Volume 18, Issue 28 - Friday, July 10, 2020
TxDOT to kick off $12.5B Northeast Expansion of I-35 in summer 2021
Interstate 35 Northeast Expansion map
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) told Cibolo councilmembers that the department plans to sign a construction contract in summer 2021 for the initial phase of the $12.5 billion Interstate 35 Northeast Expansion (NEX) project in Bexar and Guadalupe counties.

The I-35 Northeast Expansion project involves the construction of two non-toll 15-mile long bridges (elevated lanes) between the I-35 main lanes and frontage roads from Interstate 410 South to FM 3009.

TxDOT officials reported they are in the design-build procurement stages for the initial phase of the project that includes the elevated lanes between Interstate 410 North and FM 3009, and direct connectors with I-410 North and Loop 1604 West. The elevated lanes will provide one high-occupancy vehicle lane and two general purpose lanes in each direction.

The proposed improvements between FM 3009 and FM 1103 will include at-grade widening of the main lanes for the addition of two general purpose lanes.

TxDOT has secured $1.3 billion for construction through alternate delivery for the first phase of the project from I-410 North to FM 3009, which is anticipated to begin in spring 2021 and be completed by fall 2024. The second phase from I-410 South to I-410 North and third phase from FM 3009 to FM 1103 are unfunded.

More TxDOT projects are in store for Cibolo, including a plan to widen FM 1103.

The estimated $24 million project will expand FM 1103 to four lanes, with a center turn lane from I-35 to near Rodeo Way and Steele High School. The 3.83-mile expansion includes 5-foot wide bike lanes, 6-foot wide sidewalks, and a traffic signal at the intersection of Turning Stone.

Selection of a contractor is anticipated in January 2021, and construction is expected to begin in spring 2021.
Amarillo council stays course for civic center bond referendum in November
Rendering of Amarillo Civic Center expansion
The Amarillo City Council expressed its desire to move forward with a $275 million bond election in November to renovate and expand the city's Civic Center.

Originally called for a May vote this year, the city postponed the election to November with the option to cancel it.

At the council's July 7 meeting, city staff stated that further delays to the election would likely result in a 4 percent to 5 percent increase in interest rates that would translate to an estimated $6 million to $8 million rise in project costs.

The scope of the $319 million project still includes a new arena for an estimated $155 million, convention center expansion and renovation for $117.5 million, relocation of city services for $20 million, a parking garage for $15 million, the Santa Fe Depot restoration for $8 million, and Central Plaza park creation for $3.5 million.

The city must call the bond election by August 11 in order to have it placed on the November 3 ballot.
UTSA launches innovation park study
Architectural rendering of downtown UTSA campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) announced on July 6 that it will launch a feasibility study for a research and innovation park. 

Aided by a $350,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, UTSA will study the potential benefits of creating an innovation and research park that will utilize the university's research programs and San Antonio's diverse economy. 

UTSA's Campus Master Plan includes a proposed Tricentennial Innovation Park, a multi-campus development on both a 50-acre tract on the main campus and prospective land near the downtown campus. 

The study will promote and integrate UTSA's research with government, the private sector, and other research organizations to provide the university with information it needs for site development, governance structure, and construction planning. 

It also will help UTSA identify the recommended target partners, needed facilities, and future costs of the park. 

Once the 12-month feasibility project is complete, UTSA officials will review it to decide next steps in the development and construction of the innovation park.
SPI research team welcomes Parker
Mike Parker
As a former news editor, Mike Parker's 15 years of experience as an award-winning journalist adds another dimension to the Strategic Partnerships Team.  

Mike's career has provided him a thorough understanding of the public sector, particularly in city and county government, school districts and the state legislature. His strong analytical and writing skills also are an asset to both SPI's consulting teams and the company's Research Division.

Prior to joining SPI, Mike oversaw coverage and reported on thousands of news stories as a community news editor. He also has experience in investigative reporting, research and management.

Earlier in his career, Mike directed the launch of two weekly newspapers. His love of news and information gathering, coupled with his communication skills, will be extremely valuable to SPI's clients.

Mike holds a bachelor's degree in mass communications from Texas State University.
Funding coming together for I-35 Capital Express central expansion
Rendering of TxDOT's proposed I-35 Capital Express section
The Texas Transportation Commission is set to vote in August to include a $307 million funding gap for the Interstate 35 Capital Express widening project in Austin in the state's Unified Transportation Program (UTP).

Funding for the $4.9 billion Central segment of the project is coming from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO). TxDOT officials said financial commitments are in place to completely fund the Central section, but funds have yet to be transferred.

As financing is secured, TxDOT is making plans to launch a public input process this fall for the Central segment that proposes to add two non-tolled managed lanes in each direction from U.S. 290 East to SH 71/Ben White Boulevard. TxDOT is evaluating a variety of design options to add the non-tolled managed lanes.

TxDOT also is planning to reconstruct intersections and bridges to increase bridge clearances and east-west mobility. In addition, the department aims to improve bicycle and pedestrian use along I-35 frontage roads and at east-west crossings.

A final schematic and environmental study are expected in late 2023, and final design and contractor selection are anticipated in late 2024 for the Central segment. Construction could begin as early as 2025.

Total project cost is estimated at $5.6 billion, including $400 million for the North segment that proposes to add one non-tolled managed lane in each direction along I-35 from SH 45 North to US 290 East. The project's South section is estimated to cost $300 million to possibly add two non-tolled managed lanes in each direction along I-35 from SH 71/Ben White Boulevard to SH 45 Southeast.
DART planning data center colocation
Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) is planning a request for proposals (RFP) for the colocation of a data center in the next 30 to 60 days.

DART is seeking a contractor to host a data center in a hardened Tier 3- or Tier 4-compliant facility within the DART service area.

The contractor will construct a seed infrastructure environment at the colocation site.

There, the contractor will construct a fiber connection from the private cage to the DART fiber network.

An experienced migration manager, provided by the contractor, will assist with asset inventory and in planning for the move. The contractor also will supply tags, checklists, or specialized software to aid in the creation of an asset inventory for all hardware to be moved.

In addition, the contractor must move the DART equipment from an existing data center to the colocation facility.
Fort Worth updates $2.8B transit plan
Interstate 820-SH 121 interchange in Fort Worth
The city of Fort Worth recently recommended several transportation initiatives as part of its ongoing updates to the Transit Moves Fort Worth comprehensive plan designed to increase transit's role in the city's transportation system.

Transit Moves calls for $2.8 billion in capital costs over the next 25 years to develop high capacity transit service, improve existing service, expand transit to new areas, improve access to transit, upgrade facilities and amenities, and make service easier to use.

These initiatives tie into the city's goals to make transit attractive and compelling, improve Fort Worth's quality of life, and ensure financial and environmental sustainability.

Light rail is not currently in the Transit Moves recommendations but may be reconsidered at a later date, if funding is increased for transit. Opportunities for light rail will continue to be explored.

The city also plans to pursue bus rapid transit for the East Lancaster Corridor.
McKinney scrambles to finish $16M airport project after contract default
McKinney National Airport
The city of McKinney is engaging an emergency procurement process to hire a new contractor to complete a $16 million construction project at the McKinney National Airport.

In 2017, the city entered a partnership with a contractor to build a fixed-use operator terminal, a 40,000-square-foot hangar, and parking facilities.

The contractor finished work on the hangar and parking lot facilities but completed only 50 percent of the terminal by the March 4, 2020 deadline.

After the city notified the contractor of its default on its ground lease, the contractor reported that it was unable to remedy the situation within the allowed time, thus terminating its rights under the ground lease.

McKinney will hire a construction manager at risk (CMAR) to finish the project under an emergency procurement process. A development firm will be responsible for bidding the project's remaining subcontracts and managing the various contractors' work to complete the building.

The city anticipates finalizing the updated construction plans by August 10. Actual construction time to complete the building is estimated to be six months. The city plans to complete the project by the end of April 2021.
State energy office seeks information on high-performance building design
The State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) is seeking information on establishing a high-performance building evaluation system for state agency building design projects.

SECO issued the request for information (RFI) on July 7 to gather input to assist the office in determining whether the 2018 edition of the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) meets the requirements in Texas Government Code Section 447.004 for a high-performance building evaluation system.

Section 447.004 of the Texas Government Code requires SECO to establish and publish mandatory energy and water conservation design standards for new state buildings and state-supported institutions of higher education.

The agency also is gathering information on how the green construction code can be used in conjunction with existing energy efficiency and water conservation minimum code standards to improve performance.

In 2011, the Texas Legislature amended the Government Code so that it applies to the design and construction or renovation of state-funded buildings and requires that the building achieve certification under any high-performance design evaluation system that is approved by SECO and that meets certain requirements.

SECO will accept comments, data, and information regarding the RFI until 2 p.m. on August 31 from qualified individuals, public-sector organizations, and industry stakeholders with experience in high-performance building design and construction, or related products and services, including expertise in energy efficiency, water conservation, or low-impact site development.
Abilene council approves realignment plan for city's economic development 
Abilene councilmembers approved a $13 million budget and realignment plan for the Development Corporation of Abilene (DCOA) that targets increased economic development for the city.

At the Abilene City Council meeting on July 9, economic development leaders presented the plan that will aggressively market and promote Abilene as a destination for new investment, spur the growth and prosperity of existing businesses, and develop an ecosystem that spawns and supports innovative businesses.

These core pillars will be supported by workforce and talent development and marketing and brand awareness.

DCOA officials said the realignment will help it achieve its strategic vision that includes an alignment that will enhance their ability to compete, establish a unified message, clearly define roles and responsibilities, and improve the capacity to act quickly on new and existing opportunities.

The realignment also will enable the addition of four full-time positions, three of which will be funded by the city.

City leaders anticipate realignment implementation and completion by October 1.
Victoria city, county partner on study for regional airport development plan
The city of Victoria and Victoria County are partnering on a marketing study to analyze and promote the non-aeronautical development of Victoria Regional Airport.

Victoria councilmembers approved $75,000 as the city's portion of the marketing study that will help the parties to attract industrial and commercial businesses to locate at the airport.

The study is part of the Victoria Regional Airport Economic Development Project that seeks to understand the characteristics of existing infrastructure sizing, capacities, redundancies, distance, and service capabilities.

Once the study is complete, airport officials will concentrate on making recommendations to achieve effective site planning that attracts prominent companies.
Corpus Christi port gets FEMA grant for Hurricane Harvey recovery work
Port of Corpus Christi
The Port of Corpus Christi will receive more than $2.5 million in federal grant funding to repair infrastructure damaged during Hurricane Harvey.

Stafford Act funds provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will allow the port to repair two of its oil docks and Nueces Bay Shoreline.

Work includes channel slope stabilization and further protection of over 10,000 linear feet of shoreline to prevent future shoreline erosion. More funding is anticipated for additional mitigation to this shoreline to restore it to pre-hurricane conditions.

The port's chairman said that Harvey recovery efforts are ongoing in the region and the state three years after the disaster.
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There is great angst related to every aspect of reopening of schools in the U.S. What to do? How to do it? When to do it? The questions are numerous, and there is little certainty about anything.

However, one thing is not in question - schools and our education system are critically important to our lives, our future, and our economic destiny. American taxpayers have shown no indication that neglecting schools is an option they want to consider.

Citizens everywhere appear to be committed to the premise that America must provide modern educational facilities, leading edge technology, and outstanding teachers. To substantiate that point, one only has to take a quick look at what is happening throughout the country. Educational leaders are announcing plans for expanding, rebuilding, and enhancing campuses for tomorrow's students. And, taxpayers are solidifying their support by approving the required funding. Here are but a few examples.

The West Linn-Wilsonville School District will rely on $206.9 million in funding that was approved by voters to make major expansions. The funding includes $39 million for a new primary school, $18 million for technology upgrades, $25 million for expansion of the Wilsonville High School auditorium, and $15.25 million to secure school entrances, purchase lockdown hardware, and install shelter-in-place curtains. The funding also will cover costs for additional parking and a project to significantly increase the seating capacity of the high school football stadium.

Veteran educator joins SPI Team
Johnny Clawson
Johnny Clawson has gained substantial insight into the internal workings of public schools and forged relationships with countless educators from his 40-plus years of experience in public education systems at the local, regional, and state level.

Johnny served as a Texas Education Agency monitor, educational specialist with Education Service Center Region 15, superintendent of schools for the San Saba and Brady ISDs, interim superintendent for Irion County ISD, campus principal, athletic director, and classroom teacher.

More recently, he has been a field service representative for an educational school law firm where he serves as a mentor to school superintendents and administrators, board trainer, and counselor to school districts concerning Texas Tax Code Ch. 313 Tax Limitation Agreements. He was also a consultant for two construction firms for more than five years.

Johnny was recognized as the Superintendent of the Year by Region 15 in 2002 as well as Honorary Life Member by the Texas Association of School Administrators.

He received both bachelor and master degrees from Angelo State University and earned a post graduate certification from the superintendent program at Texas A&M University. He brings a wealth of experience, subject matter expertise, and strategic guidance potential to the SPI Team of consultants.

Executive director named for Bush Combat complex
Rosendo Guieb
The Texas A&M University System (TAMU) named Col. Rosendo "Ross" Guieb as the first executive director of the George H.W. Bush Combat Development Complex (BCDC) on the RELLIS Campus in Bryan, Texas.

Guieb previously served on the senior staff of the Army Futures Command (AFC) as executive officer to Gen. John Murray, the first commanding general of AFC. Before that role, Guieb was the executive officer of the task force that created AFC in 2018.

His previous assignments include two tours in Iraq, a tour in Afghanistan, a brigade command at Fort Hood, Texas, and multiple deployments to Honduras and Panama. At the Pentagon, Guieb served as executive officer to then-undersecretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy.
Big Spring EDC selects Willis as executive director
Mark Willis
The Big Spring Economic Development Corporation (EDC) appointed Mark Willis as its executive director, effective August 5. He will succeed former Executive Director Terry Wegman who retired in March.

Willis most recently served as economic development manager at the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA). Before that, he was the economic development director for the city of Leander, Texas, and chief operating officer for the Wyoming Business Council.
Bellaire taps Gary as interim manager
Brant Gary
The city of Bellaire named Brant Gary as interim city manager, effective August 3. He succeeds former City Manager Paul Hoffmann who accepted a position as city manager for the city of Bastrop.

Gary has been serving as Bellaire's assistant city manager. He previously was the city's public works director.
ISD names Jaco lone finalist for superintendent 
Brent Jaco
The Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board of trustees selected Brent Jaco as the district's lone finalist for the position of superintendent of schools on July 2. If approved, he will take over for interim Superintendent of Schools Clarke Boyd.

Jaco most recently was the chief of staff and governmental affairs officer at Brazosport ISD. Prior to that, he served as the associate executive director for the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals, a campus principal, and athletic director.

Tarrant County College, Fort Worth ISD merge advisory boards for industry 
Tarrant County College (TCC) and Fort Worth ISD (FWISD) have agreed to merge their respective advisory boards that comprise industry professionals who help guide the institutions in preparing students to enter the workforce.

The college and school district reached the decision during a virtual summit titled "Fort Worth: Where the Best Begins."

The merger of the advisory boards will increase collaboration between educators and industry as they create programs for students.
Gov. Greg Abbott has announced these appointments from July 3-9:
  • Robert Flores - Nacogdoches, Stephen F. Austin State University Board of Regents
  • Stanley Duchman - Houston, Council on Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Texas COVID-19 Testing Plan

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport - 2020 Aviation Sustainability Report
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:
  • Abilene Metropolitan Planning Organization - Transportation Planner I, II, III
  • Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs - Inspector
  • Texas Water Development Board - Program Specialist III
  • Texas Water Development Board - Water Use Survey Discipline Lead (Research Specialist III)
  • Texas Water Development Board - Coastal Flood Modeler (Hydrologist V/Engineer IV)
  • Texas Water Development Board - Flood Reporting Coordinator (Data Analyst I-III)
  • Texas Water Development Board - Loan Specialist I
  • Texas Water Development Board - TexMesonet Field Coordinator
  • Texas Water Development Board - Flood Planning Data Analyst (Data Analyst III)
View our Texas Government Insider and Government Contracting Pipeline newsletter archives

Texas Government Insider is a free weekly newsletter detailing important happenings throughout the state and summarizing current political issues relevant to individuals interested in government.   
Publisher: Mary Scott Nabers
Editor: Devin Monk 
TGI is published by Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI), a research and consulting firm. Founded in Texas in 1995 by former government executives and public sector experts, SPI has developed a national reputation as the premier marketing partner dedicated to helping companies secure contracts in the $1.5 trillion state and local government marketplace.   
To learn more about SPI services, click here or contact our sales department at 512-531-3900. 
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