Public Works Conference

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RECAP: 2016 Public Works Conference

By Roland Murphy for Arizona Builder’s Exchange

Inaugural AZBEX 2016 Public Works Conference Draws Industry Pros to Camelback Inn

A crowd of more than 200 attendees covering the gamut of the construction and building trades filled the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn’s Arizona Ballroom Wednesday, Oct. 5 to see the ins and outs of working with the public sector and uncover new opportunities at the inaugural AZBEX Public Works Conference.

Guests were treated to 10 presentations covering a range of issues from K-12, infrastructure investment, upcoming projects and how-tos and best practices for finding and winning opportunities in the thriving public sector.

Following registration and a networking lunch, Assistant State Senate Minority Leader, Senator  Steve Farley  provided opening comments. He shared with attendees his background both as a public servant and as an artist who has contributed work to public projects, including photo murals in Tucson and downtown Phoenix.

According to Farley, every $1B of infrastructure investment generates approximately 19,000 jobs in Arizona. He criticized the ongoing diversion of Highway User Revenue Funds over the past several years away from infrastructure and public works projects as well as the policy of providing tax breaks that eliminate potential revenue for infrastructure development, citing the lack of available funds as a key reason for the slowness of the state’s economic recovery.

Wrapping up his presentation, Farley noted the key to incentivizing jobs now and in the future is greater investment in infrastructure by state leadership and Arizona companies.

Public funding for capital projects – K-12 and City of Mesa

Following Farley’s presentation was a panel moderated by Mark Davenport of SPS + Architects and comprised of Bill Jabjiniak, City of Mesa Economic Development director, and Michael LaVallee, managing director of Stifel, to discuss the impact and influence of bond issues on municipal and education projects.

Jabjiniak brought attendees up to speed on a number of planned and proposed Mesa projects, including new police and fire facilities and planned new spaces for Benedictine University and Arizona State University’s downtown Mesa campus.

LaVallee discussed how Stifel advises government entities and underwrites bond programs that impact K-12 education, municipal and public health programs. Among the projects seeking bond-based funding around the state are security upgrades and technology renovations, furniture and facility improvements, pupil transportation, new administrative facilities and new construction.

Jabjiniak noted a key challenge to project funding is the cost of capital in the current economy. He added agencies and other public institutions need to look at creative ways to finance projects, including developing and expanding Public-Private Partnerships.

LaVallee expressed concern that the state continues to roll over funding for K-12 and has for the past eight years. He said restoring state expenditures in education is the key challenge facing the sector today.

MIHS and opportunities in publicly funded healthcare

Attendees next heard from  Susan Doria, vice president of strategic planning for Maricopa Integrated Health System, who gave an overview of MIHS’ mission and an update on planning and progress for the system’s redevelopment efforts following voter approval of up to $935M under Proposition 480 in 2014.

After the bond measure was approved MIHS leaders established three points of mission to expand the institution’s role as the county’s public healthcare safety net: Providing more care outside of the main hospital facility, better integrating physical and behavioral health services under a single care model and expanding MIHS’ role as a teaching provider across all facilities and services.

In preparing its plans to redevelop the organization and its offerings, Doria said leaders approved project and solution ideas that went beyond simple brick and mortar facilities. Planners studied industry best practices across the nation, determined what the new care model should look like, established projections for care volumes and workforce needs, and determined the best mix of central and ambulatory sites to provide services across the county.

The MIHS board has accepted the initial planning report, and last week the system issued an RFP for a firm to provide the necessary expertise to develop an Integrated Program Management Office for Construction Services (AZBEX, Sept. 30). The IPMO will oversee the design process, standards, expectations, budgets and reporting throughout the redevelopment process, which currently plans for 19 ambulatory care centers around the area and two new hospital facilities at the system’s main campus.

Maricopa County Facilities Management opportunities

Arno Leskinen, capital facilities division manager for the Maricopa County Facilities Management Department, provided an overview of the department’s role as “landlord” for county-owned facilities and an update on various projects and needs currently under consideration.

FMD is responsible for 250 properties with 191 buildings comprising 11.2MSF (gross). These include jail and detention facilities, courts and justice services, offices and administrative facilities, parking, and historic and miscellaneous spaces, all served by 165 full-time employees.

Projects at the department range from large-scale capital improvement needs to facilities maintenance and tenant improvements. Upcoming approved opportunities include repurposing the Madison Street Jail downtown into office space, a 10KSF building expansion plus parking for the North Black Canyon Building Adult Probation Addition, and a 10KSF building expansion at Southport Adult Probation.

Leskinen told attendees there are several attributes the department likes to see in its design professionals and contractors, including the ability to consistently follow procedures and protocols, fiscal responsibility, process transparency and responsiveness to the department and county’s needs and desires for project outcomes.

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

A major highlight of the conference’s first half was an update on projects and plans at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport by  Kyle Kotchou, deputy director of design and construction services.

Kotchou first gave status reports on current airport projects, particularly the efforts underway to modernize Terminal 3. The first component, the terminal processor, is currently under construction. General contractors Hunt and Austin (operating together as HuntAustin, A Joint Venture) are currently soliciting subcontractor bids for the $120M second component to modernize the terminal’s south concourse and will take bids next summer for component three, the $45M north concourse modernization.

The other major ongoing project is the new 9,600SF Aviation Command Center and Airport Emergency Operation Center, which is currently out to bid for subcontractors and is expected to be complete in the first half of 2017.

In a major announcement to attendees, Koutchou disclosed two major planned future projects for the airport, including an extension of the PHX Sky Train and a new 220KSF Terminal 4 – S1 Concourse.

Kotchou also provided an overview of 2017-18 grant-funded projects at both Sky Harbor and Deer Valley airports.

Sky Harbor projects include Phase V of the Terminal 4 apron reconstruction, construction of the terminal 4 S1 apron, Terminal 3 south apron reconstruction and Phase 1 Taxiway V construction, among others.

Deer Valley Airport’s grant-funded projects for 2017-18 are construction of a new Taxiway D and, with ADOT, reconstruction of the public access road, upgrades to the Precision Approach Path Indicator system and Phase 1 of the perimeter road reconstruction.

SRP and water infrastructure

Following a short break, Brenda Burman, Salt River Project’s director of Water Strategy, gave attendees an overview of the project’s 100-plus year history in managing the state’s water resources and the current state of operations and planning for development and population growth.

This included discussions on water sources and supply diversity, stewardship of water rights and watershed health, impacts to the water system, and partnerships for growth and supply augmentation.

Tucson opportunities

Victoria Cortinas, contract administrator for the City of Tucson, provided a glimpse into what the city looks for when it comes to selecting design and construction services. This included information on how to register with the Procurement Department, the need to register with all relevant agencies, and an overview on SBE/DBE certification.

Tucson currently has eight planned projects upcoming, including three road-related projects, an RFQ for construction administration services for the Downtown Links, a CMAR for Phase 3 of the Downtown Links project, Federal Highway Administration-funded improvements at Henry Elementary School, Bond 409-funded road recovery projects for FY 2017, and various on-call and Job Order Contracting opportunities.

Opportunities in Pima County

Following Cortinas, Pima County Contracts Officer  Matt Sage, discussed upcoming opportunities in his area and gave an overview of things to look for and best practices to follow when looking for work in the county.

These included making sure to follow the prescribed format for every solicitation, making sure all the questions are answered fully, clarity and concision in responses, thoroughly proofreading all submissions and following up with all supplied references to ensure their submissions are complete and on time.

He also urged submitters to conduct a debriefing after the process is complete so they can review all the tabulations, see the comments, check the performance inquiries and ensure that all responses were received.

Currently planned in Pima County are JOC opportunities for both park development and paving services scheduled for Fall/Winter, 2016, an IFB for construction on the El Paso Southwest Greenway in Winter, 2016, and A/E design services this Fall/Winter for a left turn lane at Cactus Forest Drive at Old Spanish Trail.

APDM for federally funded projects

The last panel of the day discussed how public owners determine what federally funded projects use Alternate Project Delivery Method contracts.  Wylie Bearup, ASU professor of practice/executive director, served as moderator for a group consisting of  Wulf Grote, Valley Metro director of capital and service development; Chris Turner-Noteware, deputy director of the City of Phoenix Street Transportation Department,  Dallas Hammit, state engineer/deputy director for transportation at the Arizona Department of Transportation, and  Tom Deitering, project delivery team leader for the FHWA Arizona Division.

Starting off, Deitering gave a thoroughly detailed overview of regulatory conditions for when APDM contracts are an option for federally funded projects. In recent years, FHWA has allowed methods other than the traditional low bid approach in order to facilitate development.

Hammit explained that ADOT has developed a scoring matrix for design/bid and CMAR projects, which includes evaluation of a project’s complexity, the budget, the schedule, degree of risk, ADOT staffing concerns and third-party considerations with cities, counties, tribes and other involved entities, among others.

Grote summarized Valley Metro’s primary projects and explained the contracting process for each, which include design-bid-build and CMAR.

Noteware-Turner told the group only 30 percent of Phoenix street projects were design-bid-build up to 2015 and that the city is a proponent of alternative contracting methods. She added, however, that if a project uses APDM, an early start to the process is essential to ensure the correct scope, degree of communication, timeline and documentation across the run of the project.

Closing remarks: The need for gratitude

David Martin, president of the Arizona Chapter of Associated General Contractors, thanked the attendees, speakers and panelists for their time and reminded the room of the importance of relationships and appreciation for everyone involved in the development process.

“Be grateful to the taxpayer and those who pay the user fees,” he said, commenting that without them, there would be no public works projects.

Martin added that attendees should also appreciate their role and the roles of their partners and peers throughout the process, saying it’s because of them people have water in their homes, electricity and roads to drive on.

“All of us, collectively, are important to this process,” he said. “Thank your neighbor, and they have to thank you, too.”