Government Relations

Maryland Making A Push For Federal Support To Build Two Light Rail Systems

In an article by the Baltimore Sun, state officials for Maryland went to Washington D.C. to assure the administration that the state has both the means and the will to build two light rail systems.

Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown met with U.S. Deputy Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari and the deputy administrator for the Federal Transit Administration to let them know that Maryland has the resources and that they are at a critical point.

State officials hope to persuade both federal agencies to partner with the Maryland to help fund the cost of two large public works projects. The $2.58 billion Red Line that would run 14 miles from Woodlawn to the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center Campus and the $2.15 billion Purple Line that would run 16 miles from Bethesda in Montgomery County to New Carrollton in Prince George’s County.

The state has already put into place several strategies to help increase Maryland’s opportunity to receive federal funding. First, they approved a gas tax that will add $4.4 billion over the next six years to the transportation trust fund. Secondly, the General Assembly approved legislation that creates the framework for public-private partnerships to pay for infrastructure improvements and other projects.

The Maryland Transit Administration has set a 2015 start date for both lines with a completion date of 2020 or 2021.

RWA supports Maryland’s push to receive federal funding for light rail transit. RWA know the impact that The Tide has had on the City of Norfolk and will continue to have on the Hampton Roads region into the future. To learn more about the challenges to starting a light rail project, contact RWA today.

Future Maryland Light Rail Transitimage credit: James Willamor on flickr

Another Glowing Testimonial – This Time from the President of the U.S. – Nigeria Trade Council

Titus O. Olowokere, President, U.S. – Nigeria Trade Council

It was a pleasure meeting … at the Africa-America International Business Forum. On behalf of the Planning Committee of the Business Forum, I want to thank you once again for your participation. Your presentation on “Africa’s Economic Growth Potentials in Light Rail” was very well received. The information in the panel discussion was scholarly, informative, very timely and was speaking from the heart. Our only regret is that we didn’t have more time to discuss the topic with you in more detail.

We hope that you enjoyed meeting the members of the business community present, and that you will consider returning in the future to participate in other programs for the professional improvement of our Business Community in Georgia, and to foster bilateral trade relations with other national economies.

Again, a huge thank you! I look forward to future collaboration with you.”

Multifamily Development In Denver CO Receives Backing From Urban Land Conservancy And U.S Department Of Housing And

The Urban Land Conservancy, in partnership with the Piton Foundation and Gary Community Investment Co., City of Denver and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently purchased the largest land purchase in ULC history. The purchase of 9.4 acres at about $6 million will be used to develop 156 permanently affordable apartments and additional assets to benefit the community.

This is ULC’s largest acquisition using Denver’s $15-million Transit-Oriented Development Fund, the country’s first fund created specifically to preserve and develop affordable housing near public transit, according to a ULC statement.

The property, called Park Hill Village West, is located in an area of northeast Denver where many families lack access to affordable housing, high-performing schools and quality healthcare. Connecting affordable multifamily housing to public transit is a necessity for PHVW and the property is located at the 40th/Colorado station on the East rail line of FasTracks. The commuter rail travels through an area of Denver that Piton has targeted because the neighborhoods are home to nearly 35,000 children living in poverty.

RWA understands the importance of transit-oriented development. Visit the RWA Transportation Consulting page to learn more and continue the conversation. 

Denver skylineimage credit: MomentsForZen on flickr

Featured Photo: RWA President W. Randy Wright & Nigeria Ambassador to the USA H.E. Prof. Ade Adefuye

RWA President W. Randy Wright, Nigeria Ambassador to the USA H.E. Prof. Ade Adefuye

RWA President W. Randy Wright & Nigeria Ambassador to the USA H.E. Prof. Ade Adefuye at The Africa – America International Business Forum at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Atlanta, GA. Mr. Wright spoke to conference attendees on Economic Growth Potentials in Light Rail.

Highway Trust Fund and Federal Transit Administration Could See Potential Budget Cuts From Sequestration

With sequestration cuts slow to come about, many are speculating where and how budget cuts may be made. Transportation is one of the main areas where cuts are expected to be made.

Currently, the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), including the Mass Transit Account (MTA), are exempt from cuts under sequestration, so formula funding to transit agencies should not be impacted.

Several programs that can be effected by sequestration cuts are the General Fund transfers to the Highway Trust Fund, as well as to programs funded from the General Fund, such as New Starts, Federal Transit Administration (FTA) operations, FTA Research, and even the recently enacted emergency relief funding for Hurricane Sandy recovery are subject to sequestration cuts.

Below is a table to reflect how the expected sequestration cuts will impact programs:

The table was provided by APTA (American Public Transportation Association). Figures are in millions.

How devastating would sequestration cuts be to our already struggling federal transportation budget? Let us know your thoughts and leave your comment below. 

Amtrak Trainimage credit: Gene Bowker on flickr

York County Officials Unsure Retrofitting Yorktown Power Station Is An Option

The State Corporation Commission has asked Dominion Power to look into retrofitting the Yorktown Power Station for natural gas rather than shutting the station down completely. York County officials fear that retrofitting the station may not be an option. According York County officals, there is not a large enough supply of natural gas to power the plant.

We do not have a large enough supply, a large enough pipe, to support [a natural gas] unit here in Yorktown. The distance a pipe would have to travel to supply natural gas to the station would be cost prohibitive.  – Jim Noel, Director of York County’s Office of Economic Development
York County and Dominion officials have sat down for one meeting so far and a second will be scheduled for later in February. Noel said he is concerned about waiting until Jan. 1, 2015 for a complete shutdown and the station to be left with no alternatives. The Yorktown Station has employed around 100 people at any point and time over the years.

We want to try to get in front of this as much as we possibly can, you have a unique confluence of attributes, access to deep water, rail, heavy industrial zoning, access to the grid through transmission lines, and obviously, plenty of electric power. So how could that site be repurposed in a way that would bring jobs and investment to the county? – Jim Noel

RWA specializes in government relations knowing that sometimes it takes the right person to bridge the gap between business and government. Contact RWA today and learn how we can help your project. 

Yorktown Powerstationimage credit: Dominion Power

Featured Photo: RWA President W. Randy Wright & HRPTA President Will Christopher

RWA President W. Randy Wright & HRPTA President Will Christopher

RWA President W. Randy Wright & HRPTA President Will Christopher

Sen. Warner Says Fiscal Uncertainty Could Have Significant Impacts To The Hampton Roads Economy

In a statement issued by Sen. Mark Warner yesterday, he stated his concern for the impact of the fiscal uncertainty in congress and its impact on Virginia. Sen. Warner even went as far as to single out how Hampton Roads would be impacted with defense cuts and the multi-billion dollar shortfall in Navy operations and maintenance. He mentioned that already the Navy is planning to defer maintenance, including canceling ship repairs for the second half of the fiscal year.

Congress rang in the new year with a political compromise to avoid what had come to be known as the fiscal cliff. While we avoided a tax increase on most Americans, we also pushed off once again many of the tough decisions required to get our country back on a responsible fiscal path.

If Congress and the White House are unable to agree on debt reduction measures by March, America will face a triple threat: a congressional vote to raise the debt ceiling, across-the-board spending cuts required by the sequester and the expiration of the law that keeps the government funded.

The dysfunction in Washington continues to drag down our recovery. It has added to consumer and business uncertainty, and it’s keeping the economy in low gear.

The indecision also poses a significant threat to our national security. As it is, the Pentagon is operating on last year’s budget. And this white-knuckle game of chicken over the automatic sequester cuts, in particular, could require the Pentagon to ground aircraft and call ships back to port.

If Congress fails to step up, these fiscal challenges will require Pentagon budget planners to find billions of dollars in savings almost immediately, with hardly any flexibility to prioritize the cuts.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta appropriately has ruled out cuts to ongoing combat operations in Afghanistan, as well as cuts in pay and benefits for our warfighters. But that means automatic sequester cuts will dig deeper into other programs. As Navy Secretary Ray Mabus recently told me, “How can a shipyard deliver 92 percent of a ship?”

In Hampton Roads, automatic cuts could mean an immediate, multibillion dollar shortfall in Navy operations and maintenance. Already, plans are being made by the Navy to defer maintenance, including canceling ship repairs, for the second half of the fiscal year.

Additionally, procurement in major combat systems could be canceled – along with the significant per-unit cost savings negotiated as part of these multi-year contracts. For instance, the Pentagon negotiated nearly $4.5 billion in savings through a multi-year contract to build Virginia-class submarines – and those savings could be lost if the Navy disrupts the terms of the agreement.

The sequester was intentionally designed to be an unacceptable financial tool – an option no reasonable policymaker would ever willingly choose to use. But by continually pushing off the day of reckoning, we essentially have further amplified its potentially destructive impact: Even deeper cuts may be required over an even shorter budget period.

The sequester’s impact on military readiness could be disastrous. We will have fewer resources to keep our pilots trained or our warship crews capable of full combat operations. It will rob Army units of important training resources as they to prepare to deploy for combat.

Another area of deep concern is the potential layoffs of federal employees and private-sector contractors. Our civilian workforce is composed of hardworking individuals who deserve better. And Virginia’s defense contractors cannot be expected to make smart decisions about their businesses if they lack clear guidance on the short- and mid-range budget outlook.

That’s why I continue to push for a broad, bipartisan approach that, once and for all, strikes a responsible “grand bargain” on all of these fiscal challenges. If we can summon the political will, there is a path forward to begin reining in our nation’s deficits and debt without lurching recklessly from crisis to crisis.

Over the past two years, our bipartisan “Gang of Six” in the Senate managed to move within sight of the goal line on a grand bargain, based on the framework spelled out by National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, commonly called the Simpson-Bowles Commission.

We produced a balanced package of spending cuts, improvements to strengthen Social Security and Medicare, and broad-based tax reforms to generate additional revenue by making our tax code flatter and fairer.

Ultimately, congressional dysfunction and partisan politics short-circuited the work of the Gang of Six. But I firmly believe we can solve our deficit and debt challenges without threatening our national security, holding back our economic recovery or sacrificing investments in programs that will help our economy grow and create jobs.

As Congress prepares to enter yet another round of discussions about federal spending, the automatic cuts and raising the debt ceiling, I believe all of us should be able to agree at least on this much: The full faith and credit of the United States is not a bargaining chip.

Continuing to play games with America’s fiscal future will cause both short- and long-term damage to our national security. And neither the safety nor the financial well-being of the American people should be used as leverage by politicians angling for temporary partisan advantage.

Source: The Office of Senator Mark Warner, Commonwealth of Virginia 

Long Island Receives $60 million for Multimodal and Economic Development Projects

New York’s Regional Economic Development Councils recently awarded Long Island nearly 60 million in funding for 86 multimodal and economic development projects in  Nassau and Suffolk counties, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced.

The Regional Councils was created in 2011 by Gov. Cuomo as strategy to revive the economy and create jobs. The Regional Councils’s approach to economic development is a community-based, performance-driven approach. The program promotes community, business, academic leaders, and members of the public in each region New York to work together to develop strategic plans specifically for their region. Each region focuses on their strengths and resources to initiate projects that will create jobs and stimulate economic growth.

Long Island was awarded $59.7 million for 86 projects in Nassau and Suffolk counties. According to a release by Gov. Cuomo office included below are some of the multimodal and economic development projects funded:

  • $1 million to support the construction of an $80 million, 94,000 sq. ft. Research Institute at Winthrop University Hospital in the Village of Mineola. The Institute will be a medical research and education facility that will focus on diabetes and obesity.
  • $1 million to support the construction of a sewage collection system for the Ronkonkoma Hub transit-oriented development. The system will connect the proposed mixed use redevelopment project a to new sewage treatment plant being constructed by Suffolk County with Round One Regional Council support. A second component in the Town of Islip involves the construction of a four lane access road of approximately 9,000 linear feet to a 60-acre undeveloped parcel at MacArthur Airport. This project is critical to the retention of the FAA Tracon Facility on Long Island and retention of 800 jobs.
  • $1 million to construct a new Long Island Railroad station and pedestrian overpass, providing access to new commuter parking areas in Wyandanch.
  • $500,000 for Nassau County to redevelop the 77-acre Nassau Hub area to include a new state-of-the-art indoor sports arena, minor league baseball park, retail, office and residential development.
  • $500,000 for the expansion of the Brookhaven Rail Terminal in Yaphank to include construction of a 500,000 sq. ft. refrigerated warehouse and a multi-modal rail freight facility to transport of product on and off Long Island.

As a nationally recognized economic development consulting firm, Randy Wright and Associates is an industry leader in urban development and multimodal transportation projects. Follow our blog for the latest industry news and trends. 

Regional Economic Development Councilimage credit: Governorandrewcuomo on Flickr

Alaska Governor Proposes 12.8 Billion State Budget

Alaska Governor, Sean Parnell recently announced a proposed state budget that would increase by less than one percent over the previous year’s budget. In a speech to the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, Parnell proposed an operating budget that spends $9 billion overall and a state general fund portion of $5.7 billion. According to Parnell, Alaskans won’t feel any major changes. The lack of budget increase is expected to come from savings in Medicaid costs.

With Parnell’s plan state spending will be down nearly $1.1 billion from this year. Deductions occurred primarily with spending for buildings and other facilities. In Parnell’s proposal, the capital budget of $1.8 billion is decreased from this year’s $2.9 billion. Accordingly, the state general fund portion of the capital budget would see a 59 percent decrease, down from $1.9 billion.

If last year’s budget had been matched, Alaska would have had to dip into the state’s savings account.

“Our fiscal plan is built on our state’s resources and spending discipline. We focus on priorities that grow our economy and strengthen our families – for Alaskans today and tomorrow,” Said Gov. Parnell.

Key initiatives that will be pushed as a part of the budget are:  public safety, resource development, education and transportation. $531 million is proposed for state energy projects, including $95 million for field work toward a federal license for the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project. A dam and other infrastructure earlier this year was estimated at $4.3 billion.  $50 million was also included for natural gas pipeline development. The money will be split evenly between reimbursement for companies working on a major line under the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act and the Alaska Gasline Development Corp.

Proposed multimodal transportation projects included more than $1 billion in road, airport and ferry spending, including $8.5 million for the Ambler Mining District road, $7 million for the Dalton Highway and $2 million for the Department of Transportation to identify corridors to timber and mineral deposits as part of the “Roads to Resources” program. The budget also included $10 million for a fund for the Knik Arm Bridge.

Randy Wright and Associates specializes in economic and urban development. Contact us to jumpstart your next urban development project. 

Alaskaimage credit: blmiers2 on Flickr

Grand Rapids Proposes Economic Development Projects for Federal Grants

According to an article in MLive, the West Michigan Regional Planning Commission recently updated a series of economic development projects to include bringing four additional projects on board for the city of Grand Rapids. These projects could be eligible for grants from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

“What this does is allow us to include projects that we think might be eligible for funding and pursue funding,” said Kara Wood, the city’s economic development director. “They’re on the drawing boards should money become available, but chances are they’re not going to happen without the EDA investment.”

Below are the four multimodal transportation projects:

1. Seward Avenue extension from Butterworth Street south to Wealthy Street. In 2011 Grand Rapids received a federal grant for the extension of Seward from Fulton Street to Butterworth.  The city has long-term plans to rebuild Seward Avenue north of Leonard and eventually connecting with West River Drive.

2. Acquire corridor of land along the railroad from Leonard and Plainfield Avenue to East Beltline Avenue. There is an Michigan Street Corridor study project to consider developing a multi-modal transportation hub along part of the railroad.

3. Rebuild Godfrey Avenue SW from Market Avenue to the city limit. The road feeds into an industrial area and would be reconstructed with water/sewer infrastructure, street lighting and bike lanes.

4. Conduct a feasibility study for a life sciences business incubator in the North Monroe area. Grand Rapids has a SmartZone tax district that includes a business incubator in Grand Valley State University’s Cook DeVos Center for Health Sciences, but a deal for using that space expires in 2017, Wood said. The city wants a grant to fund a study of where to move the incubator.

As a nationally recognized transportation consulting firm, Randy Wright and Associates is an industry leader in urban development and multimodal transportation projects. Follow our blog for the latest industry news and trends. 

mapimage credit: davecito on Flickr

Randy Wright & Associates President will be talking to Virginia Beach voters today in support of the light rail referendum

Father of Light Rail to Work the Polls at Arrowhead Elementary School

Randy Wright & Associates President will be talking to Virginia Beach voters today in support of the light rail referendum.

VIRGINIA BEACH VA, NOVEMBER 6, 2012: RWA President, W. Randy Wright, will be at Arrowhead Elementary School on Susquehanna Drive in Virginia Beach today from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM. Mr. Wright will be talking to citizens entering the polling station about the benefits of a ‘Yes’ vote for the referendum in support of extending The Tide light rail line from Norfolk into Virginia Beach.

“Today is an extremely important day for the future of light rail in Hampton Roads. Virginia Beach residents have the opportunity to support completion of the study which will create the footprint for riders to one day ride from the Virginia Beach oceanfront to Old Dominion University and on to the Norfolk Naval Base,” said Randy Wright, known as the Father of Light Rail in Hampton Roads.

Should the City Council adopt an ordinance approving the use of all reasonable efforts to support the financing and development of The Tide light rail into Virginia Beach?*

*The referendum allows Virginia Beach voters to provide City Council with their current level of interest in pursuing light rail as an update to the 1999 rail referendum.

Arrowhead Elementary School
5549 Susquehanna Drive
Virginia Beach, VA 23462
3:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Randy Wright & Associates is a development, transportation, and government relations consulting firm focused on public/private finance and land planning. The firm provides a unique range of services to builders, developers, and municipalities by joining together the experience of finance options and government contacts. The consultants at RWA have experience in residential, commercial and urban development projects in Virginia and across the United States. For more information on Randy Wright & Associates, visit

Media and interview requests for W. Randy Wright and Randy Wright & Associates should be directed to JASE Group LLC at for scheduling.


Featured Photo: Eleanor Saslaw, Senator Dick Saslaw & RWA President W. Randy Wright

VA Sen Dick Saslaw (Democratic Minority Chair), Randy Wright at Redskins vs Falcons

Shown are Eleanor Saslaw, Virginia Senator Richard “Dick” L. Saslaw (Senate District 35, Democratic Minority Chair), and  RWA President W. Randy Wright at FedEx Field for the Washington Redskins vs. Atlanta Falcons NFL football game.

A Letter from Virginia Transit Association regarding SJR 297

Commonwealth Transportation Board

Action Request: contact your Commonwealth Transportation Board members today regarding SJR 297 recommendation concerns.

VTA members and Transit Friends:

Next Wednesday, October 17, the Commonwealth Transportation Board will hear Director Thelma Drake make a presentation on DRPT’s SJ297 recommendations which significantly change the transit allocation formula and increase the agency’s role in the distribution of funds. Her PowerPoint is attached. There don’t appear to be any significant changes to the plan since the stakeholders meeting in September. We understand the full report will be released at the Commission meeting on the 17th.

I will be there to express VTA’s concerns about the formula at the public comment time. All CTB members received the VTA statement of concern in early October. They need to hear from transit providers, local governments and others concerned, so contact your CTB members to briefly let them know that you have significant concerns and the potential problems for your local service. We want the CTB to hear that providers ACROSS THE STATE are not on board with this plan. DRPT will not be highlighting your concerns; therefore, be sure to contact your CTB representative before the meeting.

Here are the CTB members: Call, email or write the CTB members in your region and the urban or rural at-large members. Even if it indicates their term has expired some continue to serve until a new appointment is made.

Director Drake’s CTB Presentation (Click workshop agenda, then 297 update.)

Transit providers: please talk to your boards, local government administrators, officials and legislators. VTA members who have done so have found it very productive. Local officials have received some information from the Virginia Municipal League and have expressed interest and concern, but they need to hear from you.

Linda McMinimy
Executive Director
Virginia Transit Association
1108 E. Main St., Suite 1108
Richmond, VA. 23219

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