Design work could begin this fall on a transformational 5-mile walking and biking trail that will loop through and around downtown Denver.
The planned 5280 Trail will push through a variety of neighborhoods and open spaces, giving to the city an all-encompassing trail that residents will use for both recreation and transportation purposes.
Envisioned as a kind of linear park, the trail is expected to see construction in a series of phases, with the work not really being completed until sometime in the 2030s. It is thought that a handful of designers and contractors will ultimately be part of the process in making the trail reality.
Exactly how much the project will ultimately cost, and where all the funding will come from, is not yet known. But the City of Denver has secured an initial $800,000 to launch the design phase.
Additional funding may come from other government sources as well as the private sector.
Leading up to that phase, the Downtown Denver Partnership has sponsored a series of public input meetings looking at the exact neighborhoods and streets where the 5820 Trail will likely be built.
City officials have acknowledged that the 5820 Trail is inspired by other similar urban walking and biking trails across the country, including most prominently the High Line, an urban park stretching its way through parts of Manhattan.
The High Line, completed in 2009, is uniquely built on the tracks of the former New York Central Railroad, making up a 1.5-mile trail.
By Garry Boulard
The nation’s economy is expected to continue to expand for the duration of this year, with the Gross Domestic Product slated to see an increase of 5.6%.
That prediction is coming from a National Association for Business survey of nearly 50 economists who delivered an additional optimistic note in predicting that an anticipated 5.1% inflation rate will most likely decrease net year to around 2.4%.
Although the predicted 5.6% rate of growth is regarded as strong and one more sign that the nation is continuing to recover from the doldrums of the pandemic, the rate was nevertheless smaller than the 6.7% anticipated by the same economists last spring.
A strong 67% of the economists said they believe non-farm payrolls will return to their pre-Covid 19 levels by the end of next year, while only 12% are predicting an earlier first quarter 2022 recovery.
The economists also believe that the interest rate increases seen in recent months will most likely moderate sometime next year.
Trying to calibrate the impact of the pandemic and vaccine protection on the economy, around 66% of the economists pointed to a vaccine-resistant version of the Delta variant as the “biggest risk to the economy.”
On the other hand, a stepped-up rollout of the vaccines is seen as the biggest potential boost to the economy for the rest of this year and 2022.
By Garry Boulard
Federal funding has now been secured for the reconstruction of a taxiway at the Albuquerque International Sunport.
The money is coming through the federal Department of Transportation, comprising one of several grants received out of Washington for a variety of projects at the airport.
The other projects include the building of low-emission pre-conditioned air unit and ground power units designed to reduce carbon emissions at the Sunport.
The funding, said New Mexico Senator Ben Ray Lujan in a statement, is particularly designed to provide “much-needed support to the Sunport by installing responsible infrastructure to reduce harmful emissions, clean our air, and create more jobs in the process.”
Other funding is coming through the Transportation Department’s Federal Aviation Administration, the Voluntary Low Emissions Program, and the Airport Improvement Program, among other initiatives.
Combined, the Sunport is receiving around $7.1 million in federal support.
Funding for the Sunport will also be used for the purchase of zero-emissions passenger shuttle buses and associated charging equipment.
The Federal Aviation Administration is increasingly emphasizing airport sustainability projects, this year awarding more than $54 million for such projects at half a dozen airports across the country.
By Garry Boulard
Plans have been approved for the construction of a very large and modern multifamily complex set to go up in downtown Denver.
The project, to be called Evolve Towers, will see construction at 2288 Champa Street and is expected to include some 331 residential units in a two-tower configuration surrounding an outdoor courtyard and swimming pool.
To be developed by the Denver-based Ubuntu Partners Real Estate, the complex will go up in a part of the city that has seen a certain amount of new office and apartment construction in recent years.
But the scale of the Champa Street project, with the two towers topping out at 18 stories, and a five-story podium, is what has generated the most attention. The project also includes some 6,000 square feet of retail space.
Designed by the Denver-based Oz Architecture and Sanzpont Arquitectura of Barcelona, the look of the project will, according to Ubuntu, include units embodying a “European design philosophy with smartly designed, highly efficient living spaces.”
Originally proposed nearly two years ago, the project, which has just received site development approval from the City of Denver, was delayed due to the onset of the Covid 19 pandemic.
By Garry Boulard
With the future of the proposed Protecting the Right to Organize Act not yet clear, some parts of the legislation, according to reports, may see passage instead through the pending and big budget reconciliation bill.
Otherwise known simply as the PRO Act, the legislation was originally introduced in 2019 and would amend the National Labor Relations Act, passed during the height of the New Deal, by expanding labor organizing rights.
In particular, the PRO Act would allow unions to override state right-to-work laws and make it possible to collect dues for all employees in a workplace, whether or not those employees are actual members of the union.
The legislation has spurred the opposition of a large number of business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which calls it a “litany of almost every failed idea from the past 30 years of labor policy.”
The Associated General Contractors of America has said that the legislation has the “potential to cause significant disruption in the construction industry, both for firms and the workers they employ.”
Supporters include the influential 12-million member American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations.
The group Human Rights Watch, in backing the bill, said it would “significantly strengthen the ability of workers in the private sector to form unions and engage in collective bargaining for better working conditions and fair wages.”
After winning approval earlier this year in the House on a 225 to 206 vote, the PRO Act is now facing a vote in the Senate.
The legislation’s chances in the upper chamber appear uncertain, largely because of its provision overriding state-right-to-work laws.
For that reason, notes a report just issued by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, some parts of the legislation have been “shoehorned into the reconciliation bill.”
One of those parts includes a provision providing $1.1 billion for the Labor Department to increase labor law enforcement in the workplace.
The budget reconciliation bill, officially called the Build Back Better Agenda, is expected to come up for a vote in the Senate this week.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 12.6% of the workforce in the construction industry nationally is unionized, with membership averaging around 24% in the Midwest, and under 10% in the Western states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah.
By Garry Boulard
A new and somewhat small hospital could see construction next year on the northeast side of Flagstaff.
Members of the Flagstaff Planning and Zoning Commission have given their approval to a project that will see the building of a 44,700 square foot structure housing a small emergency room.
The facility will go up on a just under 5-acre site at 1895 N. Jasper Drive.
The project belongs to the Scottsdale-based Apricus Health Network and will also include space for offices and a laboratory and up to 8 patient beds.
Set to serve residents near the McMillan Mesa section of the city, the facility is being called a “micro hospital” by Apricus officials, with site space for both vehicle and bicycle parking.
Hospital space in the new micro hospital will comprise some 17,000 square feet.
Launched by a group of physicians, Apricus has locations of varying sizes, largely throughout southern Arizona. Earlier this year the company additionally announced plans to open centers in Houston.
To be designed by the Dalke Design Group of Tempe, the building’s exterior will feature earth tones, some stucco elements, and exposed masonry block.
By Garry Boulard
The City of Las Cruces is on the verge of implementing zero energy mandates in the construction of all new city government buildings.
The action comes after the city’s Sustainability Office recommended in a presentation to the Las Cruces City Council that such mandates could be achieved and would in the process greatly reduce overall energy costs.
According to the Department of Energy, zero energy buildings are designed to consume only as much energy as can be produced onsite through renewable resources.
Zero energy in new construction is also attained through the use of recycled and reused materials in the building process.
Advocates of the movement have additionally promoted the use of structural wood rather than steel and cement as a preferred material for construction.
Boston has just adopted a zero energy ordinance for all buildings larger than 20,000 square feet, joining the cities of New York, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C., who have all implemented similar measures.
Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima has additionally suggested introducing net zero alternatives even in private construction, noting that homes could see the installation of such features as charging stations for electric vehicles.
Las Cruces council members are expected to vote on the city building net zero resolution soon.
By Garry Boulard
During a season when the construction industry has been challenged by increasing materials costs, good news is coming in the iron ore department.
According to sources, the price of iron ore, which is used to make iron - before the iron is used to make steel - has fallen more than 50% in just the last two months.
Even more, the current price at $94 a metric ton, is now at its lowest level since July of 2020.
The London-based market analysis firm S&P Global Platts is reporting that iron ore is now trading at just below $108 a ton. In May it traded above $233 a ton.
According to the publication Mining Technology, the iron ore price free-fall could be expected to continue for the duration of 2021.
The publication notes that China, one of the world’s leaders in iron ore production, has recently decreased that output in an effort to reduce the pollution effect of its coal-fired steel mills.
Analysts say that the price of iron ore per ton could drop to as low as $70 by the end of the year.
The iron ore price decline comes after a steady upward trend starting in early 2020 and continuing on pace until late this summer.
By Garry Boulard
Work on a massive flood mitigation project in Boulder could begin next year, depending upon the approval of several federal agencies.
As proposed, the project will see the construction of a dam, flood wall, detention area, and earthen embankment, and will be built partly on property owned by the University of Colorado at Boulder.
What is being called the South Boulder Creek flood mitigation project took a significant step forward this month when the Boulder City council approved an annexation agreement between the city and university.
That agreement, detailing the scope of the work, now makes it possible for the city to move forward with a portion of the design process.
In doing so, Boulder will also be seeking the approval of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
A possible new challenge to the project could come in the form of a referendum that may be voted on in November by local residents, ratifying the city/university agreement. It is not yet certain if enough signatures will be secured to place the question on the fall ballot.
The estimated $47 million mitigation project, long in the planning and talking stage, is designed to protect Boulder from flood waters rising out of the South Boulder Creek drainageway.
According to city sources, up to 3,500 residents and some 600 structures are located within the floodplain of the creek and are thus in danger of being flooded. Since the 1940s, the area has been significantly engulfed in water at least half a dozen times.
Earlier this year, the Boulder City Council voted to green light the design process for what is regarded as a 100-year mitigation project.
While working with the various federal agencies to make the project reality, Boulder must also win the approval of both the Colorado Department of Transportation as well as the Colorado State Engineer’s Office.
By Garry Boulard
Weeks before Albuquerque voters decide on a $50 million bond to partially pay for the construction of a new soccer stadium, the team that will use the stadium has announced that it will kick in another $10 million to get it built.
“We’re willing to put not just our capital, but all of our resources behind it,” said Peter Trevisani, the owner of the New Mexico United soccer team.
Additional funding for what will ultimately be a multi-purpose stadium is coming through capital outlay funds to the tune of $8 million earlier approved by the New Mexico State Legislature.
The soccer team has also agreed to enter into a long-term lease with the City of Albuquerque, committing to play in the arena for some 25 years, an agreement that equates to around $22 million in rent.
New Mexico United has additionally pledged to pay for all security and maintenance costs associated with the arena.
Last month members of the Albuquerque City Council voted in favor of putting on this November’s ballot the $50 million bond to build what is estimated to be a $70 million stadium.
Earlier estimates pegged the soccer stadium construction price tag at $100 million.
A consultant’s study completed earlier this summer recommended that the stadium should be built to house anywhere from 10,000 to 12,000 seats. The study additionally suggested two downtown sites for the facility.
Although some city leaders have expressed worries that the stadium will not prove financially successful, Trevisani and others have pointed out that up to 13,500 fans have regularly turned out to watch the team play in the Isotopes Park.
It is expected that if Albuquerque voters approve the $50 million bond in November a move will be made in the state legislature to come up with the final dollars needed to launch construction of the stadium.
By Garry Boulard
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