Union Trouble for Tesla Gigafactory
The Tesla Gigafactory allegedly is not holding up its end of a deal. At the end of May, construction trade workers gathered to rally outside of Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting. Inside the meeting, investors representing union-affiliated pension funds delivered a letter written by Todd M. Koch, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Northern Nevada, regarding the company’s lack of commitment towards creating jobs for local Nevada residents.

Tesla, in exchange for a $1.4 billion tax incentive, must hire 50 percent Nevadans as required by state. Koch says it’s not happening.

“We wish to express our ongoing concern about the hiring of out-of-state workers at the construction site of the Tesla Motors Gigafactory near Reno, Nevada,” the letter reads.

The complaints come to light not too long after hundreds of union workers walked off the Gigafactory job site over the use of lower-paid out of state workers in February, and allegations in May that Tesla had hired illegal foreign labor at its Fremont, Calif. plant.
Koch stresses in the letter that the walk-off “wasn’t in protest to working conditions… [or] pray…” but rather because workers want to see over 50 percent Nevadans on the job site and for Tesla to be “a conscientious community member” after receiving such a large gift from Nevada taxpayers.

“So far we haven’t seen any improvements,” Koch says. “And the people in our community are very disappointed that contractors are bringing in workers from Arizona and New Mexico.”

As of the time of this blog, Tesla had not responded to the letter.

Albuquerque Rapid Transit Project Plans Released
The city of Albuquerque released the preliminary construction plans for its estimated $119 million Albuquerque Rapid Transit project earlier this month.

The plan projects construction to start in late July and will take over a year to complete. Some businesses are concerned about the impact construction may have on traffic and their storefronts, but Joanie Griffin, a spokesperson for the ART project, promises the businesses should not be too affected and that one lane of traffic will be open in each direction on Central throughout the entirety of the project.

This did not stop some two business owners from filing a lawsuit that will see a ruling in July that may push back the project or end it completely.

But Griffin is optimistic, stating that, “the City of Albuquerque is ready for, and is in need of a bus rapid transit system.” In an email to ENR Southwest, Griffin said, “Four years of studies and public outreach meetings have repeatedly shown [the city is ready]. We are one of a handful of cities that have been awarded a federal small starts grant to fund the project, and we are optimistic that when complete, the residents and business people will embrace and love the new transit system.”
To see the plan, visit http://www.brtabq.com/Media

PENTA Raises $120,000 For Nevada Nonprofits
Earlier this month at the 12th Annual Charity Golf Classic at the Revere Golf Club, The PENTA Building Group raised $120,000 for The Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation (NCCF), the Women's Development Center (WDC), and the Nevada Military Support Alliance (NMSA). Each group received a gift of $40,000.

In a press release, John Cannito, PENTA chief operating officer, says, "As a community focused organization, PENTA strives to support local nonprofits that provide valuable services to those in need. We respect the tireless efforts of these recipient nonprofits and we are proud to help fund their services for women, children, and veterans across Southern Nevada."

Since 2012, Penta has raised approximately $500,000 for Las Vegas nonprofits through its annual golf classic and has donated more than $300,000 to approximately 40 nonprofits across the Las Vegas Valley since 2014.

ADOT Improves Freeway With High-Tech Solution
New technology is allowing the Arizona Department of Transportation to repair Phoenix roads without digging up the pavement. ADOT is injecting a foam that hardens as it expands to stabilize the soil as it lifts the pavement on the Loop 101, Pima Freeway in the Scottsdale, Ariz. area.

Crews have fixed a minor roadway dip without having to dig up and replace the freeway. Foam injections are now going to be part of an ongoing ADOT project to widen and improve the Loop 101 between Shea Boulevard and the Loop 202. Additionally, crews will be adding a new layer of smooth rubberized asphalt in the area.

ADOT and contractors have also used the expansion foam on other parts of the freeway where the ground and pavement have settled. “It is a high-tech fix when it comes to long-term ground settlement beneath a freeway. Expansion foam isn’t the answer in all cases, but we’ve had some great success in offsetting the effects of ground settlement,” says Steve Boschen, director of ADOT’s Infrastructure Delivery and Operations Division, in a press release.

He also notes it’s “certainly less disruptive than digging up the freeway to do reconstruction work.” Construction has been able to take place overnight with lane closures as foam goes as far as 30 feet beneath the freeway.

ADOT geotechnical staff members do take a look at the areas before foam injections just to make sure it is the recommended way to assuage the problem. Furthermore, advanced soil testing is done to give crews the information needed to inject the foam and stabilize the soil.

By the end of the project, the Loop 101 between Shea and the Loop 202 will also have new outside lanes. ADOT expects to complete the project by Fall 2016.

Phoenix Approves Metrocenter Mall PUD
June saw the unanimous approval for a Planned Unit Development application for 130 acres in and around Metrocenter Mall in Phoenix.New zoning allows for new uses in addition to retail space, including offices, senior housing, multifamily housing and healthcare.

It will also boast new height and density at the infill site and will have the highest surrounding residential density in all of the metro Phoenix Market. According to a press release, the new height allowed will be 180 feet or approximately 15 stories and also will double the 800,000 sq ft of existing space to a total of 1.6 million sq ft.

The PUD will encompass 130 acres, including 83 that Metrocenter Mall had occupied. “After several years of collaboration with the City, the community and its leaders, we now have the official green light to redevelop this valuable infill site in a very significant way, first and foremost by bringing in dynamic new uses that will make this a true urban village for Phoenix residents,” says Warren Fink, COO of Carlyle Development Company, the owner of Metrocenter Mall, via press release.
The PUD also will allow for the construction of three electronic billboards along I-17 between Peoria and Dunlap.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton has shown excitement for the new project, having grown up close-by. “It feels good to help this area maintain its vitality as one of our Valley’s most important and recognizable retail and employment areas,” he says in the same press release.

Zoning was unanimously supported by the Village Planning Committee, Planning Commission and Phoenix City Council. One of the first projects to begin construction on the lot will be a 148,000-sq-ft Walmart Supercenter and the single largest capital investment in Metrocenter Mall in decades.

Additionally, plans exist to add a light rail stop to the Metrocenter site in 2023.

Stephanie Sparer contributed to this report.