this past May, says the report, adding that it comprises the “lowest figure for construction’s unemployment rate this century.”
By Garry Boulard
Plans are now in the works for the construction of three new concrete basketball courts that will be built at the Joe Henry Optimist Center in Yuma, Arizona.
That facility, located at 1793 S. 1st Avenue, is one of the busiest recreational venues in Yuma with youth practice fields, open play space, and and partly paid for by the Arizona Public Service Company and the Phoenix Suns basketball team, was unveiled in the spring of 2018.
The new basketball court project at the center will also include the installation of rails and the use of fence fabric to be attached to existing posts.
The center is located in Yuma’s older Mesa Heights neighborhood, which is defined by Department of Housing and Urban Development as a Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Area.
That designation allows the neighborhood greater flexibility when it comes to receiving federal economic development funds.
The City of Yuma has now issued a Request for Proposals for the $104,000 basketball courts project with a submission deadline of October 31.
By Garry Boulard
Just over 17,600 acres of land belonging to the federal Bureau of Land Management in both northern and southern New Mexico may soon be open for new oil and gas drilling.
The Bureau of Land Management has announced that it intends to sell leases to the lands in question this coming February 6.
In Rio Arriba and Sandoval counties in northern New Mexico, a combined 1,750 acres will be available for leasing. In the southeast corner of the state in Eddy and Lea counties, the amount of land open for leasing comes to just over 14,000 acres.
A public comment period specific to an environmental analysis of drilling in those areas will expire on October 28.
A press release from the Bureau of Land Management notes that, “Revenues from onshore oil and gas production on federal lands directly funds the U.S. Treasury and state budgets, and supports public education, infrastructure improvements, and other state-determined priorities.”
New drilling sites often prove a boon for construction companies with the need for the building of access roads, reserve pits, and well foundations, among other rig site preparations.
By Garry Boulard
Even though the era of large warehouses measuring more than 200,000 square feet continues unabated, some analysts say the need for smaller warehouse space is growing, largely because of the demands of e-commerce.
Looking at what it calls the “push for faster delivery” of e-commerce goods, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that e-commerce companies are looking at smaller warehouse options, particularly near large urban population centers.
Continues the paper: “More recently, businesses have been adding smaller fulfillment and distribution locations that put inventory closer to customers, who often expect items to be delivered in two days or less.”
This means that such companies will increasingly be relying upon warehouses measuring 120,000 square feet or less.
Not surprisingly, rents for smaller warehouse space in the last year have seen a 33 percent increase.
At the same time, according to the CBRE Group, the availability of existing smaller warehouse facilities nationally has declined from 11 percent of the warehouse market in 2014 to around 7 percent today.
But in an earlier report, the CBRE Group, which is based in Los Angeles and specializes in real estate services and investments, noted that much of the existing warehouse space is not up to current standards, with uneven floors, low ceilings, and inadequate docking.
By Garry Boulard
A new housing project that could see the construction of around four hundred housing units on currently vacant rural land could be going up on the east side of Lafayette, Colorado.
Leaders in Boulder County have been trying to respond to the twin challenges of rapidly increasing rents and a rapidly increasing population.
Average rents for a one-bedroom apartment in Lafayette now stand at more than $1,700 - nearly twice what they were 15 years ago.
Meanwhile, Lafayette, roughly 23 miles to the north of Denver, continues to experience an increase in its population, from 24,000 in 2010 to nearly 30,000 today, making it one of the fastest-growing cities in Colorado.
Now, officials with the Boulder County Housing Authority are proposing to build a new housing project at the intersection of E. Emma Street and 120th Street, with rents geared to area median income.
As proposed, the 24-acre project will see the construction of 130 townhomes, 120 multi-family homes, and another 120 senior multi-family units.
Besides the different style of housing units, as designed by the Boulder-based Coburn Architecture, the project will also include walking trails, dog parks, and a community center.
What is being called the Willoughby Corner will see 20 percent of the housing units priced for those making anywhere between 60 and 120 percent of area median income, while a much larger 80 percent of the units will be exclusively for those earning 30 to 60 percent of area median income.
The Boulder County Housing Authority has described the new project as a community of “diverse homes for families, seniors, our workforce, and others who are struggling with the high cost of housing in our community.”
A preliminary plan for the project has won the approval of the Lafayette Planning Commission, with a final plan expected to be reviewed and voted upon later this year.
By Garry Boulard
In a move to help travelers pass the time more enjoyably, the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is contemplating the installation of a network entertainment broadcasting system.
The system would provide a closed-circuit television network with a broadcast mission of providing programing relevant to air travelers, including news and local content information.
The system would be available for passengers in the holding rooms of the airport’s big Terminals 3 and 4.
The concept of such airport-specific broadcasting systems is becoming increasingly popular in the nation’s airports with one company, the Burbank, California-based Clear TV Media, providing programing for airports in Dallas, Denver, New Orleans, and Grand Rapids, among other cities.
One of the largest airports in the country, the Sky Harbor saw more than 45 million passengers last year.
A Request for Proposals was recently issued by the City of Phoenix’s Aviation Department. The project would include the design of the infrastructure, concept and programing, installation, and a management and/or operations plan.
The deadline for submissions in response to the RFP is November 6.
By Garry Boulard
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