Volume 21, Issue 23 - June 9, 2023

Current public projects reflect innovation, new delivery models, and unique outcomes
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc.

It would be difficult to think of any type of contracting or technology solution that could not find an immediate implementation opportunity somewhere in the United States today. Project launches scheduled to start through 2023 and 2024 ‘cover the waterfront’ and they all require construction, engineering, security, landscaping, all types of technology and more. The diversity in the types of projects along with the available funding is historic. 

Public officials often want to know how other governmental officials are using federal, state and local bond funding. Companies that contract with the government also want to know more about projects that are currently in the planning phases. Since the research team at SPI follows upcoming opportunities in every state and at every jurisdiction, today’s column is committed to highlighting some of the unique types of contracting opportunities that will soon launch.

The following projects that are described are not happening in just one state – they represent dozens of similar projects in numerous states that are currently in planning phases. It is easy to forget that the U.S. government marketplace is the ‘largest market in the world’ but it is important NOT to forget because this marketplace is inflation resistant and continually expanding.

In the Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) area of Texas, planning documents indicate that construction will get underway in 2024 on a new Terminal F at the airport. The project carries a $1.6 billion projected budget which will also include 15 new gates and state-of-the-art facilities and amenities. This initiative will require all types of services, technology and equipment. It will also require security, landscaping, lighting, furniture, parking, transport vehicles and other amenities because the DFW airport expects to be serving 100 million customers a year within the next 6 to 7 years. Incidentally, airports throughout the U.S. have similar projects of this size in the planning stages. America is behind many other countries with airport upgrades and modernization efforts. Sadly, U.S. airports do not rank as high in global ratings as they once did. The national objective is to change that as quickly as possible.  

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Conroe could consider first bond election in more than a decade

Conroe officials hosted their first public meeting on the capital improvement program for fiscal year 2023-2024. Officials are considering the first bond election in more than 17 years.


A few projects that could appear on a potential ballot in November or May, include an $8 million fire station at Grand Central Park as well as: 

  • Water and sewer building expansion: $1.2 million.
  • Police driving track property: $2 million.
  • New senior center: Cost to be determined. 
  • Performing arts center: Cost to be determined.


Besides the idea of calling a bond election for larger projects, leaders discussed additional capital improvement projects needed throughout the city. During a call for projects, city staff submitted $403 million in projects. Just over $127.6 million was funded in the 2022-2023 budget including: 

Street projects:

  • Airport Road extension: $10 million. 
  • Street rehab for Tanglewood-Briarwood Phase 2: $6.7 million. 
  • Street rehab at Lake Conroe Forest Phase 2: $3.7 million. 
  • Downtown alleyway improvements: $500,000. 

Parks projects:

  • Parkland acquisition: $5 million. 
  • Senior Center improvements: $2 million. 
  • Aquatic Center improvements: $1.6 million. 
  • San Jacinto River Trail: $485,000. 

Water projects:

  • Water plant in Northwest Operational Zone: $8 million. 
  • Water well redrilling for two plants: $3.7 million each. 
  • Water extension for Old Montgomery Road: $2.2 million. 
  • Water plant at Moran Ranch: $400,000. 

No action was taken at the meeting and officials did not set a timeline for the bond election decisions.

City of Dallas gathering public input for possible bond package

The city of Dallas recently hosted a series of public town halls to get input on priorities for a $1 billion public improvement bond package that could go to voters in 2024. The initial discussions of where bond money could be allocated focused on safety. 

Dallas police and fire have laid out initial priorities for the bond, with the Dallas Police Department asking for $462 million and Dallas Fire-Rescue asking for $265 million.

The police department presented needs for:

  • $95 million to build a new facility to house a property room, auto pound and crime scene materials. 
  • $66 million to replace the Central Patrol Station, traffic and tactical buildings.
  • $25 million-$50 million toward the construction of a new training academy at the University of North Texas at Dallas. Total cost of the academy would be $150 million. The remaining financing would come from state funds and grants.
  • $32 million for a driver training facility.
  • $32 million for a patrol station.

Dallas Fire-Rescue would renovate or expand seven stations, buy land for five additional stations and renovate or expand 32 existing stations. The department has identified five locations for potential stations. Three are in southwest Dallas, one is in southeast Dallas and the fifth is in the northeastern part of the city. 

Dallas Fire-Rescue has 59 stations and 21 of them are more than 50 years old and 39 are less than 12,000 square feet, which the department says is the industry standard. The department plans to study call volume and response times to determine if new stations should be moved. 

Sam Houston State Regents approve new Campus Master Plan

A new Sam Houston State University (SHSU) Master Plan sets the university up to meet the future needs of campuses in Huntsville, Conroe and The Woodlands. The focus is on legacy building and adding additional space to the campuses.

The updated Master Plan includes several changes to support growth at the SHSU College of Osteopathic Medicine, including leasing approximately 12,142 square feet to house a physicians’ clinic.

The Master Plan also included construction of a new building in Conroe, which has experienced increased class sizes and landed its first residency program. The new building will include additional labs, research and private study spaces, student-centered green spaces, wellness, food and recreation amenities, a new parking garage and an adjacent market.

Future plans for The Woodlands Center Building, home to the SHSU School of Nursing, would expand access and reallocate space for additional study rooms and instructional spaces, add a university bookstore with a nursing focus, reinforce a partnership with Lone Star College and potentially add shared recreation and fitness amenities. 

The Board also approved $87 million in projects for capital improvement projects at the Active Learning Center, Bowers Stadium and Gibbs Ranch Equestrian Facility and Agriculture Labs.

Saluting Texas Lone Stars

David Yoskowitz, Ph.D.

Executive Director

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

Public career highlights and education: After graduating from Bentley College outside Boston, I worked in banking for a couple of years. I completed my master’s and Ph.D. in economics from Texas Tech University and started on the path of an academic for 25 years. I spent 16 years at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi before joining TPWD in fall of 2022. 


What I like best about my public service is: The positive impact that you can have. For me, I spent time as a professor training the next generation of scientists and resource managers and now I can move the science and solutions of natural resource management into implementation. I also like the opportunity to share the human aspects of natural resource management because almost all the issues that we face are centered around human behavior.


The best advice I’ve received: A friend of mine shared this with me, and versions of it are attributable to a number of people. “It is amazing the positive impact you can have if you are not concerned with who gets the credit.” 

People might be interested to know that: I was once a wildland firefighter — and will soon be again. TPWD has two wildland firefighting teams, and I wanted to get recertified after many years and participate in some prescribed burns, which are so important for ecological health of our lands.

One thing I wished more people knew about the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department is: The variety of things that the department is involved in. We have state parks, wildlife management areas, and coastal management areas. We are involved in boating safety, hunter education, and getting kids out fishing. We steward and manage many plants and critters that are important to Texans. This is just a little bit of what we do.

State comptroller approves spending budget for 2024-2025 biennium

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar on June 6 announced his certification of House Bill 1, the General Appropriations Act, that was approved by both houses during the recently gaveled Regular Session of the 88th Texas Legislature. The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott. HB 1 appropriates $321.3 billion in total spending for the state's budget during the 2024-2025 biennium. It is certified based on the 2024-2025 Biennial Revenue Estimate, published in January.  

Combined with Senate Bill 30, the total appropriations for both bills are under the state’s constitutional pay-as-you-go limit. Per Hegar, Texas voters will decide important constitutional amendments in November that ultimately will determine how much the state has in its coffers heading into the 2026-2027 biennium.  

Abbott has until June 18 to strike any spending lines that he doesn’t support from the budget. His line-item veto powers apply only to the budget. If the Legislature is still in session when that veto authority is exercised, the Legislature can override those decisions with a two-thirds majority vote. Lawmakers can also replace vetoed spending by passing a new funding bill for those items in a later special session if the governor agrees to call it. 

Bexar County plans to obtain design-build contract for treatment facility expansion

Bexar County Commissioners on June 6 approved spending an estimated $3 million to purchase nearly 11 acres next to the county-run Dual Diagnosis Residential Treatment Facility on Applewhite Road. This facility provides a residential treatment jail diversion program for adult male and female individuals who are dually diagnosed with mental health and substance use disorders. The state leases the property for nearly $32,000 a month and Bexar County oversees the facility.

The land will be used for expansion of the treatment facility. The plan is to add a 39,000-square foot, 130-bed residential building for mentally ill jail inmates. The facility currently accommodates 300 beds. Bexar County officials expect to award a design-build contract by November, with the new residential facility finished by May 2025. 

Commissioners set aside $25 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars last year for this renovation and expansion. The expansion construction totals $18 million. Renovations will take place at the facility’s existing three buildings for $4 million, and the remaining $3 million will be used to acquire the property.  

County officials have struggled with housing a growing number of mentally ill inmates in the Bexar County Jail due to a lack of beds. The jail can hold about 5,000 inmates. State hospitals are responsible for treating inmates who have been deemed incompetent to stand trail by a judge and who need mental health treatment before their court cases can proceed.  

City of Houston receives $36.9M for safety improvements at railroad crossings

In Houston’s East End, traffic can sometimes be at a standstill for hours due to stopped trains. The city was recently awarded $36.9 million from the Railroad Crossing Elimination Grant Program, which will close the funding gap for the $123.6 million West Belt Improvement Project and address railroad crossings.

The first phase West Belt Improvement Project will eliminate seven at-grade railroad crossings and the construction of four underpasses for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians. The project does not yet have a start date for construction, according to city officials. However, the grant application indicated that the city has a deadline in fiscal year 2025 to start construction on the initiative.

The first phase of the West Belt Improvement Project will create a 9,000-foot sealed corridor and rail quiet zone between the streets of Runnels and Leeland. The existing underpass along Navigation Boulevard will be reconstructed to include lanes for pedestrians and cyclists and include an underpass on Commerce. 

The project calls for two more underpasses with multimodal facilities on York Street between McKinney and Capitol streets, along with converting parts of York and Sampson Street. Several other crossings will be closed once construction on the new crossings is completed.


The grant, announced June 5, is one of 63 awarded this year by the Federal Railroad Administration, which is doling out $570 million to address more than 400 at-grade crossings in 32 states. Five of those projects in Texas received a total of $87 million.

Texas Water Development Board approves $132M for water and wastewater projects

The Texas Water Development Board on June 6 approved financial assistance for several water and wastewater projects. Some of the larger projects include $30.6 million to the city of Pflugerville from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) to expand the capacity of the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant from 7.25 million-gallons-per-day (MGD) to 10 MGD. Improvements include a new influent lift station pump, filter improvements, replacement of existing clarifier mechanical equipment, and a new effluent pump station. The city will also complete a reclaimed water master planning study. 

El Paso Water acting on behalf of the city of El Paso will receive an estimated $29 million to construct wastewater collection services for 775 households and decommission its existing septic systems as part of Phase II of the city’s ongoing project. The total allocation consists of $8.7 in financing and $20.3 in grant funding from the Economically Distressed Areas Program (EDAP).  

Maverick County received $24 million. This funding consists of $7.2 million in financing and $16.8 million in grant funding from the EDAP. The county will provide first-time wastewater service to the central area of the Quemado community. The county will also provide first-time water service to residences north of the existing Quemado water service area and to residences along Thompson Road north of the Elm Creek area. In addition, the County will replace 12 non-functioning meters in the Quemado area. 

The North Alamo Water Supply Corporation received $14.2 million from the EDAP. The project includes construction of a collection system and a filter press at the wastewater treatment plant. The collection system will consist of one lift station, 5,000 linear feet of gravity sewer lines and 3,800 linear feet of force mains. A second project will fund the construction of the wastewater collection system and expansion of the existing Donna Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant’s capacity to service additional connections. These two projects will provide first-time sewer service to several subdivisions. 

Southeast Texas communities preparing for hurricane season

At the beginning of June, Tropical Storm Arlene, which formed in the Gulf of Mexico, kicked off the beginning of the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season. It was downgraded a couple of days later to a depression and brought rain to the U.S. In preparation for the potential flooding from future storms, cities, counties and drainage districts are taking preventative measures to keep areas from becoming potential flood zones. 

In Jefferson County, Drainage District 6 is prepping for hurricane season with several culvert and detention basin projects to help move more water. City officials stated the detention basin projects can store large volumes of water underground and prevent flooding downstream. 

In Beaumont, the district is undertaking the McLean Project, an effort to install new storm sewers in the Gulf Terrace neighborhood. The improvement will divert rainfall runoff into both an existing and new detention basin. 

Jefferson County’s Drainage District 7 is continuing to work on the Sabine to Galveston Project, which would raise levees about two feet and ensure the entire system is level and protected against storm surges, according to officials. The estimated total cost of the project is $863 million, which would be funded with 35% local funds and 65% federal dollars.


Other projects in Draining District 7 include:

  • Construction on three detention ponds in the Groves area within the next year. 
  • Maintenance projects that include making sure several levee gates close properly and aren’t blocked by debris.

Port Arthur is planning to use FEMA dollars to improve drainage in the communities of Port Acres, El Vista and Stonegate. Depending on FEMA's final funding approval, construction could start later this summer in three major areas:

  • $29.8 million to add a new storm drain system in Port Acres.
  • $16.9 million to allow Stonegate, which spans Jimmy Johnson Boulevard and 9th Avenue, to utilize some water detention ponds from a local golf course and circumvent future flooding.
  • $10.8 million to upgrade the outfall condition at Maple Avenue in El Vista. 

Tropical Storm Harvey in 2017 and Tropical Depression Imelda in 2019 caused catastrophic flooding throughout Orange County. While hurricane damage gets most of the attention, drainage maintenance is a year-round effort.

Orange County currently does not have levees or gate structures, but projects are in the planning stages to improve the county’s ability to better protect against future storms and flooding. The largest such project, The Sabine Pass to Galveston Bay Coastal Storm Risk Management Program, aims to reduce the risk of storm surge impacts in Orange, Jefferson and other counties along the coast. It includes construction of a new levee system in southern Orange County and other improvements to existing hurricane flood protection projects at Port Arthur and Freeport. 

HHSC opens $200M Rusk State Hospital

Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) officials held a ribbon cutting June 7 for the new $200 million patient complex and administration building at Rusk State Hospital in Rusk. 


The three-story, 227,368 square-foot patient complex includes a 100-bed non-maximum-security unit and an expanded 100-bed, maximum-security unit. The 200-bed unit will increase the number of maximum-security unit beds from 40 to 100. The hospital's overall capacity will stay the same. The complex also includes a theater, music room, beauty salon, canteen, library, gym, greenhouse and a teaching kitchen. 

Operating since 1919, Rusk State Hospital offers inpatient adult psychiatric services to people in 36 counties throughout East Texas. The hospital serves approximately an average of 270 people annually.


Since 2017, Texas leaders have appropriated more than $3.2 billion in funding for the replacement, renovation or expansion of state hospitals in Austin, Kerrville, Rusk, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas.  

(Photo: Courtesy of Texas Health and Human Services.)

Jackson named PUC interim chair

Kathleen Jackson has been named interim chair of the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC). Jackson has served as PUC commissioner since August 2022. Previously, she was a member of the Texas Water Development Board from 2014 to 2022. Jackson is a registered professional engineer and former chairman of the Southeast Texas Section of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

The appointment comes after former PUC Chairman Peter Lake stepped down from his role on June 2. Lake said he also plans to leave his role as a PUC commissioner on July 1. Lake was first appointed in April 2021, overseeing the implementation of bipartisan reforms to the Texas electric grid following Winter Storm Uri. 

The PUC regulates the state's electric, telecommunication, and water and sewer utilities, implements respective legislation and offers customer assistance in resolving consumer complaints. 

Bivens appointed to chair of RTC

Fort Worth Mayor Pro Tem Gyna Bivens was elected chair of the Regional Transportation Council (RTC) on June 8 and will lead the 45-member transportation policymaking body for the next year. Bivens takes over for Collin County Commissioner Duncan Webb, who steered the RTC through the recently concluded 88th Texas Legislature. 

As the transportation policymaking body for the 12-county Dallas-Fort Worth area, the RTC oversees transportation planning for the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the country, which has a current population of approximately 8 million people. 

Fey selected to lead Killeen ISD

The Killeen Independent School District Board of Trustees named Dr. Jo Ann Fey as the lone finalist for the district’s position of superintendent.

Fey has 27 years of educational experience, 25 spent in Southwest Independent School District in San Antonio. In 2021, Fey was named superintendent of Midlothian Independent School District, a fast growth district of 10,000 plus students located south of the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex. The Board of Trustees will vote on Fey’s official hiring after the state-mandated 21-day waiting period.

Shenandoah donates 3 acres for Tamina project

The city of Shenandoah is donating 3 acres for the location of a new water distribution facility, part of a $21 million project to provide water and sewer service to the community of Tamina. With a population of around 1,000, Tamina is located across from The Woodlands on Interstate 45.

The water plant is part of an agreement between the city and the Old Tamina Water Supply Corporation for the city to extend water and sewage service to the Tamina community. The agreement was finalized on Dec. 5, 2022. 

According to officials, work is underway to design the water distribution system, provide certificate of convenience and necessity transfer and complete the environmental studies. Work on the project began in June 2022 when Shenandoah agreed to allocate $700,000 in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to build 1,700 feet of 12-inch water line from Tamina Road to the Union Pacific train tracks.

The donated property will house a water distribution system, a water storage tank and a lift station. There will be no wastewater treatment facilities on the property. There will be acreage left that will be usable for other things, according to the engineering firm hired for the project. 

Under the agreement, Shenandoah will provide water for almost 200 homes. It will also replace Tamina septic systems with sewer lines and provide fire hydrants. Work on the project is expected to begin this year and finish in 2026.   

San Angelo Coliseum funding could come from DoD

In 2022, the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo Association announced plans to expand the Foster Communications Coliseum at an initial estimated cost of $150 million. At a recent San Angelo City Council meeting discussions included the potential to apply for funding through the Department of Defense (DoD).

The DoD and the Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation are providing an opportunity for states and local governments to obtain funding to improve infrastructure in communities supportive of military installations. 

The coliseum expansion could provide additional space to house joint service members in the event of a natural disaster, serve as an alternate continuity of operations site in the event of a catastrophe, and serve as an event center for military training events, and as a resource for local emergency management. 

The expansion would increase seating capacity by 4,500, add restrooms and ticket booths, and improve wheelchair accessibility. The Coliseum is the largest community support facility within 11,000 square miles sitting on 100 acres of land. Currently, only a motion to investigate the application for funding from the DoD has passed. Additional meetings will be held before a final decision is made. 

(Photo: Foster Communications Coliseum. Courtesy of the city of San Angelo.)

runs through june 29
Light-rail system project moves forward in Austin

Design work and initiation of the funding process are going forward for Austin’s rail-line project. The final project plan was approved by Austin City Council, the Capital Metro Board and the Austin Transit Partnership. This is the final and cumulative vote of all three boards of directors. 

The Austin Transit Partnership will build the rail line for Project Connect, a community effort that expands transit options throughout the Austin area, with new light rail and more services across the city. City officials have said this will bring needed alternate transportation options for residents, visitors and future growth. The project is not expected to be completed for several more years. 

In November 2020, Austin voters approved a property tax increase to fund the $7.1 billion project. 

Plans include a nearly 10-mile on-street rail line through downtown Austin, with 15 stations along the route. The line will begin at 38th Street and Guadalupe Street and travel south before splitting at Lady Bird Lake. One line will go east along Riverside Drive to Yellow Jacket Lane and the other will continue along South Congress Avenue to Oltorf Street.

Opportunities to extend the line north to the MetroRail at Crestview and east to the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport will depend on funding.

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: Kristin Gordon

Claire Robertson

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, the SPI Team has developed a national reputation for partnering public and private sector entities.

To learn more about SPI services, click here or contact our sales department at 512-531-3900

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