By: Mary Scott Nabers on August 14th, 2019

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Infrastructure Upgrades Offer New Contracting Opportunities Worth Billions

Operating Insights

Transportation infrastructure will stimulate the U.S. economy significantly over the next few years. Hundreds of large projects have been announced; so many in fact, it should be possible for almost every type of contracting firm to find attractive opportunities.

Bus & Rail Projects

Regional transit leaders in Ann Arbor, Michigan, recently released a $10 billion transit plan. Upcoming opportunities include several new commuter rail lines, expanded bus rapid transit routes, and numerous airport projects. The long-discussed Ann Arbor-to-Detroit commuter rail, which is expected to cost approximately $135 million and require $9 million annually for operations, is included. Approximately $4 billion is allocated for other projects, and an additional $5.7 billion will be set aside for the region’s aspirational goals.

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority in St. Petersburg, Florida, has announced the upcoming launch of a new bus rapid transit line that will provide transportation from downtown St. Petersburg to the beaches. Cost of the project is estimated at $43.9 million. Public officials believe the faster service, coupled with free Wi-Fi and other amenities, will attract an abundance of new riders. The route will also provide an affordable commute option for people holding the 50,000 jobs located within a half mile of the project’s corridor. Since the agency plans to have the project operational by 2021, construction should start late in 2019.

The Sound Transit’s board in Tacoma, Washington, moved another step closer recently to launching the Tacoma Dome Link Extension Project. This will be a 10-mile light-rail extension between Federal Way and Tacoma. An environmental impact study is required, but officials want the new route operational as soon as possible. Project details list four new light rail stations to provide connections to other transit services in the region.

In El Paso, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is currently performing a feasibility study related to the Wyler Aerial Tramway. The tramway, which is operated by the state of Texas, is located in Franklin Mountains State Park. Initial cost estimates put the project at more than $10 million. State officials say that plans are in place to enter the design phase of the project by January 2020.

Airport Projects

Some of the most visionary projects in 2020 will be launched at America’s airports. It appears the U.S. has decided to catch up with the rest of the world. Perhaps the reality that no U.S. airport is currently listed on the Top 25 Airports in the World list is about to change.

The Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport plans to construct a new terminal designed to accommodate 30 to 35 gates and numerous new flights. No financial estimates are available, but an airport official said the new terminal could be the largest part of an airport capital improvement project with cost estimates of $3 billion to $4 billion through 2025. Some short-term improvements to Terminal C — the airport’s busiest terminal and also the only one that hasn’t seen capital improvements in the past two decades — will also be addressed.

An extensive expansion is already underway at the Salt Lake City International Airport. A large new terminal, expected to be open by 2024, will be LEED Gold certified. It will feature leading-edge technology, enhanced security, efficient passenger movement, and a sleek futuristic look. Inside the new facility, travelers will be treated to large-scale interior sculptured walls, retail, and lots of energy-efficient lighting.

Two Houston airports recently received federal grant funding from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). George Bush Intercontinental Airport will receive $15 million in federal funds to reconstruct a taxiway and $5.43 million for noise mitigation. Other airport projects also have been announced. Meanwhile, $18.1 million will in grant funding will go to William P. Hobby Airport for taxiway reconstruction. There is no word, as of yet, for a timetable for construction. The grant funding, which will be consolidated with other revenue for airport upgrades, comes as part of the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program.

Port Projects

Large projects at U.S. ports represent another large segment of upcoming infrastructure projects. The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor has announced a $20 million expansion plan. Projects will include a 14-mile rail network, new cargo terminals, and more.

In Utah, a plan to create a massive transshipment hub in Salt Lake County has been announced. The objective, which offers various types of contracting opportunities at the port, is to become a major part of the statewide network of transshipment in the state.

The Port of Long Beach in California will construct an on-dock rail support facility. Pier B will undergo changes that include linking 90,000 feet of new and existing storage tracks to the Alameda Corridor which connects the San Pedro ports to the national rail system. The planned projects will allow the port to handle more cargo by rail and relieve congestion at the gate so that cargo can be more efficiently sent farther inland. The estimated budget for the 180-acre facility’s redevelopment is $870 million. Port staff is in the process of contracting with a design agency and has indicated that contracts will be let and work should begin by 2022.

These upcoming infrastructure projects represent just a small sampling of what can be expected. Infrastructure improvements and expansions over the next several years will be abundant.


Mary Scott Nabers is president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc., a business development company specializing in government contracting and procurement consulting throughout the U.S. Her recently released bookInside the Infrastructure Revolution: A Roadmap for Building America, is a handbook for contractors, investors and the public at large seeking to explore how public-private partnerships or joint ventures can help finance their infrastructure projects.