Volume 20, Issue 44 - November 4, 2022

Green infrastructure requirements will impact future construction projects
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc.

Green infrastructure is a construction trend worth watching. It is gaining momentum rapidly and support for the trend is evident at every level of government.

There’s a noticeable difference in green construction projects. These types of initiatives encourage, or mandate, specific components, standards, and results. For instance, a green infrastructure project may be designed to result in replenishing groundwater, sustaining trees and plants, or protecting ecosystems. A green construction project may focus on the objective of providing sustainability and resilience or enhancing safety by using certain types of materials.

The enthusiasm for green construction has led to new organizations such as the Coastal Resilience Interagency Working Group – an organization that aggressively works to protect threatened coastlines. In water projects, green construction components might include nature-based solutions such as widened floodplains, expanded wetlands and/or the development of water-retaining basins. Outcomes such as improved water quality, mitigation of flood risk, reduction of urban heat islands, and/or sustainability could be the goal. Some of the green infrastructure projects will have equity components built into the design plan.

Federal agencies with specific guidelines for green infrastructure include the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These, and other federal agencies, have agency-specific rules for implementing green infrastructure projects. Other agencies and other federal programs will likely follow the same patterns.

The emphasis on green infrastructure is obvious at the state level in Texas and green construction projects are becoming the cornerstone of the Texas Water Development Board’s long-term plan for providing future water resources for the state’s historic growth. The agency is encouraging localized adoption of green infrastructure and awarding funding and recognition for successful green construction projects. 

Click here for more

Texas receives portion of $700M port development grants

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Maritime Administration has chosen 41 port projects to share a record $703 million in the latest round of its Port Infrastructure Development grants program. The funds are spread among 22 states and American Samoa. 

More than 60 percent of the grants announced will go to ports in historically disadvantaged communities, and more than $150 million will help reduce emissions through electrification, according to the USDOT. Alaska received the largest dollar amount - $112.5 million for four separate projects. It also won the largest single grant, $68.7 million, for reconfiguring and realigning the shoreline at the Port of Alaska in Anchorage. 

The port awards include nearly $100 million for offshore wind development projects. The White House has set a goal of deploying enough offshore wind by 2030 to power 10 million homes. 

Texas will receive the following grants:

  • City of Beaumont - Container on Barge Infrastructure Project, $26.4 million. This project includes two components: The “Lot 6 Project” will involve strengthening a 400-foot section of dock area to support heavy loads. The "Lot 14B Paving Project" will include design and installation of a 26.14-acre container marshalling yard and hard-surfaced laydown area.
  • City of Matagorda - Port of Palacios Energy & Resilience Improvement Project, $10 million. This funds the rehabilitation of the bulkhead and vessel berthing areas in Turning Basins 1 and 2, including the repair or replacement of roughly 5,600 feet of bulkhead and installation of approximately 20 vessel-to-shore power stations with multiple outlets to serve several vessels at once. The rehabilitation will make the facilities more resilient to the effects of natural disasters and sea level rise.
  • City of Harlingen - Dock Repair and Renovation Project, $4 million. This project will renovate the Port of Harlingen's main dock and related facilities. Work includes repairs to or replacement of the timber fendering system, timber rails, steel sheet pile bulkhead, steel anchor rods that hold the bulkhead in place, deteriorated concrete deck in multiple locations, mooring piles and related structures, and a mechanical winch operator and cable. In addition, the project will demolish, excavate, dewater, and re-compact critical uplands areas.
Judson ISD's $345.3M bond on the November ballot

The Judson Independent School District’s board of trustees approved asking voters to weigh in on a $345.3 million bond to be included on the November 8, 2022 ballot. Voters will be able to select from two Propositions. Proposition A will focus on safety and security while Proposition B covers overcrowding issues. 

The bond was deemed necessary to ensure safety and security across the district and help prevent threats to students and staff with new equipment in campus buildings. It also includes a new elementary and middle school as well as additional buses.  

Last November’s election saw a similar bond proposal fail to pass. With the new proposal, residents will see taxes increase.  

The district has been holding meetings to help educate the community ahead of the election. If the bond fails, the district will have to reprioritize local funds to accommodate needed projects. 

Saluting Texas' Lone Stars

Jessica Peña

Deputy Executive Administrator, Water Supply & Infrastructure

Texas Water Development Board

Public career and education highlights: 

Ms. Peña joined the TWDB in July 2001. She was named the Deputy Executive Administrator of Water Supply and Infrastructure in May 2016. She previously served as director of Regional Water Project Development managing multi-disciplined teams that implement water and wastewater projects across the state, team manager for the northeast region, and financial analyst. Ms. Peña holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from St. Edward's University.

What I like best about my public service is: being able to improve the quality of life for my fellow Texans. TWDB-funded projects provide communities with clean water and sanitary sewer services, which for some people are services that were not previously available.

The best advice I’ve received is: to find your “This is why I am here” moment and radiate pride in public service every day.

One thing I wished more people knew about the Texas Water Development Board is: from droughts to floods, TWDB financial assistance programs have saved Texans more than $5.5 billion dollars since 2013.

TWDB hosting Water for Texas 2023 Conference

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.

Join Ansarada for November 16 webinar 

Ansarada will be hosting a webinar November 16 at 1 p.m. (in Greenwich Mean Time) to discuss how to avoid legal challenges in your transportation and infrastructure projects.

In this infrastructure expert series webinar, Ansarada will discuss common legal challenges that occur in the lifecycle of large transportation and infrastructure projects – when, how, and why do they happen? Sharing experience, insights and lessons learned, our experts will provide practical tips that can be applied to your project to minimize the risk of legal challenges. 

Learn about:  

• Why transportation and infrastructure projects are more susceptible to legal challenges. 

• What key project stages are vulnerable to legal challenges and why. 

• Real-life examples and learnings from transportation and infrastructure projects that have been impacted by legal challenges. 

• Practical tips on how to avoid legal challenges on your own large, complex transportation and infrastructure project.

Click here to register.

Daylight-saving time ends November 6

Daylight-saving time ends November 6 at 2 a.m. The change pushes more daylight hours into the morning, making for darker afternoons. The amount of daylight will continue to lessen each day until December 21 when the winter solstice arrives. Then the length of days will begin to increase until the summer solstice on June 21, 2023.

We next turn the clocks ahead on March 12, 2023 — 126 days after turning them back. Daylight-saving time in 2023 will end on November 5, 2023.

City of Mansfield to expand Service Center, add animal shelter

The city of Mansfield plans to expand the current Service Center and build a new animal shelter on the same site and is requesting the services of a qualified architect to design the facilities. 

The current Chris W. Burkett Service Center houses multiple departments including Water Utilities Division, Code Compliance, Building Maintenance, and Street Operations. The Service Center also has space to accommodate training. The facility sits on land that can accommodate an expansion of approximately 40,000 square feet. The existing Service Center is housed on 14 acres and the city will acquire an additional 3.5 acres in December. 

The new animal shelter design will need to meet the projected population demand of 150,000 residents, bringing the new facility to approximately 25,000 square feet. The new facility is estimated to include a lobby, pet adoption area, separate animal intake area, officer workstations and offices, medical space, animal kennels, quarantine kennels, an outdoor dog/pet area, indoor pet play area, livestock area, enclosed crematory, drive through sally port, covered parking, and vehicle wash areas. 

A tour of the site will take place November 15. This request for qualifications is open until December 6 at 3 p.m. CST. Firms will be shortlisted and distributed request for proposals by December 20 and approval of the selected firm will take place February 2023. 

University of Houston to conduct facility condition assessment at multiple campuses

The University of Houston (UH) System has buildings at nine campuses that need an assessment of the current condition. The assessment is intended to capture information of all major buildings and infrastructure systems including site paving, interior partitions, interior finishes, HVAC, roofing, electrical (lighting & power), plumbing, vertical transportation systems, building envelope and structural systems, Life Safety Code, ADA issues, and underground infrastructure – electrical, sewer, water, and natural gas. 

The campuses in need of the facility condition assessment are Clear Lake Houston, Clear Lake Pearland Campus, Downtown Houston, UH (including Technology Bridge and College of Medicine), Sugar Land, NW Campus, Texas Medical Center, UH of Victoria, and UH of Katy.  

The UH plans to use this assessment to achieve goals such as creating long-range capital plans, producing a five-year annual cost breakdown with recommendations for project prioritizations, and showing the comparison of estimated costs of renovation vs. new construction of buildings. 

The UH is requesting proposals for this service by November 30 at 11 a.m. A mandatory pre-submittal meeting will take place November 8 at 3 p.m. via Zoom. The expected term of the contract will be three years with the option to renew two additional one-year terms. 

THC awards grants to historical landmarks

A $30,000 grant from the Texas Historical Commission (THC) will allow the Gregg County Historical Museum to make needed renovations to the second floor of the Everett Building, where it is housed. The grant comes with a match requirement of $30,000 from the museum. 

The structure was built in 1910 and is a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark. It is among five properties or districts in Gregg County listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Work on the facility is set for the second floor and will span six rooms along the north wall and include wall repair, painting, new doors, trim, and floorboards.   

Gregg County was one of 12 recipients this year that received the Texas Preservation Trust Fund grant. The grant funds totaled $271,275 and other recipients included: 

  • Leon County, $17,226 for development of the 1913 Leon County Jail.  
  • Young County, $30,000 for the planning of the 1921 Young County Jail. 
  • Travis County, $30,000 for the planning of the Henry G. Madison Cabin. 
  • Comanche County, $30,000 for the development of the Old Cora Courthouse. 
  • Galveston County, $30,000 for the development of the Ashton Villa.


View the full list of awardees beginning on page 60.

(Photo: Ashton Villa. Courtesy of Texas Historical Commission)

Waco pursues $13M in grants for infrastructure projects

The city of Waco is seeking $13 million in state grants to create new and repair old bike lanes and sidewalks.  

The city is pursuing these funds through the federally funded Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside Program, administered by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), which plans to distribute $250 million for projects to be carried out through 2026.  

The grants would cover 80 percent of the project’s cost. This totals $10.4 million for the four projects Waco plans to pursue.  

Rebuilding Austin Avenue’s sidewalks from City Hall to 18th Street will cost $7 million. Another $1.7 million would fund a project to add sidewalks and bike lanes along Dallas Street between Mill Street and East Waco Drive.  

A $2.8 million project would bring new sidewalks to one side of 11th Street between Franklin Avenue and Interstate 35 as well as add infrastructure at intersections to protect bike lanes and sidewalks. Another $1.5 million would be needed for work in downtown Waco aimed at improving compliance with standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act.  

Planning work has already been done for some projects which will improve Waco’s chances at receiving funds. Applications for the grant program are due next month and TxDOT expects to announce funding decisions next summer. 

Gateway International Bridge to receive $130M

The Gateway International Bridge in Brownsville will receive over $130 million for modernization and expansion efforts. These funds were awarded by the General Services Administration and are one of six major construction and modernization projects funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.  

The Gateway International Bridge is one of the busiest Land Ports of Entry, but its existing layout was not designed to accommodate the heavy traffic.  

The project is working through the development phase to determine scope and budget and will look to award the design-build contract to a construction firm soon. 

Construction will include replacing the entirety of its structure including expanding vehicle and pedestrian capacity and improving traffic flow and pedestrian safety.  

Blinn College Trustees approve $30M project

During a Master Plan update October 11, Blinn College trustees told administrators to proceed with constructing a more than $30 million Administration and Student Services building at the north end of the Bryan campus. 

Administrators, who recommended staying with the current plan, also told trustees that modifications are being made to the design to stay within the budget due to inflation. 

Trustees were shown architect renderings and were told that an estimated $750,000 had been spent so far on the project that includes a 45,000-square-foot facility, extending Nash Street from Villa Maria to the rest of the Bryan campus, and demolishing the “S” building that includes current administration offices. Construction is projected to be completed in Fiscal Year 2025. 

Trustees heard but turned down three less expensive alternatives. 

Rankin ISD presents $105M bond proposal to voters

The Rankin Independent School Board is presenting four separate propositions for consideration in the November 8 election. Proposition A will be worth $105 million and will go toward new sites for school buildings, new buses, district vehicles, and improving technology and security infrastructure in school facilities. 

These include a new bus barn, a new gym and renovations to the football field among other things. 

Proposition B will ask for $12 million to buy the county golf course, renovate and improve the course, as well as equipping it. 

Proposition C earmarks $2 million to purchase tech equipment. The hope is that the district will be able to purchase new laptops and desktops to be used for the next 10 years. 

Proposition D would be worth $4 million and would go toward buying and building housing for teachers. The plan is to build 10-12 new houses over the next 10 years.       

Shertz chooses Williams as city manager

The Schertz City Council has appointed Steve Williams as city manager.

Williams is currently serving as assistant city administrator/chief financial officer for the city of Conroe. He will begin his new job in Schertz December 1.  

Williams has been working in municipal government since 1996. He has worked in Dallas, Flower Mound, and Conroe. 

Treviño new superintendent of RHISD

Raul J. Treviño was selected as the Rio Hondo Independent School District (RHISD) superintendent by the school board after serving as interim superintendent for four months. Treviño has over 20 years of experience with school districts across Cameron County such as Los Fresnos, San Benito, Santa Rosa, and Rio Hondo. 

He returned to Rio Hondo in 2015 as the principal of Rio Hondo Junior High School. Soon after, Treviño served the district as the assistant superintendent of academics between 2018 to 2022.

Arlington airport receives national status

Arlington's municipal airport is now designated as a national airport. The change comes as the Federal Aviation Administration updated its National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS). Obtaining the designation increases the amount of formula funding earmarked in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 for the airport and enhances project competitiveness for additional federal funding. 

Despite the designation change the airport's name will stay Arlington Municipal Airport. Arlington's airport is now one of 14 national airports in Texas and one of 107 in the United States. 

Several projects are planned in the future including drainage improvements on the south end, a master plan update, aircraft parking apron expansion, and an additional executive box hangar complex. The development estimate for Arlington Municipal Airport over the next five years is roughly $59 million.  

Alamodome gets $23.2M makeover 

The city of San Antonio plans to start a multimillion-dollar renovation project on the Alamodome in June. With an estimated completion date of January 2024, city leaders hope to have the space ready to host the 2025 NCAA Final Four.  

With $23.2 million to work with, renovations are set to include the addition of 18 suites, replacement of elevators and escalators, and new finishes to the upper level. The plan is to upgrade already existing suites, concession areas, corridors on the club level, and restrooms on all levels. The Top of the Dome and the Hall of Fame Club will also receive a makeover.  

The funds will come from the $167.2 million the city council approved for improvements to the Alamodome and Convention Center in the 2023 budget.

(Photo: Courtesy of alamodome.com)

Fort Worth's City Hall Bitcoin mine successful

In April, Fort Worth became the first U.S. city to mine its own Bitcoin through three S9 mining machines, donated by the Texas Blockchain Council. At the end of the city council-voted pilot program, the city has netted $1,019.31 and plans to continue past the original six-month test.  

The true success, however, came from the story going viral across the world and branding Fort Worth as an innovative city. The program has garnered attention from companies across the U.S. that could bring in potential business, especially in the tech sector. 

Fort Worth also plans to leverage the success to bring on more innovative projects. The city’s Economic Development Strategic Plan has goals for “next-level” economic development that will encourage creativity and innovation as well as attract talented individuals and dynamic businesses.

EPA announces 132 air monitoring projects

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making its largest–ever investment with 132 air monitoring projects in 37 states slated to receive $53.4 million. The funds were made available from the Inflation Reduction Act and American Rescue Plan and are intended to enhance air quality monitoring in underserved communities across the United States.  

Grant funding will range from $57,000 to $500,000 with more than half the selected applicants coming from community and nonprofit organizations. Tribes will also receive 12 percent of the total funding.  

The EPA will start the process of awarding the funds by the end of 2022. Grantees will have three years to spend the funds.  

Texas Grant Recipients include: 

  • City of Houston. 
  • Lubbock Compact Foundation. 
  • Capital Area Council of Governments. 
  • Achieving Community Tasks Successfully (ACTS). 
  • Port Arthur Community Action Network. 
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