Volume 21, Issue 6 - February 10, 2023

Airport expansions and renovations in 2023 will be robust
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc.

Recent changes to federal funding programs are dramatically widening the scope of airport expansion plans throughout the U.S. 

In the fall of 2022, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced the availability of $1 billion during 2023 for airport expansion projects. Over the next several weeks, the FAA will release its list of awardees for this year’s funding cycle. While the funding is earmarked for airport infrastructure projects, the types of projects that qualify are diverse.  

If a project is selected, funding will cover up to 80% of the cost for medium and large hub airports. For the remainder of eligible airports—such as small hub, non-hub, and non-primary airports—funding can cover up to 95% of a project’s cost. In either case, the grants come with a four-year obligation period, and the FAA can recover any funding that is not obligated once that time has elapsed. 

The $1 billion in annual funding was authorized for a five-year period by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the same bill also authorized another $15 billion over five years to fund projects that upgrade safety and expand the capacity of U.S. airports. Finally, another $5 billion is available for projects that repair and upgrade air traffic control facilities. 

Added to these already established funding streams, the FAA has another $269 million in leftover funding for airport projects. As 2022 was ending, the agency announced the availability of this supplemental funding for projects. A list of awardees of this funding will be available soon. 

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$170M master plan unveiled for Fort Worth’s oldest airport

Fort Worth’s Meachum International Airport, which is nearly a century old, has a $170 million master plan that will assist the facility in keeping up with growth. This marks the first master plan for the airport in nearly 20 years. Funding will be supported by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law as well as a grant from the Texas Department of Transportation’s Aviation Division. 

Meacham generates an estimated $165 million in economic activity and 900 jobs across the Dallas-Fort Worth region. Those numbers could be boosted as the plan focuses on facilities that support traffic demands. New hangars are expected in the next three to four years.  

The master plan will pay for improved runways and a taller traffic control tower to meet modern FAA requirements, including unobstructed views and proximity. Future improvements include merging the airport fire station and a nearby local fire station to open land for development. There will also be improvements to the airport’s main entrance and frontage road as well as to fuel tanks that will be moved above ground. 

The final vote on the master plan is Feb. 14. 

Texas must use it or lose it when it comes to funding for rural energy projects

To support America’s goal of reaching energy independence, U.S. Congress appropriated $300 million for renewable energy, energy efficiency and other types of power projects. The funding was then designated to flow through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) which is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Not only is the funding a large gift, but Congress also provided a significant increase this year in the maximum federal grant share from 25% to 40% of total project cost and an increase in maximum grant amounts from $250,000 to $500,000 for energy projects. Congress also increased maximum grant amounts for renewable energy systems from $500,000 to $1 million. This means more potential dollars for rural businesses.

These REAP funds are specifically targeted at the expansion of renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects in rural America. Agricultural producers, with at least 50% of their gross income coming from agricultural operations, and small rural businesses are eligible to apply for grants and low-interest loans from the program. For example, a local grocery store could apply for funds to upgrade its HVAC system or add solar panels to offset energy costs. It’s important to note that business applicants must be located in an area with a population of 50,000 or less but agriculture producers can be located in rural or nonrural areas.

In Texas, applications are open for eligible agriculture producers and businesses to start seeking funds.  

“Texas Rural Development is actively seeking REAP applications for Fiscal Year 2023 funding,” said State Director Lillian Salerno of the Texas Rural Development office of the USDA. “Through the Rural Energy for America Program, USDA can assist rural Texans to create good-paying jobs, strengthen energy security and save money on energy costs.”

Funds are also available for renewable energy systems such as biomass, geothermal, hydropower or hydrogen, as well as wind, solar or ocean generation. Specifically for small businesses, they can be used to buy, build or install energy efficiency improvements such as HVAC, insulation, lighting, cooling or refrigeration units, doors and/or windows.

Interested parties in each state are eligible to seek grant funding until March 31. All details are provided here: Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Guaranteed Loans & Grants.

Saluting Texas Lone Stars

Kerri Butcher

Executive Vice President, Chief of Staff 

Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Public career highlights and education: I’ve spent my professional career serving in the public sector and received my Juris Doctorate from UT. I spent 10 years at the Texas State Capitol working as the chief of staff to a senior state representative, where I learned a great deal about how to achieve organizational goals and understand people. After, I began working at CapMetro as the chief counsel for 12 years, before transitioning to chief of staff. My current role allows me to empower executives to help delegate agency staff to accomplish our common goal of serving the community through public transit. 

What I like best about my public service is: I am constantly problem-solving to help other people. I know that every day I am making an impact on my community, and it’s something my children get to see. I like that they’re learning what it means to serve other people through firsthand experience.

The best advice I’ve received is: A quote I came across years ago: “You are not Superwoman. You can have everything but not at the same time.” I was raised in a time when women were expected to have an equal professional life to men and be perfect wives and mothers. If you were not striving for and achieving both, you weren’t succeeding. However, this advice allowed me to give myself some grace. I let myself get to a position in my career before pursuing a family, knowing that if I had to walk away, I would have felt like I succeeded professionally. Fortunately, I have been afforded the opportunity to have both, but as I continue to balance both fronts, I actively give myself grace knowing I am succeeding on my own terms.

People might be interested to know that: My dream has always been to retire and get a master’s in Art History. My dad was a middle and high school art teacher so that exposure from a young age cultivated my love of art. In fact, my favorite place to be is the Cloisters at the Met because of what it houses, which is medieval art, and how much peace it brings me to be in there.

One thing I wished more people knew about the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority is: I wish more people understood how CapMetro can serve their day-to-day needs even if they have a car. It can be a useful service for everyone, but many people don’t know that, so it’s part of our mission here at the agency to try and reach those people and encourage them to get out of their comfort zones.

Fort Worth may spend $95M on Convention Center

Last year, the Fort Worth City Council approved a $52 million convention center expansion project. Recently, an advisory committee recommended expanding the project to realign Commerce Street and develop a Convention Center District with retail, restaurants and attractions. The additional costs are estimated at $43 million, bringing the total cost to $95 million.

Potential plans for the new Convention Center District could include an outdoor meeting deck over the center’s loading docks, redesigning the southeast entrance to include an atrium and creating a site for a future convention hotel on Commerce Street.

The city is considering increasing the hotel occupancy tax to fund part of the convention center expansion project. The project is expected to begin this summer and be completed by 2026.

(Photo: Fort Worth Convention Center. Courtesy of the city of Fort Worth.)

     UT Austin to restore Main Building   

The University of Texas at Austin has plans to restore and rehabilitate its Main Building (Main), which includes an iconic tower that was completed in 1937.

There have been no major renovations to the building’s exterior. Various elements of the Main’s envelope – the windows, clock, decorative spandrel panels and stonework – have aged and need to be rehabilitated. Additionally, the university is committed to revitalizing the observation deck and interior spaces. 

Some of the renovation plans include: 

  • Restoration of the exterior of the Main Building and Tower to its original appearance will occur by repairing and cleaning the stone masonry, replacing windows and lighting updates, as well as restoration of the clock, the decorative spandrel panels and lettering and replacement of the observation tower waterproofing. 
  • Renovating portions of the first-floor elevator lobby, the 27th floor and interior spaces at the observation level. 
  • Updates to the landscape around the Main. Many of these areas have hardscape plantings that are beyond their lifespan and are appropriate to consider for improvements. 

The Main and Tower exterior restoration and landscaping project is within the original 40 acres, bounded by 21st Street on the south, Guadalupe Street on the west, 24th Street on the north and Speedway on the east.

The project will be delivered under a construction manager-at-risk contract with the intent to expedite the construction phase. University officials are currently in need of an architect and have published a request for qualifications (RFQ) for architect and engineering professional services. A site tour is scheduled for Feb. 15 and the RFQ is due by March 7. 

(Photo: Main building. Courtesy of University of Texas at Austin.)

TWDB approves $17M for water, wastewater, flood projects

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) recently approved approximately $17 million in water, wastewater and flood projects.

TWDB approved financial assistance of $10.9 million to Pasadena for flood improvements. The funds consist of $10.4 million in financing and $550,000 in grant funding. The city will use the funds for planning, design and construction of a flood improvement project at West Plant wastewater treatment plant. The project will remove structures from the floodplain, construct a detention pond, elevate electrical equipment and reroute influent from the floodplain to the Vince Bayou wastewater treatment plant. The project will flood-proof the facility and increase storm water capacity. 

TWDB also approved financial assistance of $5.7 million to the city of Leonard for wastewater system improvements. The assistance consists of $2.8 million in financing and $2.8 million in principal forgiveness. The funds will be used for planning, design and construction of a wastewater system improvement project. The project will install rehabilitate or replace two lift stations and replace six miles of pipe. 

Pflugerville seeking professional services for Public Works Complex

The city of Pflugerville was presented with a Facilities Master Plan in July 2022 from the Department of Public Works (DPW) for a new Public Works Complex. The master plan’s site area is approximately 17.5 acres. It was proposed that a portion of the existing Field Operations Building at the city’s Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) would be re-purposed as the central laboratory for DPW. The approximate cost of the complex totaled $49.5 million. 

The plan predicted that the current population of approximately 60,000 residents would increase to 160,000 in the future. With this estimated growth, DPW would need to increase its number of staff, their roles and space accommodations as well as operational requirements such as the number and types of vehicles and storage.

DPW along with the Parks and Recreation Department (P&R) utilize facilities at the city’s WWTP, which has been undergoing an expansion of its treatment facilities. The WWTP’s expansion requires the relocation of most of the departments’ current facilities. 

The city has issued a statement of qualifications (SOQ) for professional services for the Public Works Complex project. This project includes the design phase, bidding and construction phase and project management services for a Public Works facility to be built on property identified in the 2022 Facilities Master Plan. Proposals for the SOQ are due by March 22, the project kickoff is anticipated to begin June 12 and completion of construction would occur in December 2025.  

Eanes ISD approves $131.4M in propositions for May bond election

Eanes ISD has approved a May bond election for three propositions totaling $131.4 million.

Proposition A will require $117.8 million for campus maintenance and repairs, security upgrades, energy efficient improvements, resurfacing parking lots and playgrounds, replacing fine arts equipment and improvements to district property.

Proposition B will allocate $2.4 million to Chaparral Stadium for safety improvements, pole lighting replacement and track resurfacing.

Proposition C will invest $11.3 million to replace technological devices used by staff and students and replace equipment in classrooms and computer labs.

If approved, the bond items could save the district an estimated $2.8 million in operational expenses and allow more money for teacher salaries. 

Marshall High School renovation estimated to cost $36M

The Marshall Independent School District board heard from a hired architecture firm for renovation plans to Marshall High School, estimated to cost $36 million. However, no action has been made on holding a bond election to fund the project. 

The plans include painting, flooring, basic school equipment, lighting, desks and seating for classrooms and common areas. Updates to the library and media center, the drama and journalism classroom, teachers’ lounge and administrative office were also among the plans. Larger projects proposed include a 7,000-square-foot auxiliary gym and a 14,500-square-foot career and technical education building. 

Cost projections for the project include: $10 million for the lower level, $13 million for the upper level, $6 million for the new construction of shop areas, more than $3 million for an auxiliary gym and an additional $2 million for exterior elevators. 

(Photo: Marshall ISD logo. Courtesy of Marshall ISD.)

Dickinson ISD calls $230M bond referendum

The Dickinson Independent School District’s board of trustees unanimously voted for a $120 million bond referendum for the May 6 election.


Projects include constructing 1,400-student education complex, safety and security upgrades, constructing a career and technical education facility and making upgrades to the existing Careers and Technical Education space at Dickinson High School. 

The education complex is projected to cost $68.1 million, and a 30-acre tract of land has already been purchased. Another $50.3 million is proposed for the career and technical facility which will help to accommodate increased high school enrollment. Finally, $1.5 million would fund district-wide safety and security upgrades which address access control with safety film, perimeter fencing and alarm systems. Security technology also would be funded. 

(Photo: Dickinson High School CTE Welding. Courtesy of Dickinson ISD.)

Garcia selected as director of engineering for Brownsville

The city of Brownsville has named Doroteo Garcia Jr. as director of the Engineering and Public Works Department.

Garcia has been with the city for 20 years, where he has served as city engineer for the last year and as assistant city engineer for more than 16 years. Garcia served as interim director of the Engineering and Public Works Department before his promotion.

In the role of director, he will oversee essential and improved infrastructure, drainage and landfill services, while leading the city’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). 

City approves project manager for public safety headquarters

The city of Victoria has approved owner’s representative services for a public safety headquarters. The new headquarters will be located on 14 acres of land. Parks & Recreation plan to use a portion of the land located mostly in the floodplain. The facility will house the Victoria Police Department and dispatch services, Victoria Fire Department administration and the city of Victoria Municipal Court. 

A study conducted in 2017-2018 found the city’s public safety facilities were decentralized and outdated. The study also showed that the facilities lacked sufficient space for employees.

Additional amenities in the headquarters include interview rooms for police investigations, break areas, a workout facility, technological and security improvements, courtroom space and secure on-site parking. 

The headquarters will also have enough space for growth over the next 20 years. The city expects staff levels to grow by nearly 60 police department employees, three fire department administration employees and 12 court employees. 

On July 5, 2022, the Victoria City Council approved the purchase of 32 acres at 2501 North Main St., across from Airline Road, for the construction of the headquarters. 

Decatur ISD targeting May for $325M bond election

Decatur ISD school board called for a May bond election to address overcrowding at the middle and high schools. The two propositions total $331.2 million.

Proposition A will allocate $325 million to build a new high school with a capacity for 2,200 students and will renovate the current high school to become a new middle school campus. The proposition includes $6 million for renovations at four elementary schools, $3.5 million to replace aging school buses and $20.5 million for roof and HVAC upgrades.

Proposition B will invest $6.2 million in instructional technology.

El Paso seeks grant for Five Points area

The city of El Paso plans to apply for an $8 million grant from the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program.

The city is requesting grant funding to reconstruct North Piedras Street in the Five Points area. The neighborhood has added a new commercial development with multiple entertainment venues, but North Piedras Street is deemed unsafe for pedestrian use. The five-lane street will be downsized to three lanes with on-street parking, extended sidewalks, crosswalks and pedestrian amenities. The improvements will comply with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. The project will promote pedestrian and cyclist safety, economic development and beautification of the street.

The project is estimated to cost $10 million. The city will provide a $2 million match. Applications for the $1.5 billion in available RAISE grants are due Feb. 28, and selections will be announced by June.

UTA professor brings plastic road materials to Texas

Sahadat Hossain, a University of Texas at Arlington (UTA ) civil engineering professor and director of the UTA Solid Waste Institute for Sustainability, is using both recycled and unrecycled plastic waste products to fill in surface cracks and reduce rutting on roads, a first for Texas. The use of these materials in place of bitumen in asphalt pavement is to improve durability and strength.


Hossain and co-principal investigator Karthikeyan Loganathan, assistant professor of civil engineering, received a $950,000 grant from the Dallas district of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). The first plastic road implementation project will occur in the Kaufman area.


In a separate project, Hossain was awarded a $637,060 contract from the Fort Worth district of TxDOT to implement moisture barriers that reduce cracks and improve the durability and strength of highway pavement and shoulders. This will be done at five locations in Fort Worth and two locations in Dallas.


Hossain is also researching landfill recycling and sustainability as well as leading another project to use recycled plastic pins to stabilize highway soil slopes.


Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from Feb. 3 through Feb. 9:

Injured Employee Public Counsel 

Dirk Johnson - Austin

Motor Vehicle Crime Prevention Authority

Miguel "Mike" Rodriguez - Laredo (reappointed)

Patrick "Dean" Smith - North Richland Hills (reappointed)

Manufactured Housing Board

Ronald M. "Ronnie " Richards - Clear Lake Shores (reappointed)

Keith C. Thompson - Lubbock (reappointed)

Deputy Adjutant General for Air

Brigadier General Andrew J. Camacho

162nd District Court

Ashley Wysocki - Dallas

470th District Court

Brook Fulks - Frisco

Governor's Commission for Women

Ashley Cash - Lubbock

Board of Pilot Commissioners for Harris County Ports

Jon Keeney - Taylor Lake Village (reappointed)

Texas Southern University Board of Regents

Richard A. Johnson, III, Ed.D. - Houston

Texas Council on Sex Offender Treatment

Elizabeth Cox - San Antonio

Andrea Ortiz - Dallas

Podiatric Medical Examiners Advisory Board

Kristin Luckey - Harlingen

Pecos River Compact Commission

Frederic "Rick" Tate - Marfa (reappointed)

Red River Compact Commission

Robin Phillips - Sherman (reappointed)

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