Network Connections Plan

Agency: American Planning Association
State: Federal
Type of Government: State & Local
NAICS Category:
  • 238210 - Electrical Contractors and Other Wiring Installation Contractors
Posted Date: Jun 8, 2021
Due Date: Jul 12, 2021
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Network Connections Plan Downtown Grand Rapids Inc

Grand Rapids, MI


For more than a decade the connections between Belknap Hill, Monroe North, and Downtown have been studied through various plans and visioning projects. While these efforts illustrate community-supported goals and high-quality visioning, they lack a cohesive strategy to implement tenable connections between the various neighborhoods, institutions, businesses, employment centers, and people associated with this unique geographic area.

Today this area of Grand Rapids is strengthened by purposeful and directed investments and planned generational river transformation projects that will reshape the environment and provide an even greater need for human-scaled infrastructure that enhances livability and vitality.

Past projects provide a sound foundation, while these planned future projects provide a critical framework. This future opportunity comes with an urgency to deliver meaningful connections in a timely fashion to bring people to the places that are evolving adjacent to them.

This project intends to build upon the high-quality decades-long engagement and resulting plans to forge a series of "shovel-ready" network interventions that are informed by both yesterday's voices and today's opportunities.


The following is a general minimum framework of the intended project scope including engagement and technical support. Respondents are strongly encouraged to use their expertise to formulate a project scope that meets or exceeds the scope elements contained in this general outline, while also meeting the goals and objectives of the project.


As referenced previously, various elements of this project have been studied and planned over the course of the last decade. These various plans have been informed by robust public engagement and citizen dialogue. This project intends to build upon this past citizen engagement, but not reinvent or redo it. As a result, the project engagement plan should prioritize strategic focus group meetings with various key stakeholder groups, including Neighbors of Belknap Lookout (NOBL), the Monroe North Business Association, Monroe North neighbors, Spectrum Health, Grand Valley State University, Michigan State University, and the City of Grand Rapids. The Grand Rapids Parks Department and Mobile GR will be the primary City of Grand Rapids departments that will be involved in this project.

It is anticipated that each of these groups will be engaged at least twice during phase 1 work; however, it is within the respondents' purview to propose a meaningful engagement process to inform the design and project strategy. Assume at least 10 different potential focus groups.

Representatives of these various stakeholders groups will make up a small steering committee that will interface with the consultant team during a regular schedule of design and progress meetings. These should be considered separate from the focus group meetings.

A note on engagement and COVID-19: At the time of RFP issuance, most public gatherings and in person meetings are just beginning to happen with greater numbers of people - particularly in outdoor venues. This may impact in-person focus group meetings or larger gatherings. Respondents should make considerations for various scenarios that include virtual, hybrid, and/or in-person as circumstances and guidelines change.


Create two design options through a stakeholder engagement process that utilize a series of network interventions to improve connections between Monroe North, the Belknap neighborhood, the Grand River, parks, and Downtown Grand Rapids with a coherent, safe, convenient, and meaningful multi-modal network.

Concept design of network interventions should incorporate all elements related to the project including the Switchback Pathway, Hastings Connector, the two stairs, Division Avenue crossings, the former railway tunnel, Ionia Avenue right-of-way, and the east-west connections to the River. The future phases of the separated bicycle lanes on Division Avenue should be considered as they relate to the other interventions, but are not part of this design effort.

Additionally, the design concepts should include the creation of a park within the hillside that incorporates the stairs, Switchback Pathway, Hastings Connector and a series of overlooks that provide views and places to linger for users.

The various network interventions should be designed in a way that they can be phased incrementally over multiple funding cycles.

Once completed, these two design options should be presented to a single gathering of all stakeholder groups so that the stakeholders can collectively make a recommendation for a preferred concept.

Phase 1 Consultant Responsibilities

  • Conduct a design kick-off meeting to discuss the project with the steering committee, obtain available information, and review existing conditions.
  • Preparation of design concepts may require boundary and topographic information.
  • Conduct focus group meetings with stakeholders to inform concept creation and design.
  • Create two (2) concept design options based on stakeholder input.
  • Complete an order of magnitude cost comparison between the two design concepts to better inform the discussion with the large group. This does not have to be as specific as the typical Opinion of Probable Costs, but rather more broad to help stakeholders make informed decisions.
  • Conduct one large meeting of all stakeholder groups to determine preferred design concept.


Develop the preferred design concept into refined plans, details and illustratives that convey each of the network interventions and the hillside park. Depict how these elements interrelate to improve connections and create a coherent, safe, convenient, and meaningful multi-modal network.

Phase 2 Consultant Responsibilities

  • Conduct focus group meetings with stakeholders to review design refinements.
  • Preparation of design development will require boundary and topographic information.
  • Present at the City's Design Team for overall project coordination with City infrastructure, planning, storm water, traffic safety, fire, and police departments for direction that may inform the design development.
  • Complete an Opinion of Probable Cost (OPC) for the Final Preferred Design at the end of Phase 2.
  • Complete a draft phasing plan that provides an incremental approach to implementation of the various network interventions and the hillside park so that these projects can be implemented over multiple funding cycles.
  • Complete a draft operations and maintenance plan for the Final Preferred Design at the end of Phase 2.


The construction document phase of this scope includes preparation of technical drawings and specifications to bring the network interventions to a point of being ready to bid and construct.

Specific network interventions to be included in the construction documents will include the Switchback Pathway, Hastings Connector, the two stairs, Division Avenue crossings, improvements related to the former railway tunnel, the Ionia Avenue right-of-way, improvements to the east-west connections to the River and the hillside park. The future phases of the separated bicycle lanes on Division Avenue should be considered as they relate to the other interventions, but are not part of this effort.

Phase 3 Consultant Responsibilities

  • Prepare complete and accurate construction documents ready for advertising and bidding. Complete plans and specifications are intended to be used for future permitting, bidding, and construction. Construction drawings will need to meet City standards.
  • Preparation of documents will require boundary and topographic information.
  • Conduct 60% and 90% review meetings with steering committee for concurrence of the intent of the proposed construction plans and specifications.
  • Refine OPCs for 60% and 90% construction plans. The OPC shall be based on the current market for construction materials and labor in the region, and shall provide the steering committee with an up to date understanding of the cost to complete construction. This will be the opportunity to recommend adjustments and refinements to the construction scope in order to remain within a tenable project budget over multiple funding cycles. Base bid items, alternates, and available funding shall be considered.
  • Complete final phasing plan that provides an incremental approach to implementation of the various network interventions and the hillside park so that these projects can be implemented over multiple funding cycles.
  • Complete final operations and maintenance plan for the project elements.

Items not required to be included in this proposal:

  • Assistance with obtaining the necessary permits and City approvals.
  • Pre-bid or bidding support services.
  • Construction administration services.



Prepare a boundary and topographic survey of the project area as required for the preparation of design and construction documents.

Survey should include ownership boundaries along the hillside. Ownership is believed to include the City of Grand Rapids, the Michigan Department of Transportation, and various private property owners along the upper portion of the hill. Property boundaries will be important to determine how and where the Hastings Connector and Switchback Pathway are located.

It is suggested that topographic information be gathered at a point in the design process where it can be more targeted to specific network intervention locations rather than the entire hillside. It is unlikely that the project would require topographic information for the entire hill.

Survey should locate utilities in adjacent rights of way and utilities and easements within the hillside, specifically at targeted locations where interventions will occur.


The soil and structural capabilities of the hillside need to be evaluated for any future interventions, including stairs, at-grade paths, supports for elevated paths, lighting and other improvements.


Part of the hillside technical evaluation should include stormwater management specifically related to how future improvements will impact current and future erosion of the hill and design recommendations to mitigate current and future erosion.


Proposals submitted shall be limited to twelve (12) pages. This includes all pages, from cover to cover.

Proposals shall be submitted digitally as a PDF that contains not more than 12 pages.

Proposals shall be 81/2 x 11 in either portrait or landscape format.

The proposal should include the following information:

  1. A summary of project understanding including the project expectations and opportunities.
  2. Firm overview of proposed lead consultant and any subconsultants proposed to work on the project including an organizational chart with all project consultants identified.
  3. A description of experience in completing work of this type, including at least three (3) examples and project references. Examples shall be with work on similar projects in an urban context.
  4. A description of your proposed work plan for completing this project, including a schedule of work.
  5. Number and type of proposed meetings and engagement sessions for each phase of the project.
  6. A description of your proposed staffing including condensed bios of staff assigned to this project. Include information for the responsible Principal, Project Manager, and key project staff. Staff listed must be the same as those working on the project.
  7. Your total professional fee for completing the work as described. Fees shall include all tasks and staffing necessary to complete the project as outlined above and within your submitted proposal. All reimbursable expenses incurred shall be included in this fee, but listed as a separate line item. Include standard hourly rates for all staff levels in the proposal.
  8. Separate the fees associated with the survey work and the geotechnical services, but also include them in the total fee.
  9. Additional information – Present any data or information which you consider pertinent to the selection process. Information should be kept relevant to the project.


All interested consultants are encouraged to send an email to Mark Miller ( ) to register their intent to respond to this RFP. All firms expressing interest will be added to an email distribution list and will be notified if additional information related to the RFP becomes available. Firms failing to register in this manner may not receive all information relevant to the preparation of their proposals.


Any questions regarding the proposal may be submitted by email to Mark Miller ( ). Questions must be submitted by 5pm (local time) on Friday, June 18, 2021. Responses will be sent to all registered participants no later than 5pm on Friday, June 25, 2021.


RFP Issued: June 7, 2021

RFP Questions Due: June 18, 2021

Response to Questions: June 25, 2021

Proposals Due: July 12, 2021, 1pm

Consultant Selection: by July 30, 2021


A digital copy of the proposal in PDF format is due by 1pm (local time) on Monday, July 12, 2021. Proposals shall be emailed to . Digital files only.

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Monday, July 12, 2021
Contact Information Website
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