Volume 20, Issue 42 - October 21, 2022

University campuses are becoming extremely active construction sites
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc.

Now that students are flocking back to university campuses, new initiatives to enhance recruitment competition are creating an abundance of contracting opportunities. New student housing projects are extremely common, but university officials are also launching other types of projects designed to enrich the campus experience. Recruitment competition is so extreme that the state of California has budgeted $1.8 billion in interest-free loans for students. The initiatives that follow are similar to ones being launched on campuses throughout the country.  

Officials at Arizona State University may have the greatest number of new projects planned. Their planning documents outline 150 new projects of various types that will be launched on many of university system’s campuses. One $175 million project includes a new building that will be specifically designed to support a growing interest and high demand for education career tracks that require research disciplines. The new facility will deliver additional classroom space and other types of research needs for the polytechnic campus in Mesa, Arizona. This project will launch in 2023. Officials have also announced plans for construction of a new academic building on the university’s West Campus. The concept design for this facility includes computer labs, drawing labs, and office space. Construction on the multi-use building is planned to begin in 2023.

Another project that has been announced is a new residential hall which will also be located on the system’s West Campus. The new building includes four stories and a cumulative 55,000 square feet for student galleries, computer labs, drawing labs, and office space. The multi-use facility will be scalable, with design considerations made for future expansion work. The $33.5 million building will begin construction in 2023 and it is expected to be operational two years after that.

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$3.6B in potential Montgomery County mobility improvements

A Montgomery County mobility study finalized this fall recommends $3.6 billion in improvements.

While specific funding sources and timelines are unknown for the recommended projects, the study outlines the precinct's needs for roadways, safety enhancements, and transit upgrades. A future bond referendum could be used to fund the various projects.

Projects recommended in the study include widening additional sections of FM 1488 to I-45; updating signal timing on roads; and adding shoulders, turn lanes, and roundabouts.

These projects will serve a large and growing area. Montgomery County has a population of 620,400. The Texas Demographics Center predicts the county will reach a population of 1.11 million residents by 2040.

Four projects to construct a loop connecting Hwy 105 to Old Conroe Road and meets I-45 and Grand Central Parkway is estimated to cost $101.34 million. This project includes county and state-maintained roads. A $14.2 million project to extend Old Conroe Road and a $31.75 million widening of the road is expected to be needed within 10 years.

The county could benefit from a $82.7 million series of projects to add a new road and loop, estimated to be needed in 11 years.

Not every project recommended by the mobility study will be completed as new projects will be implemented on an as-needed basis determined by the precinct.

Saluting Texas' Lone Stars

James Colbert Jr.


Harris County Department of Education

Public career and education highlights: 

From the moment I decided to become an educator, I had two priorities: work with and serve students with special needs and become an administrator so I can do that at a large scale. I became an Assistant Principal at 29 and a Superintendent at age 39. I am currently honored to serve and advocate for thousands of students with special needs as Superintendent of Harris County Department of Education.

What I like best about my public service is: Advocating for others and looking beyond myself. I thoroughly enjoy representing and supporting the people who are not often advocated for because I can identify with that population.

The best advice I’ve received is: As an educator, everything we do is about student performance, student performance, student performance.

My favorite way to de-stress is: Playing golf.

People might be surprised to know that I: have been published twice for poetry.

One thing I wished more people knew about the Harris County Department of Education is: We pride ourselves on being good stewards of taxpayer dollars, leveraging $1 of property taxes into $5 of services while seeking the blind spots in public education in the region so we can better advocate for students.

Donley and Ardanaz join consulting team at Strategic Partnerships 

Ryan Donley is an experienced global executive with over 22 years of experience in technology transformation sales and delivery. The expertise he has gained from decades of experience in resolving problems, implementing technology, and operational improvements in the government marketplace make him a valued asset to the SPI Team.

His expertise in predictive analytics, software solutions and implementations, cloud services, team development, and technology transformations have provided Ryan opportunities to work with some of the largest government contracting firms in the country. He has worked at the federal level of government most of his career and has strong C-suite relationships. 

Because of his experience and his deep knowledge of digital transformation, marketing, management consulting, digital transformation, and contract negotiation, he will be of great value to clients of Strategic Partnerships. Ryan holds a MBA degree from American University’s Kogod School of Business and a BS degree from The University of Texas at Austin.

Xavier Ardanaz brings 30 years of expertise and experience as a corporate executive and an entrepreneur to the SPI Team. His career has prepared him to develop new markets and launch new offerings for numerous diverse industry sectors.

Working with some well-known corporate firms in America, Europe and Latin America, Xavier has been successful in developing a thorough cross-cultural understanding of strategy and building relationships in all types of marketplaces.

With a bachelor’s degree in Business from Rutgers University and an MBA degree in Marketing and International Business from New York University, Xavier is well suited to provide assistance in expanding networks and building strong market penetration to SPI clients.

Austin planning underground water storage

Austin is planning an underground water storage project to provide the city with a drought-protected water source.

Aquifer storage and recovery has been done in El Paso and Kerrville to protect regions from the effects of droughts. Storage works as a sponge, storing water in cracks of the aquifer. This method stops water evaporation and reduces the need to build more dams and surface reservoirs.

The plan calls for pumping water from reservoirs in the Highland Lakes along the Colorado River to an underground storage space for use when water is scarce. The city’s water facility will store about 60,000 acre feet of water underground by 2040. Storage can increase to 240,000 acre feet of water by 2115.

The project will require a well field, pump station, treatment facilities, and water well heads. A city resource supervisor said the plan requires a smaller footprint than other major water supply projects. The project will require water rights and land use guidelines to operate effectively.

Environmental impact and water retrieval are concerns for the project. Austin Water is currently undecided on the location for the project and it is working to identify the exact location by 2024. City planners will meet with residents of Lee, Bastrop, and Travis counties where the project could be housed. The city will build and test a pilot program before beginning full-scale design and construction near 2028.

The project is estimated to cost $367 million to be paid for through utility rates and possibly low interest state loans.

McKinney National Airport planning commercial expansion

The McKinney National Airport is planning an expansion to include commercial passenger transportation. A bond committee intends to ask for a $200 million bond to construct a new terminal in a 2023 bond election.


The proposed project is estimated to cost $300 million to build a 144,000-square-foot terminal with four gates and potential to grow to 16 gates in the future, 2,000 parking spaces, food and retail locations, and passenger amenities like a children’s play area. The project is eligible for grant funding through the Federal Aviation Administration which could reduce the amount requested in the upcoming bond.

The future expansion would be built on land the airport purchased for this purpose in 2018. Texas Department of Transportation plans to expand the Spur 399 in McKinney around the airport which will serve the expected traffic increase.

Currently, the airport provides general aviation services like private flights, flight training, and medical transport. It continues to operate at 100 percent occupancy despite various expansion projects on the grounds.

If a 2023 bond election moves forward and McKinney voters approve it, the airport could launch commercial passenger flights as soon as spring of 2026.

(Photo: Courtesy city of Mckinney)

Texas awards $11.7M for water projects

Texas Water Development Board announced financing and grants worth more than $11 million for water, wastewater, and flood projects.

$4,650,500 to El Paso County for flood mitigation El Paso County will receive $2,372,000 in financing and $2,278,500 in grants for the state’s Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF) to plan, design, and construct a flood mitigation project. The project will repair an existing detention basin and build a new basin and sediment pool storage. 

$2,638,900 to the city of Gladewater for water system improvements - Gladewater will receive $1,861,000 in financing and $777,900 in principal forgiveness from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF). The city plans to rehabilitate an elevated storage tank and intake pumps, replace water lines, and develop an asset management plan.

$1,488,000 to the city of Marble Falls for wastewater system improvements - Marble Falls will receive $995,000 in financing and $493,000 in principal forgiveness from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF). The city will design wastewater system improvements and evaluate the overall treatment concept and direction.

$1,475,000 to the Welch Water Supply Corporation for water treatment plant improvements - The Welch Water Supply Corporation will receive $675,000 in financing and $800,000 in principal forgiveness from DWSRF. The corporation will design and construct plant improvements and install a new reverse osmosis water treatment system.

$998,000 to the Mullin Independent School District for water system improvementsMullin ISD will receive $398,000 in financing and $600,000 in principal forgiveness from DWSRF. The district will design water system improvements, assess construction of reverse osmosis treatment, increase well capacity, and analyze the cost and benefits of a new well. 

$491,400 to the city of Moran for wastewater system improvements -Moran will receive $491,400 in principal forgiveness from the CWSRF. The city will rehabilitate its existing wastewater tank and disposal system. 

Design contract approved for Victoria new public safety headquarters

Design for Victoria’s new public safety headquarters will begin this year and the city expects construction to begin early 2024.

The 14-acre site will house the Victoria Police Department, fire department administration, and the city of Victoria Municipal Court. Current facilities were found to be outdated and without enough space for employees. The new headquarters will be a more centralized campus with larger police interview rooms, more employee break areas, a workout facility, technological improvements, more courtroom space, and secure parking on-site. The new headquarters will allow space for estimated personnel growth for the next 20 years.

The $2.8 million design contract will be funded by the federal American Rescue Plan Act and the Victoria Sales Tax Development Corporation. The city of Victoria will account for remaining funds, approved in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget.

(Photo: Courtesy city of Victoria)

Pleasanton PD, municipal court awarded $3M in funding

The city of Pleasanton is planning a $8.5 million project to build a new police department and municipal court. The city was recently awarded federal funding worth $3 million; the city will match $5.5 million to complete the project.

The department has outgrown its current facilities and projected population growth further adds to the necessity of the project. The new 20,000-square-foot police department will hold 30 peace officers, eight civilian personnel, a municipal court judge and two court clerks. 

Waco to develop Heritage Square, STEAM center

City council is expanding an existing contract with a design firm to $532,000 to develop a master plan for a 90-acre downtown area and a new municipal center building. A city official said the plan could take some time as it's early in the planning phase.

The new contract includes community input on the vision for Heritage Square, using community input to develop a master plan for the area surrounding City Hall, plans for a new municipal building, and a plan for a new cultural destination in the area which could potentially be the new Texas Ranger Hall of Fame.

Waco is also redeveloping the Bledsoe-Miller Community Center into a high-tech learning center. The community center operations will move to the city-owned former Doris Miller YMCA facility which the city plans to renovate and open by summer 2023.

The new science, technology, engineering, arts, and math center will serve all ages of the community with a networking area, industry training rooms, specialized labs and equipment, and classrooms. The STEAM center will be funded by $6 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act and $500,000 from Baylor University.

The city will develop a program steering committee next month and work to establish a cost estimate for the facility design and identify potential private company collaborators and additional funding.

Fort Worth seeking proposals to develop Panther Island

Since Fort Worth secured federal funding to address flood control, the city is ready to hire consulting firms with waterfront development experience until November 10.

Panther Island will be a mixed-use development with 10,000 housing units and 3,000,000 square feet of commercial, retail, and educational space with a canal system, walking trails, a marina, and a houseboat district.

The federal funding will be controlled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood control project and will not be used for land development.

The chosen consultant will need to consider current market conditions, existing regulations, and study other cities who have successfully developed similar areas to recommend the best strategy for economic development of the area. As part of the evaluation process, the consultant will create opportunities for public input on the project.

The request for proposals is found here.

Swigert takes on city manager role

The city of Cleveland has selected Scott Swigert as its next city manager. He will replace former City Manager Stacey Williams who left in May 2022.

Swigert comes to Cleveland from Mont Belvieu, where he has served as assistant city manager for over five years. Swigert brings over 23 years of municipal government experience, beginning in parks in recreation in Brenham. He has had tenures in Midland and Deer Park as well. Swigert began his new role with the city on October 10.

$12B dedicated to Houston road projects

The Texas Department of Transportation will invest $12 billion over 10 years in road projects focused on relieving traffic congestion within the city of Houston.

Four I-10 widening projects in the Katy area are estimated to cost $510.7 million total. All four projects are planned to begin in 2023 and conclude in 2026. The most expensive project for this area is the widening of I-10 in Brookshire. After a received federal adjustment for additional funding, the project is estimated to total $337.47 million. The other three projects will also widen I-10 from west of Snake Creek to the Fort Bend County-Harris County line, from the county line to Mason Road, and from the Waller County-Fort Bend County line to west of Snake Creek.

Funding for widening I-10 projects will come from statewide connectivity corridor projects and strategic priorities. This year’s record in funding is due to Texas’ vital role as a transportation chain for global trade. However, since funding levels do change, it does not ensure that all proposed projects will be built.

$442M upgrades to Dallas, El Paso veterans’ facilities

President Biden signed the Fiscal Year 2022 Veterans Affairs Major Medical Facility Authorization Act to authorize more than $442 million in upgrades to Veteran Affairs healthcare facilities in Texas and El Paso.

In Dallas, the current short-term spinal cord injury facility will be converted to a 30-bed capacity long-term care facility, estimated to cost $293 million. In El Paso, the bill will fund a new health care center to expand the services available to the community, estimated to cost $150 million. 

Flood mitigation grant applications due Dec. 2

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is accepting applications for Fiscal Year 2022 Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) grants until December 2.

Total $800 million is available nationwide for project planning, scoping, and funding. The FMA Grant Program assists states and communities with federal funds for cost-effective measures to reduce long-term risks of flood damage to buildings and other structures insurable under the National Flood Insurance Program. TWDB distributes the FMA grant on behalf of FEMA for Texas.

Planning grants can cover developing or updating the Hazard Mitigation Plan or for flood studies to develop flood mitigation projects. Project grants can fund localized flood reduction projects, acquisition and demolition or relocation of structures, structure elevations, and mitigation reconstruction.

The priorities for the FY 2022 funding cycle and information on how to apply can be found here.

Waco to renovate Primrose Creek Bridge

The federal Bridge Investment Program's (BIP) first round of funding will provide $18.4 million in 2022 towards 23 different projects in 23 states. The grants are meant to support construction projects that improve safety, economic development, and durable infrastructure. An $800,000 BIP grant awarded to Waco is the only BIP planning grant awarded in Texas. 

The funding will go to the Primrose Creek Bridge Planning Project to address flood concerns and bridge crossings.

A preliminary plan is in the works to handle renovations to make the channel capable of handling run-off in a storm event.

The city will need to provide $200,000 in funding to supplement the federal grant. Waco will use the findings from this planning project to apply for future BIP grants to address other construction needs; the estimated cost for completing the bridge project is $20 million.

New vision for Hemisfair

The City of San Antonio wants to redevelop two historic downtown buildings, the John H. Wood Jr. Federal Courthouse, and Adrian A. Spears Judicial Training Center as part of a federal land swap. The vision is to use these buildings in a larger transformation of Hemisfair park with the development of residential, retail, restaurants, parks, and hospitality.

Renovating the two buildings will have to comply with historic preservation covenants to preserve the exteriors.

The city has not yet identified future uses for the buildings or commissioned cost estimates for the remodels.

The buildings are in the process of being nominated to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places which would make them eligible for tax credits and renovation grants.


Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from October 14-October 20:

1st Judicial District Attorney

Paul A. Robbins -  San Augustine

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