Aug 14th 2015 | Posted in Education by Texas Government Insider

Dirt is being turned. Cranes are being erected. Trucks are lining up to deliver load after load of lumber and steel. It’s summer in Texas – and it’s the busiest time of the year for higher education construction projects.

This particular summer, however, construction figures – and job figures as well – will likely surge above the norm, thanks to legislation passed during the 84th Texas Legislature. For the first time since 2006, lawmakers approved the issuance of bonds, generally referred to as tuition revenue bonds (TRBs), totaling $3.1 billion. And the first of the projects on the campuses of many state-supported institutions of higher education are about to begin.

Stephen F. Austin State University has already approved a designer for its $46.4 million Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics building made possible by approval of TRBs. A construction manager also has been chosen.

Elsewhere across the state, boards of regents are meeting and approving different stages of projects, from architectural and engineering to brick and mortar construction. And more are on the way.

In San Angelo, the design budget for stage one of Angelo State University’s new $26 million College of Health and Human Services building was recently approved by the Texas Tech Board of Regents. The project includes about 56,000 square feet of teaching labs, classrooms, a 100-seat seminar room, student study rooms and high-tech research labs. Angelo State officials hope to have the facility completed by 2016.

Midwestern State University (MSU) President Jesse Rogers said the $58.4 million in TRBs appropriated by the legislature is the largest designation of capital funds in the university’s history. And, not all of the projects on higher education campuses are for new construction. MSU will use the funding for academic expansion and revitalization projects. “For a number of years, Midwestern State has been a leader in providing health-related disciplines, and we are delighted to now have the resources to improve our facilities,” said Rogers when the funds were announced.

In West Texas, Texas Tech University System’s Board of Regents recently approved building project recommendations on three of its University Health Center campuses – in Lubbock, Amarillo and Odessa.

The Lubbock campus is currently in the $2.4 million design phase, in which officials will evaluate potential vendors. On the Odessa campus, a design budget of $552,000 was approved for an academic facility and will be used for programming, planning, and schematic design for the new facility. Regents also approved a design budget of nearly $280,000 for the Amarillo campus of the Health Center campus.

For the main Texas Tech campus in Lubbock, the board of regents recently approved a $2.21 million first-stage design budget that will lead to the eventual construction of a new $77 million experimental sciences building. TRBs will fund $70 million of that amount.

So, while some institutions of higher education are already in various early stages for their upcoming TRB projects, others will be seeking action from their respective boards of regents to begin the early stages of their projects as well.

Some of the institutions that could soon begin the process of preparing to build facilities include: Texas A&M-Commerce, which will use $48 million in TRBs to build a nursing and health sciences building; Tarleton State University, where a $54 million applied sciences building will be constructed; The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, whose $36.4 million in bonds will be used for construction of a multipurpose academic building on its Brownsville campus; The University of Houston, $54 million for construction of a new academic building in Sugar Land; Lamar University, where $60 million in TRBs will build a new science building; and Sam Houston State University, where a new $48 million biology lab facility will be built.

These are just some of the current and upcoming higher education construction projects that have begun or will soon get started as part of the TRB program. There will be many contracting opportunities for private sector vendors as these projects come online.

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