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Texas Department of Transportation Commission Meeting


Ric Williamson Hearing Room
Dewitt Greer Building
125 East 11th Street
Austin, Texas 78701-2483

Thursday, August 27, 2009


COMMISSION MEMBERS:

Deirdre Delisi, Chair
Ted Houghton, Jr.
Ned S. Holmes
Fred Underwood
William Meadows

STAFF:

Amadeo Saenz, Executive Director
Steve Simmons, Deputy Executive Director
Bob Jackson, General Counsel
Roger Polson, Executive Assistant to the Deputy Executive Director
Dee Hernandez, Chief Minute Clerk

PROCEEDINGS

MS. DELISI: Good morning. I will call the regular August 2009 meeting of the Texas Transportation Commission to order. Note for the record that public notice of this meeting, containing all items on the agenda, was filed with the Office of the Secretary of State at 3:03 p.m. on August 19, 2009.

Before we begin today's meeting, please take a moment to place your cell phones and other electronic devices either on the off or the silent mode, please.

As is our custom, we will open with comments from the commissioners and we'll start with Commissioner Meadows.

MR. MEADOWS: Thank you, Madame Chair.

Actually, I can't think of anything profound to say this morning, so that being the case, I'd just like to welcome everybody and thank you all for being here.

MR. UNDERWOOD: I want to associate myself with my colleague's remarks, how short and sweet they were.

On a personal note, I'd like to wish my wife happy birthday today, and for the people of Austin, she's probably there trying to revive your economy single-handedly. I don't want to hurt her feelings, but I think she maxed the card out last week on our anniversary, so you be sure and take the first one.

One other thought, on a personal note, I want to thank the men and women of TxDOT. I know you are already preparing for the hurricane season and I really appreciate all the hard work you do and the planning that's already been put forth. We thank you, really appreciate it.

And Ned, one other thought I want to leave with you: it's not necessary to fool all the people all the time, just a simple majority will do.

(General laughter.)

MR. HOLMES: I'm not sure exactly where we're going with that one.

I'd like to add a welcome, appreciate all of your time, attention and hard work, and thanks to all the employees of TxDOT that make the commissioners' jobs so easy.

Fred, which 51 percent are you talking about?

(General laughter.)

MR. HOUGHTON: Good morning and welcome to the commission meeting, glad to see everyone here, especially you, Judge Echols, nice to have you back, bringing trains back to Texas -- glad to see it. And welcome, everyone, and to all of our employees, I echo the remarks of my fellow commissioners, the heartbeat of the organization. Thank you very much.

MS. DELISI: Good morning, everyone. You know, commissioners, this is going to be a little bit of a bittersweet meeting because at the beginning we have a lot of retirements that we're going to go through and we're losing a lot of longtime, valuable employees. So it goes back to what you were saying about the employees being the heart of this agency and we're going to be missing a lot of good people in the next couple of days when they retire.

If you wish to address the commission during today's meeting, please complete a speaker's card at the registration table in the lobby. To comment on an agenda item, please complete a yellow card and identify the agenda item. If it is not an agenda item, we will take your comments at the open comment period at the end of the meeting, and for those comments, please fill out a blue card. Regardless of the color of card, please try and limit your comments to three minutes.

Before we enter into today's business on the agenda, I'd like to call on Amadeo to make those important recognitions.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Madame Chair. Good morning, commissioners.

I want to take a few minutes to recognize several of our longtime department leaders who have chosen to retire from state service. It is our custom to present commission resolutions to the senior leaders within the department and other employees who played an instrumental role in the commission's activities. So I'll take these employees that will be retiring at the end of this month and some of them next month, by order of years of the time that they served.

I'd like to first call up Jesse Ball. Good morning, Jesse.

The Texas Transportation takes great pride in recognizing Jesse W. Ball, Jr., who has served the Department of Transportation for more than 17 years, most recently as the director of the Office of Civil Rights. After serving 20 years in the United States Air Force, Jesse began his distinguished career with the department in 1992 as the deputy director of the Civil Rights Division and then became director in 2002.

Jesse earned a degree of Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Prairie View A&M University in 1984; he earned his Master of Arts degree in Management from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Jesse will long be remembered for his dedication, innovation and commitment to the State of Texas and TxDOT.

Jesse, congratulations, it's been a pleasure working with you. Jesse would drive from San Antonio every day.

MR. BALL: Seventeen years.

MR. SAENZ: Seventeen years. I want to make sure that you've paid enough of the maintenance costs that you've caused on our roads, but we'll have to run an audit.

(General laughter.)

MR. SAENZ: Jesse, thank you for your dedicated service, thank you for your friendship, thank you for your commitment to the department, and we wish you all the luck, and of course, you're still part the TxDOT family and we look forward to seeing you afterwards.

MR. BALL: Thank you, sir, thank you very much.

(Applause.)

MR. SAENZ: I'd like to let Jesse say a few words and then once we introduce them, we'll let our commissioners if you want to say something.

MR. BALL: I just want to say thank you very much, first of all, to the administration for allowing me the opportunity to make a difference, and thanks to the commission for their support. Without the support of the administration and the commission, my job would be very, very tough; it's tough enough but without that support, it would even be tougher. But thank you very much to the administration, commission, and to the employees of this department.

And this department, to me, is one of the greatest organizations that I've been associated with. Coming from the ultimate public sector, being the structured military and coming to a place like TxDOT, it was a blessing. Thank you very much.

MR. SAENZ: And Jesse, we have a resolution here signed by the commission and myself and we'll present it to you in a few minutes.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Are we going to say something now or at the end?

MR. SAENZ: Whatever you like.

MR. UNDERWOOD: I'd like to say something now. I know the employees that have had the course under you -- is that what you'd call it, Jesse, that you taught?

MR. BALL: New employees orientation.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Right, and I wanted to thank you. I was one of his almost failures and whatnot going through the course. He had a lot of hair before he started working with me.

(General laughter.)

MR. UNDERWOOD: But I really appreciate your professionalism, the way you cared about the employees, it was very obvious, and I learned a lot, I thought I was pretty clever until I got into his course, and I appreciate my diploma, by the way. Thank you. For those that have gone through the course, you do receive the deal and whatnot.

And it was very instructional but I enjoyed the professionalism and the one-on-one touch, your interest in each employee, and how it really meant a lot to you for them to be successful in what they were doing and to represent TxDOT in the proper manner, and I wish there were more people like you, sir. Thank you.

MR. BALL: Thank you, sir.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Jesse.

Next I'd like to call up Dick Rollins, who retired last month. Come on up, Dick. Of course, Dick has been our D.C. Greer Building manager, kind of our jack of all trades. Anytime that something went wrong in the Greer Building, we went to Dick and Dick figured out how to fix it, whether it was gnats, whether it was lights, whether it was too cold an air conditioner, too hot an air conditioner, whether it was providing transportation. In my eight years here, anything that we ever needed, Dick was able to get it.

MR. HOUGHTON: Does that include the noisy air conditioner that's going right now?

MR. SAENZ: Well, he's retired now so I guess we're just going to have to work on it.

(General laughter.)

MR. SAENZ: And Dick could probably tell us a lot of stories about his tenure here, but I don't think we want to do that to Dick today.

Dick began his career working in the Greer Building in 1988, 21 years ago, and has addressed the facility needs of every commissioner, executive director and building employee since then. Dick has seen the agency through seven executive directors and numerous challenges and accomplishments, including many Greer Building restoration projects, starting with a $2.3 million renovation in 1994 which consisted of repairs and cleaning of exterior limestone granite, restoration of architectural features in the hearing room and main lobby and the modernization of the audiovisual systems. He has also overseen an additional $3.5 million in renovation work.

Dick has remained a cornerstone in the Greer Building throughout the countless personnel moves and has played an important role in ensuring that every Greer Building commission meeting was a success, at least from the facilities standpoint -- he couldn't count on whatever the votes came out, but at least the facilities were good.

Dick will long be remembered as an essential component of this agency and the commission and all of the employees who have worked with you extend our sincerest best wishes to you. And Dick, on a personal note from me, thank you for everything that you did for all of the department employees, but especially for me.

And you're looking younger after one month of retirement.

MR. ROLLINS: This hot weather agrees with me.

MR. SAENZ: Would you like to say a few words?

MR. ROLLINS: Yes, I do. I want to recognize my family.

(Applause.)

MR. ROLLINS: Jean has been the wind beneath my wings all these years. She was director of fine arts for the Texas Education Agency for 32 years.

I've served this department through the Raymond Stotzer days up until the present, and I've had total support from the administration and I've certainly enjoyed my work here in the D.C. Greer Building. I hope we can preserve this building forever and ever and ever because it is a wonderful facility. I thank the commission, I thank my family, and bless you all. Thank you.

(Applause.)

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Dick.

Phil Russell, please come up.

Phillip E. Russell, P.E. has worked for the department for more than 28 years, most recently he's been our assistant executive director for Innovative Project Development.

Phil began his career with the department in 1978 as a summer employee at the Austin District's Burnet area engineer's office -- resident engineer's office as it was known back then. In 1982, he earned his Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and began full-time work at the Dallas District. After graduating with honors from the Texas Wesleyan University Law School in Fort Worth in 1993, Phil moved to the Bryan District to serve as director of Transportation Planning and Development and then served as the director of the Texas Turnpike Authority Division from 1998 to 2007.

Of course, Phil is our Mr. Toll Roads and has led the department into the construction of the first toll road projects in the State of Texas. Under his direction, the division expanded the state's highway system through the development of toll roads, working with the districts and local officials in the formation of regional mobility authorities and the state toll projects, and overseeing the preparation of public-private partnerships.

The American Road and Transportation Builders Association, ARTBA, awarded Phil the 2002 Outstanding Achievement Award for Public Sector Employee and the 20th Anniversary Public-Private Ventures Award in 2008. In 2006, Phil received the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials President's Transportation Award for Planning.

Phil managed the Central Texas Turnpike Project which included the department's first toll road and the first public-private partnership on State Highway 130.

Phil Russell, P.E. and J.D., we recognize all your professional achievements and we thank you for your loyal service and friendship through the years that we've known each other. Congratulations, my friend.

MR. RUSSELL: Thank you, Amadeo.

(Applause.)

MR. RUSSELL: I guess let me just say quickly how much I appreciate the support of all of you. I'm glad you didn't give Commissioner Meadows any advance warning Tuesday night; God only knows what he could have done with some additional time, so thank you for that small miracle, Amadeo.

(General laughter.)

MR. RUSSELL: To say it's been a great ride here has probably been an understatement. The opportunities that I've been given by you all and of course by Mr. Saenz have been absolutely incredible. I look back over the years, and while the days, a few of those have been pretty long days, the years have gone remarkably quick. Obviously, this is an agency in transition, I'm always the ultimate optimist, but I think you all and Mr. Saenz have positioned us to take care of a lot of the challenges that we all know are brewing and will be coming to a head over the next couple of years.

So we're going to have more changes but the employees can handle that without any problem.

I go back and think back, as I mentioned Tuesday night, I had the wonderful pleasure of working with a lot of the greatest generation, a lot of those guys that had come home after World War II, and I got in on the end of it in the '70s, and it was always remarkable to me because their view of life was: Wow, we've really gone through some changes in this agency over my 30 years, and man, it's just not the same. Of course I spin forward and look at the changes that have occurred over the last 30 and particularly over the last 15, and I don't know that they would have been able to anticipate the changes that have occurred.

Changes are difficult for everybody but I think we're going to be in great shape and I look forward to watching closely over the next two, three, four years some of the things that will be taking place here.

So again, thank you very much for all the opportunities you've given me, and I look forward to keeping in touch with all of you. Thank you.

(Applause.)

MR. SAENZ: Phil’s last day is at the end of September, so if you have any special tasks for Phil that you would like me to assign to him, he's got a few more days.

MR. HOUGHTON: I just want to know one thing, in 1982, was UT accredited back then?

MR. SAENZ: I hope so because I graduated in

'78.

MR. MEADOWS: I just appreciated the fact that you had to give that long-range planning report yesterday with 30 days to go.

MR. SAENZ: Well, we might even get him to give an update next month if we can get him to the commission meeting.

(General laughter.)

MR. HOLMES: Phil, great job. Thanks for all that you've done for TxDOT and the state.

MR. UNDERWOOD: And thanks also to your family for sharing you with us because I know the long hours, we talked about that Tuesday night. The people in this room understand that but the public doesn't, but we really do appreciate it. Thank you.

MR. SAENZ: The next person I'd like to come is Nancy Handrick. Nancy is a very special person, kind of has been, at least for the last two years, probably the last eight years when Mike was here, she kind of makes sure that the executive director knows where he's supposed to be, when he's supposed to be somewhere and also makes sure that people come see her before they see us, so she probably has already given them the answer to the question before they come to ask us.

Of course, this recognition is near and dear to my heart since Nancy is my executive assistant in my position as executive director and has been basically taking care of me for the last two years.

Nancy, the commission takes great pride in recognizing you for more than 36 years of state service. Nancy began her career in 1970 when she worked for the Bridge Division of the Texas Highway Department -- it was the State Department of Highways and Public Transportation, I think, back then. After a brief stint outside the agency, she kind of went out to the dark side and she came back to work for us in 1984, and since then she has worked through seven executive directors. She's always worked here in the Greer Building as part of the administration.

Nancy also enjoys giving back to the community through her work with the Lions Club of Buda which hosts many community service activities and has become nationally known for holding the Wiener Dog Races during the annual county fair in Buda which has become known as the Wiener Dog Capital of the World -- and Nancy can tell you all about that.

Of course, during football season, Thursdays and Fridays she's out at the concession stand making lots of money, and every Monday we would get the report of how much money her concession stand made versus all the other ones, and most of the time she probably doubled or tripled what all the other ones could make. You can tell, after working with Nancy and I think you all have seen the type of person she is, if someone doesn't want to buy something, she will convince them to buy something.

Nancy's biggest priorities are spending time with her husband, Charles, and her family and her precious grandchildren. She has remained a fixture in the administration for more than 25 years and her priceless wisdom and valued guidance have been instrumental to the success of the department.

We have been privileged to have Nancy as part of our agency and her contributions to the department simply cannot be measured.

Nancy, on behalf of myself, the commission and all of our TxDOT employees and the citizens of Texas, congratulations for your more than 36 years of valuable service, best wishes to a well deserved retirement. Have fun at the concession stands during this football season, and we look forward to seeing you at the next Wiener Dog Races. Congratulations.

MS. HANDRICK: Thank you very much.

It is a lot of hard work but it takes a lot of hard work to get stuff done. And yes, I did enjoy my time here at TxDOT, but I think I have a new dream and I need to go fulfill that because I've reached my goal here. And my co-workers sitting back behind me in the front row, they will carry on and everything will go on smooth as everything has always been done, but I do want to thank the administration and the commission. I've worked with many commissioners, but the time is here so I need to move on.

And Amadeo, thanks for everything, and my community is waiting for me and I am actually starting concession this afternoon, so I can't be here this afternoon or tomorrow afternoon. But I do love to serve and that's our motto on the Lions Club. We serve, and that's what I plan to do, my family, my community.

And I'll always have my friends here at TxDOT. The memories I've made here will never be forgotten because I have 25 years in this building with the administration and I don't know that many people can spend that much time in one place. But this is almost home and I'm going to my other home, I have a home in the country and there are new dreams there that Charles and I want to fulfill. So with that, thank you very much. I love you all.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Nancy, one quick thing. Would you turn around and face the crowd? See how young she looks, she started working for TxDOT at 12. I don't believe 36 years.

(General laughter.)

MS. HANDRICK: Just 19.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Nineteen, well, I thought 12 for sure.

One thing you need to understand, this young lady has tremendous patience. I can give you an example, my first couple of days here I succeeded in trying to get the Dallas-Fort Worth phone book to go through the shredder, and I still believe at this point in time if I've pushed hard, it would have made it. But she was very gracious in saying, No, sir, let me help you. And I really appreciate, and she's always been there to help us, and thank you very much, young lady, appreciate it.

MS. HANDRICK: You're welcome very much.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Nancy. Is it all right if I tell Mike that I was your favorite?

(General laughter.)

MR. SAENZ: We also had two other employees that retired: Ed Sims, who was our Director of the Occupational Safety Division, and unfortunately Ed couldn't make it today, but he's not going to get off the hook, I'll bring him back next month; and Bryan Wood, who is our District Engineer in Bryan also could not make it today but I will try to get them next month so we can give them their resolutions and honor them.

With that, would you like to say any other words? If not, we will present the resolutions and take some pictures.

MR. HOUGHTON: I'd just like to say this is what we went through yesterday on the study that we're going through. I tallied up the years here and if my math is correct, 187 years of intellectual capital is going out the door, and it just can't be said for all the institutional knowledge that you all have and the dedication and the hard work, and I'm sincerely appreciative of everything.

And I was telling Nancy throughout the week that we're going -- do we have to approve retirements? Do we have to approve them, can we rescind a retirement?

MR. SAENZ: We can do whatever you wish?

MR. HOUGHTON: Can we?

MS. DELISI: A minute order.

MR. SAENZ: A minute order, we'll have to do it next month.

MR. HOUGHTON: Because I have personal interest in this. You know that Skittles bowl that sits over there.

MR. SAENZ: She has delegated that to the next person.

MS. HANDRICK: I'm coming back up. Okay, the drawer is full of Skittles

MR. HOUGHTON: Is the drawer full of Skittles?

MS. HANDRICK: I've taken care of it.

MR. HOUGHTON: Thank you, Nancy. I can't get to the concession stand from El Paso.

MS. HANDRICK: It's not in the concession stand, it's in my office, and the drawer is full, so the stash will be there and Connie will make sure the bowl is full is full at all times. You'll be well taken care of.

MR. HOUGHTON: Thank you, Nancy. You're off the hook, Nancy.

MS. HANDRICK: Yes, I know. You're well taken care of.

(General laughter.)

MR. HOUGHTON: And to Phil Russell, we've had some fun times, Phil, back and forth, and I expect to see you down the trail somewhere, I do.

And to the other retirees, Jesse, thank you all very, very much for your dedication and hard work.

MR. SAENZ: All right, let's go down and present the resolutions and take some pictures.

(Pause for presentations and photos.)

MS. DELISI: The first item of business today is approval of the minutes for the regular July 30 meeting. Members, the draft minutes have been provided in your briefing materials. Is there a motion to approve?

MR. UNDERWOOD: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

Amadeo, with that I will hand it back to you to continue working through the agenda.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Madame Chair.

Our first agenda item today is a report on Texas High Speed Rail. Phil Russell will come on board and present our presenters who are going to give us a presentation on some high speed rail efforts in Texas and some of the things that we're looking at. Phil.

MR. RUSSELL: Thank you, Amadeo. Again, good morning, commissioners and Amadeo and Roger. For the last time, I'm Phil Russell, assistant executive director.

As Mr. Saenz mentioned, we have a presentation coming up on the high speed rail and some of the developments that a group has been working on for a number of years. I'm going to ask Judge Robert Echols -- Robert always says, Don't call me judge, I'm not the judge anymore -- but still Judge Echols to me, and the judge is the president of the High Speed Rail Corporation, and I think the judge has several folks with his group today that will be coming to you and discussing some potential opportunities and a proposal to the department.

So Judge, the podium is yours.

JUDGE ECHOLS: Thank you, Phil. Madame Chair, good morning. Chairman Delisi, commissioners, I'm honored to be here with you today. Phil had introduced me, my name is Robert Echols and today I am wearing the hat of the chair of the Texas High Speed Rail and Transportation Corporation. I want to thank the department staff for working very hard with us over the years and most recently during this legislative session, as we worked to get through that session with the department and with our high speed rail project and with the federal stimulus applications that have just gone through.

I am here, of course, as Phil mentioned, with several members of the corporation to tell you a little bit about our vision for high speed rail in Texas and the strategic way we think we can move forward to make it a reality.

Phil Russell introduced us here, and it would be remiss of me to not thank him for the support and guidance he has given, not just to this group but to me over the years as county judge with the Harris County Toll Road and just in the role from Harris County. Alan Clark is here, but HGAC has worked closely with Phil over the years as well, and on behalf of the Transportation Council and the I-69 Council and private citizens.

It's unique when Phil gets up here to talk to you -- I'll divert a little from this -- about that the time that we worked well together when I was judge in Harris County between TxDOT and the local officials with really a vision for things that could be. And as I was driving down I-10, Phil the other day, I was thinking about some of those projects with TxDOT and that it was working, it was pouring down rain and horrible weather and the traffic was flowing and there weren't people dead as they would have been five years ago. And that's the partnership that we have with TxDOT and Harris County, and it's because of people like Phil that that all happened.

Nancy, too, she kind of artfully protected the chair and the commission from people like me that would try to reach them over the years. But she also is a credit to the department, both are credits to their profession and to the department and we will miss them, and I just take this time in the middle of this to thank Phil for his work.

As we've been working with the department and with Phil and the folks down here on the verge of a new era in passenger travel in Texas and in the United States, it's a pleasure to work with TxDOT in our organization but we understand more than anything too that the state is not about to increase taxes to build a system, and we don't advocate for the diversion of highway funds to fund a high speed rail system. We also don't expect that the government at the federal level will come in and use their printing presses to print money in order to pay for these entire systems. Even with the amount of money they're putting in, it is not going to fund the bulk of what needs to be done to make high speed a reality in Texas.

It's going to be contingent on the ability of the state, working with the cities, counties and other transportation organizations along what we call the Texas T-Bone and the South Central High Speed Rail Corridor to effectively partner with the private sector. We believe that the cities and counties are uniquely positioned to do this.

We own and operate and facilitate, design, construct, finance the airports, seaports and transit systems around the state. We believe that in cooperation with the Department of Transportation and according to the strategy outlined by the Texas High Speed Rail and Transportation Corporation that Texas can be the home of the safest, fastest, most efficient and most profitable high speed network in the world.

Absent the full cooperation of all the necessary stakeholders, many of them who are here today, we risk missing out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to act collaboratively and proactively to address Texas's growing transportation challenges.

As you may be aware, the Texas High Speed Rail and Transportation Corporation is a 501(c) corporation, we are supported by numerous cities, counties and seaports and rail districts in the State of Texas and in Arkansas, working to bring high speed passenger rail to the 440-mile Texas T-Bone Corridor, as well as extensions on the South Central and Gulf Coast Corridors. To this end, the members have traveled around the world for the past seven years learning from high speed rail financers, developers and operators and work tirelessly across the state advocating for timely development of high speed rail in Texas. I will point out that this has not been at the corporation's expense because the corporation has no income, it's largely been at the personal expense of the members of the corporation, and they've spent a lot of time and energy in this effort.

In cooperation with the members of our congressional and legislative caucuses, elected and city and county officials across the state and transportation planners and policy experts at this department and across the country, our corporation has developed a comprehensive strategy to facilitate the development of high speed rail in Texas.

Building on these seven-plus years of our work, the next important step is to incorporate probably two separate corporations, each could have separate but important ongoing roles in the process. Our group has long planned and has been in the process of creating a South Central High Speed Rail and Transportation Authority, Inc., it's a local government corporation, incorporated by the local governments along the route under Chapter 431(d) of the Transportation Code. This corporation would enter into contracts with members of the private sector and the state to facilitate the design, construction, operation and financing of high speed rail in Texas.

The second requires your action. It is the Texas High Speed Rail and Transportation Corporation established under Section 431(b) of the Texas Transportation Code to serve as the state's rail planning organization, and as such, report directly to the commission. This corporation could contract with the South Central High Speed Rail and Transportation Authority to develop high speed rail along the Texas T-Bone and extensions as established by the FRA and/or the commission.

We understand that the formal request from TxDOT staff for the commission's approval of this corporation will be presented at next month's commission meeting and look forward to working closely with each of you in the coming months and years to use our unique partnership approach to leverage the scarce public dollars that we know that we have with the private sector participation to get the greatest benefit for the public.

Again, Phil Russell has been a great partner with us over the years, we've enjoyed working with him and look forward to continuing that tradition with the department.

Gary Fickes is a commissioner from Tarrant County and the group here is representative of the kind of grassroots support we have developed along the route, and he has served as secretary of the Texas High Speed Rail and Transportation Corporation, and he'll brief you on the type of system that we envision for the State of Texas. Commissioner.

MR. FICKES: Thank you, Robert.

Commissioners, Chairman Delisi, I want to thank you for having us here today and let us explain to you our vision. But also, first, I want to thank the commission. It was not quite a year ago, it was in September that Chairman Delisi and Ted Houghton and we met with the governor to talk about two major projects in our area in Tarrant County, and since then both those projects are in approval stages and moving forward, the DFW Connector and the North Tarrant Expressway. Bill, I want to thank you and all the commissioners for your support.

Today again I want to talk a little bit about the Texas T-Bone. The T-Bone represents one of only three true high speed rail projects in the entire country. This 440-mile corridor will connect the 16 million Texans that currently live within the counties shown in green on the map there. Including the extension of this corridor along the I-30 corridor, these 16 million Texans are given safe, fast, efficient and seamless connectivity to East Texas, Arkansas and eventually on to Memphis, Tennessee.

By true high speed rail, I mean, of course, a system that will accommodate passenger travel at speeds in excess of 185 miles an hour on new, dedicated, double-track rail infrastructure that's elevated. This is the type of rail that has transformed parts of Europe and East Asia and that will most certainly completely transform not just transportation in Texas but also economic development, creating tens of thousands of good permanent jobs across the state.

This corridor would run south from the Oklahoma border to DFW Airport where it would link with light rail to downtown Fort Worth, to downtown Dallas and the communities that are in between. From DFW it would then go south, generally along the I-35 Corridor through Hillsboro, Temple, Austin, terminating in San Antonio. In the Killeen-Temple area the corridor would run to the south and the east through the city of College Station on to the George Bush Intercontinental Airport and then on to the Port of Houston.

It is important to note that all trains will not stop at each station. These trains simply must go fast. In order for Texans to be compelled to use the high speed trains, the travel times must be as short as possible. As Congressman John Carter, just a few weeks ago, said at our 12th Annual Transportation and Infrastructure Summit -- and if you know Congressman Carter, you'll understand this -- "Passenger rail at speeds even up to 110 miles an hour is not of interest to Texans; why heck, I can drive that fast." So as you can see, I think Congressman Carter gets it.

(General laughter.)

MR. FICKES: At this time I'd like to introduce Commissioner Kenny Mallard from Brazos County, and he will speak to you on the strategic importance of the Brazos Express Corridor. Commissioner Mallard.

MR. MALLARD: Thanks Gary.

Chairman Delisi and commissioners, I appreciate the opportunity to come here before you today. We want to talk to you briefly about the work and the vision of the high speed rail in Texas. The Texas T-Bone is born part in Brazos County as a solution to the county's lack of connectivity to the rest of the state. In spite of being transportation starved for so long, Brazos County and the cities of College Station and Bryan have grown remarkably vibrant and are home to one of the state's premier universities.

What we refer to as the Brazos Express Corridor, or the portion of the Texas T-Bone connecting Killeen-Temple to the Port of Houston by way of College Station, would clearly transform transportation and commerce in Texas. When the Federal Railroad Administration named the eleven federally designated high speed rail corridors, they failed to connect the two largest markets in Texas. The Brazos Express Corridor corrects this oversight and in the process takes advantage of two important opportunities.

By first establishing high speed rail connectivity at Fort Hood, the largest military installation in the free world and the largest single site employer, the Texas T-Bone and the Brazos Express Corridor provide safe, fast, and efficient access to viable entertainment, employment and education opportunities to the 55,000 troops stationed at Fort Hood, their spouses and families.

In addition to this, troops would have quick and comfortable access to numerous training and medical facilities located all along the corridor, as well as to their ports of embarkation. Colonel William Hill, Fort Hood's garrison commander, has clearly outlined the ways in which the system would benefit the quality of life for the troops and the families living at Fort Hood.

Secondly, as I alluded earlier, the Brazos Express Corridor will connect the federally designated South Central and the Gulf Coast high speed corridors linking Texas together and enhancing connectivity to the future rail systems across the country. The Brazos Express Corridor is an efficient alignment that would facilitate travel from Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to the Houston metro area in around 90 minutes, just about the same time one could travel from San Antonio to Houston. It will take even less time to travel from San Antonio to the Metroplex.

You get the idea that with speeds in excess of 185,000 -- not 185,000, that would be a little bit fast; maybe someday -- at speeds in excess of 185 miles per hour, trains traveling along the Texas T-Bone will shrink the state and transform Texas and transform the way that we do business in Texas. As with all my fellow members of the Texas High Speed Rail and Transportation Corporation, I look forward to partnering with TxDOT to make this a reality.

At this time we'll have Mayor Jones from the City of Temple come up and give you some more opportunities.

MAYOR JONES: Thank you, Kenny.

Good morning, Madame Chair, commissioners. It's a pleasure to be here with you today and talk about high speed rail. I'll continue to try and keep our comments brief so that we can have time for questions at the end, but there are a few points I'd like to make.

As Commissioner Mallard said, there are several important ways in which Texas High Speed Rail and Transportation Corporation and the Texas Department of Transportation can work together to ensure that the Texas T-Bone is a success. First, it is important that the 431(b) transportation corporation that Judge Echols described be incorporated as quickly as possible. I know that Jim Randall and Jennifer Moczygemba, along with Rich Cannell, have been working very closely with our staff on the corporation, among other things, and I am confident that we will be able to move forward with a formal recommendation to you during the next meeting.

As Commissioner Fickes pointed out earlier, cities and counties are responsible for the state's airports, seaports and transit systems. It is important to the ultimate success and efficacy of the 431(b) transportation corporation that elected officials be permitted to serve on its board of directors. This effort has been led from the beginning by elected officials who are most familiar with the needs and priorities of the cities and the counties through which this rail network will run. It is important for the viability of the model described earlier by Judge Echols that elected officials be permitted to serve on this board.

Secondly, in order for Texas to receive its share of the $8 billion in high speed rail funds made available by the Recovery Act, ARRA, it is important that the Federal Railroad Administration grant a rule change that was requested by Mr. Amadeo Saenz in his letter to Secretary Lahood on July 10 of 2009. The rule change would allow high speed rail funds be made available from the recovery act to be spent on the type of preliminary planning and environmental work that this project needs to move forward.

The corporation has been actively advocating for this rule change but there are certainly other steps that the department can take as well.

At the suggestion of the department staff, another rule change request might also be advisable, requiring another formal request by Mr. Saenz and ideally the commission. Several of us will be in Washington, D.C. to continue advocating for these rule changes. As suggested the letter is being circulated now. We will gladly circulate the letter to the Texas congressional delegation, as well as other congressional leaders, who have voiced their support for the Texas T-Bone. It is vitally important that the rule change be granted that we might be able to use this $1.7 billion at this time from the ARRA funds to move our project forward. We would welcome you, commissioners, to join us in Washington as well.

As you know, I've been actively involved in this group for many years and I'm personally excited about the great potential that it holds for each of our communities and for the entire state.

When I was here a couple of months ago, I think it was Commissioner Underwood was talking about us getting alongside, in fact, out in front of the commission and TxDOT on issues of transportation in the State of Texas. Ladies and gentlemen, we have been there for seven years, and I tell you again today we are here to be out in front, to lead on this effort in the State of Texas to bring high speed rail, to advance the State of Texas forward in the years to come.

The population projections for the State of Texas, as all of you are very familiar, in that green area today which is 16 million people is projected to be upwards of 38 million as the State of Texas population increases in the next 30 years to be 50 million citizens in the State of Texas. Further research that I've done, given the projected trend lines of population growth in the State of Texas says that about 2050 Texas will be the most populated state in the United States of America. We will surpass California in population around 2050, given our population trend lines and California's trend lines.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the time to do high speed rail for the State of Texas. It will not be any less expensive, it will accomplish all of the goals of the commission that the commission has for transportation in the State of Texas, it is vitally important for us. We want to be a part of it, the 431(b) and the 431(d) corporations can work together, we can bring citizens and elected officials and the Department of Transportation together to make a high speed rail system that will not only be the envy of the United States but the envy of the world, and that's a tall order, given the fact that many countries around the world have been doing high speed rail for decades.

And one last thing that I might add, just to emphasize the importance of high speed rail, is combined years of operation in France and Japan totaling almost seven years, there has not been one single fatality in high speed rail because of the design of high speed rail systems.

Members of the commission, Madame Chair, thank you very much for the time that you've given us here this morning to illustrate and bring to you our vision for high speed rail in the State of Texas. We look forward to working with you in the weeks and months and years ahead to bring this to fruition for our state. Thank you very much.

JUDGE ECHOLS: We'll be happy to answer any questions.

MR. HOLMES: Robert, how does this entity relate to the Gulf Coast Freight Rail District.

JUDGE ECHOLS: Mr. Ellis is here today as another hat from the Gulf Coast Freight Rail District. We really are not related to them but we are trying to coordinate everything that we do with the other folks along the route. That's been part of the strength. As you recall in the mid '90s the high speed rail failed and it was largely, I think, because it was driven from Austin and didn't take into account the needs and the capacity of the local communities.

We're working closely with local communities, working with Mr. Ellis from the Gulf Coast Freight Rail District, they're working on projects on the 290 Corridor particularly right now and have applied with TxDOT, I believe, too for some of the stimulus funds as well in studying that route and tying with Cap Metro, coming up through Giddings, and he can tell you more about that, I'm sure. We're working with Metro and where we might position this, as well as with local TxDOT engineers about how the routing might come in to the Houston region, the same thing in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

MR. HOLMES: It wouldn't necessarily be shared right of way.

JUDGE ECHOLS: Well, we could. Initially when we were doing the designs or the conceptual plans on the Highway 290 toll road system, the plan was that HCTRA could build the right of way improvements that were needed for the high speed rail improvement, if they didn't build the rail, at least the grade separations and the like, and we could partner and you could run in parallels or even in some segments kind of leap frog over if you're not going to share tracks with a freight rail, if you're going to create separate tracks, go ahead and build them to the high speed standard and start that as part of the high speed project in coordination with the freight rail district, any funds they could bring in and that we could bring to the table so that we're not duplicating efforts.

MR. HOLMES: Well, coordination with local entities, whether it's DART or Metro or Gulf Coast.

JUDGE ECHOLS: We have good working relationship with Metro, again with Chairman Ellis and that group in the Gulf Coast Freight District, and the DART and the efforts. And Commissioner, I'm sure you can tell us a little bit about the Dallas-Fort Worth area, working on the airport and connectivity, it's how you tie them all together. 290 doesn't go to Intercontinental so we're trying to work on how to do that.

MR. HOUGHTON: So the first step, Judge, is to get the exception and the rules change by U.S. DOT?

JUDGE ECHOLS: There are two places: one, we need the rule change, but also, you've applied -- it's not requiring a rule change -- some money for study, there's that $9-1/2 million, we're part of the application process on that for just some study. What we do not have at this point is a good market and alignment study and I think that's really our first priority, and we're working with Amadeo on that.

MR. HOUGHTON: Would we do that, would it be housed here, Amadeo? How would that work? You set your corporation, like we have the Grand Parkway Association?

MR. SAENZ: Yes, sir. What we're looking at is the formation of a transportation corporation -- and we're going to bring that to you all next month, we've got to go through some public involvement -- and that corporation would then be very similar to the Grand Parkway, would be kind of what would be the lead for us in doing the feasibility studies and the marketability studies and the environmental studies, very similar to Grand Parkway.

The one key is we have moved forward to apply for the ARRA funds, worked closely with Texas High Speed Rail Corporation to help us put the document together.

MR. HOUGHTON: How much are we applying for?

MR. SAENZ: Phil, do you remember the numbers? I don't have them with me. We applied under the two of the tracks that Jim had presented, one is the economic stimulus money, we applied under that, and that's one of the guideline comments that we submitted that we needed to be able to do feasibility studies under that track. Right now they were saying that that track was only for projects that were ready to go, but they wanted comments so we submitted comments to that effect.

We also submitted for feasibility study money under track number 3 and that's the one that I think there's --

JUDGE ECHOLS: Nationally there's $9-1/2 million for that.

MR. SAENZ: Right, so we submitted for, I think, $1.7 million to do the feasibility studies.

JUDGE ECHOLS: I think the total is $1.7 billion that you requested but the bulk of that is not the track 3, the smaller portion is the track 3 portion.

MR. SAENZ: So the whole key to this is one, we'd form the corporation, get them up and rolling, if we get the money from either the economic stimulus or the other FRA appropriations, then with that money we would initiate the studies that need to be done to determine routes and feasibility for high speed rail.

MR. HOUGHTON: Judge, you talked about an alignment along -- and I'm getting too specific, I know -- 290 coming from out of Houston up to Austin? Did you say parallel to 290?

JUDGE ECHOLS: It would be the old 290 Corridor track.

MR. HOUGHTON: That seems vaguely familiar, that concept. Just curious on that concept, vaguely familiar.

(General laughter.)

JUDGE ECHOLS: I don't know where you've done it in TxDOT, but Hardy Toll Road, I always thought we'd run north on the Hardy Corridor, we also have the MoPac here in Austin, and I don't know where else you've got around here.

MR. HOUGHTON: I'm going to offer some, based upon our most recent history -- and you sometimes learn the hard way and don't need to repeat it --

JUDGE ECHOLS: We're all for learning lessons.

MR. HOUGHTON: Don't need to put a club in somebody's hand and beat me twice. We have segment committees formed along the 35 Corridor and parts in the Houston area where we have empowered locals to look at the assets on I-69 and I-35 and State Highway 130 on the alignment, what it looks like. Where's the mayor? You're familiar with that. I think it would be absolutely and very important and incumbent upon our organizations to have those segment committees start looking at this stuff, sooner than later, because you're going to have to go back and look at rights of way.

JUDGE ECHOLS: As we've been looking at the project overall, part of the strength has been that we have not been tied down to specific routes at this point, running through people's yards without having their participation. I found out on the I-69 Coalition that I chaired for so many years working with TxDOT that we could go in often to a community as kind of the honest brokers for TxDOT and calm people down and show them what alignments might work.

MR. HOUGHTON: I think education on the front-end with those segment committees, those are the locals, instead of the top down, but the bottom up.

JUDGE ECHOLS: The first thing we really need is that market study to know exactly where it's going to run to determine where those segments need to be, and is it the 35 Corridor that makes the most sense first or is it Houston-Dallas.

MR. HOUGHTON: Well, whatever it is, I think just an education process.

JUDGE ECHOLS: I agree 100 percent. You never fool all the people out there, Commissioner, you don't even fool the majority of them. We've got to get out there and make sure they understand from the very beginning.

MR. HOUGHTON: The 51 percent you're talking about?

MR. HOUGHTON: I'm encouraged. Commissioner Holmes, I think this is a tremendous project. And of course, this is being resurrected, the old Texas T-Bone, I remember this name.

JUDGE ECHOLS: I think they called it the Texas Wishbone at the time. We couldn't decide if they just wished that it went to A&M or they just wished that it was going to happen.

(General laughter.)

MR. HOUGHTON: Congratulations.

JUDGE ECHOLS: Thank you very much. And El Paso is not out of our realm, but more of an El Paso to Albuquerque and Denver route, but at some point we might get over there.

MR. HOUGHTON: Congratulations. I think it's forward thinking.

JUDGE ECHOLS: Thank you very much, appreciate it. Look forward to working with you.

MR. SAENZ: Commissioners, just to kind of propose a path forward, in the formation of a transportation corporation we have to post our intent in newspapers across where the route could be, and then we would have to get a minute order from you to form the corporation and to name the board members, and those would follow but we have to do the public involvement first. And then once we have the corporation in place and once we get the money from either the economic stimulus or the rail, then we can start the initiation of the feasibility studies.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Amadeo, this study and whatnot, it's not going to be 100 miles wide, is it?

MR. SAENZ: No, sir.

MR. UNDERWOOD: I just want to make sure because we've been beat up over that before.

MR. SAENZ: It will be a high speed rail study.

MR. ECHOLS: A hundred feet wide.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Right, and I think we could sell that one a lot easier, Judge.

JUDGE ECHOLS: And much of it can be elevated.

MR. SAENZ: And I think, Mr. Houghton, your idea of the advisory committees would be good in trying to lay that groundwork.

MR. MEADOWS: Let me comment on that because, as you know, Amadeo, and I think the commission knows that we're in the process of really rethinking the whole look at the corridor, connecting the urban centers of Texas, specifically along the 35 Corridor. I think one of the lessons that we've learned that we need to truly star there, and I don't know, we may just need to emphasize that again. We really need to start at the community level.

When we start talking about alignment, when we start talking about infrastructure like this that has the potential to do great good but certainly have impact, I can't emphasize that enough. I think we've learned our lesson and we really do want to star communicating, and not just communicating but, more than anything else, listening. I know that that's a very important component of the effort that we're looking at right now, we just need to make sure that we do listen.

MR. SAENZ: We're going to set up a bunch of town hall meetings and send Commissioner Houghton out again.

MR. MEADOWS: Yes, exactly. I would second that -- no, you can't make a motion, but that's all right.

(General laughter.)

MR. SAENZ: Well, thank you very much. Judge, we look forward to working with you all as we move forward. Phil, thank you for the presentation.

Moving on, agenda item number 4 deals with our Aviation Division, and David Fulton will present several minute orders. The first minute order would be the award of some state and federal grant money for airport improvement projects. Dave.

MR. FULTON: Thank you, Amadeo. Commissioners, for the record, my name is David Fulton, director of TxDOT's Aviation Division.

Item 4(a) is a minute order that contains a request for grant funding approval for 13 airport improvement projects. The total estimated cost of all requests, as shown in Exhibit A, is approximately $17 million, approximately $14 million federal, $1.2 million in state funds, and approximately $1.7 million in local funding.

A public hearing was held on July 23, no comments were received. We would recommend approval of this minute order.

MR. HOUGHTON: I have a question. McKinney, they are after it, aren't they. It seems like they show up every other commission meeting -- which is not true but the name is always popping up.

MR. FULTON: We probably have the largest project we've ever undertaken at McKinney. They're going to rebuild the runway there. The FAA has agreed to fund, through discretionary program, the majority of that cost, so we've worked out a funding plan and it's a major undertaking, requires a road relocation that we're working on right now. It's a major project. Fortunately, there's no more -- that I'm aware of -- controversy about the airport anymore.

MR. HOUGHTON: Used to be.

MR. FULTON: Yes, there was.

MR. HOUGHTON: But that's central to their economic development.

MR. FULTON: Absolutely, it certainly is.

MR. HOUGHTON: Well, congratulations to them.

MR. FULTON: Thank you.

MR. HOUGHTON: And to you.

MR. UNDERWOOD: And it's also more of a reliever airport for that whole area. Isn't that correct?

MR. FULTON: It is. It has a lot of similarities to Sugar Land in Houston in its potential and growth, yes, sir.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Exactly.

MR. HOUGHTON: Move to approve.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. FULTON: The second order, item 4(b), is a minute order for the purpose of continuation of the Routine Airport Maintenance Program for Fiscal Year 2010. The program allows the department to match local funds for airport maintenance and small capital improvement work items on a 50-50 basis, up to an approved amount in state funds. No changes in the program are recommended for the upcoming year. We would recommend approval of this minute order.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. FULTON: Thank you. Item 4(c), this minute order is a request for approval of the Aviation Capital Improvement Plan for 2010-2012. TxDOT is required by the Transportation code to prepare an update annually on a multi-year aviation facilities capital improvement program, a plan for general aviation airport development in Texas. The FY 2010-2012 plan includes approximately $240 million in general aviation airport improvements. Over the three-year period, this represents projected funding of approximately $162 million in federal funds, $50 million in state funds, and $28 million in local contributions. A copy of the draft plan was mailed to airport owners throughout the state for review and comment in June. No substantive comments were received.

The Texas Aviation Advisory Committee approved the plan during their meeting on August 19 of this year. We would recommend approval of the FY 2010-2012 Aviation Capital Improvement Plan.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. FULTON: Amadeo, before I leave, if you'd permit me, I'd like to introduce Linda Howard -- would you stand, please? Linda Howard has been our director of Planning and Programming for the last 20 or so years. We've made a substantial improvement in the general aviation airport system in this state, and Linda has been substantially responsible for the place we are today. I believe today we have the best state airport system in the nation, and Linda deserves a major part of the credit for our accomplishments.

She's leaving us on Monday in the same vein as the people who were up here earlier, and I know you know her, Commissioner Underwood, but I wanted all of the commission to understand the contribution she's made. It's been major and I think it's why we have , I believe, the best airport system in the nation. So thank you.

(Applause.)

MR. UNDERWOOD: Thank you, Linda.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Linda. Congratulations, good luck, and remember you're still part of the TxDOT family. Come back and visit and bring some goodies and stuff.

Thank you, Dave.

Agenda item number 5, John Barton will lead us in a discussion and present a minute order dealing with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, talking about several aviation projects and also some transportation projects.

MR. BARTON: Thank you, Director Saenz.

Good morning, commissioners, Chair Delisi. For the record, my name is John Barton, I'm your assistant executive director for Engineering Operations.

I do appreciate the opportunity to share with you this morning my monthly update on the efforts of Texas' transportation industry to implement and deliver the transportation portion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. I'm very proud of the progress that we've made as an industry as a whole and I'm proud of the work that's being done on behalf of the state through this industry in transportation because of the Recovery Act.

Immediately following the commission's approval of funding for many of the state's maintenance, rehabilitation and new construction related projects for highways, bridges, airports, transit systems, and rail, back in February and March of 2009, we started working with our industry partners across the state to implement these projects, and I just wanted to provide you with a quick overview of the progress that we've made so far. It is contained in the handout that I provided to you, and I believe that I have it also for the viewing audience up here on the power point.

You'll note that we so far, for highways and bridges, have been able to obligate or receive -- as some people would term it -- a little over $1.2 billion. We've issued contracts of about $1 billion, including those that you will consider today, and so far we've made contractor payments of a little over $46 million, almost $47 million. Of course, that will go up at the end of this month when we make payments for the work performed in August. We have 160 contracts executed, four of those have been completed, several are almost near completion, and to date on these contracts a little over 4,600 jobs have been created, almost 4,700. So clearly we're starting to see the benefits of this program in terms of job employment here in the State of Texas.

On the transit side of the program, we have received or obligated a little over $40 million. All of that has been awarded in grants to transit industry partners across the state. They have spent $168,000 or a little over $168,000 to date on these contracts and grants, and they report their job creations in hours, they've created 608 hours of jobs. So that's about what Amadeo works in a two-week period of time.

(General laughter.)

MR. BARTON: In the aviation overview, as Dave said, we've been very successful, we've received funding for $11 million worth of projects, we've awarded that to those projects. In total they've spent about $532,000 so far on the six contracts or projects that we've been approved for, and they've created 37 jobs through the contracts associated with these projects so far.

So those are great things that I think are important to remember. And I would like to also note at this time that our local metropolitan planning organization partners continue to work hard with us to get their portion of the program out. They've selected about 100 projects. Approximately 40 of those have gone through the federal review and approval process and are ready to move forward to contract letting, some of them have already done that, and we're very proud of the work that they've done.

In addition to these efforts, the department and communities across the state, as well as other governmental entities, have been working this month on preparation of nominations for projects under the $1.5 billion TIGER grant program portion of the Recovery Act. To date we've received about a little over 80 requests from communities for letters of support from the commission and the department for their project nominations, and we're working to respond to those requests.

I am confident there are many, many more projects out there being developed that have not submitted requests for letters of support, and while TxDOT and Texas may not ultimately receive any money through this grant opportunity, I think we're going to be well positioned to at least have several projects from across the state considered.

I think you just heard from Phil Russell and Director Saenz that we've submitted nine high speed rail applications earlier this month, valued at a little over $1.8 billion, and hopefully we'll be able to see some positive results from that. We also plan on submitting two additional applications in October under the additional track that Mr. Saenz was talking about.

So that's just a quick update on where we stand on the Recovery Act.

Today I also wanted to present for your consideration a minute order that would allow us to add some mobility projects to be funded with the underruns that we've experienced on any of the projects we've taken bids on to date, was well as an additional aviation project that because of the underruns we've seen in the aviation program projects across the nation, we hopefully will be able to have funded by the FAA, and then some additional transit projects that need to move forward as just a part of the normal program.

Time continues to rock along and it is a critical element of the Recovery Act. As you know, we have to commit or obligate 100 percent of the funding within a year of getting our obligation notice and apportionment. That particular part for the highway and bridge program is on March 1 of 2010, the transit portion is a little bit later.

In previous minute orders you've approved a lot of projects, I won't go through a recapitulation of all of those. And Phil Russell, did you hear that? Since he uses fancy terms, I thought I'd try to throw one in there today; stayed up all night long thinking about that.

But the department continues to monitor our progress on our projects, and one of the issues that is facing us, as you know, is the national economy is in a condition where commodity prices are lower than they have been in the last several months, and so we continue to see underruns on the projects that we have taken bids on, and because of that, we will be able to fund additional mobility projects for consideration for funding under the Recovery Act.

We've developed a proposed list of mobility projects that we would like to suggest your recommendation on today that's shown as Exhibit A to your minute order. I passed out a copy of that exhibit for you when I walked in a few moments ago, and I wanted to make sure you understand that no previously authorized mobility projects are being affected by this recommended minute order today. So everything you've previously approved is still approved and is not being removed from the approved mobility list.

Let me briefly explain to you the process that we went through, but before I do that, I'll show you kind of where we stand on the underruns. This first slide -- and I apologize not having a handout for you -- shows the projects that you approved back in March of 2009 and the current status of those.

This is for the projects in the North Region. As you can see, we've taken bids on two of those projects and a third, the DFW Connector -- which is the next to the bottom row -- is really a design-build project so we've committed $250 million to it, we won't take bids in a traditional sense. But of the two that we've taken bids on, one of them underran significantly, about $14.8 million, the other, because of the way the funding was added to the project, the Recovery Act was just a small portion so there was no unused Recovery Act funding on it.

We have a project in the Waco District on I-35 yet to be bid. It's estimated at $121 million. We may see some additional underruns on it but it's probably doubtful because of the scope and size of that project. So in the North Region it's reasonable to believe that we'll have about $14.9 million that we can obligate to additional projects to move forward.

The South Region, similar story, we've taken bids on some of the projects. The one at the top is a design-build project that the Alamo RMA is developing for us so there will not be an underrun on that project in terms of the traditional sense. We've taken bids on the three next group of projects which were the 281 Corridor improvements, and we've seen an underrun of about $18 million from those combined, and then you can see the other bids that we've taken on the projects in Hays, Webb and Williamson counties.

So in total so far we have an underrun of about $28 million and it's reasonable to anticipate that would have additional underruns on the bottom three projects as well as possibly the project in the middle which is the interchange here in Austin. So that underrun amount could increase but I don't suspect it will increase by more than $15- or $20 million at the most.

This is our summary of the West Texas projects. The South Orient Rail project underran about $6 million. We are actually recommending that that money be used on the same rail segments to do additional rail improvements to increase the operating speed of that rail line, but the other project in Lubbock underran about $14 million. The two El Paso projects are design-build projects so there will not be an underrun on those, again because we don't take a traditional bid on those. And then the next to the top one is the South Orient Rail bridge replacement project and we may see a slight underrun on it but I doubt that it would be significant.

So in total we should be able to use about $14 million worth of underruns to fund additional projects in West Texas.

And then in East Texas or the East Region, these are the projects and but for the second one which is a project on Interstate 10 in Orange County in the Beaumont District. All those projects have, for all intents and purposes, been bid. The top one is the Grand Parkway, State Highway 99 project, which is a project development agreement with Harris County Toll Road Authority and the greater community of the counties there that are considering the development of the Grand Parkway. Again, it wouldn't be bid as a traditional project.

So as you can see, we have about a $49 million underrun, that may go up slightly based on the bids we receive on the I-10 project later this year, but I wouldn't consider it to be something that's significant.

So what I would like to do is kind of explain to you the process that we went through and then present to you for consideration the minute order. As you will recall, when we first learned of the Recovery Act back in the first part of this year, we reached out to the transportation community around the state, all of our cities and counties as well, and asked them to identify for us which projects that they would have shovel ready within the time frames of the Act.

From that we generated a list of about 1,500 projects totaling a little over $13 billion, and using our metropolitan planning organizations and district engineers, we took that list, winnowed it down to about a $2.4 billion program of projects. And then working with our metropolitan planning organizations, transit agencies, and other transportation partners, we created a list of six guiding principles, if you will, or screening criteria to look at those projects.

And those were real briefly, to remind everyone, shown here: we wanted to look at projects that would improve safety of our network; we wanted to look at projects that were significant in terms of statewide or regional priorities; we wanted to look at leveraging opportunities to make sure we maximize the values of our dollars and stretch them as far as we could; we obviously wanted to take advantage of creating long-term economic benefits for our state; and look at projects that were located in the economically distressed areas of our state, as required by the Act -- and quite frankly, the right thing to do; and then to be fair and equitable in the distribution of the funds across the state so that we had a balance of projects all across the state so that all communities and all contractors would have opportunities to benefit from this program.

Using these six criteria, we took the $2.4 billion short-listed projects, evaluated them and then came forward with the recommendation that you approved in March of this year for about a $1.5 billion program which are the projects that I just showed you and that we are currently progressing on and taking bids on.

The leftover projects, if you will, the ones that were not selected from that shorter list, that list of projects was sent back out to our metropolitan planning organizations and to our districts and we asked them to look at them and see if any of those projects were ones they would move forward with with their local stimulus dollars that were at their discretion or that they just decided were no longer priorities, and if we missed anything, if there was just something we overlooked that we needed to take advantage of an opportunity to take a second look at things.

And so they refreshed that list of projects for us and that's what's shown in Exhibit A that's attached to the minute order today, those are the projects that they came back with. They were either left over or slightly revised based on their input back in March and April of this year. We had that list of projects to serve as a list of substitute or backup projects in case something happened and some additional funding was available through the Recovery Act for whatever purpose. And so the recommendation that is being presented to you today is based on that process.

Staff has evaluated this list of projects based on the six criteria that are shown on the screen and that were created and developed in partnership with our metropolitan planning organizations and transit authorities and tolling entities, and we've ranked them in priority by region so that we could be able to tell which projects were most important based on these criteria in the regions across the state.

The staff recommendation that's before you is to look at those projects reflected in Exhibit A and that those projects be fully authorized to move forward for full development, get the plans ready, make sure the environmental documentation is completed, if it hasn't already done so, and that those projects be ready to move forward to construction through bid processes no later than May of this coming year, 2010.

We're also recommending that the underruns that I just went through with you be used to fund the highest priority projects as we can and as funding is available to move forward to construction as soon as possible. So in essence, what we are asking that we do is that you would approve Exhibit A and give us the authority to use the underruns from the regions from which they were generated to fund the highest priority projects, as money would allow.

And if you look at that list, you'll see that some of the highest ranking projects will cost more than the underruns available, and so we obviously would not be able to fund them, but we would simply move down the list as funding would allow and is available to fund the highest ranking projects until the funding from each region from which it was created was consumed.

And so let me pause for a minute and see if you have any questions about this particular part of the minute order because it is, I think, the most important part and one that most of the community at large is interested in today.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Quick question, John. You make the statement, if I understood you correctly, that with the excess money you'll go to the next list, so to speak, and you'll take that in the priorities that were already set, but if there's not enough for the number one priority, you'll go to the next priority. What if the community that had the top priority said we're willing to put up even more money to capture that and get that project done? Have we taken that into consideration?

MR. BARTON: Well, absent of action today, we haven't, and I think that we would be open to that, it would be a decision we could offer them if that's the direction of the commission.

MR. UNDERWOOD: If they were to put up another million dollars, so to speak, because we've seen this happen before by being able to go back with them and say, Look, we don't have X amount of dollars, if you can come to the table with more, then we'll be able to help you do your project -- if this is a top priority is the reason why I asked that.

MR. BARTON: I understand that, and I think that we could do that. In my brief review of this in preparing for this morning's meeting, I think that the opportunities for that will be few but it is something we could offer, and the reason being, if you take, for instance, just the North Region alone, the highest ranking project on this exhibit is an additional project on Interstate 35, as I shared with you, we're only going to have about $24 million available and it's a $200 million project, so I doubt that the county is going to be able to come back with $180 million.

MR. UNDERWOOD: I understand that, but remember, I'm thinking in terms of rural Texas.

MR. BARTON: I understand that, Commissioner.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Okay, thank you.

MR. BARTON: But we'll be happy to offer that to those sponsors of those projects if you would direct us to do so.

Are there any other questions or comments from the commission?

MR. HOLMES: John, I want to commend you on the hard work and thoughtful preparation. I know you've spent long hours in going through all these projects and working out an appropriate way to address the allocations, and I certainly appreciate that and I know the commission does.

MR. BARTON: Thank you.

MR. HOLMES: Just so I understand this minute order, if we approve this list at Exhibit A, then as underrun money is available, you will simply go forward with the projects that fit within that underrun, or do you actually bring those projects back for further review and approval?

MR. BARTON: It's the first. We would be hopeful that the commission would give us the authority through this minute order to move forward based on the money that's available without having to come back to the commission for additional minute orders in the future.

MR. HOLMES: I think that's a good idea. The purpose of the stimulus is to actually put people to work and to provide some transportation assets that meet the criteria of safety and reducing congestion, improving air quality, et cetera, so my sense is we need to get on about our business and put people to work and solve some of these problems.

MR. BARTON: I think we would all agree with you, sir.

MR. HOUGHTON: Have you applied the dollars per region?

MR. BARTON: No, sir. What we tried to do through this action is suggest that we keep the dollars per region as they were originally distributed by the commission in March at that level.

MR. HOUGHTON: Well, give us an idea. You've got what, $200 million?

MR. BARTON: Let me back up. If you'll notice, the stimulus funding for mobility is shown here by region. If you'll look in the fourth column it says economic stimulus funds required for those projects. In the North Region there was $409 million, roughly.

MR. HOUGHTON: Well, you've got $14 million in the North.

MR. BARTON: Of underruns, yes, sir. And then in the South Region there was $364 million originally committed, there's been about $28 million worth of underruns. In the West Region there was $116 million originally committed and there's been about $20 million wroth of underruns. And then finally, in the East there was about $300 million and $50 million.

MR. HOUGHTON: Well, this is a good point that Commissioner Underwood was talking about. In other words, if the West or whatever it may be, if there's a leverage effect here or an opportunity to offer that region: Okay, look, you're on the top of the list, we've got these kind of dollars, is there an opportunity to leverage these into bigger numbers?

MR. BARTON: That's correct. And I think that there will be some opportunities for that. Again, looking at the list of projects real briefly, the West Region, Amarillo, it's in a rural county but it is the Ports-to-Plains Project, we don't have enough money, it looks like we're only going to have for the West Region about $20 million but about $6 million of that is probably rail oriented already, so $14 million. And third on a list is a $20 million project, if Dallam County can come up with an extra $6 million to $10 million, we might be able to do that project, but Dallam County would have to do that, or Commissioner, if you know of some benevolent Panhandle cotton farmer, then perhaps you can arrange a deal for us that way.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Undoubtedly, you haven't seen the market lately.

(General laughter.)

MR. BARTON: Any other questions or comments before I move on? I have a little bit of additional information about the remaining part of the minute order.

Okay. Well, then as I said, there are a couple of additional items within the minute order. There is an exhibit for an aviation project that we are proposing be approved by the commission for consideration by the Federal Aviation Administration, it's in Exhibit B. They too, in the aviation programs nationwide, have seen underruns on projects, and Mr. Fulton has assured me that he's confident this additional project will probably receive favorable consideration if the commission chooses to put it forward as a recommended project for Texas.

And then in Exhibit C there's a proposed list of additional transit projects, an additional amount of projects in addition to those you've previously approved. Again, none of the ones you previously approved are being changed, these are just simply additional projects or grants for transit projects around the state that we believe are appropriate for use from the Recovery Act available to us from the transit portion of the program.

So we believe, again in summary, that we have been able to do great things so far with your leadership and guidance on this matter, I think Texans are appreciative of the projects underway and of the jobs created by them, and staff would recommend your approval of this minute order.

MS. DELISI: Is there a motion?

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. BARTON: Thank you very much.

MR. HOLMES: Good job, John.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, John, good job. And John has, in essence, taken this economic stimulus program and I think he put it on economic stimulus and has done a great job in working with our local partner stakeholders in making this program very successful, so thank you, John, very much.

Moving on to agenda item number 6, commissioners, it deals with our promulgation of administrative rules. Under 6(a) is proposed rules, 6(a)(1) is Chapter 1 on Management. Bob Jackson will present these proposed rules.

MR. JACKSON: Bob Jackson, general counsel.

The commission has previously adopted rules that are informational rules that tell the public how the department operates, how it is structured. Every two years we review these rules to identify any corrections that need to be made or updates that need to be made, and we've identified three. One is the law was recently changed to where the executive director no longer is required to be a professional engineer; two, we need to recognize the creation of department regional offices; three, we no longer file a commission agenda with the Texas Register but now with the Secretary of State.

The minute order proposes the adoption of rule amendments to make these three changes. Recommend adoption of the minute order.

MS. DELISI: Is there a motion?

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Agenda item 6(a)(2) deals also with Management and also with some advisory committee changes. Bob.

MR. JACKSON: State law requires that advisory committees be established by commission rules. State law further requires that advisory committees be Sunsetted at least every four years. The commission has opted to sunset its committees every two years to coincide with the end of each legislative session. After the session, we polled the responsible divisions to see if they can justify the extension of their advisory committees, all the divisions have said that they do need to continue their committees for another two years. So this rule amendment will propose the continuation of all our advisory committees for two more years. Recommend adoption of this minute order.

MS. DELISI: Is there a motion?

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Bob.

Agenda item 6(a)(3) deals with proposed adoption of rules dealing with Vehicle Titles and Registration. Rebecca Davio will make this presentation.

MS. DAVIO: Good morning. My name is Rebecca Davio, I'm the director of the Vehicle Titles and Registration Division.

We're here before you today to present rules that are for special license plate marketing and a new fee schedule for our vendor. Earlier this summer we awarded a contract for the marketing and design and sale of specialty license plates to a joint venture comprised of Etech, Inc. out of Nacogdoches and Pinnacle Technical Resources out of Dallas. Those two companies will be designing and marketing specialty license plates and they will be using the previous vendor's -- you remember I've been before you previously on this subject --

MR. HOUGHTON: How many times?

MS. DAVIO: Several. They will be using the previous vendor's website and a lot of their plate designs, but they are introducing some new plate categories and some new fee designs, and that's what we're here for. The vendor cannot become operational until you approve this fee schedule and it becomes effective.

And so the five categories of plates that will be offered by this new joint venture include: custom; T-plates, also known as premium; luxury plates; freedom; and background only, and I'll explain to you in a minute what that is. This is just kind of the high level overview to let you know that the prices range from $55 to $795. Those are for one-, five- and ten-year terms. So the $55, for example, is for a one-year plate, and the $795 is a ten-year plate.

So they will have unique full color plate designs, as I said many of the designs that were offered previously will be offered again. And the vendor is also asking to have vendor souvenir plates.

MR. HOUGHTON: What's a premium plate?

MS. DAVIO: What's a premium plate? I can help you with that. A premium plate is personalized with up to seven letters and numbers and the design will coincide with extraordinary events of public interest, so it might be a national championship for one of our state universities, it might be just any number of events that are special and kind of one-time.

MR. HOUGHTON: How much does it cost, $795?

MS. DAVIO: It will cost -- and I have that on the next slide for you -- a one-year premium plate is $95.

MR. HOUGHTON: One year for 95 bucks.

MS. DAVIO: Yes, sir. The custom license plates, going back, those were previously offered, you can personalize those with three letters or two numbers or switch those around. This is also where the personalized plates the state currently sells will be offered. You can personalize with up to six letters and numbers on the white background design, so this is just the personalized plate will be within the custom license plate category.

The luxury plates are personalized with up to six letters and numbers, any combination that you choose. And the freedom plate, this is a new plate type, it will be personalized with up to seven letters and numbers, so that is something that's new for this particular fee schedule. Also new is the background only that will just have a design on the plate but won't actually be personalized. Many of our customers do choose just to have a design because it's a cause that they want to support.

So now showing you the plate pricing, custom plates range from $85 for one year to $325 for a ten-year plate. The premium, Commissioner Houghton, as I'd mentioned before, is $95 for one year up to $495 if you want to purchase that plate for a ten-year period. Luxury is $195 to $595; the freedom which was the seven-character plate is $395 for one year up to $795 for the ten-year; and then the background only plate -- remember, this is the one that can't be personalized -- those range from $55 to $295. And the vendor souvenir plate which can't actually be used on a vehicle, that's a $40 flat fee is what's being proposed.

Are there any questions?

MR. HOUGHTON: What's the revenue split?

MS. DAVIO: What's the revenue split? There is a guaranteed $25 million to the state from this contract over the five-year term of the period. The actual revenue split on the particular plates varies by the plate price and also the year of the contract. So as the years of the contract go on, if we get to the fifth year of the contract, for example, then the vendor has had more of an opportunity to recover some of their initial costs and so the state's price goes up.

MR. HOUGHTON: And that goes to general revenue. Right?

MS. DAVIO: Yes, sir, that's the way the law is structured right now.

Are there any other questions?

MS. DELISI: If there are no other questions, I'd like to call up Steve Farrar.

MR. FARRAR: Good morning, Madame Chair, commissioners. I represent the private vendor, specifically Pinnacle Technical Resources in Dallas, and Etech in Nacogdoches. I'm here to support the proposed adoption of this pricing schedule, and as a company, we look forward to working with TxDOT and delivering a very successful program and revenues to the state.

MS. DELISI: Thank you, Mr. Farrar. If there aren't any questions, is there a motion?

MR. UNDERWOOD: So moved.

MR. MEADOWS: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you. Agenda item 6(a)(4) deals with Right of Way dealing with gas pipeline relocations. John Campbell will make this presentation on this proposed minute order.

MR. CAMPBELL: Good morning. For the record, my name is John Campbell, director of the Right of Way Division.

I'd like to present for your consideration today item 6(a)(4) which provides for revisions to various sections of Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 43, Section 21 which are collectively referred to as the Texas Utility Accommodation Policy.

Legislation passed by the 81st Legislative Session provided House Bill 2572 which amended the Utilities Code Section 181 to authorize gas corporations, in compliance with Texas Railroad Commission safety regulations, to allow more types of facilities to occupy public rights of way. What this really does is it changes functionally from assessing who can occupy based upon the type of facility and changes it now to who can occupy based upon the status of the utility provider.

There are revisions made for a new Section 21.24 that recognizes the rights of these gas corporations on public right of way, and then revisions to Sections 21.31, 21.33, 21.34 and 21.36 which are details of the Texas Utility Accommodation rules, and then provides for a new Section 21.42 which puts in place an appeal process so that utilities can appeal both the decisions to deny occupation or any additional specifications that we require when they occupy our rights of way.

Staff recommends your approval of the minute order.

MS. DELISI: Is there a motion?

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, John.

Agenda item number 7 deals with Regional Mobility Authorities, and Mark Tomlinson will present a minute order for a project in Bexar County. Mark.

MR. TOMLINSON: Good morning, commissioners, Mr. Saenz. My name is Mark Tomlinson, director of the Texas Turnpike Authority Division of TxDOT.

In July of 2009, TxDOT and the Alamo RMA entered into a project development agreement for the US 281/Loop 1604 interchange project. As you'll recall, this project will be funded through the Recovery Act dollars previously granted by the commission. The RMA estimates that it will need approximately $825,000 to cover pre-development costs for the interchange project. Unfortunately, Recovery Act funds can't be used for these purposes prior to the issuance of the federal letter of authority. In addition, previous financial assistance agreements between TxDOT and the RMA can't cover these costs under the conditions those agreements were executed.

So this minute order would authorize Mr. Saenz to enter into an amendment of the project agreements previously granted for the Loop 1604 toll project and the 281 North project with the RMA to fund these pre-development costs for the interchange. Staff recommends your approval of this minute order.

MS. DELISI: Questions? If there are no questions, I'd like to call up Don Dixon.

MR. DIXON: Good morning, Madame Chair.

MS. DELISI: Good morning.

MR. DIXON: Mr. Saenz. My name is Don V. Dixon, I'm a businessman from San Antonio.

And my concern is basically yesterday, listening at your work session, the shortage of funds is obviously a problem, and the problem I have with this is that you all have already put in $40 million into the RMA loans and grants, et cetera. Now there's additional money that's being requested. My concern is that you already have a district engineer in San Antonio that has the responsibility of building and maintaining these projects. Could it be that this money could be saved by evaluating the district engineer doing this project.

I looked at the design a couple of nights ago. The $140 million that goes into this project is yielding four interchanges. Now, we have had some tremendous successes in San Antonio for District Engineer Ray Stotzer and many others, very good engineers. With good value engineering, if TxDOT did it, we might be able to get more bang for our buck. $140 million for four interchanges to me sounds expensive.

I'm just asking you all or maybe petitioning you to evaluate if we're doing the right thing with this particular project. That's my concern. Thank you, commission.

MS. DELISI: Thank you, Mr. Dixon. Are there any other questions? Is there a motion?

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MS. DELISI: Is there a second?

MR. MEADOWS: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Mark.

Agenda item number 8, Brian Ragland will present a minute order concerning a toll project in Harris County.

MR. RAGLAND: Thank you. For the record, my name is Brian Ragland, director of the Finance Division.

This first item is a proposed minute order which grants final approval of a toll equity request from Harris County in the amount of $181 million. It's related to the Grand Parkway project, and the money is coming from economic stimulus funds. Staff recommends your approval.

MR. HOLMES: So moved.

MR. HOUGHTON: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Agenda item number 8 also deals with a toll a project in Tarrant County, and Brian will present a minute order on that, 8(b).

MR. RAGLAND: This proposed minute order is related to Southwest Parkway. It approves a total of $85.13 million for certain construction and right of way costs related to the crossing of the Southwest Parkway over Union Pacific's Davidson rail yard. It also allows TxDOT to pay up to 50 percent of the traffic and revenue study prepared by NTTA for the Southwest Parkway. Staff recommends your approval.

MR. MEADOWS: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Agenda item 8(c) deals with a minute order for various counties talking about project development costs.

MR. RAGLAND: This proposed minute order is related to the interest of capturing all obligations from the 121 account into a work program so the minute order adds about $3.6 million for three different payments: $2-1/2 million is to Cintra for costs incurred on the project after the conditional award but before the procurement was canceled; $750,000 is to Cintra for their responsive but unsuccessful proposal that can be used by the department; and then $367,000 is to TIFIA for work associated with analyzing the project. And staff recommends your approval.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Don't leave, Brian. Moving on to agenda item number 9, final approval of a State Infrastructure Bank loan for Burnet County.

MR. RAGLAND: This is a proposed minute order to give final approval of a SIB loan to Burnet County in the amount of $1.02 million for utility work along US 281 and also along State Highway 29. Staff recommends your approval.

MR. HOLMES: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Brian. We'll move on to agenda item number 10. 10(a), James Bass will present a report on the 2010 obligation authority new project list.

MR. BASS: Good morning. For the record, I'm James Bass, chief financial officer at TxDOT.

As Mr. Saenz said, this agenda item would establish an obligation limit for Fiscal Year 2010. This obligation limit, probably the easiest way to think of it is to track and cap the UTP dollars that the department would be able to commit in 2010. Therefore, the figure of $2.185 billion does not include Proposition 12 or Proposition 14 bonds or RTR funds funding projects in Dallas-Fort Worth, it's just the primary funding mechanism that we've always had at TxDOT, the pay-as-you-go program from the State Highway Fund.

I would point out that of that $2.185-, $585 million of that has already been committed towards the three CDA projects in the Metroplex. We're, if you will, charging those projects out over a three-year period. Fiscal Year 2010 would be the second year of that, so the total that we're recommending and requesting your approval on today is an obligation limit in Fiscal Year 2010 of $2.185 billion. And I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have.

MR. HOUGHTON: The underruns that we have been talking about, are you going to talk about that?

MR. BASS: That's later in the report, it might be agenda item 13, but yes.

MR. HOUGHTON: Obligation limit in item 13.

MR. BASS: Correct.

MR. HOUGHTON: Does that go back in? Is that accounted for in the $2.185-?

MR. BASS: That's accounted for in this number for 2010 -- one of many factors that's accounted for in the number of 2010.

MR. HOUGHTON: Very good. So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. BASS: Thank you.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, James.

MR. HOUGHTON: Are you coming back, James?

MR. SAENZ: He will.

MR. BASS: On 12 and 13.

MR. HOUGHTON: I have a question. The Chair showed me an e-mail about our successful underwriting we had, when, yesterday?

MS. DELISI: Yesterday.

MR. BASS: We closed yesterday, the pricing was last week.

MR. HOUGHTON: Last week. Do you want to talk about it a little bit?

MR. BASS: Yes. We did Build America bonds out of the Texas Mobility Fund, and what that does, for the first time ever TxDOT issued taxable debt and entered into the taxable market, and through the Build America Bond Program -- which is part of the federal government's economic stimulus -- we then receive a subsidy of 35 percent of that interest rate that comes back to us to offset our interest costs to try and get us back to a tax exempt equivalent.

I can give you numbers and rates. The biggest one I can tell you, as compared to doing a traditional tax exempt structure, our financial advisor and the underwriter -- always want to check the underwriter -- present value savings about $275 million. And so a few months back we were talking about potentially having a problem getting enough proceeds to complete all of the Mobility Fund projects. Due in large part because of this savings through the Build America Bond Program we were able to fully address all of the active projects because that PV savings of $275- equates pretty darn close to additional proceeds we were able to get as compared to the traditional tax exempt: 30-year debt, $1.2 billion, all in rate 3.62 percent which is cheap.

The average of the rest of the portfolio is about $4.6 billion, and while I'm answering the questions -- because I'm the one up here -- the individual doing most, if not all the work, as you well know, is Jose Hernandez, our debt management director, really leading our charge and efforts. I think he's back there in case there are questions coming up on future ones, and of course, Brian, as well, working on that.

The other thing, it was just an overall great deal. The taxable is market, basically based upon the spread of the Treasuries. Our spread on the 2039 maturity was 120 basis points; that's the cheapest of any Build America bonds that had been issued to date; the 2029 was 105 basis points. The other thing we did -- we're pretty tight, most people pay 8.75 on the takedown, on the 30-year we paid 6.25.

The team was led by Merrill Lynch, we paid what we thought was a market, an adequate takedown fee for what we were asking them to do, and they did, from all indications, just an excellent job.

MR. HOUGHTON: But there was another event occurred also prior to maybe a week or so ago about the credit rating for the State of Texas?

MR. BASS: Credit rating for the State of Texas by one of the credit firms, I think S&P, was increased, and again, I think the Comptroller's Office had been visiting with the rating agencies and then we followed up right behind the Comptroller the week after, and of course, the Mobility Fund carries the state GO and so that got bumped. And I know, Jose, coming from the credit rating world, was also able, in addition to the efforts, I'd say primarily of the Comptroller's Office, but I think Jose also helped on that regard as well to help push S&P to bump that up for the State of Texas.

MR. HOUGHTON: Without the BABs, we were looking at underwriting about $900 million versus an all-in $1.2-.

MR. BASS: Correct.

MR. HOUGHTON: So that savings, we were looking at it, kind of gritting our teeth a little bit.

MR. BASS: If we had only been able to do $900 million, we were going to have to take some of this money planned for future lettings in 2010 and redirect it just to finish off those existing projects that we had all along planned to be paid for out of the Mobility Fund.

MR. HOUGHTON: So a couple of events took place: we had a credit rating bump which is a heck of a testament to what's going on in the State of Texas, and then, of course, the stimulus as to the subsidy on the bonds -- on the interest rate.

MR. BASS: Affectionately known as BABs -- not Streisand but BABs.

MR. HOUGHTON: Congratulations, Jose and Brian and James, phenomenal. I don't think people really understand what happened in this situation.

MR. BASS: Huge -- and we're known for our humility.

MR. HOUGHTON: Finance guys are.

(General laughter.)

MR. BASS: I think it has really set a benchmark from all the Build America bonds that have been issued to date. I think it really kind of set a new standard, if you will, going forward.

MR. HOLMES: James, say the rate again.

MR. BASS: 3.62 percent and that's the all-in, including cost of issuance and everything else. Yes, 3.62 percent for 30 years.

MR. HOLMES: Outstanding.

MR. HOUGHTON: Got us over the hump. And again, my congratulations to you and Brian and Jose and Merrill Lynch and all.

MR. BASS: Thank you, much appreciated.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, James, great job.

Agenda item 10(b), commissioners, deals with our annual review and approval of our investment policy, and Brian Ragland will make that presentation.

MR. RAGLAND: Thanks, Amadeo. Again, Brian Ragland, director of the Finance Division.

This proposed minute order approves a revised investment policy. The Public Funds Investment Act requires the commission to review this annually. My understanding is the changes are very minor. We've got Jose here as a resource on this item, as well as the next two, if you should have any questions, and staff recommends your approval.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Moving on, agenda item 10(c) deals with our annual review of our debt management and derivative management policies. Brian.

MR. RAGLAND: Thank you. This proposed minute order approves the commission's debt management policy and also its derivative management policy. The debt management policy provides guidance on the commission's financing programs with considerations of risk, interest costs, and credit ratings, among other things. And the derivative management policy provides guidance on derivative transactions such as interest rate swaps.

Again, it's my understanding that the changes are very minor here from what you approved last year, and staff recommends your approval.

MS. DELISI: Is there a motion?

MR. HOLMES: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Moving on, agenda item 10(d) is a minute order for Travis and Williamson Counties where we're asking the commission to adopt the annual operating budget, the annual maintenance budget, and annual capital budget for the Central Texas Turnpike System.

MR. RAGLAND: Thank you. This proposed minute order approves the FY 2010 operating, maintenance and capita budgets for the Central Texas Turnpike System, and it's required by the indenture for the debt on that system. Staff recommends your approval.

MS. DELISI: Motion?

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. RAGLAND: Thank you.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Brian.

Moving on, commission, agenda item number 11 deals with Transportation Planning. 11(a) deals with the appointment of members to the Bicycle Advisory Committee, and Jim Randall will make this presentation.

MR. RANDALL: Good morning, commissioners. Jim Randall with the Planning and Programming Division.

Item 11(a), this minute order appoints seven members to the Bicycle Advisory Committee. The committee's primary mission is to advise the commission on bicycle issues and provide a forum for communication among the department, bicyclists and the public. The committee also evaluates projects submitted to the Safe Routes to School Program and makes recommendations to the commission on the development of bicycle tourism trails in the state.

Upon your approval, the members will be appointed as follows:

Terms expiring August 31, 2011: Tommy Eden from Austin, Sheila Holbrook-White from Austin, Annie Melton from Dallas, Regina Garcia from Houston.

Terms expiring August 31, 2012: Margaret Charlesworth from San Angelo, Howard Peak from San Antonio, and Anne-Marie Williamson from Wichita Falls.

Staff recommends approval of this minute order.

MS. DELISI: Is there a motion?

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Agenda item 11(b) deals with the appointment of members to the Border Trade Advisory Committee, and Jim will also make this presentation.

MR. RANDALL: Item 11(b), the purpose of the committee created in 2001 by the 77th Legislature is to define and develop a strategy and make recommendations to the commission and the governor in order to address the highest priority border trade transportation challenges. The Border Trade Advisory Committee recommendations are included in the International Trade Corridor Plan which is presented to the presiding officers of the State House and State Senate.

These nominations have been coordinated with the Secretary of State's Office. Upon your approval, the nine individuals or positions named in the minute order will be appointed as members of the Border Trade Advisory Committee with terms expiring August 31, 2012. Staff recommends approval of this minute order.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Jim will now present agenda item 11(c) that authorizes to enter into an agreement with the National Railroad Passenger Corporation to provide passenger rail service on Amtrak Heartland Flyer route.

MR. RANDALL: Item 11(c), the minute order authorizes the department to provide $1.95 million to Amtrak to fund the Heartland Flyer passenger rail service for the federal Fiscal Year 2010. The Heartland Flyer is a state-supported Amtrak route which provides daily passenger service between Fort Worth and Oklahoma City with an additional Texas stop in Gainesville. The Heartland Flyer travels over the BNSF Railway line.

Since the Heartland Flyer route was not part of the Amtrak system originally designated in 1971, state support is required to cover Amtrak's operating losses. The State of Oklahoma funded these operating losses from federal Fiscal Year 1999 until 2006. Since FY 2007, the commission has authorized the department to provide for the continuance of service. The State of Oklahoma also provides funding for each year.

In FY 2009, both Texas and Oklahoma each committed $2,035,000 to subsidize the Amtrak's operating losses. For FY 2010, it's projected that Amtrak's operating losses on the Heartland Flyer will be $3.9 million with fuel costs. Amtrak has requested that Texas provide $1.5 million for the continuation of service for Fiscal Year 2010 and the State of Oklahoma plans to provide the same.

Staff recommends your approval of this minute order.

MS. DELISI: Does Amtrak have any plan to make this profitable without using state subsidies?

MR. RANDALL: Well, for the nine high speed intercity passenger rail applications involved improvements to the Heartland Flyer and that was about $90 million that we're asking for high speed rail. So from the state's perspective, we are asking for substantial improvements to that service, and it will be primarily increasing the speed along the route, as well as improvements to the subgrade and things like that.

MR. HOLMES: What is the speed on the route now, do you know, Jim?

MR. RANDALL: I think it's around 50 miles an hour, we're trying to get it up to 79. That's the highest they can run on a freight rail system, and a lot of that has to do with the timing of signals -- in other words, as you approach a grade crossing, if we can improve the timing of the signals, then we should be able to improve the speed along the route.

MR. HOLMES: Do we have any idea of the number of passengers it carries on an annual basis?

MR. RANDALL: Yes, sir. For Fiscal Year 2008, there were 72,084 passengers; prior to that, it was around 70,000; for Fiscal Year 2008, we expect that to be around 70,000. Due to the economy, it looks like the passengership is going to drop a bit.

MS. DELISI: Any other questions? Motion?

MR. UNDERWOOD: So moved.

MR. MEADOWS: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Agenda item 11(d) deals with approval of a minute order to transfer some Border Colonia Access Program funds in La Salle County.

MR. RANDALL: In 2001, the legislature established $175 million program to provide financial assistance for Border Colonia Access roadway projects. The department distributed the funds to the eligible counties in three program calls. This minute order approves a transfer of a portion of the non-competitive funds that La Salle County received from the third program of the Border Colonia Access Program.

43 TAC, 15.105 provides that a county may use unexpended funds from a project on any other commission-selected county Colonia project. La Salle County has requested approval of the transfer of $163,410 of their non-competitive funds from Gardendale to Encinal. Staff recommends approval of the La Salle County request.

MS. DELISI: Is there a motion?

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Agenda item number 11(e) deals with the award of transportation development credits for projects across the state dealing with transportation planning.

MR. RANDALL: This minute order authorizes the use of $14.7 million in transportation development credits to provide for the non-federal match of federal metropolitan planning funds and statewide planning and research funds. Federal law establishes a metropolitan planning program for each state. The 25 MPOs in Texas receive federal metropolitan planning funds to carry out the provisions of their programs. These federal funds must be matched by non-federal funds. Non-federal funds can be either local or state funds.

Title 23 U.S.C., Section 505 reserves a portion of federal apportionments for activities related to statewide planning and research activities. These federal funds must also be matched by non-federal funds. SAFETEA-LU permits a state to use certain toll revenue expenditures, known as transportation development credits, as credit toward the 20 percent match. In the past the department has provided the match for both of these programs, however, due to current fiscal constraints, the department wishes to substitute the match with transportation development credits.

Approximately $5.6 million TDCs is required to match the federal Fiscal Year 2010 metropolitan planning program and $9.1 million is required for the SPR work program. Staff recommends approval to utilize the transportation development credits in support of both programs through FY 2010 in an amount not to exceed $14.7 million.

MS. DELISI: Is there a motion?

MR. UNDERWOOD: So moved.

MS. DELISI: Is there a second?

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Jim.

Agenda item number 12, commissioners, deals with the Private Activity Bond Surface Transportation Corporation, and James Bass will present a minute order.

MR. BASS: Thank you. As Mr. Saenz said, this item deals with PABs when before we were talking about BABs. Through this minute order, the commission would direct the corporation to carry out certain duties related to the North Tarrant Expressway project. A couple of primary things, one would be to transfer the allocation the department and the commission had received from the U.S. DOT of private activity bonds to the corporation, and then also allow and request the corporation to enter into a loan agreement with the developer because it would actually be the corporation that would issue the activity bonds, receive the proceeds, loan them to the developer, and operate that way.

It also has an opening in here that anything else that may be necessary in order to support that issuance of debt, the commission is requesting that the corporation do that.

I would like to point out to you that at this time we do not have 100 percent certainty that the developer is going to utilize private activity bonds as a part of their financing package, but due to the timing of monthly commission meetings and every other month Bond Review Board meetings, we felt this would put us in the best position to go ahead and bring this to the commission today so we don't run into a timing issue down the road.

I'd be happy to answer any questions, and if there are none, staff recommends your approval.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you. Moving on, agenda item number 13, commissioners, deals with the Obligation Limit report and James will give us a report on this.

MR. BASS: This is the report on the 2009 Obligation Limit, and therefore, requires no action on your part. It appeared we had a $2.35 billion Obligation Limit for 2009, and after we take into account change orders and all of the projects, statewide and local letting, it appears we're going to end up between $2.1- and $2.2 billion.

It's normally at this time every month I give you a brief update on our deposits to motor fuel taxes in the State of Texas, and I apologize you don't have a hard copy there, but it's up on the big screen. Since we receive our deposits only once a month, and that's early on in a month, fifth working day in August we received the deposit for August, so we're pretty much done for fiscal year 2009 even though there's a few days left.

You can see it actually declined $50 million from the actual receipts last year which was just over a 2 percent decline. What perhaps is more meaningful is back last April when we were discussing the UTP and going forward 2009 to 2019, we had been projecting about $2.34 billion to come in in 2009, so a 5 percent drop-off for a little over $115 million drop-off from what we had ben projecting 18 months ago.

We've obviously taken this year into account, dialed down our forecast going forward, dialed down our growth rate. One possibly promising thing is that August for that one month was positive. Some of the traffic count data we get from the Planning and Programming Division the last two months has shown higher traffic counts than the period twelve months prior, so perhaps we may be on the beginning of a turnaround of an upswing. We don't have enough data yet moving in that direction to make that claim, but there are, at least for the first time in a while, some positive signs out there.

Other than that, those are all the remarks that I had prepared, and again, I'd be happy to answer any questions that you might have. Thank you.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, James.

Agenda item 14, commissioners, deals with Contracts. 14(a) deals with the award or rejection of Highway Improvement Contracts, 14(a)(1) deals with Highway Maintenance and Department Building Contracts. Ken Barnett, with our Construction Division, will present this minute order.

MR. BARNETT: Good morning. For the record, I am Ken Barnett, Construction Section director in the Construction Division.

Agenda item 14(a)(1) is consideration of the award or rejection of Highway Maintenance and Department Building Construction contracts let on August 11 and 12 of this year. We had ten projects; the average number of bidders for the maintenance projects was 5.2; we had a 27.04 percent underrun for the maintenance projects. Staff recommends award of all maintenance and building projects. Any questions?

MR. HOUGHTON: And you've come in almost 25 percent under?

MR. BARNETT: Yes, sir.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Agenda item 14(a)(2) deals with the Highway Transportation Enhancement and Building Construction projects.

MR. BARNETT: For the construction and transportation enhancement construction projects let on August 11 and 12 of this year, we had 72 projects, we had an average of 7.97 bids per project, and an underrun of 24.49 percent. Staff does recommend award of all construction projects. I do bring to your attention this award recommendation does include not accepting a bid error submission this month from a contractor. And I'll be happy to take any questions.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MS. DELISI: Well, hold on. I'd like to call Lynn Field.

MR. FIELD: Sorry about that, I didn't know this was such a formal thing, I'd have worn my nice hat.

MR. UNDERWOOD: You look good to me, sir.

(General laughter.)

MR. FIELD: Thank you. I walked in the door and I went oh, no, they're going to think I'm here to park the cars.

I don't know exactly how to approach this so I'll just kind of jump right in there. On August 14, my chief estimator, Gary Seawold notified Scott Nichols, your bid letting coordinator by telephone as well as e-mail that we discovered on our bid that we submitted on a project a material mistake in the cost of materials line item 02472057. We are not able to perform the project at the bid price. Given the mistake, we must advise that our bid be withdrawn -- excuse me, I'm a little nervous -- as we advised Mr. Barnett, Construction Section Director, in subsequent communications on August 14, 19 and 20, 2009.

Basically, the long and short of it is I had an estimator who left off $900,000 worth of material on the bid. That's the long and short of it, it was a human error. It does directly affect the job. Obviously, we can't perform the job, that's basically it in a nutshell. It happened. Upon review, the bid error does relate to a material line item of the work, the error is an amount significant portion of the total bid. It did happen despite the exercise of ordinary care. We have several review processes in place, and quite simply, it got missed.

The upside, the impact to the taxpayers of Texas is all the other bids were still well below the engineer's estimate, so it shouldn't have a significant impact on the taxpayers. Thank you.

MS. DELISI: Are there any questions?

MR. MEADOWS: I'm just trying to see which one this is, I wasn't clear.

MR. BARNETT: Wilson County.

MR. FIELD: Sorry, sir, I should have told you that. It's Wilson County, on 1681, Wilson County, San Antonio, Texas on page 13, on the bottom of the list, Wilson County, FM 1681, STP 2009(637)ES.

MR. HOUGHTON: Mr. Barnett, what's the issue?

MR. BARNETT: Per our rules, Commissioner, two criteria have to be met for your consideration of a bid error. One of them, that error has to be mathematical in nature. Based on the information that Boots and his staff have provided, we have not been able to confirm that.

In their initial statement to us, they had told us that a computer had went down the night before letting, they didn't have the electronic bidding software on their new computer and didn't realize this till the last minute. They got it fixed, they were able to bid electronically, but as they told us, they didn't have enough time to look at their bid in detail like they would have liked to. So that was their initial submission.

As we've talked to them through then, we've repeatedly asked can you provide us some material quote that supports the $15/cubic yard price that they say they left out. Initially, I wasn't able to get one from them; eventually, I did get one a couple of days ago but it wasn't $15 a cubic yard, it was $31 a cubic yard.

So I cannot recommend to you that this was a mathematical error, point one. Second, I also cannot recommend to you that this occurred despite the exercise of ordinary care as provided in the rules. They told me verbally and in writing that they didn't exercise their usual care, they could not produce for me a material quote representative of the price they left out. In addition, they provided to me information from their bidding system that indicated their bidding system didn't even have this material in there.

It is unfortunate what happened, but per the rules, I could not recommend this as a bid error.

MR. HOUGHTON: Now, what's at stake?

MR. BARNETT: What's at stake for the department, unfortunately, per our rules, we cannot accept the second low bidder on a construction contract. We have to reject all the bids and re-let. Now, there's over a dozen bidders not represented here today that have now exposed their bids to everyone else and it, frankly, compromises the low bid process on this contract. We will have to go back and re-let this project. We will incur some costs for doing that; what the cost will be to those bidders that have now exposed their bid, I cannot say.

MR. HOUGHTON: What's at stake for the contractor?

MR. BARNETT: For Boots and his staff, they will forfeit their bid guarantee of $66,000.

MR. HOUGHTON: So this becomes $900,000 or $66-.

MR. BARNETT: Yes, sir.

MR. HOUGHTON: Under your recommendation.

MR. BARNETT: Yes, sir.

MR. SAENZ: The other ramification to the contractor, is he not only forfeits his bid bond but when we re-let the project, he will not be able to bid on that project.

MR. HOUGHTON: Under our rules.

MR. SAENZ: Under our rules, yes, sir.

MR. HOLMES: That doesn't prevent him from bidding on a future project, just this one. Is that correct?

MR. SAENZ: Just this one, that's correct.

MR. HOUGHTON: Is there a precedent, have we been through this before? I think we have somewhere.

MR. BARNETT: Yes, sir. We receive these periodically. I myself have done four or five in the couple of years that I've been here, and we're applying the same criteria as we historically always have.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Now, when he forfeits the bond -- is that correct?

MR. BARNETT: I believe that you provided to us a bond, did you not, Boots?

MR. FIELD: Yes, we did.

MR. BARNETT: They may either collect on the bond which is between him and his bonding company, or he can give us a check directly from them for $66,000, that's their choice.

MR. UNDERWOOD: But then if you collect from the bond agent, then how easy is it to go back and get bonded again?

MR. BARNETT: As typically done in the industry, as I understand it, the bonding companies do feel that this company will be on the hook for the $66,000 that they have to pay. If they don't give that money back to the bonding company, I suspect it will be more difficult to get a bond.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Okay, thank you.

MS. DELISI: Are there any other questions?

(No response.)

MS. DELISI: Is there a motion?

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MS. DELISI: Is there a second?

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Commission, agenda item number 15 deals with a contested case on an administrative law judge decision, and Rich O'Connell will present this minute order to you.

MR. O'CONNELL: Good morning.

This item is a proposed order to complete a contested case hearing that was referred from the State Office of Administrative Hearings. A hearing was held and an administrative law judge prepared a proposal for decision which is before you. The Office of General Counsel recommends that you adopt the judge's proposed order. This has to do with a tree-trimming contract in Robertson County. The department defaulted the contractor, the contractor then contested that, and the contractor, in a separate proceeding, made a contract claim. The two proceedings were combined together and one hearing was held at SOAH.

The bottom line is that the administrative law judge recommends that you not allow the claim but also not sanction the contractor. After the judge made his recommendation to you, neither the staff nor the contractor filed any exceptions or complained about that recommendation. We recommend you adopt the judge's order.

MS. DELISI: Are there any questions?

MR. HOLMES: So moved.

MS. DELISI: Is there a second?

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Rich.

Commission, agenda item number 16 deals with our Routine Minute Orders that we pass every month dealing with donations to the department, dealing with load zones, dealing with eminent domain, right of way dispositions, speed zones. Staff recommends that you approve all the minute orders and we'll be happy to answer any questions on specific ones.

MS. DELISI: Questions?

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

This completes all the items on the posted agenda. We'll now enter in the open comment period of the meeting. Are there any speakers signed up for open comment?

MR. SAENZ: No, ma'am.

MR. HOUGHTON: Madame Chair, may I indulge?

MS. DELISI: Yes, absolutely.

MR. HOUGHTON: Bob Jackson, can I go back to item number 7, a question? A statement that was made by a person that signed up to speak regarding the Alamo RMA issue, could I ask you a question? He made a statement regarding having our staff perform work for those projects in Bexar County. Can our people do that kind of work, contract with an RMA?

MR. JACKSON: Yes, we can assist the RMA.

MR. HOUGHTON: Can we contract with them?

MR. JACKSON: There would be an agreement.

MR. HOUGHTON: So he is accurate to say we could.

MR. JACKSON: I don't know if that was his intent or if he just preferred that the district do the work itself instead of the RMA and it be a TxDOT project.

MR. HOUGHTON: Well, I wish I'd have had the presence of mind or quickness to ask at that point in time, but just a question that I had also, can our people be contracted to do work for the RMAs and other tolling agencies?

MR. JACKSON: Our statutory authority varies by tolling entity and it would vary depending on the type of work and the type of project.

MR. HOUGHTON: Let's say NTTA came to us and said we'd like to have your expertise regarding CDA authority, can we contract with them to lend our people and their expertise?

MR. JACKSON: We'd want to look at exactly what type of work they wanted us to do, whether they wanted to use our consultants or our staff and to do what.

MR. HOUGHTON: Okay, that's what I needed. Thank you.

MS. DELISI: Is there any other business to come before the commission?

MR. SAENZ: No, ma'am.

MS. DELISI: There being none, I will entertain a motion to adjourn.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes. Please note for the record that it is 11:26 a.m., and this meeting stands adjourned.

(Whereupon, at 11:26 a.m., the meeting was concluded.)

C E R T I F I C A T E

MEETING OF: Texas Transportation Commission

LOCATION: Austin, Texas

DATE: August 27, 2009

I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 118, inclusive, are the true, accurate, and complete transcript prepared from the verbal recording made by electronic recording by Nancy King before the Texas Department of Transportation.

 

 

 

9/01/2009

(Transcriber) (Date)

On the Record Reporting

3307 Northland, Suite 315

Austin, Texas 78731

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