Work could finally launch in 5 more years on a $6 billion project that will see the rebuilding and reconfiguring of Interstate 10 as it slices through El Paso.
What has been called Reimagine I-10 has been promoted by the Texas Department of Transportation as a series of proposals designed to make traffic flow more smoothly on a section of highway traveled by up to 100,000 vehicles a day.
Transportation officials say that because of the heavy traffic and the age of portions of the highway’s infrastructure, a 6-mile section between Center Boulevard and Copia Street needs to be updated.
To that end, the DOT has conducted several public outreach sessions, resulting in a series of conceptual ideas on how to best proceed.
Those sessions have aired resident concerns regarding the impact the project may have on adjacent historic districts and neighborhoods.
Earlier studies conducted by the DOT have forecast a tripling of the I-10 traffic load in the next 20 years, while also noting the large number of more than 50 year-old bridges in the corridor that are not up to current design standards.
Comments will be accepted by the DOT on the most recent I-10 upgrade ideas until March 16.
If the work actually does begin in 2026, it is thought that it will be completed by late 2029.
By Garry Boulard
In an effort to strengthen weak links in the supply chain, President Biden has issued an executive order calling for a 100-day review on how to make the production of semiconductor chips more prevalent in the U.S.
The order comes in the wake of a series of reports indicating that both the semiconductor supply chain, relying as it does on other countries, is not reliable.
With most of the world’s semiconductor manufacturing based in both China and Taiwan, a number of high tech and medical field companies in the U.S. have seen their services interrupted due to pandemic-caused delays in the global supply chain.
Even more, according to a recent report issued by the Semiconductor Industry Association, the ongoing impact of Covid 19 on the supply chain remains a cause for “significant near-term market uncertainty.”
In a subsequent statement, the association has urged both Biden and Congress to “invest ambitiously in domestic chip manufacturing and research.”
In response, the President has called for allocating up to $37 billion in funds to help boost chip manufacturing in the U.S.
Funding for such efforts was inserted into the recent National Defense Authorization Act, but requires a separate appropriations process to be released.
Analysts say last fall’s announcement that the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company is planning to build a $12 billion semiconductor plant in Arizona is a step in the right direction.
The construction of similar facilities, notes the Semiconductor Industry Association, “will ensure more of the chips our country needs are produced on U.S. shores,” while also supporting the country’s critical infrastructure.
Biden has promised to act quickly once the 100-day review is completed.
By Garry Boulard
In a part of New Mexico with some of the highest rents in the state, plans are in the works for the construction of a new affordable housing complex that could include up to 120 units.
The Santa Fe County Growth Management Department, along with the county’s Purchasing Division, has issued a Request for Proposals for both architectural and engineering work on the project.
As proposed, the complex will be built on a currently vacant 6.6-acre site near the intersection of Airport Road and Camino de Jacobo, roughly 8 miles to the southwest of downtown Santa Fe.
Apartment sizes in the complex will vary between studios, to one- and two-bedrooms. The project will also see the construction of office space, and a community room with a kitchen.
There has been for the better part of a decade a lack of affordable rental housing in Santa Fe County. According to the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority the county is currently in immediate need of at least 7,300 new units to keep pace with the population.
The third largest county in New Mexico, Santa Fe is seeing average rents in excess of $1,100 a month, while the state average is around $850, according to a Census Bureau American Community Survey.
Home prices, too, are notably different, with the Santa Fe County average now at around $536,000, compared with a statewide average of just under $230,000.
Submission deadline for the RFP is March 8.
By Garry Boulard
Members of the New Mexico State Legislature may soon be voting on just under a dozen individual capital outlay requests for facility construction and upgrade projects from New Mexico State University.
Those varied projects add up to a total of just over $6.5 million.
The biggest item on the NMSU list is a request for $2 million to plan, design, and build a nursing skills and simulation center for the school’s College of Health and Social Services on the main Las Cruces campus.
NMSU is also hoping for $1 million to plan and design a food science learning and safety facility, also on the main campus.
An equally large $800,000 would go for the planning, design, and construction of a water research and education laboratory, as well as a desalination laboratory, for NMSU’s College of Engineering.
A capital outlay of $400,000 is also requested for the planning, design, and construction of the stadium press box at the big Aggie Memorial Stadium. That $400,000 will also fund roof repair and replacement at the 42 year-old facility.
A smaller $150,000 is being asked for campus-wide safety improvements that will include landscaping, new sidewalks and lighting, as well as bike storage centers.
By Garry Boulard
An ongoing increase in prices has prompted a major industry group to call on President Biden to end the 25% tariff on steel imports.
In a letter to the President, the Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users says that the tariffs on both steel and aluminum originally imposed in early 2018 by President Trump have “hurt small, family-owned manufacturers,” while also “fracturing relations with overseas trading partners.”
According to industry sources, the current price for hot rolled steel is just over $1,228 per short ton, the highest it has been in more than a decade.
At the same time, domestic steel prices have risen around 160% since August.
Compounding the problem is a decline in U.S. production first noticed in the beginning months of the pandemic. By late summer, capacity utilization had fallen to 56%.
While that figure has since increased to 75%, it is still short of the more abundant 82% recorded before the Covid outbreak.
In its letter to Biden asking for an end to both the 25% steel tariff and the 10% aluminum tariff, the Metal Manufacturers and Users group criticized the domestic steel industry for supporting the tariffs, noting: “Any misperceived advantage derived from the tariffs will be useless if their customers go out of business because of high steel prices and lack of supply.”
In moves to offset the costs of both imported steel and aluminum, some contractors have laid off workers and shortened the length of projects. Others have stipulated in their contracts contingencies for material cost increases.
Says the publication Construction Dive: “Contractors will need to stay on their toes so they don’t get caught on the wrong side of a cost crunch.”
By Garry Boulard
The Scottsdale, Arizona-based Sunbelt Holdings, which specializes in real estate management, investment, and development, is being brought in as the manager of the extensive Wild Horse Pass extension.
Located near the intersection of Interstate 10 and the Loop 202 freeway, the Wild Horse Pass belongs to the Gila River Indian Community, a Native American community of more than 11,300 residents in southern Arizona.
Already the home to the Gila River Hotels & Casinos, as well as the Rawhide Western Town & Event Center, the Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, and the Whirlwind Golf Club, the Wild Horse Pass property is expected to see a wide variety of new project construction.
The goal behind the expansion is to establish the Wild Horse Pass as a premiere large-scale sports and entertainment district.
New construction planned for the more than 3,300 acres includes a wellness center, outdoor amphitheater, special events center, timeshare complex, and both new office and retail space.
It is thought that it will ultimately take more than three decades for the Wild Horse Pass to be completely built out, at an estimated cost of well over $1 billion.
In a statement, David White, general manager of the Wild Horse Pass Development Agency, said the long-planned expansion project will “create exceptional entertainment and lifestyle experiences, new jobs for community members, and will evolve our culture and legacy.”
By Garry Boulard
Plans have been announced for the construction of a new non-profit health care facility on the south side of Colorado Springs.
The Peak Vistas Community Health Centers, which focuses on care for residents in underserved areas, says it wants to build a new facility at 1105 S. Tejon Street.
That facility will mark 29 clinics the service runs in east central Colorado.
To make way for the center, a one-story building that was the former home of the popular Grindelwalk German Delicatessen will be demolished.
A press release issued by Peak Vistas says that “early concepts of this health center envision a large facility, and we expect the design to be finalized by this spring as we determine the optimal delivery model in conjunction with the city and other partners.”
The project is expected to be paid for through a combination of donations, grants, and restricted funds.
Peak Vistas officials anticipate serving hundreds of clients on a regular basis at the new location.
Founded in 1971, Peak Vistas clinics see up to 94,000 people yearly.
If all goes according to plan, work on the new facility, to be called the Tejon Health Center, will begin later this summer.
By Garry Boulard
More than 100,000 foreign construction workers may see their legal status protected if President Biden’s new immigration bill is passed, according to industry sources.
That bill, officially called the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, will specifically offer cover to those who are currently registered in the Temporary Protected Status program.
The Biden measure allows undocumented individuals to apply for temporary legal status, subsequently applying for green cards, or permanent resident cards, 5 years later.
In previewing the massive 350-page bill, the White House said it “clears employment-based visa backlogs, recaptures unused visas, reduces lengthy wait times, and eliminates per-country visa caps.”
The bill will also provide protection to those who are currently registered in the Dream program, otherwise known as the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act.
In a statement, Stephen Sandherr, chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America, said the new legislation “provides long-needed reforms to the nation’s flawed approach to immigration.”
Continued Sandherr: “In addition, the bill’s efforts to provide a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants will, if enacted, help eliminate the exploitation of undocumented workers by unscrupulous employers that puts our member firms at an unfair competitive disadvantage.”
The White House statement also noted that the legislation will give the Department of Homeland Security the authority to “adjust green cards based on macroeconomic conditions, and incentivizes higher wages for non-immigrant, high-skilled visas to prevent unfair competition with American workers.”
Construction industry officials say a flaw in the legislation is that it does not include a year-round work visa program for construction workers, increasing the likelihood that workers from other countries will continue to seek entry to the U.S. illegally.
With 60 votes needed for passage, the chances for the bill remain unclear. Some Congressional experts are saying that Biden may choose to push the measure using the reconciliation process, which only requires 51 votes.
By Garry Boulard
A modernistic motel that was once part of a growing Western chain of trendy 1960s-era inns is slated for a major renovation.
A bid to bring up to date what used to be called the Imperial 400 Motel, located at 707 Central Avenue NE, has taken an important step forward with a $700,000 loan from Albuquerque’s Metropolitan Development Agency.
The project is being developed by the Portland, Oregon-based Palindrome Communities, which has taken on several prominent development efforts in the city, including the 2018 upgrade of the El Vado Motel at 2500 Central Avenue SW.
At a price tag in excess of $7.6 million, the upgrade of the Imperial will see 52 modernized guest rooms, 16 residential rooms, just over 4,400 square feet of commercial space, and a micro restaurant.
Plans call for renovating the entire two-story structure, while also preserving a swimming pool.
According to city documents, the Imperial upgrading will transform a “blighted property into a vibrant hub that includes new spaces for commerce, hospitality, and residential living.”
The Albuquerque Imperial 400 Motel was built in 1964 at the same time that the Imperial 400 chain, launched 5 years earlier, had just under two hundred locations nationally.
The chain’s motels were visually distinguished by their butterfly roof designs.
The chain subsequently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy before being purchased by a company based in Luxembourg.
The motel in Albuquerque was subsequently called the Imperial Inn Motel.
Work is expected to begin on the Imperial project by June, with an estimated early summer 2022 completion date.
By Garry Boulard
Members of the Santa Fe Planning Commission have given their approval to a preliminary development plan that will ultimately lead to the construction of nearly 400 housing units.
The Zia Station project will go up on vacant land just to the west of St. Francis Drive and adjacent to the Zia Road Rail Runner Station, which is a part of the Rio Metro Regional Transit system.
The transit-oriented development has been long in the talking stage and will ultimately see a 21-acre project on both sides of Zia Road.
As proposed, the project will include 39 affordable units.
First phase work will additionally entail 14 townhomes and 244 apartments, slated for the north side of Zia Road.
Later work will see the building of another 14 townhomes, as well as 112 multi-family units.
The project will also include office, restaurant, and retail space, along with underground parking for up to 500 vehicles.
Renderings of the project show tree-lined streets, with walkable spaces, and two and three-story structures.
To be developed by an entity called Zia Station LLC, the project has been represented in public meetings by the Santa Fe-based development management firm JenkinsGavin.
It is thought that the Santa Fe City Council will review the project in either April or May.
By Garry Boulard
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