Volume 20, Issue 14 - Friday, April 8, 2022
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc.
Railways — once the backbone of timely freight shipping — are now strained by bottlenecks, congestion, labor shortages, supply disruptions, and what some classify as exorbitant costs. However, there is change in the wind.

When freight shipping is stalled, it results in a devastating impact on the global supply chain. That impacts everyone … and public officials have been desperate to find remedies. Now, because of a $66 billion allocation in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, funding is available to address critical issues related to shipping. And another $3 billion was allocated for public-private partnership efforts that focus on restoring railway reliability.

Some of the upcoming initiatives described in this column are indicative of thousands of additional contracting opportunities that will be announced in the months to come.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has allocated $8 million to develop a master plan to improve light rail operations, and the majority of projects being studied focus on resilience. Work will begin this year on a large project to improve resiliency at the High Street facility that serves as the light rail network’s operations control center.

Voters in Forney ISD will decide the fate of a $1.3 billion bond package on May 7 designed to address its surging enrollment, which has already exceeded its 2022 enrollment expectations.

A recent report on the district’s population changes has added urgency to the matter: Forney ISD’s student population is projected to reach 25,000 over the next five years and 35,000 within the next 10 years.

The residents, local business owners, educators, students, and community leaders who make up the district’s 55-member Facilities Committee tailored the referendum to accommodate those projections with a package of construction and renovation projects.

Bond propositions on the ballot include an allocation of $347 million for five new elementary schools, an early childhood addition at the Keith Bell Opportunity Central career training center, and an addition to Claybon Elementary School.

Over half of the proposed bond funds ($889 million) would support renovations at two existing middle schools, construction of four new middle schools, construction of a new high school, and the second phase of a high school expansion project.
The Hutto ISD board of trustees accepted a tax value limitation application from Applied Materials for a planned semiconductor project with a proposed total investment of $2.4 billion.

Hutto is one of several locations the Santa Clara, California-based semiconductor and display equipment company is considering for a facility housing research and development labs specialized in advanced semiconductor processing.

Despite the semiconductor industry’s supply chain challenges, Applied Materials recorded quarterly revenue of $6.27 billion, up 21 percent year over year, according to its first quarter 2022 earnings report. The company, which was founded in 1967, has about 28,500 employees in 19 countries.

Acceptance of the application starts a 151-day review period process for the submission of a proposed Chapter 313 Agreement, which will be presented to trustees at a later board meeting. It is not a tax abatement agreement.

If the Texas Comptroller certifies the application and the board approves an agreement, the taxable value of the project would be limited to $80 million for the school district’s Maintenance and Operations portion of its tax rate for 10 years. The business pays the full amount of property taxes for the Interest and Sinking portion of the school district’s tax rate.

Applied Materials’ application anticipates a 2023 to 2026 construction phase.
The city of Waco will host a virtual pre-submittal meeting at 10 a.m. April 14 for publicly accessible electric vehicle (EV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) charging infrastructure and related operations.

This project would consist of designing, furnishing, installing and ongoing maintenance of EV and PHEV charging stations and associated infrastructure on city-owned property.

Waco will identify a municipally owned parking lot for the publicly accessible EV charging stations, and the selected vendor will identify parking spaces that have the highest potential to be utilized.

Potential sites that the city would like to have considered for possible public charging stations are the Waco Convention Center parking lot and the Waco Visitor Center parking lot.

The city’s goals include reducing greenhouse gas emission, encouraging the use of EVs and PHEVs in the city, and achieving a self-sufficient, independently operated system requiring no city capital or operating expenses.
The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) approved the first middle mile broadband rule in the state of Texas. This rule allows electric utilities to lease their excess fiber capacity to internet service providers so they can provide broadband to underserved and unserved communities in Texas.

PUC does not regulate broadband in Texas. However, this rule will help electric companies regulated by PUC partner with internet service providers and expand access to broadband in Texas.

Many ratepayer, consumer, and private property owner protections are included in the bill. Any middle mile broadband service costs cannot be passed to electric utility ratepayers. They are also not allowed to deliver internet service directly to end-use customers on a retail basis.

According to PUC Chairman Peter Lake, the infrastructure and equipment necessary are already in place, and this rule allows more collaboration with different industries.

Underserved and unserved communities will be determined using Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mapping criteria. Electric utilities contracting with internet service providers must submit implementation plans for middle mile broadband service to the PUC for approval.
Dr. Rebecca Davio
Director, Institute for Government Innovation and Geography Internship Coordinator 
Texas State University
Public career highlights and education: While degrees in merchandising, public administration, and solid waste management don’t seem to go together, that diverse background is critical to being successful in my current roles at Texas State University. My professional experience is equally varied — management trainer; recycling manager; director of both vehicle titles and registration, and driver license divisions; and associate professor of practice. This background equips me to run an on-campus consultancy designed to provide local and state government agencies high value, innovate solutions, and accomplish our Institute’s mission of improving today’s decisions and tomorrow’s decision makers.

What I like best about public service is: I love the opportunity to work from within government to make things better. Better customer service. Better work environments. Better data-driven decisions. Couple that with the ability to help students better prepare for their careers by complementing their academic learning with work on real world projects. Thankfully, I have been allowed to flex my entrepreneurial muscles within the constraints of government throughout my career. As the institute director, I can satisfy my need to learn continuously by working on wide-ranging projects.

The best advice I’ve received is: Don’t go it alone! Collaborating on a team with diverse students, other professors, and our clients ensures we deliver on-target, innovative solutions across a wide variety of topics and project tasks. And it’s fun! In fact, it’s my dream job, something I first envisioned when I began work on my PhD.

My favorite way to de-stress is: Working in my yard. Spring is my absolute favorite time of year!

People might be surprised to know that I: Am a spa girl and practice self-care regularly.

One thing I wish more people knew about the Institute for Government Innovation is: We are here and ready to help! A career in government didn’t provide much opportunity to hone my marketing skills, so getting the word out that we exist is our biggest limitation. We want to help, and Texas State has so many areas of expertise and resources to contribute for the benefit of our clients. The Institute is also unique in that we focus on addressing the needs of our clients by conducting applied research without the need to publish scholarly articles.
The San Antonio Water System (SAWS) launched its Resiliency Initiatives Project on April 7 to support the resilience of its infrastructure during events impacting the electric grid, such as the February 2021 winter storm.

SAWS will host a non-mandatory pre-submittal meeting at 2:30 p.m. April 20 for interested engineering firms. The selected firm(s) shall provide engineering services entailing planning, engineering evaluations, studies, reports, preliminary engineering, design, bid, construction, start-up, commissioning, and overall project management services for the design and construction of the Resiliency Initiatives Project.

Anticipated services will include project management and coordination, electrical, instrumentation and controls, Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), civil, mechanical, HVAC, structural, architectural, surveying, permitting, geotechnical engineering, subsurface utility engineering, preliminary engineering, design, scheduling, cost estimating, construction management, and other services as necessary for the project.

To follow its mandated emergency preparedness plan, SAWS must demonstrate its ability to provide emergency operation of its water system during an extended power outage, at a minimum water pressure of 20 pounds per square inch, or at a water pressure level approved by the state, as soon as safe and practicable following the occurrence of a natural disaster.

The scope of this project includes:
  • Implementation of resiliency measures across select facilities. 
  • Individual facility connected loads range from approximately 50 kilovolt-amperes to 13 megavolt-amperes. 
  • Evaluate and recommend means for expedited equipment procurement and construction project implementation strategies. 
  • Improvements to existing facilities as required to facilitate their coordinated operation under all modes of facility operation (local, automatic, remote, etc.) with the proposed resiliency measures. 
  • Communication system design for SCADA and other remote telemetry needs as required for the project. 

Work on the project is scheduled to begin in June. Land acquisition is to be determined. Construction costs are estimated at $200 million.
A new study commissioned by the Midland Development Corporation (MDC) confirmed the viability of a high-speed airspace corridor operating from Midland International Air and Space Port (MAF) to Spaceport America in New Mexico to serve companies conducting point-to-point flights of reusable launch vehicles.

Consultants presented the Phase 2 study to MDC directors at their April 4 meeting that assessed the corridor’s capability of accommodating a variety of high-speed activities to include subsonic, supersonic, hypersonic, and point-to-point suborbital missions.

They designed a bidirectional conceptual high-speed airspace corridor connecting MAF and Spaceport America that is approximately 200 miles long and 20 miles wide from the surface to 60,000 feet high.

Based on stakeholder feedback and the study’s modeling and simulation results to-date, consultants reported this high-speed airspace corridor is feasible from an airspace and operations perspective.

A range of operational scenarios also exist that can further reduce impacts to the National Airspace System, such as integrating supersonic and hypersonic flights without the need for airspace closures and reduced corridor closure durations for short duration suborbital point-to-point missions.

MDC officials said they will seek funding for the third phase of the study that will be focused on mission-specific design and licensing on a case-by-case basis with proposed analysis detailing sonic boom, flight safety, air quality, explosive siting review, and airspace for expanded operations at MAF.

Prior to contracting the consultants to conduct the study, the MDC received 13 requests from vehicle operators for airspace and facilities to conduct a point-to-point test flight of their current generation launch vehicles between the airport and Spaceport America and back.

An earlier study determined if all 13 prospects were to locate in the aerospace corridor, they would require an estimated 64 acres to house 651,000 square feet of facility space and 465 employees at a projected investment of $281 million.
Texas ports and waterways stand to benefit from millions in federal funding awarded to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) improvement projects.

The Biden Administration recently announced that it will invest more than $2.7 billion in funding to 300 USACE projects throughout the country, including ship channel improvements at Brazos Island Harbor, the Corpus Christi Ship Channel, the Galveston Harbor and Channel, and the Houston Ship Channel.

Under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the Brazos Island Harbor Project will receive $68 million through USACE. Funding will go toward executing the Channel Improvement Project that will deepen the Brazos Island Harbor ship channel at the Port of Brownsville to enable increased cargo movements, reduce transit times and improve operational safety.

Proposed in the President’s Fiscal Year 2023 Budget is $157.3 million to complete the fourth and final phase of the Corpus Christi Ship Channel Improvement Project, which will increase the channel depth from 47 feet to 54 feet and widen the channel from 400 feet to 530 feet.

The project will add two barge lanes, which will allow slow moving barge traffic to be separated from blue-water ship traffic. The funding ensures the final phase of the project can be completed in 2025. The FY 23 President's Budget also proposed allocating $6.5 million for operations and maintenance funding for the Corpus Christi Ship Channel.

Also included in the IIJA, is the Galveston Harbor Channel Extension project, which will receive an estimated $11 million in Federal funding. This project will extend the 46-foot deep channel to the end of Galveston Harbor Project, allowing vessels calling the terminals located along the final 3,000 feet of the channel to utilize the existing 46-foot deep water. Deepening the channel will accommodate larger vessels throughout the harbor to increase capacity, while also enabling improved operational safety.

Since 2010, the Port of Houston has been partnering with the USACE Galveston District to expand the Houston Ship Channel. The $1 billion channel improvement project – called Project 11 – will receive an additional $142 million in funding under the IIJA. This funding is specifically designated to complete Segment 3 of Project 11, which focuses on the Barbours Cut Container Terminal section of the Houston Ship Channel, to improve efficiency and safety throughout the channel.

When complete, Project 11 will widen the channel by 170 feet along its Galveston Bay reach, from 530 feet to 700 feet. It will also deepen some upstream segments from 41.5 feet to 46.5 feet, make other safety and efficiency improvements, and craft new environmental features. The FY 23 President’s Budget also proposed allocating $40.3 million for operations and maintenance funding for the Houston Ship Channel.
The city of West University Place hosted two town hall meetings this week to address the long-term needs of its municipal buildings as it updates its facilities master plan.

Following this period of public engagement, the master plan will guide construction and renovation work on the city’s buildings to ensure they are outfitted for future service demands.

City officials previously identified a set of priorities that would influence its selection of projects under the master plan. These priorities reflect major concerns about facilities’ security deficiencies, structural vulnerabilities, functional demands, improvement costs, and environmental surroundings.

Projects will address these priorities across a wide range of eligible facilities. Officials have targeted the following types of municipal buildings for inclusion in the master plan: city hall, fire department, police department, public works administration, animal services, senior center, library, and multiple reaction facilities.

During previous public engagement sessions, city residents have suggested replacing rather than renovating the city’s existing fire station, moving public works functions outside the city center, and consolidating several municipal services within a single community building.

These suggestions have given way to several options for projects that will eventually comprise the master plan. The city is weighing two separate plans to build a public works campus for an average projected cost of $10 million. Additional project options include a $10.7 million consolidated community building/senior center/library facility, an $11 million fire station replacement, and $5.5 million renovation of city hall.

Once the Facilities Master Plan has been completed, city officials expect that it will lay the groundwork for more than $36 million in facility improvements.
NASA wants to return astronauts to the moon in 2025 through its Artemis program and eventually establish a settlement. One place the space agency is looking to find outside expertise is the Center for Advanced Measurements in Extreme Environments (CAMEE) at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA).

The university first developed CAMEE in 2019 with a $3 million grant from NASA. Since 2015, UTSA has won 10 research grants worth $3.8 million to help advance NASA programs.

Recently CAMEE requested $2 million in NASA grants to continue research for the Artemis program. If USTA wins the renewal grant to carry on its Artemis-related research, some of the NASA funding could be used for building a lunar test facility in San Antonio. This site would emulate the environment of the moon.

The lunar test facility is still in its preplanning stage. CAMEE is in ongoing discussions with Port San Antonio about housing the facility on the southwest side of the 1,900-acre campus.

According to CAMEE’s director, the facility has completed enough research to pursue donors and additional federal funding for the site. CAMEE officials are optimistic that NASA will award the grant and hope that NASA and other organizations will be able to use the facility.
The city of Arlington has announced that its autonomous vehicle pilot program, RAPID, will expand service later this year, continuing to provide convenient and dependable public transportation. This expansion was made possible due to additional grant funding provided by the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG).

The new grant funding will allow RAPID to operate for two additional years until 2024. The program will also add new vehicles with higher seating capacity and technology to move toward becoming fully automated. Vehicles will be wheelchair accessible and be equipped with communication devices to communicate with emergency vehicles.

RAPID is a partnership by the city, the University of Texas at Arlington, and transportation and transportation technology companies.

Since RAPID launched in March 2021, the program has provided around 28,000 trips, with vehicles running in the self-driving mode about 80 percent of the time. Shared rides, which began in July 2021, make up between 60 and 70 percent of all ridership.

The initiative was one of only 25 projects to receive funding in 2020 through the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Integrated Mobility Innovation Program. Similar projects are serving the public in Las Vegas and the Michigan cities of Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor.
The city of San Marcos issued a request for information (RFI) to seek vendor input on title research for project design (ownership and easement information) and commitments for title insurance for potential property acquisitions.

Specifically, the city would like to understand the full range of options and opportunities available for title research for Schedule A and Schedule B items on typical title commitments, and commitments for title policies for properties where acquisition is necessary.

RFI responses are due by 5 p.m. April 22.
A contingent of Fort Worth councilmembers is heading to Spain next week to consult with FC Barcelona as part of the city’s interest in attaching an international soccer brand to a proposed youth soccer venue.

During their trip, councilmembers are scheduled to attend a tournament hosted by the club’s youth academy in Barcelona to help guide the city's efforts to attract youth soccer tournaments and events to Fort Worth.

The city is considering a proposal to partner with Keller ISD to build a 10,000-seat stadium and support facilities in north Fort Worth at the Basswood Boulevard site adjacent to Interstate 35W. Keller ISD would have use of the stadium for its sporting events.

Earlier this year, the city hired an adviser to assess the market and financial feasibility of the potential multi-use venue and its proposed tenants that could include a United Soccer League Championship (USLC) team, a second-division United Super League women’s team, and a soccer development academy managed by a prominent European soccer club.

According to the adviser’s feasibility study, the average current or planned USLC stadium costs $27.5 million to construct or significantly renovate, with the public sector funding an average of 29 percent of development costs and the private sector funding an average of 73 percent.

Due to the pandemic and changes in television rights deals, FC Barcelona has suffered some financial hardships of late that saw it lose some of its marquee players to wealthier teams. However, it has retained its stature as one of the world’s most prestigious football clubs with 20 European and worldwide titles to its name. The 2022 Deloitte Football Money League ranked it the fourth-richest football club in the world.
Public-sector employees are invited to learn about Supercharging Governments to Better Serve Residents and Public Workers at a free webinar hosted by UiPath and Funkhouser & Associates at noon CDT April 21.

Erik Walsh, city manager of San Antonio, and Anh Selissen, chief information officer at the Texas Department of Transportation, are among the scheduled speakers who include Mark Funkhouser, president of Funkhouser & Associates, and Don Horan, global state, local, and regional government industry lead at UiPath.

Tune in to hear how your government or agency can leverage federal funding to:
  • Manage both short- and long-term capacity issues by modernizing systems and boosting efficiency. 
  • Upskill employees by freeing up time for high-value work to support retention and performance improvement. 
  • Increase accountability and transparency by monitoring for fraud and investing in cybersecurity. 

This webinar will help state and local leaders understand how technology and automation can support them in achieving these goals in a way that will enhance constituent services and empower public-sector workers to do their jobs more successfully.

Click here to register.
The University of Texas (UT) at Austin is inviting construction management firms to a pre-proposal conference at 10 a.m. April 13 for information on renovations to the Perry Castaneda Library (PCL). An initial site visit will follow at 1 p.m.

PCL was selected as the site of a new Digital Scholar’s Lab for its ability to co-locate materials with equipment, software, and space for research, work, and teaching, for its central location to create community resource for all of UT, and for its staff of library experts who facilitate use of collections and digital tools.

Located on the library’s second level, the Scholar’s Lab will be approximately 13,000 square feet adjacent to the main entry and will include a data lab, open event space, reservable project rooms, catering green room/serving, staff office area, storage, and flexible project space.

In addition to the lab, the Center for Teaching and Learning will be vacating its existing space in the Sanchez Building and moving to the third floor of PCL. The center’s office suite will be approximately 3,500 square feet of shared offices, private offices, storage, multipurpose space, and community lounge space.

Design work on both areas began in March. Construction is scheduled to begin in December and be completed by August 2023. The university will employ a construction manager at risk (CMAR) delivery method.
The Marshall City Council appointed Terrell Smith as the new city manager on March 31. He will take over from Interim City Manager David Willard.

Smith most recently served as assistant to the city manager for Sugar Land. Before that, he was an operations manager and administrative manager for Sugar Land’s public works department.
Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) selected Jenny Barket as its new chief of staff, effective May 15.

As a director at a leading engineering and professional services firm, Barket served as a strategic adviser to projects across the country. Before that, she was legal counsel to the Build America Bureau, the Federal Transit Administration, and the Regional Transportation District in Denver.
The city of Fredericksburg selected Clinton Bailey as the new city manager, effective May 1. He will succeed City Manager Kent Myers, who is retiring September 30 and will transition to director of special projects until then.

Bailey is currently serving as Fredericksburg’s assistant city manager and director of public works and utilities.
The Levelland City Council named Brandon Anderson as the new city manager on April 4, pending contract negotiations. He will take over from Interim City Manager Jose Cavazos who filled the position after former City Manager Erik Rejino accepted a position as assistant city manager of Lubbock.

Anderson is currently the city manager of Graham. Before joining Graham, he was city manager of Haskell and a county agent in Wilbarger, Stonewall, and Haskell counties.
The Hurst-Euless-Bedford (HEB) ISD board of trustees approved Dr. Joseph “Joe” Harrington as the district’s new superintendent on March 28. He will succeed Superintendent Steve Chapman, who is retiring.

Harrington currently serves as the district’s deputy superintendent for educational operations and previously served as its assistant superintendent for secondary administration. Prior to joining HEB, he held assistant principal and principal roles in Northwest ISD and Grapevine-Colleyville ISD.
The Liberty Hill City Council appointed Paul Brandenburg as city administrator on April 6. He will succeed former City Administrator Lacie Hale who resigned in March.

Brandenburg most recently served as project manager for the Brazos River Authority. Before that, he held city manager and city administrator positions with the city of Georgetown and the Wisconsin communities of Germantown, Waunakee, and Wauwatosa.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from April 1-7:

Credit Union Commission 
John Bleazard - Katy
Julia Stockstill Cobb - Deer Park (reappointed)
Yusuf Farran - El Paso (reappointed)

Advisory Council On Emergency Medical Services 
Peter Marocco - Dallas
Billy Lail - Glen Rose
Daniel Ramirez - San Juan
Katherine Remick - Austin
Jeffery Barnhart - Canyon (reappointed)
Ruben Martinez - Concepcion (reappointed)
Ryan Matthews - Holliday (reappointed)

Texas State Board of
Plumbing Examiners 
Norma Yado - McAllen

Drought Preparedness Council 
Glenn Reed Patton - Lubbock

Texas Council for
Developmental Disabilities 
William Coorsh - Houston

69th Judicial District Court Judge 
Kimberly Allen - Stratford
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 – Accountant V

  • Texas Health and Human Services Commission – Systems Analyst IV

  • Texas Water Development Board – Geologist (Geoscientist II-III/ Hydrologist II-III/ Geologic Specialist II)

  • Texas State Securities Board – Financial Examiner IV

  • Office of the Texas Governor – Child Sex Trafficking Team Associate Administrator (Program Specialist V)

  • Office of the Texas Governor – Project Development Coordinator (Program Specialist IV-V)

  • Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs – Inspector (Lubbock area)

  • Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts – HR Staffing and Classification Specialist

  • Travis County – Senior Engineer - Capital Improvements Projects & Public Works

  • City of Pflugerville – Public Works Director

  • City of Leander – Facilities Maintenance Supervisor
Connect with Us
Check out our social media links!
View our Texas Government Insider and Government Contracting Pipeline newsletter archives
Help us share this message.
To ensure delivery and proper formatting of the newsletter, be sure to add editor@spartnerships.com to your safe senders list. Otherwise, the newsletter may be flagged as spam and automatically routed to your junk e-mail folder.
 For news or calendar items: editor@spartnerships.com 
For information about SPI's products and services: sales@spartnerships.com
© 2022 Strategic Partnerships, Inc. All rights reserved.