By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc.
Infrastructure funding is flowing, and the majority of regional connectivity projects involve numerous stakeholders and therefore demand intensive coordination. Under normal circumstances, these multi-jurisdictional projects would be difficult, if not impossible, to deliver in the amount of time that funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (BIL) will remain available. Yet recent White House initiatives are expediting review processes, promoting alternative forms of delivery, and facilitating stakeholder engagement.
In mid-October, the federal government announced it was launching new efforts to abbreviate delivery timelines for large projects, such as regional and interstate connectivity improvements. This means large contracting opportunities will also appear more regularly.
State transportation departments for Oregon and Washington will partner on a bridge replacement project that has an estimated cost between $3.2 billion and $4.8 billion. The new structure will replace a large, outdated bridge where Interstate 5 crosses the Columbia River. When completed, mobility throughout the region will be significantly improved. The new bridge will include modern design, seismic resilience, and multimodal improvements to this segment of I-5. Final design work is scheduled to begin as soon as the project’s period of environmental review is concluded.
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Dallas City Council approval is pending for a master plan to redevelop Hensley Field into a new walkable community.
The unused former Naval Air Station will be converted into a community with more than 6,800 new homes, 12,000 jobs, parks, waterfront trails and marina, school, recycling and compost facility, grocery store, and possible film studio. The new homes will be a mix of affordable housing and market-rate apartments, townhomes, duplexes, and single-family houses with all future residents living within a five-minute walk of a park or public space. Nearly 100 acres will be set aside to attract major corporate employers. The plan will extend Dallas Area Rapid Transit bus lines to the area. A 40-acre mixed-use development would feature sustainability efforts like rooftop panels, rainwater use, and electric vehicle charging stations.
The redevelopment plan is expected to cost $389.9 million, half of which will be spent on new roads and utilities. The project will be completed in three phases over 20 years.
The master plan suggests tax increment financing, to be approved by city council, to commit future property tax revenue to pay for public infrastructure and improvement costs. Tax increment financing is expected to raise $198 million-$243 million in property tax revenue from Dallas and Dallas County over two decades. The master plan recommends bonds, federal grants, American Rescue Plan Act funds, and other financing methods to support the remainder of the project.
Dallas City Council will vote to approve or deny the plan in December. After securing city council approval, the city will contract a developer to oversee the project with construction expected to begin 2025-2026.
The site is contaminated and requires environmental cleanup of metals, toxic chemicals, asbestos, and lead-based paint left from previous military use to meet residential standards. In a 2002 settlement, the Navy agreed to clean the site to residential standards by 2017, yet that has not been completed and it’s uncertain when the area will be cleaned. Cleanup could be completed in phases along with redevelopment.
Hensley Field is mostly unused except for city storage. The city leases some property to private companies and the military. Historic sites like a mid-1800s cemetery and 1940s aircraft hangars could be preserved or repurposed according to the master plan.
The Austin Independent School District’s largest bond package in history passed with overwhelming support after the November 8 election. The bond will pave the way for two dozen school remodels, technology investments, and renovations to athletic facilities.
Totaling $2.44 billion, the bond will fund major district improvement projects to provide:
- Security improvements including secure entry vestibules at every campus.
- Address critical deficiencies including heating and cooling, plumbing, roofing, and other chronic maintenance issues.
- 25 modernized schools through full or phased renovations.
- Improvements to athletic facilities including upgraded turf, restrooms, concessions, lighting, and seating.
- Districtwide technology upgrades.
- New buses to ensure 100 percent of the fleet has air conditioning.
Some high schools included in receiving phased upgrades:
- LBJ Early College High School, $116.5 million.
- Austin High School, $41.9 million.
- Bowie High School, $26.9 million.
These upgrades will include secure entry vestibules, athletic field upgrades, heating and air conditioning improvements, electrical improvements, plumbing improvements, building exterior improvements, roofing repair or replacement, elevator repairs or replacements, sidewalk improvements, student/staff devices and peripheral equipment, presentation and display systems for classrooms and other learning spaces, and more.
Some elementary schools included in receiving full upgrades:
- Allison Elementary School, $56.3 million.
- Harris Elementary School, $56.2 million.
- Houston Elementary School, $56.3 million.
- Linder Elementary School, $56.3 million.
- Oak Springs Elementary School, $47.6 million.
These upgrades will include enhanced security features, flexible spaces to promote a variety of teaching and learning methods, mental health/wellness areas, outdoor learning opportunities, community support spaces, professional learning centers for education collaborations, districtwide technology improvements, districtwide upgrades to digital platforms, districtwide network infrastructure upgrades, and more.
Chief Information Officer
City of Fort Worth
Public career and education highlights:
My entire career is dedicated to public service. First with active duty in the US Navy, then federal civil service and ultimately in local government in Texas for the last 20 years. I was born and raised in North Texas and it has been the highlight of my career to serve in the community where I grew up.
What I like best about my public service is: I was drawn to public service by a desire to make a difference and to give back to my community. There is no better place to work than local government to be able to have an immediate impact and to see the results of hard work bringing about a positive outcome.
The best advice I’ve received is: “Bloom where you are planted” I see many new professionals who desire to race to the top, bypassing the career-shaping experiences that teach you how to do a job well. I certainly had the fast-track mindset when I was a new local government executive. This advice points out that a progression of skills prepares you for greater roles. Good work will be noticed and more responsibility is given to those who demonstrate the ability to handle responsibility. When you master the skills of planning, fiscal management, administration and leading staff; your career will be whatever you want to make it.
One thing I wished more people knew about the city of Fort Worth is: Fort Worth is a vibrant city with a population of just under 1 million. Over the last three decades, Fort Worth has transformed from an economy of ranching and oil to a diverse economy with technology, healthcare, manufacturing, logistics, aerospace, and much more. Innovation is at the heart of the transformation and comes from the pioneering heritage of this great community. There is a tremendous quality of life here, which makes Fort Worth the 13th largest city in the US and climbing fast.
The Texas Water Development Board will be hosting the Water for Texas 2023 Conference - Connecting H2Opportunities January 23-25, 2023 in Austin. Topics will include water science and technology, drought and flood, innovative solutions to water challenges, Texas water policy, and communication strategies.
Join attendees from the water industry, including utilities, engineers, river authorities, bond counsels, financial advisors, scientists, and floodplain administrators, as well as local and regional representatives and elected officials and staff.
Click here to learn more and to register.
Ansarada will be hosting an expert industry panel and breakfast on December 8 from 8 a.m.-12 p.m. at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles, California.
This event, titled, “Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG): Opportunities & Challenges of Responsible Infrastructure,” will provide expert panel speakers who will explore the opportunities and challenges in driving ESG initiatives in current and future infrastructure in the U.S.
The integration of ESG into infrastructure projects provides an opportunity for all stakeholders to reduce risks and to demand a change that promotes investment in innovative, sustainable, and resilient infrastructure. This change in industry mindset is gaining traction and many are hungry for assurances about the integrity of ESG implementation in infrastructure projects.
Click here to register for free.
Amanda Bowlby, a marketing specialist, has joined the Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI) team and will be responsible for helping to provide the strategy and expertise required by the company’s expansion into new states. She will assist also with oversight of marketing initiatives linked to a number of new initiatives that will launch in the coming year. Amanda brings a wealth of knowledge and experience related to best marketing practices.
Originally from Ohio, Amanda graduated from Youngstown State University with a Professional Writing and Editing degree. She later took her writing expertise and spun it into a marketing career. Her experience has been gained from working with agencies as well as private sector firms interested in the government marketplace.
Amanda has a strong background in content marketing, creative campaigns, online programming, and digital outreach. These are all areas that relate to new initiatives Strategic Partnerships, Inc. has identified for launch soon.
A recently completed economic impact study found commercial services out of McKinney National Airport could generate up to $1 billion in revenue and create thousands of jobs by 2040.
City and regional leaders are considering calling for a bond election to build a $300 million commercial terminal to serve the growing McKinney, Plano, and Frisco communities. The terminal will potentially open in 2026 with four gates offering up to 20 flights per day with the potential to expand to 16 gates and 40 flights per day. City officials expect North Texas to continue to grow and see increased demand to support a third commercial airport.
The airport does not currently have any agreements with commercial airlines in place, but a city representative said the expressed interest of several carriers inspired the project.
The city expects to receive $60 million-100 million in federal grants and will use bonds to fund the remainder of the project.
The bond committee will need to make a recommendation to the city council in February for a bond election to be called for the May 2023 election.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced $13.1 million in grant funding from the Texas Military Preparedness Commission’s (TMPC) Defense Economic Adjustment Assistance Grant (DEAAG) program. The funds will be invested in infrastructure projects and other projects to protect jobs that may be impacted by future Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) processes.
FY2022-23 DEAAG reimbursements:
- $300,000 for Security Sensor Installation at Dyess Air Force Base (AFB) in Abilene.
- $1,611,159 for Wastewater Collection System Line and Manhole Replacement at Naval Air Station (NAS) Corpus Christi.
- $850,000 for Bert Williams – Iron Dust-Off Bypass at Fort Bliss in El Paso.
- $350,000 for Anti-Terrorism Protections Security System at NAS Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth.
- $5,000,000 for Lake Belton Water Treatment Plant at Fort Hood on Killeen.
- $1,700,000 for Kingsville Fire & Rescue Facility at NAS Kingsville.
- $2,000,000 for Fire Station Conversion at Goodfellow AFB in Tom Green County.
- $1,295,400 for Expeditionary Readiness Training Center Expansion at Goodfellow AFB in Tom Green County.
The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) awarded the Brownwood Art Center with a $20,004 grant to help upgrade its heating and cooling systems. This will help to make the center’s gallery and classrooms more comfortable while also protecting the center’s art collections.
This Community Development Partnership Program grant will pair with the $5,001 in matching funds from the non-profit Brownwood Art Association. The fund will be used to replace the faltering HVAC units with new high-efficiency models and upgrade three other units.
This community grant is one of 46 that have been awarded recently to help volunteer fire departments, local governments, emergency responders, and nonprofit organizations. fund improvements in LCRA’s wholesale electric, water, and transmission areas.
Applications for the next round of grants will be accepted in January.
Other past grants:
- The city of Bay City will construct new lighted soccer fields at Hardeman Park with a $50,000 grant. This funding, along with $580,000 in matching contributions from the city and private donations, will allow Bay City to build eight new soccer fields. The project also has added restrooms and renovated the existing teen center at the site.
- A $25,000 grant will enable the Coleman Public Library to replace outdated lighting, add water-saving toilets, and install new energy-efficient heating and cooling units. The grant, along with $8,458 in matching funds from the non-profit group Friends of the Coleman Public Library, will pay for energy-efficient LED lighting throughout the 18,000-square-foot library and in an outdoor vestibule.
- A grant will help the city of Mullin restore its 116-year-old community center. The $35,371 grant, along with $17,365 in matching funds from the city, will help Mullin repair the center’s foundation and sidewalk, clean up and remove debris, and repaint both the interior and exterior of the building.
- The City of Cuero will replace old floodlights at the Harvey and Jane Mueller Rodeo Arena in Cuero City Park with new energy-efficient LED lighting with a $20,000 grant. An additional $7,000 in matching funds from the city will help pay for installing new poles, fixtures, and LED lights at the rodeo arena to reduce energy use and provide better lighting for evening events at the facility.
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) proposed an update to its school safety standards that would target three key areas: facility, operating, and maintenance requirements.
The proposed rule would require that all facilities have access points that are secured by design, maintained to operate as intended, and appropriately monitored.
Based on these new changes, school districts will be able to apply for grants from TEA over the next two years. These will be based on pupil count with districts receiving at least $200,000.
The public will be able to weigh in on these proposed changes from November 11 through December 12 and if adopted, the rules will go into effect within two days of submission to the Texas registrar.
Here is a breakdown:
Exterior doors, exterior classroom doors, and portable doors
- All doors are to remain closed, latched and locked, and allow for emergency exit from the inside while remaining locked.
- Roof doors should remain closed and locked when not in use.
- Doors can be unlocked during the instructional day if they are actively monitored or within a secured area.
- Doors on the ground level or windows that are adjacent to or near a door and are large enough to allow someone to enter if broken must be reinforced with entry-resistant film unless within a secured area.
Panic alert system
- All schools must have a panic alert system that can be manually triggered by campus staff. When set off, the system would immediately call 911 with a location of where the alert was triggered, alert administrators who can also direct law enforcement, and can simultaneously send an alert to all staff.
Other facility components
- All exterior doors must be numbered.
- Radio signal repeaters must be placed where needed.
- Schools must ensure there is an exterior secure master key lock box.
Schools will also be required to update their operations and maintenance protocols.
Austin Community College’s (ACC) bond proposition has passed. The 11 existing ACC campuses will get millions of dollars to expand programs and facilities, and two new campuses will be created.
85 percent of the bond is intended to be workforce focused to increase on-hands training in needed areas like manufacturing, information technology, and health care.
The bond allots $200 million to add a new campus in southeast Travis County and $175 million to expand existing facilities at the Highland and Round Rock campuses. These are intended to add facilities for skilled trade and advanced manufacturing. The bond also will fund building a new campus on the Pinnacle site, which closed in 2018, in southeast Austin.
The professional nursing program at the Hays Campus was allotted $100 million to expand, and $45 million is intended to help students with wrap-around services like childcare, wellness clinics, and classroom equipment.
The Texas A&M University System is considering authorizing 2.5 acres on the Health Science Center Campus for a future Brazos County medical examiner’s office.
Brazos County Commissioners approved $24 million of funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to build the facility. By building the facility on campus, the university will be able to teach all the skills of a medical examiner doctor while benefiting the surrounding community.
County leaders say a toxicology lab and medical examiner’s office are long overdue and needed for public health and safety. Over 200 autopsies are currently outsourced to surrounding counties annually.
A 16,000-square-foot facility will have the capacity to perform over 400 autopsies annually for Brazos County and surrounding counties which will generate revenue for the county.
The Texas governor’s Public Safety Office will administer more than $355 million in grant funding for public safety programs including victims’ services, anti-trafficking efforts, and law enforcement support. The grants are provided through a mix of federal and state funding.
Grants include but are not limited to:
• $193.8 million to serving victims of crime and addressing violence against women.
• $60 million to Homeland Security for terrorism prevention, equipment, training, and other activities.
• $25.3 million to anti-human trafficking efforts for residential services, case management, and projects to prevent and prosecute commercial sexual exploitation of people.
• $15.6 million to justice assistance to promote public safety, improve the criminal justice system, and fund personnel, equipment, and training.
• $12.1 million to statewide emergency radio infrastructure to support state and regional efforts to improve or sustain emergency radio communications.
Dr. Elva LeBlanc was named the sole finalist as chancellor for Tarrant County College (TCC) in Fort Worth. LeBlanc has served as acting chancellor since February and as interim chancellor since June.
LeBlanc attended TCC as a student at the Northeast Campus and returned after completing multiple degrees to a teaching position and later, in 2006, returned as president of TCC Northwest Campus. In 2017, she became executive vice chancellor and provost.
On October 8, the Buda Economic Development Corporation (EDC) named Jennifer Storm as its new executive director. Storm previously served as chair of the EDC board of directors and will assume her new role in January 2023.
Storm will be responsible for day-to-day operations, building strategic relationships, managing incentive programs, and more.
Since 2008, she has worked to support associations, such as the Texas Retailers Association, the Texas Federation of Drug Stores, the Texas Association of Regional Councils, and the South Texas Chapter of the Associated General Contractors in roles from association manager to executive director.
Ceason Clemens has been named Dallas District engineer for the Texas Department of Transportation. She will oversee the planning, designing, building, operation, and maintenance of the state transportation system for the seven-county Dallas District.
She has served as the Dallas District's deputy district engineer since 2018. Before that Clemens was the director of transportation planning and development. The district is comprised of Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Kaufman, Navarro, and Rockwall counties.
The Texas Department of Transportation announced that Christina Trowler, P.E., has been selected as the new director of transportation operations for the Atlanta District.
In her new position, Trowler will oversee traffic operations in Bowie, Camp, Cass, Harrison, Marion, Morris, Panola, Titus and Upshur counties. This includes signals, illumination, pavement markings, signs, radio, railroad coordination, and Intelligent Transportation System operations.
She has served as the district traffic engineer since 2018. Trowler's new duties took effect October 1. She replaces Rebecca Wells, P.E., who was recently named the Atlanta District's district engineer.
The city of Dallas named Patrick Carreno as interim director of Aviation overseeing Dallas Love Field, Dallas Executive Airport, and Dallas Vertiport. The appointment came after former Director Mark Duebner announced his retirement.
Since 2021, Carreno has overseen Airport Security, Airside operations, and landslide operations. In the role of interim director, Carreno will focus on customer service and employee recruitment and retention.
Austin moves forward with plans to develop 208 acres into a sustainable, walkable community.
The city council vote provides funding for Phase 2 predevelopment services to continue negotiating a master development agreement. The development agreement will follow the vision of the Colony Park Master Plan conceptual ideas and goals.
The Colony Park project is the largest redevelopment of city-owned land since the Mueller project. It will be designed to include mixed-income housing of over 1,000 single-family homes; 831 apartments; mixed-use retail and office space; and 53 acres of parks, trails, and open space.
The city council set a hearing to create a tax increment reinvestment zone as a key component of the project’s funding. The remainder will be funded through public land sales, departmental capital budgets, and the creation of a public improvement district.