The City of Santa Fe has issued a Request for Proposals for the development of a five-year plan dedicated to enhancing multimodal opportunities in the city.
The plan is being done in conjunction with the Santa Fe Metropolitan Planning Organization. The goal, according to city documents, is to “specifically identify infrastructure improvement projects, policies and programs” throughout Santa Fe.
Potential multimodal projects could include “parking solutions, active transportation, and transit investments.”
The 5 to 10-year multimodal blueprint includes the goals of “minimizing demand for private vehicles and vehicle storage, increasing walkability, active transportation, transit ridership, and increased community and economic vitality.”
Ultimately, the idea is to find a way of incorporating urban design, landscape architecture, zoning, and transportation systems as part of a “comprehensive approach to reducing dependence on the automobile and increase livability.”
The multimodal movement first gained traction more than a generation ago in the transportation industry where goods were being moved by a combination of different transportation forms including truck, train, and boat.
According to the website Smart Cities Dive, cities around the world in recent years have embraced the concept of multimodal integration, or a “seamless connectivity between the different transport modes to maximize the impact of mass transport and enable sustainable urban mobility.”
Submission deadline for the RFP is December 30.
By Garry Boulard
On a 377 to 48 vote, members of the House of Representatives have approved a massive $738 billion military bill that will allow for the creation of a Space Force earlier proposed by President Trump.
The Space Force provision was seen by some observers as a trade-off for another provision of the bill calling for paid parental leave for more than two million federal workers.
The National Defense Authorization Act authorizes the Department of the Air Force to establish a separate arm of its operations devoted entirely to protecting U.S. space assets from threats from China and Russia.
As proposed, the Space Force will consolidate the current but separate space services of the country’s existing military branches.
Notes the publication Popular Mechanics: “The United States Space Force will be the first new service branch in more than 60 years, tasked to ensure America’s freedom to operate in outer space—or take space away from someone else.”
Where exactly the Space Force will be headquartered and whether or not it will have its own academy are details of the legislation that have not yet been resolved.
Sources have suggested that wherever the Space Force headquarters is ultimately located, office operations are expected to begin by the early spring of next year.
But because the bill also earmarks some $322 million for general construction at military bases in Colorado Springs, it is thought that at least some of the new Space Force facility construction will also be in the Centennial State.
More specifically, the legislation provides $148 million to begin construction of the Combined Space Operations Facility at the Schriever Air Force Base, which, according to Colorado Representative Doug Lamborn, “will serve as the beating heart of our nation’s space warfighting enterprise.”
By Garry Boulard
A master plan is currently in the works for the building of a 900-foot long bridge for pedestrian traffic that would connect downtown Grand Junction to the banks of the Colorado River.
With an anticipated construction price tag of $3.5 million, the bridge would cross over a series of railroad tracks running north to south through the city.
The bridge is being regarded as a vital component of Grand Junction’s larger effort to develop a 58-acre site along the river that will include nearly16 acres of parks, 9.5 acres of light industrial and commercial space, and 10 acres designated for mixed-use development.
That site is known as the Riverfront at Dos Rios. According to city documents, work on that site, which was purchased nearly three decades ago by Grand Junction, is expected to begin in the fall of next year.
The bridge, which would be built to Americans with Disabilities Act specifications, would start at the city’s historic Union Station train depot, at the intersection of Pitkin Avenue and South 2nd Street, on its way to a landing on the Riverside Parkway.
Funding for the project is expected to come from a variety of sources, including the City of Grand Junction itself, as well as the Colorado Department of Transportation.
City officials say they expect to know by next spring whether what is expected to be up to $2 million in grant funding from the CDOT will be approved for the project.
By Garry Boulard
Plans are underway for the construction of a 40,000 square foot athletic center and gymnasium in Fort Morgan, Colorado that will go up inside the city’s new Centre Pointe Plaza.
The facility will be designed to replace the city’s long-standing Armory Recreation Center, located at 528 State Street, which officials say is no longer large enough to accommodate local recreational needs.
Work could begin sometime next spring on what is expected to be a $10 million facility that will include space for exercise rooms, two basketball courts, a multipurpose gymnasium, and a children’s play area.
Additional amenities will include the creation of both a splash pad and two soccer fields outside the center.
The current facility is nearly 100 years old and served originally as a training facility for the National Guard. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Fort Morgan officials have been working in the last several years to create a complex that would feature a number of city facilities on what has been up to now around 100 city-owned acres of vacant space.
The Center Pointe Plaza could in the years to come see the construction of both a new City Hall for Fort Morgan, as well as a variety of other local government buildings.
By Garry Boulard
House Democrat leaders and the White House have tentatively announced an agreement regarding the passage of the sweeping United States-Mexico-Canada trade pact.
That document is designed to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, the final results of which were presented to the legislative branches of the U.S., Mexico, and Canada earlier this year after months of negotiations.
The White House has indicated that it will sign off on a series of adjustments to the document negotiated between Congressional leaders and the U.S. Trade Representative’s office.
The modifications to the new trade agreement will particularly provide stronger provisions on labor matters and overall enforcement.
“The urgency of replacing NAFTA is very important,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in remarks delivered before a chief executive officer council meeting sponsored by the Wall Street Journal.
The Speaker also said she was not worried about the USMCA winning the entire support of the Democratic members of the House. “You don’t have to have unanimity, you just have to have consensus,” she remarked.
What is being called a “handshake deal” between the House leadership and the White House has won the praise of Thomas Donahue, chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who expressed optimism that “this development will open the door to the final approval of USMCA on a bipartisan basis by the end of the year.”
Dennis Slater, president of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, issued a statement calling the White House/Congress deal “good news for equipment manufacturers, the 1.3 million men and women of our industry, and the entire U.S. economy.”
Kathy Krafka Harkema, regulatory affairs manager with the American Architectural Manufacturers Association, noted that the new trade agreement will “strengthen intellectual property rights provisions and copyright privileges, while also addressing modern digital technology aspects of trade.”
Congressional observers think it is more likely that the House will pass USMCA by the end of this month, with the Senate taking it up and passing it in January.
The USMCA, which will govern a wide range of construction materials and supplies, will have a lifespan of 16 years, although all three countries will have the prerogative of reviewing the agreement after 6 years.
By Garry Boulard
In a move to bring to the construction phase a project that has been longed talked about, officials in Santa Fe are hoping to receive around $4 million in funding for a teen center that would go up on the city’s growing south side.
The funding, if approved, would be one of several capital outlay requests that Santa Fe is submitting to the New Mexico State Legislature for the upcoming month-long winter 2020 session.
Last year lawmakers approved $1.4 million for the initial planning, design, and building of the facility.
To be built in the Tierra Contenta subdivision, across the street from the Southside Branch Library in the 6500 block of Jaguar Drive, the multipurpose, 10,000 square foot facility will include both gym and recreation space, as well as rooms for community meetings.
Santa Fe officials have said that the need for such a facility is great in a section of the city seeing the construction of more than 2,300 housing units in the last two decades.
It is thought that there will be at least another 2,000 units going up in Tierra Contenta between now and 2030.
The New Mexico legislature is scheduled to meet between January 21 and February 20 of next year.
By Garry Boulard
A development company based in Ontario, Canada is looking at the possibility of building an energy-efficient, sustainable apartment project in an industrial section of Grand Junction populated with warehouses and garages.
The company s2e Technologies specializes in solar projects, smart communities, and multi-family apartment complexes.
Last year the company saw the completion of its first net zero grocery store in Ontario, a project designed to use 35 percent less energy than a typical grocery store.
Now s2e Technologies is looking at the possibility of redeveloping a 5-acre Grand Junction site at 630 S. Seventh Street.
That property was formerly the home of StarTek, a company specializing in customer support for health care, retail, and e-commerce clients.
StarTek moved out of the one-story, 50,000 square foot building it occupied at the site several years ago.
The Ontario company may be closing on the property - which has recently been listed for around $3.3 million - early next year, with actual construction at the site beginning sometime in summer 2020.
Because the property is located in a defined Opportunity Zone, any redevelopment project would be eligible for certain economic incentives.
It is not yet known whether the company will demolish the former StarTek building or re-purpose it.
By Garry Boulard
The unemployment rate, according to the most recent statistics released by the Department of Labor, has fallen to a new low of 3.5 percent, with more than 266,000 jobs added in November.
The latest numbers, said Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia in a statement, “shows the economy continues to flourish.”
Scalia also noted that the last time the unemployment rate was as low as 3.5 percent was in 1969. As recently as the fall of 2009, the unemployment rate stood at 10 percent.
Despite those strong numbers, job growth overall for the year has slowed down compared with last year, which saw an average of 223,000 new jobs per months. This year the average has come in at around 180,000 per month.
According to the Labor Department’s Employment Situation Monthly, the most notable job gains in November were seen in “healthcare and in professional and technical services.”
Employment was also up in the manufacturing, transportation, warehousing, and financial activities sectors, said the report.
Job growth overall in the construction industry posted a 2 percent gain in November, with a 2.2 percent increase in nonresidential work, and 1.7 percent gain in both the heavy and civil engineering and residential sectors.
That translates to around 1,000 new construction jobs last month.
In a statement, Anirban Basu, chief economist with the Associated Builders and Contractors, noted that “while labor market data tend to be lagging indicators, it is clear that the U.S. economy retains plentiful momentum as it heads toward 2020.”
Basu also noted, however, that one trouble spot remains: new office and retail space construction, which has recently seen a decline in investment.
By Garry Boulard
In a comprehensive move to protect the small village of Hatch, the Dona Ana County Flood Commission has announced plans to build a new $12.7 million dam at the lower Spring Canyon.
The project is the result of years of study and an agreement forged between the flood commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
According to sources, the $12.7 million project will be funded primarily through the Army Corps, although additional funding is also coming from the Flood Commission.
Three appropriations with a dollar value of just over $2.2 million, earlier approved by the New Mexico State Legislature, will also help support the project.
Located nearly just under 40 miles northwest of Las Cruces, Hatch has a population of around 1,600 people and has been repeatedly subject to late summer flooding resulting in damage to structures, roads, and land in the village.
According to a press release from the Flood Commission, the damages from floods in Hatch have exceeded more than $5 million in the last several decades.
One of the most memorable floods occurred in August of 2006, when the nearby Placitas Arroyo was overwhelmed, resulting in up to 6 feet of water pushing though the village.
Work is expected to begin by early next year on the design phase of what will be an earthen embankment dam.
By Garry Boulard
In a move to upgrade its current terminal, the Santa Fe Regional Airport is hoping to secure up to $10 million in capital outlay funding when the New Mexico Legislature begins its one-month winter session in January.
The proposed upgrading of the terminal includes the building of a new baggage claim area, as well as an additional gate - two projects with a combined price tag of $14.5 million.
Airport officials would also like to see the building of new counters in the terminal, as well as a reconfiguring of the existing security screening area. Those two projects are estimated to cost $3 million to complete.
The City of Santa Fe already has some $11.5 million in funding for the overall airport upgrading work, which would be added to the $10 million that will hopefully come from the state.
Located at 121 Aviation Drive, the airport saw more than 115,000 boardings last year, and in terms of traffic, is the second busiest airport in New Mexico behind the Albuquerque International Sunport.
By Garry Boulard
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