Volume 20, Issue 23 - Friday, June 10, 2022
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc.
Billions of dollars in public funding and tax enrichments are currently available to support the construction of affordable housing throughout the U.S. The impetus behind these incentives is the country’s affordable housing shortage which has reached near-crisis stage. A recent report notes that all 50 states have an inadequate supply of housing for low-income families. The current shortage represents a total of at least 7 million affordable housing units.

A recent ultimatum issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires local governments to submit a plan for addressing local housing shortages by August 16. Failure to comply will render the governmental entity ineligible for future HUD funding, including the coveted Community Development Block Grant program funding.

As city and county officials scramble to maintain eligibility for future funding grants, their plans offer a detailed first look at upcoming housing development projects.

The proposed $31 billion coastal defense system for Texas is advancing through Congress with a 384-37 House vote on June 8 to fund large-scale coastal storm risk management and ecosystem restoration actions aimed at providing the coastal communities with multiple lines of defense against storm surges.

Floodgates, seawalls, dunes, and other measures comprise a system, part of which is the “Ike Dike,” designed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to reduce the risk of coastal storm damages to natural and man-made infrastructure and to restore degraded coastal ecosystems.

The Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration Feasibility Study was included in HR 7776 and S. 4137, the Water Resources Development Act of 2022 (WRDA). On May 4, the U.S. Committee on Environment and Public Works introduced the Senate version of the bill which now waits a full vote. If approved, the merged bills would go to a bicameral vote. After that, Congress would allocate funding to specific projects in the appropriations process.

Both bills divide project costs into federal funding of more than $19.23 billion and non-federal funding of almost $11.67 billion – the largest project recommendation in Army Corps history.

For the upper Texas coast, USACE formulated the Galveston Bay Storm Surge Barrier System as a system with multiple-lines-of-defense to reduce damage to communities, critical petrochemical and refinery complexes, federal navigation channels, and other existing infrastructure in and around Galveston Bay from storm surge.

This “Ike Dike” section is highlighted by the Bolivar Roads Gate System, across the entrance to the Houston Ship Channel, between Bolivar Peninsula and Galveston Island. It would include 43 miles of beach and dune segments on Bolivar Peninsula and West Galveston Island that work with the gate system to form a continuous line of defense against Gulf of Mexico surge, preventing or reducing storm surge volumes that would enter the Bay system. USACE also calls for improvements to the existing 10-mile Seawall on Galveston Island to complete the continuous line of defense against Gulf surge.

On the lower Texas coast, a coastal storm risk management beach restoration measure on South Padre Island will include 2.9 miles of beach nourishment and sediment management. The plan proposes beach nourishment on a 10-year cycle for the authorized project life of 50 years.

Ecosystem restoration measures proposed at eight locations along the coast include approximately 114 miles of breakwaters, 15 miles of bird rookery islands, 2,000 acres of marsh, 12 miles of oyster reef, and almost 20 miles of beach and dunes.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) unveiled a draft Texas Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Plan on June 7 that aims to develop a charging network capable of serving millions of electric vehicles (EVs) in the coming years.

Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) estimates there will be 1 million electric vehicles on the road in Texas by 2028. Using current growth trends for EVs, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles estimates Texas will reach 1 million EVs by 2031.

The plan also intends to comply with federal guidelines, take public feedback into account, and respond to Gov. Greg Abbott’s direction.

In a March letter, Abbott instructed TxDOT and stakeholders to include in the plan a way for Texans to easily get from Beaumont to El Paso and Texline to Brownsville in an electric vehicle (EV) – with a focus on rural placement and connectivity.

For fiscal years 2022-2026, Texas will receive $407.8 million, with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) apportioning $60.4 million of that already for FY 2022. The funds will be split 80 percent federal, 20 percent state, with third parties funding the state’s share. No state funds will be used.

To receive the funds, TxDOT must submit an EV Infrastructure Deployment Plan by August 1 to FHWA describing how it intends to use its National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) funds.

The density, distribution, and power of the EV network outlined in this multi-year plan is targeted to support 1 million electric vehicles when built out.

DC fast charging stations will be 50 miles apart on the Electric Alternative Fuel Corridors and usually 70 miles apart anywhere else in the state. Drivers will have multiple options for EV charging along their intended travel route.

Every corridor charging location will have at least four units each rated to deliver 150 kilowatts of power. The stations will have room for pull through spaces for passenger vehicles pulling trailers or recreational vehicles. Locations will be discoverable online at the U.S. Department of Energy Alternative Fuel Data Center and various third-party applications.

To meet FHWA requirements, the chargers – which also must be available at or near every county seat – will be within 1 mile of interstate exits. TxDOT estimates 48 new locations will be needed to satisfy the 50-mile maximum spacing requirements from FHWA. The 48 new locations will complement 27 existing locations installed by the private sector and 26 planned locations resulting from Volkswagen settlement grants that meet FHWA requirements.

Spacing off the corridors could be slightly greater (70 miles) in rural counties due to distances between population centers and electrical supply lines in west Texas. Large urban areas will utilize a combination of DC and Level II charging across their respective areas. The mix and location of chargers will be determined based on equipment cost, access to power, community identified needs, and how long a vehicle is parked.

After concluding a public comment period on June 22, TxDOT plans to submit its EV plan to the FHWA by August 1 and publish solicitations on October 1. It is targeting January 2023 to award contracts for stations on Electric Alternative Fuel Corridors.
The University of Texas Permian Basin (UTPB) will host a pre-submittal conference at 1 p.m. June 16 for the remodel of the Mesa Building

UTPB estimates the project will cost $70 million to renovate and remodel the building on the Odessa campus.

UTPB conducted a facility assessment that determined the condition of the Mesa Building is an impediment to achieving new growth and technological functionality for modern academic delivery.

The Mesa Building consists of 317,000 gross square feet (GSF) and houses the university’s main classrooms, administrative center, and support services. It also contains the College of Business, College of Education, and College of Arts and Sciences.

A range of interior and exterior upgrades, enhancements, and improvements will include replacement of ceilings, light fixtures, HVAC supply registers/return air grills, flooring, paint, and wall coverings.

Electrical distribution and emergency power systems, building controls/automation, mechanical/plumbing systems, low voltage systems, and one new elevator are also required of the project.

Within the 317,000 GSF is up to 80,000 GSF of select demolition, salvage, and reconfiguration of classrooms, offices, and ancillary spaces necessary for maximizing efficiencies, increasing operational reliability, and providing improved work environments.

The scope is also expected to include interior/exterior upgrades for the main building’s entry. Exterior improvements are anticipated to include accessible routes and outdoor enhancements (decks, plazas, seating, gathering areas) with associated landscaping adjacent to the building.

University staff expect the building will be continuously occupied and require multiple phased demolition and construction document packages and associated substantial completions.
A partnership of Fort Worth transportation stakeholders is coordinating efforts to transform East Lancaster Avenue into a multimodal corridor.

The East Lancaster Corridor will include improved pedestrian and bicycle accommodations, enhanced transit, broadband, and additional “smart streets” features as the avenue is reconstructed from Dottie Lynn Parkway to downtown Fort Worth.

Staff at the North Central Texas Council of Governments, Texas Department of Transportation, and the city are working to coordinate a unified planning and implementation process to ensure that the project is competitive for $100 million in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s INFRA grant program, known statutorily as the Nationally Significant Multimodal Freight & Highway Projects program.

To fund the remainder of the project, Fort Worth will be asked to contribute approximately $16.5 million, consisting of $6.43 million in local funds being reallocated from the TEXRail Extension project, plus $10 million for reconstruction as part of the 2022 Bond Program. The project already has commitments of $40 million in other federal funds from the Regional Transportation Council and $10 million in state funds from TxDOT.

Once the process and timeline have been defined, the city and TxDOT will begin planning and engineering work this fall.
Jody Czajkoski 
City of Conroe
Public career highlights and education: I am a native Texan, was born and raised in Marlin, Texas, and graduated from Sam Houston State University with a Bachelor of Science. I earned my real estate license in 2000 and am president of a commercial real estate brokerage firm that offices in downtown Conroe. I was elected to the Conroe City Council in 2018 and then elected mayor of Conroe in 2020. I also served as the city’s representative to the general assembly and board of directors for the Houston-Galveston Area Council in 2019 and 2020.

What I like best about public service is: As a mayor you have a firsthand view and can receive opinions and comments from the general public because you meet so many people, whether you meet them at the grocery store or see them at church. It is great to have such an involved community with wonderful civic organizations, wonderful churches, and wonderful ministries that all want to work together for the greater cause. It is nice that on the local level you can truly get things done and accomplish goals.

The best advice I’ve received is: A couple of things — we are in a relationship industry and life is all about relationships. The best advice I have received is to get to know people personally a little bit. Instead of getting straight to business, always start by asking someone how their day is going. Also, always lead and treat people with love and respect and usually if you do that, you are going to get that back. Slow down and be kind.

My favorite way to de-stress is: I enjoy reading and spending time at the lake with my family. I also like to get involved and solve problems and find that to be a de-stressor.

People might be surprised to know that I: Was active in intercollegiate and professional rodeo. I am an ex-professional bull rider, received a college scholarship for rodeo, was a youth rodeo champion, and did a stint on the professional bull-riding circuit for two years and retired when I was 20 years old.

One thing I wish more people knew about the city of Conroe is: All the wonderful assets that we have in the community that contribute to the great quality of life and are part of the reason we are one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. An airport, a national forest, a historic downtown with a live music scene, and a beautiful lake are just a few of the multiple jewels in the crown of Conroe. It’s Conroe’s time to shine!
The city of San Antonio invites architectural and engineering firms to a pre-submittal conference at 1:30 p.m. June 22 for the city’s 2022-2027 bond program.

San Antonio is seeking to contract with firms to provide engineering design services and construction administration services for many of the street, bridges, sidewalk, and drainage improvement projects. The estimated project budgets under this bond potentially range from $1 million to more than $30.8 million.

As the largest bond program in the city’s history, the 2022-2027 Program addresses public infrastructure throughout the city from streets, intersections, drainage, pedestrian mobility, park improvements, new community and cultural facilities, library improvements, new public safety facilities, renovations to existing city-owned facilities, and affordable housing projects.

The largest portion of the bond issue encompasses street and drainage improvements which includes up to 58 projects representing approximately $560 million.

A portion of the bond issue encompasses architectural design services and construction administration services which includes up to 14 projects representing approximately $118.47 million.

Some projects will be joint-design and joint-bid with utilities (water, sewer and gas) as applicable. All bond program construction projects should be substantially completed or under construction by June 2027.
The Williamson County Commissioners Court allocated $72.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for water and wastewater projects throughout the county.

Williamson County received approximately $114 million in ARPA funds of which it had allocated only approximately $36.5 million. Approximately $5 million remains unallocated.

The Commissioners Court approved the allocation of funds for 15 infrastructure projects that will help with current needs for water and wastewater reliability and capacity.

One of the projects will help fund the Brushy Creek Regional Utility Authority (BCRUA) replacing a water intake structure in Lake Travis. This will provide water security for Cedar Park, Leander, and Round Rock.

In Hutto, funds will be used to construct a wastewater line from U.S. 79 to the Hutto wastewater treatment plant, building a modern line that is more environmentally friendly as it will allow companies and residents to connect to the line rather than use a septic system.

Round Rock and Georgetown will receive funding to construct a water line from FM 1660 to SH 130. Other cities will receive funds for water or wastewater system improvements that have not yet been identified.

ARPA funds must be obligated by the end of 2024 and constructed by the end of 2026.
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi will start design work soon on a new $64.92 million arts and media building.

The 87th Legislature passed SB 52 that allocated $45 million from tuition revenue bonds to the project to supplement the university’s current arts building which opened in the 1970s.

The proposed new Arts and Media Building will house undergraduate and graduate programs within the School of Arts, Media & Communication. The new 72,000- gross-square-foot, three-story facility will provide studios, performance theater, rehearsal space, teaching studios, and support areas.

It will neighbor the university’s existing Center for the Arts building to foster out-of-the-classroom interactions between students, faculty, and visiting professionals.

The design phase is scheduled to start in October. University officials anticipate construction will begin in November 2023.
Three Texas airports stand to receive a portion of the more than $518 million in grants the Federal Aviation Administration awarded in the second round of the 2022 Airport Improvement Program (AIP) on June 3.

The Tyler Pounds Regional Airport secured a $6.21 million AIP grant to reconstruct a taxiway, and the Robert Gray Army Airfield in Killeen will get $4.56 million to rehabilitate a taxiway.

Midland’s International Air and Space Port will put its $796,659 AIP grant toward reconstructing two runways, a taxiway, and an apron.

This round of AIP grants will aid airports across the U.S. to fund a variety of projects such as construction of new and improved airport facilities, repairs to runways and taxiways, maintenance of airfield elements like lighting or signage, and purchasing equipment needed to operate and maintain airports.
As the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) broke ground this week to raise several levees and build pump stations included in the Dallas Floodway Extension Project, officials looked ahead to future measures to alleviate flooding along the Trinity River.

Cadillac Heights and Lamar levees will be built with the funding provided from the Bipartisan Act of 2018 that allocated more than $450 million for the entire project. The inclusion of $135.25 million for the Lamar and Cadillac Heights levees will complete the project.

A new Cadillac Heights Levee is planned to protect the neighborhood on the west side of the Trinity River for 2.25 miles. It will connect with the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant Levee.

A new Lamar Levee will be constructed along Lamar Street on the east side of the river for 3 miles. It will connect to the existing Rochester Park Levee.

The Dallas Floodway Extension will reduce flood elevations within the existing Dallas Floodway such that the existing floodway levees can pass at least a 500-year flood event without overtopping. The existing levees provide 300-year protection to the downtown Dallas vicinity.
Texas led the nation in new construction starts in 2021 and is poised to be among the leaders in gross domestic product (GDP) for 2022, according to a recent construction outlook webinar.

A 7 percent increase from 2020 saw Texas record $114.13 in construction starts last year, according to Dodge Data & Analytics, a provider of software-based workflow integration solutions for the construction industry.

In Austin, non-residential construction soared 37 percent for the first four months of 2022, while the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex recorded a 27 increase percent over the same period.

Fueled by warehouse and education facility projects, total construction starts in the South region increased 13 percent in 2021. For this year, education construction starts are projected to increase by 18 percent and top $25.5 billion.

Dodge analysts predict Texas will be one of four states in the South region to accelerate its GDP faster than the forecasted national average of 3.5 percent this year. Following Delaware’s projected 5.8 percent increase, Texas is expected to grow its GDP by 5.4 percent, second most in the region.
Two flood mitigation and wastewater infrastructure projects captured $71.5 million in financial assistance from the state on June 9.

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) awarded $44 million to the Lumberton Municipal Utility District in Hardin County to replace its wastewater treatment plant and $27.5 million to the city of Sugar Land for a drainage improvement project.

Located 15 miles north of Beaumont, the Lumberton district is proposing to construct a new 6 million gallons per day (MGD) wastewater treatment plant at the site of its existing 3.33 MGD plant which is deteriorating and suffering mechanical failures.

The plant is operating at a reduced effective capacity of 2.1 MGD due to high levels of biological oxygen demand of the influent. With an average daily flow of 1.8 MGD the plant has exceeded 75 percent of its capacity and must begin planning an expansion.

Lumberton’s plans for the new plant consist of two 3 MGD treatment trains with reuse of limited equipment from the existing plant. The project includes the acquisition of land to the north of the existing site as well as resizing the lift station to accommodate future inflow.

Design work is scheduled for completion in March 2023 with construction commencing in August 2023 and concluding by December 2025.

Sugar Land Regional Airport, the city’s Police and Fire Training Facility, and the historical Central Unit Prison are in an overflow area of Oyster Creek and have been among the multiple facilities impacted by recent floods.

The city obtained TWDB funds for the planning, design, and construction of a drainage improvement project that removes these properties from the 100-year floodplain.

State funds will help Sugar Land protect against Oyster Creek overflows and provide flood storage, stormwater harvesting, and water quality features. The project includes a wet detention pond, channel improvements, weir diversion structure, drop structures, and diversion channels from Oyster Creek to Bullhead Bayou. The estimated number of structures removed from the floodplain is 392.

Sugar Land’s project is set for design completion by December 2023. Construction will start in January 2024 and finish by November 2024.
Killeen councilmembers approved the acquisition of 15 acres that will be the site of the city’s ninth fire station and a new complex containing an emergency operations center (EOC), support, and training services.

The city’s fire chief stated the construction of an EOC-Support-Training complex will allow the fire department to provide training to Killeen Fire Department personnel and other city employees on how to respond to a declared emergency as well as allow for enhanced response to needs associated with a declared emergency.

Fire Station No. 9 will help to improve response times, maintain the city’s Insurance Services Organization (ISO) rating, and add needed resources to the city fire department.

The training campus site plan includes a 12,000-square-foot fire station, 16,000-square-foot EOC-training building, a 12,800-square-foot police-fire share tactical training facility, a “burn” building for simulating fires, and a 12,600-square-foot support-maintenance building. In addition, the campus would have room for training props, secured and public parking, and future training and support expansions.

The City Council approved $11.9 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding for the complex in the fiscal year 2022 budget. The estimated project cost for the new fire station is $7.5 million.
The Buda City Council will enter negotiations with Interim City Manager Micah Grau to become Buda’s permanent city manager. The council named Grau as interim city manager in April after former City Manager Kenneth Williams resigned.

Grau began his tenure with Buda as assistant city manager and was promoted to deputy city manager in April 2019. Before joining the city, he was interim city manager, assistant city manager, and director of finance at the city of Hutto.
The Dalhart City Council appointed Stacey Norris as the new city manager, effective mid-July. She will take over from Interim City Manager Melissa Vossmer who filled the position after former City Manager James Stroud retired in January.

Norris most recently served as director of community development and tourism for the city of La Grange. Before that, she was the city’s Main Street director.
The city of Austin named Public Works Director Richard Mendoza as interim transportation director on June 6. He took over for former Transportation Director Rob Spillar who accepted a position in the private sector.

Mendoza joined the city in 2017 as public works director and brings more than two decades of public service leadership experience.
The Snook City Council appointed David Junek as the city’s first full-time city administrator and city secretary.

Junek most recently served as director of parks and recreation for the city of Rosenberg. Before that, he was parks and recreation superintendent for the city of Bastrop.
The Moulton ISD board of trustees appointed Dr. Renee Fairchild as the district’s superintendent. She succeeded Interim Superintendent Mark Pool who filled the position after Chris Ulcak’s departure in November 2021.

Fairchild most recently served as the superintendent for Sweet Home ISD. Prior to that, she was the chief technology officer and assistant superintendent at Gonzales ISD.
The city of Brownsville named Helen Ramirez as interim city manager, effective August 1. She will take over from former City Manager Noel Bernal who accepted the position of county manager of Adams County, Colorado.

Ramirez is the deputy city manager for the city of Brownsville and has over 20 years of municipal planning experience which includes serving as assistant city manager and executive director of business development for the city of Hutto.
The project team developing the Texas Disaster Information System (TDIS) led a preview demonstration of the new online tool at the 2022 Texas Emergency Management Conference.

In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, TDIS will bring together all the state’s natural hazard data into a dynamic online system available to state agencies, city planners, first responders, emergency managers, and the public. TDIS will include everything from stream flows and topographical information to socioeconomic and demographic data.

The Texas General Land Office (GLO), Texas A&M University’s Institute for a Disaster Resilient Texas, and The University of Texas (UT) partnered on the project with other state and federal agencies to design the advanced online modeling tool to improve the state’s ability to predict, plan, prevent, and respond to life-threatening natural disasters like flooding, drought and wildfires.

GLO is providing $12.4 million to design and implement the system as well as an additional $30 million for the execution and maintenance of the system. TDIS will be powered by UT’s Texas Advanced Computing Center, which hosts one of the fastest supercomputers in the world.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from June 3-9:

Texas Medical Board District Review Committees 

District One 
Laurel Coles - Houston
Sheela Lahoti - Houston (reappointed)

District Two 
Annel Guadalupe - Huntsville
Lewis Benavides - Crossroads (reappointed)
Zachary Jones - Frisco (reappointed)

District Three 
Celeste Caballero - Lubbock (reappointed)
Mindi McLain - Amarillo (reappointed)

State Board Of Veterinary
Medical Examiners 
Keith Pardue - Austin (named chair)

Texas Board Of Nursing 
Tyrone Sharp - Houston
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 State Securities Board – Financial Examiner I

  • Texas Water Development Board – Executive Assistant I

  • Office of the Texas Governor – Grant Manager (Grant Specialist II)

  • Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs – Director of Homeowner Assistance Fund, Subrecipient Activities Division

  • Texas Water Development Board – Credit Analyst (Financial Analyst II-III)

  • Texas Health and Human Services Commission – Manager V

  • City of Leander – CIP Project Manager
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