By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
It is easy for government contractors to overlook opportunities related to ports in the United States. That should not happen though because ports throughout the country have seen a surge in imports over the last several years, and many of them – undaunted by the pandemic – are launching projects that require private-sector partners. Take a look at some of these upcoming contracting opportunities.
Officials at the Port of Los Angeles are preparing to launch a $24 million project that includes construction of a pedestrian bridge and the development of a 12-acre entry plaza. The bridge design is underway now and will be completed in spring 2021. Design of the railyard expansion, which includes the construction of five new tracks, enhancement of three existing tracks, land preparation and more is scheduled to be completed in 2021. Construction will begin in 2022 on projects that are estimated to cost approximately $40.5 million.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) announced on February 4 its selection of route alternatives for the three segments of the estimated $7 billion North Houston Highway Improvement Project (NHHIP).
TxDOT released a Record of Decision (ROD) that features a selected alternative designed to create additional roadway capacity by adding four managed express lanes on Interstate 45 from downtown Houston to Beltway 8 North.
Plans call for rerouting I-45 to run parallel with Interstate 10 to the north of downtown and parallel to U.S. Highway 59 on the east side of downtown.
In addition, the NHHIP will realign sections of I‐10 and US 59/I‐69 in the downtown area to eliminate the current roadway reverse curves that limit capacity. It will depress US 59/I‐69 between I-10 and Spur 527 south of downtown to remove the weaving sections.
Other proposed NHHIP elements include:
- Reconstruction of mainlanes and frontage roads.
- Addition of bicycle/pedestrian realms along the streets that cross the freeways, including a 15- to 17-foot-wide pedestrian realm.
- Installation of sidewalks along frontage roads.
- Addition of pass‐through lanes on I‐10 that will separate traffic desiring to go to Downtown from traffic destined to go through Downtown.
Although the decision completes the federal environmental process, TxDOT will continue to meet with stakeholders and accept public input as it proceeds through future project development phases.
Wichita Falls ISD (WFISD) trustees approved updated schematic designs for two new high schools at their most recent meeting.
District staff will work with architects on design development and construction documents before WFISD advertises for bids to build the schools.
The two high schools will replace the three schools that are in use. Wichita Falls High School will be retired, and Rider High School and Hirschi High School will transition to middle schools. The new high schools are scheduled to open in fall 2024.
Both high schools will be 363,000 square feet with a student capacity of 1,900.
Two stories will house:
- Adaptable features that allow for varied group sizes, small group break-out spaces, expandable spaces, with mobile furniture and operable walls.
- Innovative flexible learning spaces that will create 22nd century learning opportunities for students.
- Technology integration that allows for a blended-learning environment.
In addition, trustees discussed a potential $13.59 million bond election for May 1 for construction of tennis courts, three practice fields, and an eight-lane track at the high schools. If that were to pass, the district would likely fund the construction of competition baseball and softball fields at the high schools for $4 million, which would not be included in a bond proposition.
Voters in November 2020 approved a $276.42 million proposition for land acquisition and construction of the two high schools but rejected a similar proposition for athletic facilities.
The San Antonio Water System (SAWS) plans to advertise for bids to begin the third phase of its construction project to replace broadband access points and programmable logic controllers.
Work on this project will replace aging communication equipment used to collect and transmit data from water production sites and pump stations.
New wireless communication infrastructure will take the place of existing controllers that have an expected lifespan of 10 years. The radio systems have an expected lifespan of seven years.
In addition, this project will upgrade the chlorine leak monitoring system at some sites. These upgrades are necessary to provide comprehensive and remote monitoring of the chlorine system at these facilities.
SAWS officials anticipate opening the procurement in the first quarter of 2021. Estimated project cost is $4.5 million, and construction is expected to take 15 months.
Eric Johnson, Mayor, City of Dallas
Career highlights and education: I graduated Greenhill School, which I attended on a scholarship from the Boys and Girls Club. I went on to earn my bachelor’s degree from Harvard, a Master of Public Affairs degree in international relations from Princeton University, and a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
What I like best about my public service is: being able to help people. As my public service career has progressed from service on local nonprofit and civic boards to serving in the Texas House of Representatives to serving as the mayor of Dallas, my connection to, and ability to help people, has increased. Whether it is through new initiatives, implementing our own version of successful programs from other cities, such as our new summer youth employment program, or something as simple as improving people’s streets, through public service, I love being useful to my community.
The best advice I’ve received is: about leadership. Leadership is different than having a position of authority. Leading means being willing to take people where they would not otherwise go on their own. That sometimes means conflict and even standing alone, if necessary, for a while.
My favorite way to destress is: spending time with my sons, William and George. My wife Nikki and I genuinely enjoy being parents and seeing the world through their eyes. Whether I’m taking them for a round of golf, watching Star Wars, or throwing the football with them in the backyard, there is nowhere else I would rather be.
People might be surprised to know that I: am only the third mayor in Dallas’ 165-year history who was born in the city of Dallas.
One thing I wished more people knew about the city of Dallas is: that we are a hub for technology and innovation. We have nearly a quarter million tech workers in the region. That’s more than Austin, which is traditionally regarded as the Silicon Valley of Texas. When we talk about places where startup companies thrive, people often overlook Dallas. I have made it a priority of my administration to provide support for innovative businesses and tell the story of Dallas as a true hub for innovation.
The city of Austin issued a request for information (RFI) for ideas and potential concepts for public-private partnerships (P3s) to develop a sports complex on a 60-acre parcel of city land along Walnut Creek.
Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) is asking for input including business ideas or programming activities that will support the development of the Walnut Creek Sports Complex in northeast Austin near Austin Tennis Center, Colony Park District Park, Austin to Manor Bicycle Trail, and Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park.
The city seeks a for‐profit or nonprofit partner interested in entering a long‐term Parkland Improvement, Programming, and Maintenance Agreement to design, construct, program, operate, and maintain a sports complex that is geared toward league play. The type of facility and programming is open‐ended. Existing organized sports groups have shared their desire for league play associated with soccer, softball, baseball, tennis, and cricket.
PARD envisions the possibility of an effective P3 agreement which may have the potential to not only generate revenue, but also positively enhance the experience of park users, businesses, visitors, and residents surrounding the parkland. In relation to this RFI, the city seeks potential topics to consider for the scope of work.
The city is in the information‐gathering phase of this project, so a specific timeline has not yet been developed.
Phases for the Walnut Creek Sports Complex project will likely include:
- Phase 1 - Issue request for information (current phase).
- Phase 2 - Review information and concepts provided in response to the RFI. Develop a draft scope of work for a request for proposal (RFP) that is competitive and inclusive of community goals for the property.
- Phase 3 - Seek feedback on draft scope of work.
- Phase 4 - Develop and issue RFP.
- Phase 5: Award contract for the development and management of the Walnut Creek Sports Complex.
RFI submissions are due by 2 p.m. CST on March 11.
The Anna City Council is considering several facility and parks and recreation projects for a potential May 1 bond election.
Councilmembers reviewed three propositions at their January 26 meeting that would seek voter approval for either $50 million or $58 million total to fund the projects.
Proposition A would authorize $8 million for construction of Fire Station No. 2 west of U.S. Highway 75 and north of Farm-to-Market Road 455 within the Villages of Hurricane Creek development. It would allow the city to purchase a ladder truck for the station.
Proposition B would fund the construction of a $22 million public library and community center with multi-purpose recreation, meeting, and classroom space. It would be on the northeast corner of the municipal campus complex on State Highway 5 and North Powell Parkway.
Proposition C would be for either $20 million or $28 million for the construction of future recreational and sports facilities. Some projects under consideration are an indoor recreation facility, outdoor fields, additional trail connections, amenities for currently undeveloped parks, a new community skate park, and enhancements to existing facilities and sports fields.
If approved, design would begin on the Public Safety Facility in 2021 and construction would begin in 2022. Public input and the design phase for the community library would start in 2021, and construction would commence in 2022.
Anna’s improvements to parks, trails, and recreation amenities would begin with feasibility studies and public input in 2021 and 2022, property acquisition in 2023, facility design in 2024, and facility construction in 2025.
It is possible for the City Council to call an election asking the community to authorize debt and not impact the tax rate with future bond sales.
The Texas A&M University System board of regents on February 4 approved $5 million for construction of a new Detonation Research Test Facility (DRTF) to be built and opened next year on the RELLIS Campus.
DRTF will enable a research team to examine how flammable gases and other materials interact and detonate on a massive scale. The discoveries could help prevent mining, industrial and home accidents, predict the path of wildfires, and make high-speed engines run more efficiently. It even could improve the understanding of supernovas.
What is likely to be the largest university-based facility of its kind in the world will feature as its centerpiece a 2-meter diameter, 200-meter-long detonation tube that is made of steel walls at least 3/4-inch thick. It will sit on concrete supports 2 feet above ground in a secure, isolated and open area near the runways of the former U.S. Air Force base.
The DRTF will have a protective earth berm between the steel detonation tube and a control building for researchers. At the opposite end, a concrete wall and berms will surround a muffler pipe to buffer noise. The facility will be near two other testing ranges being assembled for the George H.W. Bush Combat Development Complex on the RELLIS Campus.
Texas A&M plans to issue a request for proposals for a design-build contract on February 23 and begin construction on September 20. The facility is scheduled for occupation in April 2022.
The Huntsville City Council on February 2 adopted the city's 2021 Strategic Plan that focuses on infrastructure, public safety, economic and resource development, and finance.
Highlights of the Strategic Plan include direction to contract for the design and construction of the MLK Community Center, review the feasibility of building a sports complex, and start construction on an animal control facility.
Additional projects proposed in the plan are the widening of Farm-to-Market Road 1374 from Interstate 45 to Veterans Memorial Parkway, facilitating the construction of an inclusive playground at Kate Barr Ross Park, and creating an economic development sales tax-Type A or B economic development corporation.
The plan calls for drafting a public transportation action plan to provide fixed route bus service, establishing consistent development standards, and creating tree preservation standards.
No further details were included in the plan, and councilmembers did not discuss it at their February 2 meeting. The city manager stated that the task list was significant but that he believed city staff could accomplish the plan’s goals within a reasonable time.
The city of Georgetown will host a pre-proposal meeting on February 16 for architectural and design services for the construction of an airport maintenance facility.
At 10 a.m. CST, the city will conduct a virtual conference to present its plans to design and construct a new airport maintenance facility with an additional area for covered storage on city-owned property at Georgetown Municipal Airport.
The city is seeking a facility that provides adequate space for existing staff, improved operational efficiency, improved security for staff, and efficient operational and maintenance expenses through the incorporation of energy efficient or sustainable design elements. In addition, the facility must allow for adequate parking for staff, improved service, flexibility, and direction to accommodate future growth.
Future projects at the airport are scheduled for rehabilitation of Taxiway A1 in 2022 and 2023 and the relocation of the airport’s Automated Weather Observing System in 2023 to move it away from taxiways and the possibility of damage.
More than $5.1 million in financial assistance from the state will support various flood protection planning studies across Texas.
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) approved the disbursement, consisting of $4.97 million in grant funding and a $135,000 loan from the Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF).
Entities set to receive the funding are:
- City of Brownsville - $1.35 million for a flood protection planning study of the Brownsville Ship Channel watershed.
- Bastrop County - $1.13 million for regional flood protection planning study of multiple watersheds.
- Sabine River Authority - $750,000 to conduct a regional flood planning study and develop a comprehensive model of the Upper Sabine River Basin with particular focus on Longview and Kilgore.
- San Jacinto River Authority - $500,000 for a planning study that will provide data and tools to allow a more regional approach to reservoir facility operations.
- San Jacinto River Authority - $500,000 to produce a conceptual-level design and define benefits and costs for two dams in the Spring Creek watershed.
- San Jacinto River Authority - $375,000 to conduct a regional sedimentation study of the Upper San Jacinto River Basin.
- Waller County - $262,500 to complete two recommendations of the Lower Brazos Floodplain Protection Planning Study, including developing a hydraulic model of the Navasota River.
- Waller County - $240,000 to identify flood risk and flood protection measures, identify locations for stream and stage gauges, and develop a flood protection plan for the Spring Creek watershed.
The approved projects are eligible for FIF funding under Category 1, flood protection planning for watersheds, of the 2020 Flood Intended Use Plan. This category of funding was designed to support studies that conduct planning of entire watersheds to better guide the development of structural and nonstructural strategies.
Richardson councilmembers reviewed a list of $19 million in proposed parks capital projects at their February 1 work session for possible inclusion in a November 2 bond election.
A presentation by Parks and Recreation staff members focused on $10.43 million in improvements to Breckinridge Park.
A 2020 study recommended park improvements including:
- Extending a perimeter trail by 1.4 miles on the park’s west side from Beck Drive to Ravendale Drive. Preliminary cost is $2.23 million.
- Adding a pedestrian bridge and trail extension to connect the proposed perimeter trail extension with Complex C trails. Preliminary cost is $2.86 million.
- Installing a playground near the Keffler Ballfield complex to replace the “lake” playground. Preliminary cost is $2.02 million.
- Improving and expanding parking at Keffler Ballfields. Preliminary cost is $927,000.
- Implementing erosion control and reinforcement of Complex A pedestrian bridge. Preliminary cost is $1.4 million.
In addition, parks staff provided an overview of a potential transformation of the city’s Glenville Drive property into a centralized open space with a trail system featuring a 1,650-foot, 8-foot-wide concrete loop as well as two structures for creek crossing, landscaping, and site furnishings for an estimated cost of $3.77 million.
A 26-acre parcel on Apollo Road is under consideration for development for recreational use such as a destination facility.
Concept plans feature various field types and sizes, a pavilion, picnic grove, playground, concession area, about 600 parking spaces, a trail loop, and a flexible space for a future facility. Preliminary cost is $12.73 million, but staff recommended placing only the first phase of $1.02 million in the proposed bond package.
Councilmembers reviewed more than $3.5 million in playground redevelopments for possible inclusion in the bond. They anticipate finalizing the ballot language in early summer and calling the election in August.
Gov. Greg Abbott reappointed Aaron Demerson to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), subject to Texas Senate confirmation.
Demerson of Austin has served as the Commissioner Representing Employers since August 2019, and previously served as the director of the Office of Employer Initiatives for TWC. Before TWC, he served as a senior advisor to then-Gov. Rick Perry and was the executive director of the Economic Development and Tourism Division.
The Denton City Council named Sara Hensley as interim city manager, effective February 20. She will take over for Todd Hileman who will resign February 28 to accept a position as city manager with the city of Palm Desert, California.
Hensley most recently served as Denton’s deputy city manager. Before that, she was parks and recreation director for the cities of Austin, Phoenix, and Virginia Beach.
The Texarkana Regional Airport selected Tyler Brown as its first airport property development and marketing manager.
Brown most recently served as noise and airspace project coordinator for the Lee County Port Authority in Florida. Before that, he worked on landside contracts management at Washington Dulles International Airport.
The Italy ISD board of trustees named Rachel Kistner as the lone finalist for the district’s superintendent position on February 1. If approved, she would take over for Interim Superintendent Don Clingenpeel.
Kistner is serving as the executive director of special services at Burleson ISD. Prior to that, she was a teacher, campus principal, and director of special education at Red Oak ISD.
The city of Georgetown named Chelsea Solomon as its director of water utilities. She succeeded Glenn Dishong who retired in December 2020.
Solomon most recently served as manager of the city’s control center. Before joining Georgetown as a utility engineer, she worked in the private sector to design water and wastewater projects for public utilities.
Dallas College appointed Dr. Bradford Williams as president of the El Centro Campus on February 1.
Williams most recently served as president of Oklahoma State University. Before that, he was deputy director of strategic planning and initiative as the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from January 29-February 4:
Texas Military Preparedness Commission
Maj. Gen. Kevin Pottinger, USAF – Keller (reappointed)
Shannalea Taylor – Del Rio (reappointed)
Dennis Lewis – Texarkana (reappointed)
Kenneth Sheets – Dallas (reappointed)
Texas Crime Victims’ Institute Advisory Council
Justin Berry – Austin
Melissa Carter – Bryan
Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists
Jodie Elder – Dallas
Anthony Scoma – Austin (reappointed)
Evelyn Husband Thompson – Houston (reappointed)
Real Estate Research
Douglas Foster – Lockhart
Warren Jennings – Fort Worth (reappointed)
Elizabeth Martin – Boerne (reappointed)
Texas Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board
Chance Bolton – Bee Cave
Martha Gayle Reid Lynch – El Paso
Paola Escalante-Castillo – Weslaco
Texas Board of Nursing
Daryl Chambers – Grand Prairie
Allison Edwards – Bellaire (reappointed)
Kathy Leader-Horn – Granbury (reappointed)
David Saucedo II – El Paso (reappointed)
Cancer Prevention and
Research Institute of Texas Oversight Committee
Donald Margo – El Paso (reappointed)
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 Health and Human Services Commission – Auditor V
Texas Department of State Health Services – Infectious Disease Prevention Section (IDPS) Contract Specialist
Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board – Human Resources Specialist III
Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs – Customer Service Representative
Texas State Securities Board – Attorney I
Texas State Securities Board – Financial Examiner V
Texas Department of Transportation – Area Engineer I or II (Junction)
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts – Education and Customer Services Manager (Manager II)
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts – Assistant Records Manager
Texas Water Development Board – Financial Analyst II