Volume 19, Issue 48 - December 3, 2021
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc.
America’s vast network of roads is a treasured public asset - an essential component of global competitiveness. The country’s roadways also are the backbone of economic vitality for every region of the U.S.

Because of this, officials at all levels of government must continually care for this public resource. Fortunately, care and upkeep will be more abundant and robust over the next few years because of new funding.

Companies that are well positioned and experienced in transportation contracting tend to monitor the large projects. That is understandable, but over the next few years opportunities to contract with government for smaller roadway repair projects will be more plentiful than anything experienced over the past few decades. These new opportunities should not be overlooked.

Roadway repair projects, including resurfacing, expansion, and upgrades will be evident in all states. Although these projects are smaller (multi-million-dollar budgets) when compared to the larger opportunities, the volume of these road repair projects will be massive, and the competition will likely be less.

In Minnesota just one project to improve the accessibility and material composition of a roadway in the city of St. Paul carries a price tag of $10 million. That’s an average range for the smaller projects.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will be allowed to resume detailed design work on sections of the paused North Houston Highway Improvement Project (NHHIP) as the result of several meetings with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

After receiving allegations of civil rights violations earlier this year, FHWA began a Title VI investigation and ordered TxDOT to cease work on the proposed $7.1 billion project to expand Interstate 45.

Under a recent agreement with FHWA, TxDOT committed to comply with the agency’s requests regarding the investigation in return for permission to resume design work on Sections 3A and 3B of the highway project and limited design work on 3C. Segment 3 includes sections of I-45 and interstates 69 and 10 around and south of downtown.

TxDOT Deputy Executive Commissioner Brandye Hendrickson told Texas Transportation Commissioners at their November 30 meeting that this process would take time and more meetings with FHWA to reach a resolution. Hendrickson joined TxDOT in June, having previously served as FHWA’s acting administrator from 2017 to 2019.

TxDOT Executive Commissioner Marc Williams said the pause has set the project back by at least two years. The department’s original design-build procurement from 2020 has been canceled.

In addition to the update on the NHHIP, commissioners heard from TxDOT staff on Texas’ anticipated allocations from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).

The legislation appropriates $26.9 billion for Texas highway programs, $537.2 million for the state’s bridges, $450 million for rural transit in Texas, and $407.8 million for deployment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

TxDOT anticipates the state will receive $31.17 billion in highway apportionments over the next six fiscal years.
The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) and Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) on November 30 adopted rules for critical designation of natural gas infrastructure to help protect Texans in energy emergencies.

These new rules implement provisions in HB 3648 and SB 3 and define natural gas facilities that would be designated as critical gas suppliers and critical customers.

Critical gas suppliers include, but are not limited to, gas wells, oil leases that produce gas, natural gas pipeline facilities, underground natural gas storage facilities, and saltwater disposal facilities.

Critical customers, which are a subset of critical gas suppliers, are facilities that require electricity to operate. These operators will submit critical customer information to their electric utilities so that their electric utilities have the correct information for purposes of supplying power to the facilities.

SB 3 includes language to allow for certain facilities to apply for an exception to critical designation. However, the newly adopted rules exclude certain types of highly critical facilities from being able to apply for an exception.

Examples of exceptions include any facility that will be on the state’s electricity supply chain map, which is due to be published in 2022, underground gas storage facilities, pipelines that directly serve a power generation plant or local gas distribution companies, gas wells, and oil leases that produce a large amount of gas per day, and gas processing plants.

Applications for exception require objective evidence proving reasonable cause and justification, which will be reviewed, and RRC staff can deny an application.

Rules adopted on November 30 address the issue that some critical gas suppliers were not eligible for critical load designation and had their power cut off inadvertently during Winter Storm Uri. Critical gas facilities are now able to, and required to, submit their information to electric utilities. Electric entities will use this information to plan load-shed procedures during an energy emergency.

Several more steps will be implemented to help fortify the state’s energy supply. The RRC and the PUC have been working on mapping the state’s electricity supply chain and natural gas infrastructure along that chain.

Since this fall, RRC inspectors have been visiting gas facilities and leases to observe winter preparation measures. On October 7, the RRC issued a notice that asked natural gas operators to take all necessary measures to prepare for the upcoming winter.
The Texas A&M University System board of regents recently approved the addition of a $205 million project for student athletes to the system’s capital plan.

Improvements to the Bright Complex at Texas A&M University are expected to include a new academic center that will provide student athletes with educational support programs.

In addition, the facility is expected to be equipped to help students with their training for intercollegiate competition, and it is planned to have nutritional and mental health support facilities, too.

The multi-faceted project is slated to bring a new indoor football building, modernized locker rooms, a new training and competition venue for the indoor track program, and several new premium suites at the south end of Kyle Field.

Total cost of the Bright Area Development is $205 million, much of which will come from gifts and licensing fees. The regents will need to vote on final approval once the designs for the project are completed.
Shana K. Yelverton
City Manager
City of Southlake
Public career and education highlights: As an undergraduate, I was interested in public service and eventually pursued a master’s degree in public administration. Initially, I worked for the Concho Valley and North Central Texas Council of Governments before taking a position with the city of Southlake in 1993. Since coming to Southlake, I’ve had the opportunity to grow with the city. I became city manager in 2005 and since that time have worked with city councils to achieve great financial and performance outcomes.

What I like best about my public service is: Local governments provide direct services to residents, businesses, and visitors. It’s satisfying to know you’re making an impact on the quality of life for people. We work where people live…from the moment they get up in the morning and use water to brush their teeth until they go to bed at night, secure in the knowledge that first responders are ready to help if needed, we’re there. The work is important and, in a way, noble. Its purpose is highly motivating.

The best advice I’ve received is: My mentor once told me to remember “it’s their town.” Sage advice! It’s too easy to get caught in the trap of thinking you know best, especially when you’ve been in your position for a while. His point was to respect the people you serve, value their perspectives, and to always consider their point of view.

My favorite way to de-stress is: Spending time with friends and family, but I also enjoy any opportunity to listen to live music. Any kind of music will do! I have mad respect for the talented people who have the ability to take us out of our hustle and bustle to the beautiful places and experiences they create.

People might be surprised to know that I: I am a huge Marvel fan (and have plenty of theories about where things are going)! And the Dallas Cowboys/Texas Rangers figure prominently in my social schedule. I guess the thing is, I try not to take myself too seriously. Of course, our work is essential and meaningful, but having fun and lots of laughter balances out life and helps you to connect with people in surprising ways.

One thing I wished more people knew about the city of Southlake is: That our city employees are among the most dedicated, hard-working, and resourceful you could find in local government. I know most city managers would say the same, but I’m amazed by the level of performance and achievement I see every day. So throw out the unflattering stereotypes! Our team is really incredible.
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar completed the transfer of more than $2.91 billion into the State Highway Fund (SHF) and the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF) commonly known as the “Rainy Day Fund” on November 30. Each fund received nearly $1.46 billion, or 50 percent of the total transfer.

The transfer amounts are based on crude oil and natural gas production tax revenues in excess of 1987 collections. If either tax generates more revenue than the 1987 threshold, an amount equal to 75 percent of the excess is transferred.

According to the Texas Constitution, the ESF transfer must occur within 90 days after the end of the fiscal year. When fiscal year 2021 ended on August 31, the ESF balance was $10.3 billion.

With this most recent transfer, the new balance will be about $11.4 billion, not accounting for currently outstanding spending authority of approximately $1.43 billion. The balance in the ESF will change as agencies spend down this remaining appropriation authority and investment earnings are realized.
Texas Woman’s University (TWU) will host a mandatory pre-submittal conference on December 8 for architectural and engineering services for an estimated $100 million health science center.

The new facility on TWU’s Denton campus will be approximately 175,000 gross square feet.

It is designed to allow the university to replace and consolidate aging and obsolete clinical infrastructure for several health science programs while providing needed infrastructure to expand academic capacity in physical therapy and occupational therapy.

Once complete, the new center will enable TWU to expand high-demand programs, such as occupational therapy, communication sciences and disorders, kinesiology, and nursing, which have outgrown both dedicated laboratory space and in-house clinic areas.

The estimated completion date of this project is spring 2025.
The Wellborn Special Utility District (SUD) recently secured $43.45 million in financial assistance from the state to fund planning, acquisition, design, and construction costs associated with water system improvements.

Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) members approved the district’s project funding request for assistance from the Texas Water Development Fund.

To serve Brazos and Robertson counties, the district plans to add water supply and infrastructure that will accommodate projected growth.

Project components include a new groundwater supply wellfield in the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer (Simsboro formation), a new water treatment system, storage facilities and transmission pumps at the Benchley Plant, approximately 80,000 linear feet (LF) of wellfield supply and transmission lines, and roughly 12,000 LF of distribution system line improvements.

The project is being designed with consideration of additional water supply development in the wellfield in the future.

Wellborn SUD plans to close on the needed land by May 2022, complete an engineering feasibility report by July 2022, finish design work in October 2022, and start construction in March 2023. Substantial completion is anticipated by May 2024.
Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority (CCRTA) opened a request for information (RFI) period on December 1 for a project to purchase, restore, and repurpose the Kleberg Bank Building.

The site includes the existing Kleberg Bank Building, the attached motor bank facility, and the land on which the facilities are located immediately east of the new transfer station being constructed by the CCRTA.

Per the Texas Historical Commission, the building is eligible for historic designation on the National Register of Historic Places. As a result, evaluation of proposals received shall include a priority for historic preservation of the exterior of the building and retention of its distinctive architectural elements.

Proposers may tour and inspect the Kleberg Bank Building by appointment only from now through May 1, 2022.

CCRTA would look favorably on including the motor bank facility in the proposal, however, this is not a requirement of a proposal for the Building restoration and repurposing.

The new transfer station will replace the Port Ayers Transfer Station, 4311 Ayers St., in Corpus Christi. As a facility within 1,500 feet of the center point of the Port Ayers Transfer Station, the building will qualify as part of a station or terminal complex facility.
Comal County is approaching the start of the design phase for two public health facilities to be built in New Braunfels.

The county is seeking architectural and engineering services for the design of a public health-emergency operations center (EOC) at 1297 Church St. and a mental health extended observation unit-crisis residential unit facility at 3150 Interstate 35.

Plans call for the design of a 60,000-square-foot public health-EOC to house a public health clinic and point of dispensing center with drive-through capabilities. In addition, the facility would have space for the EOC, a warehouse, offices for support staff, and loading dock. Construction is expected to take 12 months and is estimated at more than $10 million.

 At the approximately 15,000-square-foot mental health facility, the county would house 16 beds, exam-interview rooms, group treatment room, administrative offices, nurses station, kitchen, dining room, and space for other uses. Construction costs are estimated at $5 million to $10 million.

The county intends to use competitive sealed proposals for project delivery for both facilities and finance them using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.
The city of Eagle Pass will host a non-mandatory pre-proposal conference at 10 a.m. December 9 at City Hall for the construction of the Camino Real International Bridge Administration Building.

Attendance at the conference is strongly encouraged.

Project scope includes the construction of the new administration building of about 2,800 square feet, demolition of the old administration building, and associated site work for the Camino Real International Bridge, 500 S. Adams St., Eagle Pass, Texas, 78852.

The new building will comprise four office spaces, public reception, two conference rooms, a breakroom, supply room, vault, supporting building spaces, and associated site and utilities work.

Site improvements include a concrete paved parking lot and driveway for 16 vehicles, fire lane, trash enclosure, pedestrian sidewalks and plaza, mechanical yard, site retaining wall, perimeter fence, and sanitary sewer storm drainage, electrical and telecommunications services.

Work must be coordinated to maintain operation of existing bridge administration building throughout construction until operation can be transferred to the fully functioning and furnished new administration building.

Estimated completion date of this project is 15 months from the date of the issuance of the notice to proceed.
The McLennan County Commissioners Court extended its deadline for proposals to December 22 for technological solutions to eliminate or substantially reduce the SARS-CoV-2 virus in county buildings.

A need to host building walkthroughs at 9 a.m. December 8 and December 9 prompted the delay.

County officials require technology that is active versus passive technology.

Additionally, they prefer advanced photocatalysis technology that creates molecules that oxidize viruses, other pathogens, bacteria, and volatile organic compounds – both on surfaces and in the air, and is safe for use in occupied spaces. However, other technologies of equal efficacy and safety will be fairly considered.

Time is of the essence given the ongoing pandemic/public health emergency.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler and University of Texas (UT) professor Robert Chesney are among the first 23 members of a new cybersecurity committee established by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

CISA’s new Cybersecurity Advisory Committee will advise and provide recommendations to the director on policies, programs, planning, and training to enhance the nation’s cyber defense.

The committee will examine and make recommendations on topics collectively aimed at strengthening CISA and more broadly reshaping the cyber ecosystem to favor defense. These topics include growing the cyber workforce, reducing systemic risk to national critical functions, igniting the power of the hacker community to help defend the nation, combating misinformation and disinformation impacting the security of critical infrastructure, and transforming public-private partnership into true operational collaboration.
Adler is a trustee of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, past chair of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization policy board, and vice president of the National Council of Democratic Mayors. Foreign policy named him a Global reThinker, and Living Cities included him on its list of 25 Disruptive Leaders.
Chesney holds the James Baker Chair and serves as the associate dean for academic affairs at the UT School of Law. In addition, he is the director of the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law and is a co-founder and contributor to a law and national security blog. He has served as an associate member of the Intelligence Science Board and as a member of the Advanced Technology Board.
The CISA Cybersecurity Advisory Committee will hold its first meeting on December 10 where members will be sworn in, discuss their scope of work, and develop a plan for tackling key areas of focus.
A new study by the New York Times rated seven North Texas cities among the top 10 best places to live in the U.S.

Euless was the top-rated city in the U.S. in the study that evaluated 16,847 towns and cities using more than 30 metrics such as school quality, crime rates, and affordability.

A Times’ opinion piece titled “Everyone’s Moving to Texas. Here’s Why” listed Edgecliff Village, Garland, Grand Prairie, Mesquite, DeSoto, and Cedar Hill among the top 10 municipalities to live.

Two municipalities in Ohio - the village of Woodlawn and city of Forest Park – joined Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, as the only U.S. communities to crack the list’s top 10.

As the writer took a quiz based on the study’s findings, Plano, McKinney, and Allen featured prominently in the results that accounted for Texas’ job opportunities, racial diversity, and lower climate risks.
The San Marcos City Council is planning to name Stephanie Reyes as interim city manager on December 7. 
After an executive session on November 30, councilmembers provided direction to staff to add an action item to the next City Council meeting to name Reyes as interim city manager. If approved, she will step into her new role effective February 1, 2022, upon the retirement of current City Manager Bert Lumbreras. 

Reyes is currently serving as assistant city manager. She has spent the last 20 years in various capacities within the city organization, serving as chief of staff, assistant director of human resources and assistant to the city manager. 
The Arlington Economic Development Corporation (EDC) selected Broderick Green as its new executive director, effective December 15.

Green most recently served as senior manager of economic development for an American multinational technology company. Before that, he led business development for the JAXUSA Partnership in Florida.
A state-appointed selection committee named John Swainson and Robert “Bob” Flexon as new directors of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) on December 1. These new directors will govern ERCOT affairs alongside other selected directors, the chairman of the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT), the public counsel at the Office of Public Utility Counsel, and the CEO of ERCOT.
Swainson is the executive chairman of a business-to-business marketplace for travel information and an executive partner at a technology-focused private equity firm. Before that, he created and ran an enterprise software division within an American computer manufacturer and retailer.
Flexon is a seasoned energy executive with expertise in the power generation and energy marketing, oil and gas, and chemicals sectors. He most recently served as president and CEO of a Houston-based electric company.
As the ERCOT Board Selection Committee continues its search for the final two directors, Texans interested in submitting inquiries or information related to the director positions may email the Selection Committee’s search firm at ERCOTBoard@heidrick.com.
Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov Dan Patrick, and Speaker Dade Phelan recently appointed members to the new Work Group on Blockchain Matters. The work group was created by HB 1576 during the 87th Legislature to develop a master plan for the expansion of the blockchain industry in Texas and recommend policies and state investments in connection with blockchain technology. 

Abbott appointed Carla Reyes, William Henning, Jennifer Buaas, and Dan Teczar to the Work Group on Blockchain Matters. Additionally, he named Reyes as chair. 

Patrick announced the appointments of Sen. Angela Paxton, Claire Barber, Christopher Calicott, Patrick Hatfield, Jason Kelley, and Robert Villaseñor to the work group. 

Phelan named Rep. Tan Parker, Lee Bratcher, Cesare Fracassi, Natalie Smolenski, Peter Vogel, and Grant Weston as his designees. 
Missouri City councilmembers approved Charles Jackson as the new city manager effective December 20, pending contract negotiations. 

Jackson most recently served as the city manager of La Marque, Texas. Prior to that, he was city manager for Pearsall, Texas, and county manager for Luna County, New Mexico. 
The city of Sachse promoted David Baldwin to director of finance, effective January 31, 2022. He will succeed outgoing Director of Finance Teresa Savage who is retiring.

Baldwin has served as Sachse’s assistant director of finance since September 2020. Prior to joining Sachse, Baldwin served the city of Bellevue, Washington, for 19 years in various roles, including budget division manager.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from November 19-December 2:

Texas Lottery Commission 
Robert Rivera - Dallas (reappointed) 

State Commission
on Judicial Conduct 
Kathy Ward - Plano 

Governor’s Committee
to Support the Military 
Edward Koenig - San Angelo 
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts – Fiscal Notes

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:

  • Public Utility Commission of Texas – Chief Administrative Officer (Director III-V)

  • Texas Department of State Health Services – Human Services Specialist VII

  • Texas Department of Information Resources – Senior Cyber Incident Response Team Analyst

  • Texas Health and Human Services Commission – HR Data Analyst

  • Office of the Texas Governor – Senior Purchaser
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