Volume 20, Issue 18 - May 6, 2022
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc.
For generations of Americans, the interstate system has been an icon representing infrastructural achievement. However, over the decades, the network of roadways has faced continuous use and declining upkeep and maintenance.

After decades, the skeletal fiber of infrastructure needs immediate attention and investment. Finally, there is funding to begin the process of upgrading the country’s infrastructure, and projects to refurbish, expand, and repair roadways are being launched rapidly.

The Hinckley Bridge Replacement project in Pine County, Minnesota, calls for replacement and repair of multiple bridges along a stretch of Interstate 35. The work will include the rehabilitation of aging infrastructure, improvements to bridge safety, and modernization of bridge design. The construction phase has a projected cost of $25.6 million, which will involve many other facets designed to extend the useful life of roadways.

Local governments in Texas will put forth a record-setting $18.6 billion total in bond propositions for voters to determine on May 7. The previous record of $15.45 billion was set in November 2019.

A total of 134 entities will conduct elections with school districts requesting $16.2 billion.

Forney ISD leads school districts with its more than $1.29 billion bond election asking voters to approve $889 million to build four middle schools, five elementary or early-childhood schools, and a transportation center in addition to renovations to several campuses.

Cities, towns, and counties are seeking $2.3 billion total in bond approvals with the city of San Antonio’s $1.2 billion bond package of constituting more than half of municipal requests. The city’s bond referendum is comprised of six propositions that would finance streets, bridges, flood control, parks and recreation, library, public safety facility, and affordable housing projects if all are approved.

Two special districts in Texas have a total of $43.3 million in bond requests for drainage and water projects.

For extensive reporting of the May 7 election results, purchase Strategic Partnerships Inc.’s Texas Bond Report. Since 2007, the Texas Bond Report has been the most comprehensive source of Texas’ local government bond election information.
Regents at The University of Texas (UT) approved a request from a facilities subcommittee on May 5 to start defining the scope of a $2.9 billion project to build two ambulatory clinical buildings at UT M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

The center is proposing to construct Ambulatory Clinical Buildings 2 and 3 on the institution’s Texas Medical Center campus.

Although the project includes two separate buildings with integrated parking garages, they are expected to be joined at the podium level to form one contiguous ambulatory treatment facility that is close to and interconnected with the existing Lowry and Peggy Mays Clinic and the Dan L. Duncan Building.

Overall, the new treatment facility is anticipated to consist of approximately 3.3 million gross square feet (GSF). Building 2 will consist of 950,000 GSF of clinical and departmental program space located on 17 floors above grade and 550,000 GSF of parking located on three floors below grade as well as a central parking structure. In total, there will be 1,500 parking spaces added on five levels.

Building 3 will consist of 1.5 million GSF of clinical and departmental program space located on 19 floors above grade and 300,000 GSF of below-grade parking adding another 785 parking spaces.

The project is expected to include the construction of two seven-story connectors that will complete a circulation route between the two new buildings, the Mays Clinic, and the Duncan Building, forming a complete quadrangle around the central parking structure. The top of the parking structure will align with the existing exterior plaza decks of the Mays Clinic and the Duncan Building to form a raised exterior garden.

UT expects to proceed with requested inclusion in the Capital Improvement Program in August 2023, design development approval in May 2024, construction start in November 2024, and substantial completion in December 2027.

Contractors have not been selected for architectural, engineering, or construction services.
Nadia Chandler-Hardy joins the Strategic Partnerships, Inc (SPI) Consulting Team with nearly two decades of local government experience. She assumes the role of senior consultant and joins the team after serving initially as a consulting partner for SPI. 

Nadia’s work as a public administration executive combined with her acumen for organizational strategy, critical thinking, and innovative leadership will add expertise and value to the SPI Team. 

Her experience most recently culminated in the dual role of assistant city manager and chief resilience officer for the city of Dallas. While serving in that capacity she oversaw a budget of $125 million and supervised all 1,500 employees working across the departments of Code Compliance Services, Customer Relations, Resilience, Homeless Solutions, Community Care, Animal Services, and the Office of Equity and Human Rights. 

Before serving in that role at the city of Dallas, Nadia was with the city of Tacoma, Washington, and served as the director of neighborhood and community services and assistant to the city manager. 

Nadia attended Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in political science as well as a Master of Public Administration. She also has completed professional training courses through the International City/County Management Association’s Senior Executive Institute (SEI) and NFBPA Executive Leadership Institute (ELI). 
The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) opened a request for information (RFI) for procurement and construction solutions for the METRONext Program.

METRONext includes approximately 75 miles of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) routes, two-way high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, park and rides, parking garage structures, transit centers, light rail, and community connector services.

METRO is issuing this RFI to obtain feedback from construction partners in the industry to assist METRO in developing a procurement and construction approach for its METRONext Program.

Planners are asking respondents to use the METRORapid University Corridor BRT as the context to develop responses. The project will include a 25.3-mile-long BRT guideway on city of Houston streets, a bus maintenance facility, up to 41 stations including shelters, passenger information, and security systems and fare boxes.

Project goals are to improve mobility, accessibility, and system linkage between major residential areas in the Houston areas and major employment centers and connect bus routes that currently serve the five transit centers along this corridor.

Estimated project cost is $1.5 billion to $2 billion with an anticipated start of construction in 2024. The project is in development and scheduled to be rated by the Federal Transit Administration for federal funding by September 2023. Construction strategy will guide segmentation as METRO enters final design.

RFI submissions are due by 2 p.m. May 31.
David Plyler
City of Sherman
Public career and education highlights: I was born and raised in Sherman, graduated Sherman High School in the mid-’80s, and matriculated to Texas Tech in Lubbock, which I go back to visit for games fairly frequently. I first got involved in local government through the Planning and Zoning Commission – a first step I recommend to anyone interested in public office. I served five years there before an appointment to the City Council in 2011, then was elected mayor in 2018 and re-elected last year for a final term, ending in 2024.

What I like best about my public service is: Having grown up here, and then seeing how Sherman has dealt with industry in the past and how we’re looking to the future, it’s a very exciting time to be mayor. I really enjoy working with companies and potential residents who are considering moving here, trying to help them see what makes our city great. But I also very much enjoy visiting with the folks who grew up here. I enjoy serving the hometown of my longtime friends, and making sure that we develop the city in such a way that we preserve what makes Sherman special.

The best advice I’ve received is: When it comes to public policy, I tend to get a lot of good advice from both friends and well-meaning citizens. But probably the best advice I’ve ever received was from my father. Before he passed away, he told me, “Just do the best that you can.” It’s a simple statement, to be sure, but that’s part of its beauty. Don’t try to be something you’re not; work to be the best version of yourself.

My favorite way to de-stress is: With three kids and now grandchildren on the way, my free time is not always my own anymore. But when I can get away, I enjoy tinkering with classic cars, which I’ve loved going back to my time in high school. In fact, I recently completed restoration of an air-cooled Porsche 911, which took about two years.

People might be surprised to know that I: Just really enjoy building things, which is good for someone who runs a construction company. My grandad Lloyd started the company in 1962, and my father joined the firm shortly thereafter, and I’ve been fortunate enough to follow in their footsteps for the last three decades. But it’s a passion that dovetails nicely with the growth that we’ve seen in this area, and it’s prepared me well, I believe, for the tremendous amount of building the city has undertaken in the last few years.

One thing I wished more people knew about the city of Sherman is: Well, aside from my love of classic cars, I really love classic rock as well. So when I became mayor, I put a lot of energy into turning our longtime summer concert series, “Hot Summer Nights” into something the city could really be proud of. We’ve worked hard to build a reputation as the premier free concert series in Texas. Being able to bring acts like Three Dog Night, Jefferson Starship, Blue Oyster Cult, and so many more to town for free shows – it’s not something that anyone else is really doing, and one of things of which I’m most proud.
The Texas Facilities Commission (TFC) will host pre-submittal teleconferences on May 10 and May 11 for building systems and envelope commissioning services for the second phase of the North Austin Complex (NAC). Attendance at one of the 10 a.m. meetings is mandatory, and pre-registration is required.

TFC is requesting architectural/engineering design and construction phase building systems and envelope commissioning services for the North Austin Complex, Phase II project for New Building B, a six-level office building with approximately 50,000 gross square feet per floor totaling 302,000 gross square feet.

Project scope Construction cost is estimated at $131.1 million to build Parking Garage B, a multi-level, above-grade structure capable of accommodating 2,000 parking spaces. In addition, TFC is planning a connection to the existing NAC Central Utility plant in the garage of Phase I and expansion of plant equipment to accommodate Phase II.

The North Austin Complex, 4601 W. Guadalupe St., in Austin primarily serves as headquarters for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). Substantial completion for the second phase is estimated to be met by the end of 2025. At its completion, HHSC and the state will be able to retire all remaining current leases in the Austin area at a savings of $5.6 million annually.
Life-threatening flood and stormwater events of 2021 further spurred government partners in the western portion of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to continue a regional study while seeking grant funding.

The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) had begun efforts to mitigate flooding in its 16-county service area based on alarming flood statistics for the state.

Texas far outpaced other states in flood-related fatalities from 2012 to 2017 with 180 reported deaths due to flooding, according to statistics from the National Weather Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

NCTCOG’s ongoing efforts include integrated long-range planning of regional transportation and stormwater management in the western-most area of the council’s 16-county region that also is within the watersheds of the various Trinity River branches.

The Upper Trinity River Transportation and Stormwater Infrastructure Project area includes Wise County and portions of Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Hood, Johnson, Parker, and Tarrant counties. Common community development master plans incorporate roadways, water/wastewater infrastructure, parks, solid waste needs, and fire and police stations, yet stormwater is treated as “drainage as you build.”

Modeling and maps will be provided to cities and counties as a final product to assist them in regionally endorsed higher standards. The overall project is estimated to take five years once funding from multiple sources is secured.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimated the cost of a DFW Flood Control System consisting of six multi-purpose reservoirs and two federal levee systems at $2.5 billion in 2019.
Sugar Land councilmembers moved the second phase of a public safety training facility into the design phase for the project, which was included in a $90.76 million bond package approved by voters.

More than $26 million was approved to fund public safety and facility projects. This included $10 million for the second stage of the public safety training facility near Sugar Land Regional Airport.

The project’s second phase will focus on a training building and an apparatus bay/classroom building. The new facility will accommodate incident command simulation training, EMS training, smoke diver and "saving your own" safety programs, a Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus confidence course, and a driving pad for motorcycles, ambulances, fire engines, and public works vehicles. Phase two will include outdoor classrooms, restrooms, site drainage, a water line loop, and a septic system. The design is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

Future phases will include a multi-story burn tower, a Class A burn building, expansion of the temporary range to include 50- and 100-yard shooting ranges, completion of the driving pad, and an administration/classroom building.
New federal funding will expand the Port of Galveston’s commercial capacity and, in turn, help reduce broader port congestion.

A recent $11 million allocation from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) will support dredging the final 2,500-foot stretch of Galveston Ship Channel to a depth of 46 feet. Dredging work—now slated to begin in 2023—will permit this stretch of channel to function as a deep-water port. As a result, increasingly large vessels with larger cargo holds will be able to call on privately operated terminals that already exist along this part of the channel.

The region’s local port authority, Galveston Wharves, is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to spearhead delivery of the project, which is expected to reach a total cost of $12 million to $14 million.

As dredging work gets underway, the FY2023 federal budget is also programming another $25 million for Galveston Ship Channel maintenance—the largest it has received for maintenance needs. The increase in federal funding follows an increase in volume of cargo shipped through the Port of Galveston. In 2020, for instance, the 12 million tons of cargo that traveled through the port made it the 46th-busiest U.S. waterway by cargo tonnage.

The federally funded dredging project is designed so the Port of Galveston can capitalize on these trends, rather than become overloaded by them. Ultimately, as larger vessels bring larger volumes of cargo through the Galveston Ship Channel, the port, itself, will become eligible for even larger allocations of federal money in the future.
Gregg County intends to re-bid a project to build a four-story parking garage and additional office space with an estimated budget of $10 million to $12 million after receiving bids between $18 million and $20 million.

This project aims to solve the shortage of public parking spaces around the courthouse in downtown Longview that the county has been attempting to address for more than 40 years.

In 2018, the Commissioner’s Court approved the purchase of property across from the courthouse for future expansion for $1.2 million. This property is where the new parking structure will be built.

The parking garage will accommodate around 300 parking spaces with 13,701 square feet of office space including the electronics office, visitors center, human resources department, veterans office, and a shared space.
The Houston Airport System will host a virtual pre-proposers conference at 10 a.m. May 12 for a project to replace and maintain passenger loading bridges (PLBs) at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and William P. Hobby Airport (HOU).

Following the conference, the airport system will host site visits at 1:30 p.m. May 12 at IAH and 1:30 p.m. May 13 at HOU.

The estimated $7.3 million project consists of replacing and installing a total of five new IAH bridges at:
  • Terminal A North – 3 replacements (Gates A10, A12, and A15). 
  • Terminal A South – 2 replacements (Gates A27 and A30). 

In addition, the project will replace five older passenger loading bridges at Gates 28, 29, 30, 31, and 32 at HOU with new modernized bridges. The estimated cost of construction is $7 million.

At both airports, the successful vendor will install ground power units (GPUs) and pre-conditioned air units (PCAs). Work is scheduled to begin in October on the replacement bridges.

A 25-year maintenance agreement will cover work on IAH bridges at:
  • Terminal A North – 3 PLB, GPU, and PCA (Gates A10, A12, and A15). 
  • Terminal A South – 2 PLB, GPU, and PCA (Gates A27 and A30). 
  • Terminal D (West Pier) IAH Terminal Redevelopment Program Gates – 11 PLB, GPU, and PCA. 

The airport system's objective is to obtain a single manufacturer/company across both IAH and HOU to support standardized maintenance, operation, training, spare parts, and consistent reliability.
Arlington city officials are taking steps to make structural improvements to City Tower following an engineering assessment that identified the need to enhance structural supports on all floors of the eight-story building of approximately 108,000 square feet.

The tower was constructed in the 1980s and later purchased by the city.

Engineers recommended the city complete the improvements within two to three years; however, they determined neither the public nor the city employees who work there face any imminent safety concerns, according to the city.

Next steps include designing the needed improvements and then hiring a contractor to do the work. The project is likely to be included in the list of bond projects being prepared for a potential 2023 election.

On April 28, the City’s Asset Management team provided information about the structural assessment and planned improvements to city employees who work in the office building.

The city’s Municipal Court is on the first and second floor. The other six floors house Human Resources, IT, City Attorney’s Office, Finance, Code Compliance, and the Action Center.
Planning is underway to build an electric vehicle (EV) charging network throughout Texas using $407 million in federal funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).  

Following a March mandate from the governor, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has been leading efforts to draft the Texas EV Charging Plan. The governor’s request also highlights a condition of the federal funding: the state of Texas must submit an EV Infrastructure Deployment Plan in order to receive its five-year allocation. 

As part of that planning effort, TxDOT is seeking input from the public on where EV chargers should be installed along routes that, pending the Federal highway Administration’s (FHWA) approval, will receive designation as Alternative Fuel Corridors. And now the public will have even more time to offer input, as TxDOT recently extended the engagement period to mid-June. 

Prior to its ongoing public engagement phase, TxDOT had already received the governor’s input on one aspect of the plan back in March. In his letter requesting the agency steer delivery of the state’s EV charging plan, he also suggested that TxDOT’s plan should allow drivers to easily travel throughout the state in an EV – with a focus on rural placement and connectivity. 

TxDOT recently released its own guiding objectives for the plan, which involve promoting economic development and giving EV drivers more confidence to travel longer distances throughout the state. Ultimately, the Texas EV Charging Plan’s Alternative Fuel Corridors and accompanying EV chargers will be integrated into a broader, nationwide EV charging network. 

In the meantime, TxDOT is advancing plans for its EV infrastructure deployment, which will be the subject of a virtual public meeting in June before it is due for submission to the FHWA on August 1, 2022. 
The city of Eagle Pass is commissioning a feasibility study for a new recreation and outdoor aquatic center to provide amenities for its population that has grown significantly over the last several years.

Through the course of the study, the city anticipates development of alternative conceptual and schematic designs based on approved recommendations as well as recommendations on cost estimates and cost comparisons for construction and operations of the recreation center and aquatic facilities.

Objectives for the study are:
  • To provide the city with analysis of the current and future needs for a new outdoor aquatic center. 
  • To provide guidance and information to the city related to current trends and recommend proper elements and amenities of desired spaces and activities within recreation centers and aquatic facilities. 
  • To provide recommendations to the city regarding size, location, and suggested components. 

The city is interested in revenue-generating opportunities and revenue analysis for the facilities and is open to possible public-private partnerships for the construction and operations of the facilities.
Lubbock Power and Light (LP&L) extended its deadline to 2 p.m. May 11 for submissions from vendors in response to a request for information (RFI) for materials on hand.

LP&L needs about 67 items that are not readily available, including crossarms, insulators, copper wire, and Fibercrete pads.

The municipally owned electric utility, which serves the majority of Lubbock, has been working closely for several years with the Electric Utility Board and Lubbock City Council to develop a path to retail electric competition.

In February, the board and council voted in favor of transitioning to retail electric competition, moving the utility closer to soliciting bids from retail electric providers and establishing a default electric provider.

LP&L hopes to transition to competitive retail electric service in late 2023 pending state regulatory approval to move all remaining customers into the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) market.

A move to retail electric competition would allow customers to compare different retail electric providers’ plans, rates, added value services, and more to shop for and select the best electricity plan for their needs. Lubbock Power & Light would continue to own and manage the delivery of electricity.
The Global Network of Innovation Districts (GIID) has selected Houston’s Ion District as a member of its collaborative network for global leaders of innovation.

GIID is a not-for-profit organization that researches innovative districts to identify how districts transform into new engines of city and regional economic growth. GIID will provide governments and investors with new resources and insights on supporting innovation districts.

The Ion District was the only venture in Texas accepted into the Global Network. Using GIID’s research, the Ion District will build comprehensive expansion strategies and will have the opportunity to validate its value proposition on a global stage.

Plans call for the Ion District to continue to be built out over the next decade encompassing 3 million square feet of development and offering an accessible, walkable, and integrated urban community in Houston.

The inclusion of Houston’s Ion District in the Global Network takes its membership to 22 members, including: Pittsburgh Innovation District in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Cortex Innovation Community in St. Louis, Missouri; Tech Central in Sydney, Australia; and Knowledge District Zuidas in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
The Northwest ISD board of trustees named Dr. David Hicks as the lone finalist to be the district’s new superintendent. If approved, he would succeed Dr. Ryder Warren who is retiring as superintendent this school year. 

Hicks currently serves as superintendent of Sherman ISD, which he has led for six years. Before that, he served as principal or assistant principal at all campus levels in Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD and Grapevine-Colleyville ISD. 
The La Marque City Council named Cesar Garcia as the new city manager. He succeeded Interim City Manager Randall Aragon. 

Garcia most recently served as director of parks and recreation for the city of Galveston.  
The Texas A&M University System board of regents named Dr. Robert Vela Jr. as the sole finalist for the position of president of Texas A&M University-Kingsville on April 28. He will succeed Dr. Mark Hussey, who resigned in December 2021 to return to Texas A&M University. 

Vela is currently president of San Antonio College. His academic career includes leadership roles at Coastal Bend College, A&M-Kingsville, and San Jacinto College before he joined San Antonio College in 2008 as dean of student affairs. 
The city of Lancaster appointed Ray Silva-Reyes as assistant city manager. He succeeded Fabrice Kabona who accepted the position of city manager for the city of Madisonville. 

Silva-Reyes began his engineering career in 2007, performing various civil engineering projects. He moved into municipal work in 2015 with the city of Red Oak as director of public works and parks and recreation, and eventually became director of community development before joining the city of Colleyville in 2018 as director of public works. 
Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from April 29-May 5:

Economic Incentive
Oversight Board 
Barbara D’Amato - Dallas

Texas Indigent Defense Commission
(all reappointed)
Valerie Covey - Georgetown
Richard Evans - Bandera
Missy Medary - Corpus Christi

Board of Pilot Commissioners
for Galveston County Ports 
James Bryan Jr. - Houston (reappointed)

Red River Authority of
Texas Board of Directors 
Tonya Detten - Panhandle

Texas Board of Physical
Therapy Examiners 
Omar Palomin - McAllen

Texas Board of Occupational Therapy Examiners 
Estrella Barrera - Austin

Continuing Advisory Committee
for Special Education 
Marissa Esquivel - Beeville
National Low Income Housing Coalition – “The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes”
Dozens of public-sector jobs are available. Click here to view all job openings and guidelines for job submissions to SPI. New jobs added this week:

  • Texas Health and Human Services Commission – Deputy Associate Commissioner of Complex Procurement

  • Texas Department of State Health Services – Administrative Assistant IV

  • Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs – Program Specialist

  • Office of the Texas Governor – Staff Auditor (Auditor I-II) (3 positions)

  • Denton County Emergency Services District #1 – Fire Chief

  • City of Leander – Active Adult Program Coordinator
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