In spite of a global pandemic and its associated demands on transportation issues affecting the delivery of goods and services, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has continued its record-breaking completion of construction and maintenance projects, according to its 2020 Progress Report.
Today, the agency has more than $24 billion in projects under construction. Additionally, contractor payments for construction and maintenance increased 26 percent from FY 2019 to FY 2020 with more than $7 billion in construction and maintenance projects.
During the last 10 years, Texas’ population increased by 15 percent, more than any other state. That growth has put demand on the state’s transportation system, leading to even more projects.
Today, TxDOT has 8,459 projects either underway or beginning soon. The total collective value of those projects is more than $30.3 billion, and even more are slated to be open for bid.
Among current projects is the Phase Two procurement for the Interstate 35E project in Dallas County. The estimated $675 million project includes construction, design, utility relocation, and right of way acquisition. Plans call for reconstructing and extending the main lanes from six to eight, reconstructing two tolled managed lanes and frontage roads, and improving several intersections.
In March, TxDOT plans to offer five surveying services contracts --- each with a value of as much as $3 million --- for the El Paso District. Those contracts will follow in June with two others worth as much as $4 million each for plans, specifications and estimates for passenger-vehicle ferry vessel projects in the Houston District.
The transportation agency reports that within four years another 4,775 projects valued at more than $30.2 billion will be available to contractors. Construction projects totaling more than $43.5 billion will be available in the next five to 10 years, and 713 corridor studies and construction projects totaling more than $48.8 billion will be on the books in 10-plus years.
Texas scored an overall grade of ‘C’ in the most recent American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 2021 Texas Infrastructure Report Card.
The grade is a slight step up from the ‘C-minus’ mark the state earned in 2017.
ASCE based the state’s overall infrastructure grade on its review of 12 infrastructure categories as “in mediocre” condition.
After their study of the state’s infrastructure, civil engineers graded Texas aviation (B-), bridges (B-), dams (D+), drinking water (C-), energy (B+), flood risk mitigation (C-), levees (D), public parks and recreation (C-), highways and roads (D+), solid waste (B), transit (B-), and wastewater (D).
The study noted energy infrastructure in Texas --- which received the highest grade at ‘B+’ --- showed advancements in oil and gas infrastructure that helped solidify the state’s reputation as a leading energy producer and provider. The “D” grade for Texas wastewater infrastructure is in steady decline, according to the report card, and is facing a funding shortfall of more than $200 million.
The state’s grades for aviation, bridges and transit were among its best. As an aviation hub, the state passenger and air freight figures show the aviation industry has provided 1.1 million jobs and added $41.8 billion to local payrolls. The industry has a $130 billion impact on the state’s economy.
Texas State Rep. Dennis Paul, a professional engineer, described the report card as a “critical tool” used to assess the state of Texas’ needs and measure its progress in meeting those needs.
Juan R. Cuellar is bringing his breadth of expertise and experience as a managing consultant at Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI). Juan’s career has brought him to the highest levels of federal and state government, as well as academia and the private sector.
Prior to joining SPI, Juan served over 20 years in the U.S. Army, where he was a senior leader and manager providing tactical and operational leadership in and out of the U.S. That role involved strategic planning, guidance, and policy development, as well as team and relationship building. In addition, Juan served as a diplomatic and political strategist for senior executives.
Juan’s knowledge of government stems from his leadership roles in strategic and intelligence organizations, which involved cooperating with sister intelligence and law enforcement agencies to provide expedient, holistic solutions, both domestically and globally.
As an adjunct professor in higher education, Juan provided instruction in homeland security, emergency management and response, political science, and intercultural communications.
Juan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies from Norwich University, a Master of Arts in International Relations from Salve Regina University and several continuing educational certificates in Homeland Security, Futures Thinking, Public Policy Challenges, Strategy Formulation, Strategic Planning and Execution. He is an all-but-dissertation doctoral candidate in humanities.
Proposals for construction work on the first phase of the proposed $28 million Civic Park in San Antonio will be accepted beginning February 15.
Officials of the Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corp. predict an opening date of 2023. The Civic Park is expected to be the main fixture of the northwest corner of the former World’s Fair site.
A construction agreement for the two-phased project is scheduled for consideration by the San Antonio City Council in August.
The first phase --- which includes approximately 5 acres of what could become a 9-acre public park --- entails creating a lawn large enough to accommodate 15,000 people. Through municipal bond proceeds, gifts, and other sources, the park will include features like a promenade and a variety of water features planners are calling The Shallows.
The city has yet to identify a funding source for the second phase, which is estimated to cost $20 million endeavor. Officials said that part of the project abuts a public-private partnership project that will foster mixed-use developments with office space, food and beverage businesses, residences, and a hotel.
Dr. Ken Gregorski, Superintendent, Katy ISD
Career highlights and education: My path in public education spans over two decades, first as a teacher, then as a school administrator, and now as a superintendent. I feel truly honored to have had the opportunity to work in leadership roles across several great school districts with outstanding staff. In Katy ISD, focusing on our students’ well-being inside and outside our classrooms has been a priority for my administration — particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. In terms of education, I hold bachelor's and master's degrees, and a doctorate in the fields of education and administration.
What I like best about my public service is: The best part of being in public education is seeing the success of our students. I am proud to lead Katy ISD and to ensure we provide every child with a world class education every day. Each time I hear stories of success it fuels a fire to keep moving our school district forward.
The best advice I’ve received is: Educators have a great responsibility, which is to shape the hearts and minds of future generations. Never take that for granted and never forget the importance of what we do.
My favorite way to destress is: The ability to destress is my weakness, and it always has been. For me, the best way is to get lost all day long on a Saturday watching college football.
People might be surprised to know that I: Didn’t always think I would become a teacher or an educational leader. I found a passion for teaching when I went off to college. Before heading to the university, I was actually considering enrolling in a technical school to become a mechanic. I had a good friend at the time who convinced me to take the college path, and to this day I thank him for that.
One thing I wish more people knew about Katy ISD is: All the great employees and people that make Katy ISD a special place. The work we do for our students is never about one individual. It is the result of the collective vision of our parents, staff and community who keep this district moving forward every single day. When it comes to teachers, I think overall the profession has become undervalued by those outside of public education. If everyone knew the expertise, devotion and the sheer amount of time our Katy ISD teachers put into instructing and supporting our learners, they would be very impressed.
A $420 million bond proposal for Lubbock-Cooper ISD, one of the state’s fastest-growing school districts, has been called for May 1.
The bond issue includes construction of three new schools and a variety of renovation projects at current schools.
Among other projects are HVAC and roofing improvements and athletic additions at existing campuses. If approved, the bond proceeds will fund projects that will create vendor opportunities over eight to 10 years.
The three new campuses will include a high school, a middle school, and an elementary school.
School officials predict an increase of 3,200 students by the end of the decade, a figure used in deciding the total bond amount sought and where bond proceeds will be spent.
San Antonio College has been named by the National Security Agency (NSA) as the Southwest Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (CAE-C) Regional Hub.
The hub was originally charged with providing leadership in cybersecurity education among colleges and universities in five states. SAC’s role now expands to lead cybersecurity education efforts in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, and Hawaii.
Originally earning its first hub designation in 2017, the CAE-C is awarded a grant of $250,000 from NSA, the federal agency responsible for electronic signals intelligence and cybersecurity.
With an opportunity to help shape curriculum for cybersecurity education at more than 300 colleges and universities in Texas, information assurance and cybersecurity degrees from the college will include NSA certification.
SAC will partner with one other CAE-C designated institution to serve as the Southwest Regional Hub: The University of Texas San Antonio (UTSA). The Southwest CAE-C Regional Hub will be joined with partners from six of the states from the region to build a cybersecurity community across the Southwest.
Tyler’s Harvey Hall Convention Center could soon be replaced by a new $28 million convention center. The Tyler City Council is expected to vote in April on whether to demolish the current convention center, built in the 1970s, and build a new center at the same location.
Funding sources for the project would be from the city’s one-half-cent sales tax, from current revenue, private donors, and hotel occupancy tax revenue of $11 million.
If the project is approved, construction on the center would likely begin in May or June.
More than $144 million in funding from the Texas Water Development Board has been approved for a variety of flood, water, and wastewater projects for Texas cities, towns, and utility and river authorities.
The recipients of the funding include:
- City of Bandera - $8.23 million for a drainage improvement project.
- City of Cotulla - $149,500 for a flood planning study and mapping project.
- City of Primera - $300,000 for the planning of a drainage project.
- Town of Pecos - $51.36 million for wastewater system improvements.
- Greater Texoma Utility Authority - $4 million on behalf of the City of Van Alstyne for water system improvements.
- Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority - $80 million for improvements to the Lake McQueeney and Lake Placid dams.
Efforts are continuing toward the proposed Lone Star College System’s LSC-Magnolia Center, with the project being slowed by officials’ efforts to make a land purchase for the site location. The center will be a satellite campus of LSC-Montgomery. LSC officials indicate that a decision on a site location should be finalized in the next three months.
The $27.7 million Magnolia Center is among numerous projects that are part of a successful $485 million bond election held in 2014. With the delays, officials now expect that the two-year project will be completed in fall 2023.
Design and construction will begin on the project as soon as the land purchase is completed.
The state of Texas is once again ranked as the biggest exporter in the U.S., as well as being the top tech exporter.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Texas earned top honors in both categories after reporting $279.3 billion in total exports last year and $44.8 billion in tech exports. This is the eighth consecutive time the Lone Star State has been listed as the top tech exporter and the 19th consecutive time as the top general exporter.
“Texas is and has been the No. 1 exporting state in the nation, the best state business climate, and the world's ninth largest economy,” said Robert Allen, president and CEO of the Texas Economic Development Corporation.
Texas' total exports outpaced the combined export figures of California ($156 billion), New York ($61.9 billion) and Louisiana ($59.6 billion). Tech exports from Texas far outpaced California, the second-place tech exporter at $37.5 billion.
Proposed renovations and upgrades throughout Huntsville ISD will be on the ballot May 1 in the form of two propositions totaling $127 million.
If approved, projects could begin as early as August and provide contracting opportunities that extend through 2024, according to school officials.
Proposition A includes $92 million in bonds earmarked for renovations at Mance Park Middle School and three elementary schools. Among other projects would be constructing a new fine arts auditorium and a baseball-softball complex.
The $35 million Proposition B would benefit athletic facilities by adding a new 7,000-seat stadium, relocating the tennis complex, and building a new field house.
A new distribution service center for Bryan Texas Utilities (BTU) is moving a step closer to fruition after Bryan City Council’s approval of the issuance of up to $19.5 million of electric system revenue bonds to replace its current building that is more than 50 years old.
The bond sale will be held March 18, with proceeds to be delivered to the construction fund on April 15.
BTU electric rates to consumers will not change as a result of the bond sale, thanks to the company's continuing growth and the city paying off older bond debt.
A 25 percent increase in operations at the Mesquite Metro Airport from 2015 to 2020 is spurring city officials to invest in that growth.
Plans in coming years include marketing and branding efforts to attract new business, increasing security measures, and acquiring additional land.
Airport Manager Eric Pratt says the success of the airport has had a $22.7 million impact on the local economy.
City Manager Cliff Keheley noted the economic impact of the airport and added that expansion and growth are vital to expanding Mesquite’s tax base.
Recent months have been among the busiest on record, according to Pratt, who predicts continued growth in the coming year. That growth is likely to result in increasing contracting opportunities for vendors.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from February 5-11:
Texas Department of Insurance – Workers' Compensation Commissioner
Cassie Brown – Austin (reappointed)
Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority – Presiding Officer
Robert Jenkins Jr. – Austin (reappointed)
Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority – Presiding Officer
Joyce Wilson – El Paso (reappointed)
Sulphur Regional Mobility Authority – Presiding Officer
Jay Hodge – Paris (reappointed)
455th Judicial District Court Judge
Dustin Howell – Austin
Texas State Board of
Social Worker Examiners
Brian Brumley – Sumner (reappointed)
Benny Morris – Cleburne (reappointed)
Jennifer Swords – Fort Worth
Council on Cardiovascular
Disease and Stroke
Stanley Duchman – Houston
Sherron Franks-Meeks – Odessa
Shilpa Shamapant – Austin
Marcie Gonzalez Wilson – Lakeway
Dozens of public-sector jobs are available. Click here to view all job openings and guidelines for job submissions to SPI. New jobs added this week:
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts – Mail Messenger
Texas Department of Transportation – Transportation Engineer Supervisor I or II (District Traffic Engineer) (San Angelo)
Texas Department of Transportation – General Transportation Specialist I (Sugarland)
Texas Department of Information Resources – Cybersecurity Analyst II (Lead Cybersecurity Analyst)