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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, September 24, 2009


COMMISSION MEMBERS:

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

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. It is 9:06 a.m., and I call the regular September 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 4:17 p.m. on September 16, 2009.

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

As is our custom, we'll open with comments from commissioners, and today we'll start with Commissioner Underwood.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Thank you, Madame Chair. Good news, bad news.

Bad news first, we lost another employee, Tommy Lee Rubell, Jr., in an accident in Port Aransas. I just want to stress to our employees how critical you are to our success; please be careful. In this case this was not this gentleman's fault. What we do, ladies and gentlemen, is very dangerous when we're out on the highways. Just for all of you that don't understand this, Judge, whatnot, imagine your desk is three feet away from vehicles that weigh anywhere from 4,000 to 80,000 pounds going 30 to 70 miles an hour. That's the office that our men and women work in. I just want to give our condolences for all my commissioners to the family of Rubell.

On a better, more positive note, I want to compliment John Barton and David Casteel for the help they've done this past legislative session. I've received numerous comments from legislators about what a quality job they did and how well they represented us. So John and David, I want to thank you very much. It was a tough legislative session but it could have been a lot tougher if we hadn't have had your support and leadership. Thank you.

MR. HOLMES: Thank you, Fred, and I'd like to offer my condolences as well. It is a dangerous job and I think all of us out there understand and appreciate that, but it takes a situation like this to kind of bring it home once again.

I appreciate all of your attendance today, we've got a few things on the agenda that obviously have turned out a crowd. Thank you for being here.

MR. HOUGHTON: And I echo my fellow commissioners' remarks regarding our employee and the safety of our employees.

And I, on another note, welcome those who have come from far West Texas, El Paso, and those who have come from all around Texas. I guess there's an interest in some pass-through projects here. So welcome and drive safely going home today. Thank you.

MS. DELISI: My condolences as well, and I was going to make the same observation, I think all corners of the state are represented in this room today. So welcome to everybody, thanks for traveling to the meeting, and without further ado, we will get started.

By way of reminder, 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 fill out a yellow card and identify the agenda item. If it's not an agenda item, we'll 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 card, please try to limit your comments to three minutes.

And before we begin today's business, I would like to call on Amadeo who has some special recognitions to make.

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

Last month we recognized several of our department managers who retired from the department and today we have two additional recognitions: one, a now retired employee who was unable to be here last month; an additional employee who will be retiring at the end of September.

I'd like to recognize Bryan Wood first. Bryan, could you kind of come up here? Bryan is our former district engineer from Bryan -- Bryan worked in Bryan, that way we wanted to make sure that by knowing his name, he knew where he was working. It's a joke, people. Fred, I just can't tell a good joke.

(General laughter.)

MR. SAENZ: I'll read some excerpts from Bryan's citation. Bryan has served with the department of Transportation for more than 26 years, most recently as the Bryan District Engineer. He earned his bachelor's degree in architectural engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Bryan began his career with TxDOT as an engineering assistant in the Bridge Division where he worked on the design of hundreds of bridges, including several high profile projects.

He returned to UT in January of 1994 under a grant from the department's Master Student Civil Engineering Program and received a professional engineer's license in 1997. Shortly after, he transferred to the Brownwood Area Office as associate area engineer. He was named Corpus Christi area engineer in 1998 and was selected as deputy district engineer in 2000. He has served in his current position as Bryan district engineer since December of 2003.

Bryan has also been the chair of the Master Student Program selection committee from February to July of 2008. Bryan simultaneously held the position of interim Beaumont district engineer where he proved an integral part in the hurricane response efforts that we had.

On behalf of the commission, Bryan, and all the citizens of Texas, we extend the sincerest best wishes to you on your retirement. On a personal note from me, thank you for everything that you have done for us. You are one of our shining stars because I don't think officially you retire until the end of this month, even though you've been traveling and using some of your unused vacation.

But thank you for what you do, thank your family for sharing you with us for many years. Good luck in the future. I know that we will be crossing paths and look forward to working with you in a different area.

MR. WOOD: Thank you, Amadeo.

MR. SAENZ: Commissioners, would you like to say a few words?

MR. UNDERWOOD: Amadeo, Madame Chair, is it my imagination or are the people that are retiring getting younger each time they come up before us?

MR. WOOD: Just well preserved.

(General laughter.)

MR. UNDERWOOD: Well, that's a credit to your bride then. But anyway, thank you for all your service, sir, we really appreciate it.

MR. WOOD: Thank you, Mr. Underwood.

MR. HOLMES: I had the same observation, Bryan. I look at Fred and me here and we're still working. Congratulations and thanks for all your hard work.

(General laughter.)

MR. WOOD: Thank you, Mr. Holmes.

MR. HOUGHTON: And the same, ditto here, Bryan. The question is now where are you going to go? Secondarily, I want to know who assigned you to go to College Station, who did that to you?

MR. WOOD: Mike Behrens actually chose me for Bryan-College Station.

MR. HOUGHTON: He did that?

MR. WOOD: And a good Aggie too.

MR. HOUGHTON: An Aggie sent a Horn over to College Station.

MR. WOOD: He looked past that.

(General laughter.)

MR. HOUGHTON: Congratulations. Are you going to stay over there?

MR. WOOD: Actually I am. I'm going to work for TTI.

MR. HOUGHTON: Oh, is that right, that's great. Well, we'll be seeing you around then.

MS. DELISI: Absolutely. Congratulations. Look forward to continuing to work with you then.

MR. WOOD: Thank you, Madame Chair.

MR. SAENZ: Bryan, I've got a citation, and we'll go take some pictures in a little bit. Let me go ahead and bring up our next honoree. Thomas, can you come up here. And I know Thomas has with him his wife Katie. Where are you Katie? Go ahead and stand up so that you can be recognized. Good morning. And also you have your parents, Marion --

MR. BOHUSLAV: Katie's parents.

MR. SAENZ: Katie's parents, Marion and Vivian Exwry. Thank you all for being with us.

Thomas is our director of the Construction Division, will be retiring at the end of this month. Thomas has worked for the department for more than 28 years. He began his career in 1977 as a summer employee for the Brownwood District office. He worked as a seal coat inspector and laboratory aide. In 1983 he accepted a full-time position in the Brownwood District, Brown County residency after working in the Lubbock District maintenance section. You jumped all over the place.

In 1982, Thomas earned his bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Texas Tech University and became a professional engineer in 1988. He became area engineer of the Lampasas Area Office in 1987 and director of operations for the Abilene District in 1993. In 1996, Thomas was selected as the director of the Construction and Maintenance Division and he's been responsible for construction contracts, materials and testing and oversees the department's pavement management section since then.

Thomas is just one of a long line of Bohuslavs that work for the department -- we've lost one but I'm sure there's one coming up the ranks. And during that time the department has been involved in countless successes in contracting and pavement management, including assisting with a rewrite of the Texas Standard Specifications, and also serves as vice chair of the AASHTO subcommittee on construction.

Thomas, we extend heartfelt thanks for all your long years of service to the department and to the state and wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors. And I will say, on a personal note, I was here and privileged to watch Thomas coordinate the efforts of the rewriting of our specifications that led to our maroon book -- which was selected by Mr. Behrens who was an Aggie -- and it was amazing watching Thomas orchestrate and work with engineers both from the department, contractors from the contracting industry to rewrite and update our standard specifications. In fact, we even rewrote them in a different language, something that we all could understand other than engineer-ese.

And I guess what was funny, we had a lot of groups that were working on them and they would draft a specification but then they got to Thomas and for some reason they were redrafted. But he was able to lead that charge and successfully complete it well ahead of schedule, and the spec book we have today is a much better spec book than we had in the past. So thank you for that.

MR. BOHUSLAV: Thank you, Amadeo.

MR. SAENZ: But all in all, I thank you for your dedication throughout the years and your friendship and the knowledge that you shared with your employees, thank you. We wish you luck.

Katie, thank you for letting us use him for a while, we're going to send him back, but I know that he's still going to be involved in some work so we'll be seeing both of you. You'll always be, and Bryan too, you'll always be part of the TxDOT family. So good luck and thank you for everything you've done.

Commissioners.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Just another quick observation, not only are they getting younger but they're getting taller as they retire.

(General laughter.)

MR. UNDERWOOD: Thomas, thank you for all your hard work and I want to thank you for your professionalism.

MR. BOHUSLAV: Can I still get your parking spot when I come over here?

MR. UNDERWOOD: Any time you want to. That's a private joke, ladies and gentlemen.

(General laughter.)

MR. UNDERWOOD: But we really will miss you and your professionalism, and I sure hate to see a Red Raider leave, we don't have enough of us. Anyway, thank you, sir, and thank your bride, she had to be in the background, I know, and supportive, and we thank you, young lady.

MR. HOLMES: Thomas, I've enjoyed working with you. I think you've done a terrific job, we're going to miss you, good luck.

MR. BOHUSLAV: Thank you.

MR. HOUGHTON: The question is Thomas, where are you going?

MR. BOHUSLAV: I'll be out there working for myself.

MR. HOUGHTON: That was a good one. Thank you. You dodged that bullet, didn't you.

(General laughter.)

MR. HOUGHTON: Congratulations to you and your family. Thank you very much.

MS. DELISI: Congratulations, enjoy your retirement.

MR. BOHUSLAV: Thank you.

MR. SAENZ: Commissioners, we'd like to hand out the citations and take a few photos.

(Pause for presentations and photographs.)

MS. DELISI: Our first item of business today is approval of the minutes from the August 26 and 27 meetings. Members, the draft minutes have been provided in your briefing materials. Is there a motion to approve?

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes. Amadeo, I'll hand it back over to you.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Madame Chair. What I would like to do, we have several items today that deal with El Paso that they've come from afar, and what I would like to do is to move those items and cover them, if it's your pleasure.

MS. DELISI: Sure.

MR. SAENZ: Okay. So we will start with agenda item number 12. John Barton will present authority to execute an agreement for a pass-through toll project for El Paso County. Now, this is different than the other pass-through toll program in that this money will be used to repay the RMA for the work that they do is coming from the allocation of the MPO, so it's not coming from statewide allocation. So John, will you present that.

MR. BARTON: Good morning. For the record, my name is John Barton, I'm your assistant executive director for Engineering Operations. Good morning, Chair Delisi, commissioners, Director Saenz and Roger.

I do have the pleasure of presenting one of several items associated with projects related to activities in the El Paso area of West Texas. This particular minute order that's being addressed by item number 12 on your agenda would authorize us, as your staff and the executive director, to begin negotiations on a pass-through toll agreement with the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority for the purposes of designing and constructing two specific projects associated with an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funded project in the western portions of the City of El Paso.

The projects would do two things. One is partial funding for the construction of an interchange referred to as the Americas Interchange where Interstate 10 and Loop 375 cross near our district office, as I said, in the western limits of the City of El Paso. The other project would start at that point and then travel westward -- excuse me, I said the west side, these are both on the east side of El Paso, I'm getting my directions mixed up. Being a Beaumont boy, everything in El Paso is west to me.

This particular project, as I said, the interchange is on the east side of El Paso and this project would start there -- the second project would start at the interchange and then move westward along Interstate 10 through the community to do some landscape and aesthetic treatments along Interstate 10.

This minute order would allow the executive director to enter into negotiations for a pass-through toll agreement with the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority for partial funding of this project. As I mentioned, the majority of the funding is coming through two other mechanisms: one is the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; the other is through financial resources being brought to bear by the transportation reinvestment zone implemented by the City of El Paso that can only be triggered through the use of a pass-through toll agreement for a project of this type.

And so we're, as staff, recommending that you approve this particular minute order to allow us to begin negotiations, and as Director Saenz pointed out, it's different than the other item we have on the agenda today related to pass-through toll projects because the repayment stream is coming from future allocations of Category 2 funding or the mobility dollars that would be assigned to the El Paso MPO.

We do have letters of support and resolutions from the metropolitan planning organization and the City of El Paso for the dedication of those future mobility dollars from the MPO and the dedication of the Transportation Reinvestment Zone revenues from the City of El Paso.

So staff recommends your approval of this minute order, and I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

MR. HOUGHTON: John, just to restate the reason we used the RMA, the obvious reason is for the design-build authority to move these projects forward?

MR. BARTON: That is correct. This is a project that's in the El Paso comprehensive mobility plan. The implementation of the project, quickly, was important for several reasons: the demand for the project as well as the use of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding, and the design-build component was a delivery tool that would let us do this in the most expeditious fashion. And of course, the RMA is the entity that has the authority to do that.

MR. HOUGHTON: We don't have that authority.

MR. BARTON: That's correct, on these types of projects.

MR. HOUGHTON: We do on toll projects.

MR. BARTON: Correct.

MR. HOUGHTON: Is Chuck here, where is Chuck?

MR. BARTON: Chuck Berry, I believe, is in the audience.

MR. BERRY: Good morning. My name is Chuck Berry, I'm the district engineer in El Paso.

MR. HOUGHTON: Chuck, how long is this? This loop that goes around the town, the soon to be completed loop that's kind of the stated goal, how long has this project been on the drawing board for these direct connects?

MR. BERRY: The project that you're considering right now is the interchange up at I-10 and Loop 375, it's not the Border Highway.

MR. HOUGHTON: This is the interchange.

MR. BERRY: This is up at the interstate, a multi-level interchange, yes, sir.

MR. HOUGHTON: How long have they been on the drawing board?

MR. BERRY: The right of way at that location when it was initially purchased in estimated 1960s, contemplated a multi-level interchange at this location, so is that about 50 years ago?

MR. HOUGHTON: A long time ago.

MR. BERRY: Yes, sir.

MR. HOUGHTON: And it's been because of the constraints of financing that we haven't been able to get these things done, or availability of funds.

MR. BERRY: Absolutely. The ultimate development is on the order of $200 million to develop the full eight connectors. The proposed project would construct and design the first four.

MR. HOUGHTON: The first four connectors.

MR. BERRY: Yes, sir. Thank you, Chuck, appreciate it.

MR. BERRY: You're welcome.

MS. DELISI: Well, I have some speakers signed up, but what I think I'm going to do for everyone who has signed up to talk about El Paso projects is bring everybody up on the next item which is 13(a) -- no one has actually directly signed up on this one.

MR. HOUGHTON: John, is any of the city's money in this deal, the transportation reinvestment zone?

MR. BARTON: That's correct. The total funding package for the project -- and Chuck, correct me if you don't mind, correct me if I'm wrong --

MR. HOUGHTON: Come on back up, Chuck.

MR. BARTON: The pass-through toll element. I believe, is for $25 million; the transportation reinvestment zone, I believe, is bringing in $35 million; and the Recovery Act funding is $96 million. I believe those are the numbers.

MR. HOUGHTON: I think it would be appropriate to talk about this comprehensive plan that the city voted on overlaying a transportation reinvestment zone, their commitment to putting money and how these projects got moved forward.

MR. BARTON: Chuck, I don't know if you want to briefly describe the comprehensive mobility plan?

MR. BERRY: Certainly. Again, my name is Chuck Berry and I'm the district engineer in El Paso.

The comprehensive mobility plan was laid out by the four partners in the El Paso region. Along with TxDOT it was the El Paso MPO, the CRRMA, Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority, and the City of El Paso.

It lays out about $750 million worth of projects. The subject project is about a hundred and a half of that, along with the $10 million aesthetic and improvement project along Interstate 10. So we're talking about a substantial portion of the CMP as it's been known to be called. There are about 15 projects, there are non-tolled projects and they include also a cadre of about four, five, maybe six phases of developing a system of toll roads approximately parallel to Interstate 10 along Loop 375 south of I-10. One of the projects that you'll talk about later in your agenda is associated also with that comprehensive mobility plan.

MS. DELISI: All right, slight change of plans. If it's okay with the folks here from El Paso and with the member from El Paso, I'm going to call everybody up now. Several have signed up for different agenda items but I would recommend that you talk about them all at once. So in that case, I'll call up Mayor Cook.

MAYOR COOK: Well, good morning. Some of you may remember several years ago I came before this body asking for the authority to establish a regional mobility authority. When we came to you then, we were a divided community which you quickly pointed out to us that we needed to get our act together and to come up with a plan that the entire community agreed upon.

As Chuck just described to you, now we have all the partners at the table. We've come up with a comprehensive plan that will look at the long term needs of our community as far as mobility and transportation are concerned. And beyond that, we've actually looked at the toolbox that TxDOT has provided for us and used every applicable tool that we could possibly find, including the recently established transportation reinvestment zone which is taking a significant portion of our property tax in the future and applying it and committing it towards transportation projects.

So the last time I came to you for the regional mobility authority, we almost didn't get it except that at the last minute I broke out my guitar and performed a song called "I Want My RMA." Well, if I was going to do a song for you today, it would be Kumbaya which I think everybody would probably fall to sleep if I did Kumbaya for you.

But from the ARRA funding to the transportation reinvestment zone to all the different categories of funding that TxDOT has put before us, we think we've come up with a plan that will see us long into the future, and it looks at every type of mobility, everything from bicycle paths to bus rapid transit systems, landscaping our existing highways, $10 million worth of landscaping projects and beautification, and finally completing the loop around the city.

Right now Interstate 10 needs a solution and our southern relief route or loop around the city is a big part of that, so are other methods of transportation, but we come to you today as a united city. I would ask that all the people from the El Paso delegation that are here in support of these five agenda items, if you would please stand to be recognized. And they only traveled 600 miles to come and tell you they support this and hope that you'll look favorably on it.

With that, I'd like to ask the chair of our regional mobility authority, Harold Hahn, to come and say a few words to you also.

MR. HAHN: Good morning. My name is Harold Hahn, I'm chair of the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority. Chair Delisi, Director Saenz, commissioners, thank you very much for listening to our request today. I don't think it could be described as a labor of love necessarily, it's a lot of work, and we have a tremendous number of people, not the least of which, Director Saenz, are your staff. I can't tell you and I don't believe this would have come together without the leadership and the direction of John Barton, and I just want to tell you that he's done a tremendous job, along with David Casteel.

I think the complexity of some of our transactions are such that it took a legal eagle like J.D. Ewald to kind of figure out how to bring it all together. And we certainly want to compliment our district director in Chuck Berry, who has done an outstanding job of kind of coordinating and making sure that it came together, or hopefully is going to come together, and the leadership that he has with his staff in the El Paso District.

Commissioner Houghton, obviously without your ultimate leadership and helping everyone design the ins and outs of this project just didn't have a prayer without your help and assistance.

But that's not to say that although we're a young RMA, these are some of our first major undertakings, but I found many years ago that if you don't know much, that you need to have a great team. And our executive director of the RMA, Raymond Telles -- Raymond, will you stand -- has done an outstanding job and we've put together a team in Wayne Placid with First Southwest, and also Brian Cassidy with Locke Liddell that have helped us kind of navigate through a very complex system.

We hope you will look favorably on the El Paso projects. A lot of people have spent a lot of man hours and woman hours, as the case may be, putting it all together, and we think we have an overall transportation project that meets the goals of the comprehensive mobility plan, and we look forward to getting started on those as quickly as possible, and obviously we need your support and your dollars to do that.

With that, I'd like to introduce Richard Dayoub. He is president of the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce.

MR. DAYOUB: Good morning. For the record, Richard Dayoub, CEO of the El Paso Chamber of Commerce. Madame Chair, members of the commission, Amadeo Saenz, thank you for this opportunity to speak before you this morning, and I will do my very best to be respectful by keeping my time short and I'll try not to be redundant.

I think Harold captured the messages that we all want to communicate to you which is it's been a tremendous team effort throughout this process and sometimes a very painful process. Commissioner Houghton has led the way in trying to bring people together when times were difficult to bring everyone together. Mayor Cook has been, I think, a stellar diplomat in this entire process, as well as kept a cool head when some of the others perhaps were not all on the same page.

The chamber represents over 1,600 members of the business community in El Paso. From the outset, we have been instrumental in working with the MPO and the TPB, and we were one of the first organizations in the community to step up, even though we got shot at a couple of times, to support the RMA. I think what Harold has done with the RMA is nothing less than miraculous.

And for the record, I'm supporting all five items, that's 12, 13(a), 14(a) and (b), and 16(c), and I would ask that you seriously consider supporting these projects that we've worked so hard to bring forward to you. Our chamber supports it, all of our members do, and I thank you for your consideration.

MS. DELISI: Thank you very much. I also want to enter into the record a letter from Representative Norma Chavez expressing some concerns, so I will give that to you.

Oh, do you want to speak? Representative Chavez.

MS. CHAVEZ: Thank you so much, Madame Chair and members of the commission, for your support of El Paso. We've come a long distance to address you today.

And it is not a letter of concern, it's a letter of support and also addressing some concerns. This is the first toll road that's going to be built in El Paso, it's a comprehensive compromise which it's very difficult, I represent a very poor area and it's in a very extremely impoverished below poverty area. However, it is a major thoroughfare to address the issues that we have on I-10, and so this letter is in support.

Again, it's a comprehensive reconstruction of Loop 375, we're adding two additional toll lanes, but we are doing major reconstruction on the existing four lanes which is desperately needed in that area, and we thank you for that. And as a community we'll come together to address rolling out this first toll road for El Paso.

With that, I thank you so much.

MS. DELISI: Thank you. Any questions of John, comments?

MR. HOUGHTON: Well, I'll just bundle everything up. John, thank you for your support and thank you for your help on this, and without your leadership and direction, I'm not sure we could have gotten to this point this fast. And to Chuck Berry, thank you, Chuck, but the work is not done, we've got a long way to go out in far West Texas.

And I do want to publicly thank the mayor for the leadership. The transportation reinvestment zone, big leap, putting ad valorem taxes into the mix to get transportation assets across the goal line, one of the tools that you're talking about in the toolbox.

And Harold, your leadership, the governor appointed Harold and he didn't know what he was stepping into, but his leadership on getting these things done. And the folks at the MPO, Roy -- I know I'm going to miss some people and upset -- but the city staff, we've got some bridge issues we're working on and an analysis of those bridges that we're going to participate with the city on. But to all those from El Paso, I want to thank you.

But again, the work is not done, but we have shown that you can come together as a community and as the former chairman, the late Ric Williamson used to say, you've got to find champions in the communities to get things done. We've found those champions and I named a few in the room today, but thanks a lot.

MR. BARTON: Thank you, and I think -- and I would ask Director Saenz to correct me if I'm wrong -- but two things, one is obviously director Saenz and his deputy, Steve Simmons, have been very instrumental in guiding our directions on these things and forcing myself and others to do the things that have been talked about today, so I think that they need to be recognized for their leadership as well.

And secondly, if I'm not mistaken, Director Saenz, this is perhaps the first transportation reinvestment zone that's actually being brought into bear for a project in Texas. Is that correct?

MR. SAENZ: That's correct.

MR. BARTON: It's a tool that was made available to us by the leadership of the legislature and obviously a great opportunity for the City of El Paso, and as you pointed out, their willingness to bring to the table their resources. And it's a good tool that others have considered using, and in fact, the last session it was considered to be opened up to even a broader possibility of projects. But I think it's important to note that this is the first transportation reinvestment zone that's being actually effected and implemented on a project with the Department of Transportation.

I'll be happy to answer any questions, and again, staff recommends your 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. BARTON: Thank you.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, John.

Moving on, commission, to agenda item number 13(a), Mark Tomlinson will present a minute order where we're designating a portion of Loop 375 as a toll managed lane project.

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

This item authorizes the designation of Loop 375, the Cesar Chavez Border Highway, from US 54 to Zaragosa Road, as a toll project on the state highway system. The project has been environmentally cleared as a toll road this month, and this segment of Loop 375 will continue to operate as a controlled access facility, it will consist of four general purpose lanes, reconstructed ultimately in each direction, and two new tolled managed lanes will be added.

I would note that this project is a key element of the region's 2008 comprehensive mobility plan for the El Paso region. So staff would recommend your approval of the item and would be happy to answer any questions I can.

MS. DELISI: Any questions?

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, Mark.

I'm going to go ahead and skip over to agenda item 16(c) that Mark will also present which is a minute order for you to consider amending a previous minute order dealing with a project development agreement for El Paso.

MR. TOMLINSON: Thank you, sir.

This item would authorize our executive director to execute an amendment to the existing project development agreement we have with the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority that was dated back in January of 2009. We're proposing to increase the funding for this agreement by $971,900. The previous minute order from January executed this project development agreement, it was intended to allow the RMA to do preliminary development work on three projects on Loop 375 there in El Paso, and the funding amount of that PDA was $2.2 million.

In May, the commission authorized the RMA to increase the scope of work through that project development agreement to work on the project that Mr. Barton previously mentioned, the I-10 and Loop 375, the Americas Interchange, but we didn't add any additional dollars at that time. So at this point, we would propose that the existing agreement be amended, add that $971,900 to allow the RMA to complete their original scope of those projects.

Staff would recommend your approval of the minute order and be happy to answer any questions.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. TOMLINSON: Thank you.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Mark.

Moving back to agenda item 14, 14(a) is a preliminary approval of a State Infrastructure Bank loan for El Paso County, Brian Ragland will present this minute order.

MR. RAGLAND: Good morning. I'm Brian Ragland, director of the Finance Division.

This first SIB is a proposed SIB loan for preliminary approval of an application from the City of El Paso and they're requesting $6.356 million to pay for improvements to the Paso del Norte International Bridge. This particular loan is related to the pedestrian toll facilities on that bridge, and the loan obviously will be repaid with those toll revenues from that pedestrian bridge.

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: Brian will continue and present agenda item 14(b) which is also another State Infrastructure Bank loan for the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority and it's tied back to the project we were discussing a few minutes ago on Interstate 10 and Loop 375.

MR. RAGLAND: Yes, thank you. This proposed minute order is for preliminary approval of an application from the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority. They're requesting a loan for $35 million for four direct connectors at I-10 and Loop 375, also known as Americas Interchange, and also aesthetic improvements to the I-10 corridor. The proposed repayment source of the loan will be from the transportation reinvestment zone that was discussed earlier.

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: Thank you, Brian.

MAYOR COOK: If I could just make a closing remark, and I want to thank you for the confidence that you've shown in the El Paso delegation, and we promise not to let you down, we're going to pursue all of these projects and make sure that we get them all done very expeditiously.

I also want to compliment John Barton for the great work that he did trying to make sure that all the finances were going to work, and we had a good program that we could present and get positive treatment from the commission. So thank you all and God bless you, have a great day.

MS. DELISI: Thank you.

MR. HOLMES: Mayor, just a brief comment. The way that your community has come together and pushed through and worked hard to find compromises and utilize creative financing -- I congratulate you on being the first to use the transportation reinvestment zone -- should be a signal to communities around the state that if they can coalesce around projects and work together and be creative, it really does help getting them funded. And all of you folks have done a terrific job, it's very impressive.

MAYOR COOK: And Mr. Hahn was very modest, and we also have the distinction of having the largest pass-through toll, $368 million for 601 which was critical to the growth of Fort Bliss and to the growth of El Paso, and we got that done. That particular project, the first phase of it is already completed, it should all be done by, I think, February of 2011, the entire project will be finished, and so far they've had zero on the job lost time accidents. So there's a lot of great things happening in El Paso but we couldn't do it without the commission's support, so we thoroughly appreciate the support we've received.

MR. HOLMES: Congratulations.

MAYOR COOK: Thank you.

MR. HOUGHTON: Congratulations, Mayor.

MS. DELISI: Thanks, Mayor.

MR. HOUGHTON: And I did omit, like I thought I would, one of our partners, Roy Gilyard, the executive director. Do you have anything to say, Roy? I'm going to make you say something. Our MPO partner; Mayor, you said there's four of them, this is one of the four.

MR. GILYARD: Roy Gilyard, executive director, El Paso MPO.

I've come to know the commission fairly well in my ten years in this position. I called my staff this morning for some information in expectation that Commissioner Houghton may call on me to come up and speak, so I'm usually always prepared. If you'd like to see a power point presentation, I could also do that too right now.

(General laughter.)

MR. GILYARD: But let me say that I agree with all of the comments that have been made here today and I'd certainly like to compliment, I think, one of the leaders in the community in making the RMA work in Mr. Houghton. Most people don't know how pivotal a move strategically that was politically to put someone in place with his expertise, his background in finance. It's just been a pleasure for me and the rest of the MPO as a whole to be able to work collectively together with the RMA, along with the city, Chuck Berry, TxDOT.

We've come a long ways from where we used to be. We started out fighting and now we're pretty much best of friends now that we all understand what our roles and responsibilities are for transportation, so this is a great day and a great opportunity for El Paso. Thank you.

MR. HOUGHTON: It's not over, though, Roy.

MR. GILYARD: It's not over but we're beginning to see the finish line, we're a lot closer to the finish line. Thank you.

MR. HOUGHTON: Thanks, Roy, thank you very much. And thank you, Mayor.

MAYOR COOK: Thank you.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Mayor, and congratulations. Thank you, Roy.

Coming back to the agenda, commissioners, we're going to move back to the top, agenda item number 3 deals with Aviation. Dave Fulton will present a minute order on an award of a federal grant.

MR. FULTON: Thank you, Amadeo. For the record, my name is Dave Fulton, director of the TxDOT Aviation Division.

This minute order contains a request for grant funding approval for one airport improvement project. The estimated cost of this project is $7.6 million: $6.9 million in federal and about $700,000 in local funding. A public hearing was held on September 23, no comments were received. We would recommend approval of this minute order.

I will also point out that the chairman of the Lancaster Airport Board, Keith Hutchinson, is here, and I would recommend that this request be approved.

MR. HOLMES: Dave, where is Lancaster?

MR. FULTON: It's just south of the Metroplex, southeast, I would say, of the Metroplex.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Madame Chair, I've got a quick question. Dave, would you elaborate a little bit. Sometimes I question whether or not the taxpayers understand the value they're receiving from these grants and the work that you do and the money that's being spent on these rural airports or whatnot, so to speak.

MR. FULTON: Commissioner Underwood, I'll do my best to respond to that. I suspect, knowing how you feel about general aviation and rural Texas, this might be motivated by an article last week in USA Today and another article today that is very critical of funding for what they call small airports. That is not a new view, it's been throughout my 34-year career that that mentality has existed. I think it primarily exists because of the lack of understanding of most people because they don't own or operate general aviation aircraft or ride in them. But I think what they don't understand is the benefit, particularly to a state like Texas.

We did a study a few years ago that showed that in Texas, general aviation contributes 62,000 jobs directly every year and about $9 billion in economic impact. But more important than that, in my view, is I believe it's a lifeline to rural Texas. We have some wonderful commercial service airports in this state, but if those are the only airports we had, the vast majority of this state would be inaccessible by air transportation. I kind of look at it like if we only had the interstate system in this state, you could get to all the major cities but there would be a lot of parts of the state you could not reach. So I think that people just don't simply understand, particularly the business contribution that air transportation makes in general aviation.

I guess I'd say Sam Walton said it best, back when he started the Wal-Mart chain, he was going to put them in small towns and he made the statement at that time: I won't put a Wal-Mart store in a town that doesn't have an airport because I'm going to come visit that store and I'm not going to drive. And I think he probably said it as well as anyone.

But it's very hard for the public to understand and I understand that, but I think it pays great dividends for the small amount of money we invest. I hope I answered your question.

MR. UNDERWOOD: You did and I appreciate that, and I agree with you that people don't realize a lot of the value that they get in their community is because of the general aviation, whether it be air ambulances, or it would be appropriate to talk about Valero. It meant enough to them that they were willing to put how many dollars?

MR. FULTON: They contributed a half million dollars to the Moore County project because access directly -- they have a refinery there -- was very important to them, so they put their money behind it.

MR. UNDERWOOD: But they don't land there 15 times a day, but they were willing to put up a half million dollars just for the two, three, four times a week that they fly in or whatnot.

MR. FULTON: Right. They have a major refinery there and it's important for them to visit that plant.

MR. UNDERWOOD: And to bring parts and goods and employees back and forth. I appreciate it, thank you, sir.

MR. FULTON: Well, I really appreciate you and all the commissioners' support. You've always supported us very well and I'm sure it's difficult at times because it is not understood by the public what we're trying to do. Thank you.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Thank you, Dave.

MR. SAENZ: Item number 4, commissioners, Eric Gleason will present a minute order for the award of transportation development credits to the City of Odessa.

MR. GLEASON: Good morning. For the record, my name is Eric Gleason, TxDOT director of Public Transportation.

Agenda item 4 awards 570,278 transportation development credits to the City of Odessa as match for federal funds being used for the design and construction of an administrative and maintenance facility for E-Z Rider, the transit system serving the cities of Midland and Odessa.

The use of TDCs for this purpose is consistent with Minute Order 110771, passed in December of 2006, where the commission expressed its intent to award TDCs for projects that promote public transportation, including fleet replacement, fleet expansion, maintenance facilities and capital projects that support regional coordination and further the goals of the department.

Federal funds leveraged by the use of TDCs for this purpose total approximately $2.9 million. We recommend your approval of this minute order.

MS. DELISI: Any questions of Eric?

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MS. DELISI: Hold on. I'd like to call up Edward Esparza.

MR. ESPARZA: My name is Edward Esparza. I'm a representative for E-Z Rider. Good morning, Madame Chair, commissioners.

The purpose of the TDCs is, again, to the construction of the administrative facility/maintenance facility, and also a multimodal facility that we need. We'll be having this located between the cities of Midland and Odessa which would centralize everything. Currently we are in a very dilapidated location, probably less than one acre for all the support vehicles and regular vehicles that we have.

We'll be utilizing the 5307 funding and using the TDCs for our local match on this project. So on behalf of the cities of Midland and Odessa, I want to thank all of the commissioners on recommending the approval of this minute order. Thank you.

MS. DELISI: Thank you. Can I get that motion again?

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 to agenda item number 5, commission, Owen Whitworth will present the 2010 Audit Plan and a minute order for you all to approve it. I think this is Owen's at least in my term, first time he's been up presenting a minute order, so you can give him a hard time.

MR. WHITWORTH: There was one other time and that was a couple of years ago when we were doing our independent audits for Sunset. So I don't get to see you often, but good morning, Chair Delisi, commissioners, Director Saenz, Roger. I'm Owen Whitworth, TxDOT Audit director.

The purpose of this minute order is to obtain your approval for the annual Audit Plan. That approval is required in state statute. In previous years I sent that to you with a cover memo and asked for any comments and had informal approval. With the establishment of the commission's audit subcommittee, this year we met with the audit subcommittee and went over the Audit Plan, the draft Audit Plan, and now we're bringing it to the commission for formal approval.

This plan will be modified as necessary to include additional audits as approved by the executive director or a commissioner. Quarterly status reports on audit activities as well as results of each audit will be provided to the commission.

You'll notice one change this year. Previously followup audits were performed about twelve months after audits were completed. In trying to be more timely and more accountable, we're going to start doing audit followup work when each recommendation is scheduled to be implemented and the administration will be kept informed of implementation status and the commission will be provided an annual report on the implementation activities.

I recommend your approval.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Quick question. I notice that you're not going to do an audit on Odessa on construction. Is there a reason you're doing all the others but Odessa? Is that right?

MR. WHITWORTH: Are you looking at?

MR. UNDERWOOD: Exhibit A.

MR. WHITWORTH: The district audit plans?

MR. UNDERWOOD: Right.

MR. WHITWORTH: Those plans are prepared by the district auditor and their district engineer.

MR. UNDERWOOD: I didn't know if it's because we have a new DE there that you were going to give him a respite or whatnot.

MR. WHITWORTH: No, and they will also have a new auditor there too; their auditor in Odessa was just selected to be a regional auditor that's going to work in the regional center.

MR. UNDERWOOD: I'll get with you after this and we'll talk.

MR. WHITWORTH: All right.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Thank you, sir.

MR. WHITWORTH: Thank you. Any other questions?

MS. DELISI: I don't think so.

MR. WHITWORTH: I appreciate it.

MS. DELISI: Thank you very much.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MS. DELISI: We voted already. The motion passed and he asked a question.

MR. SAENZ: Moving on to agenda item number 6, John Barton will present a status of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act projects and also a minute order on some projects to be used in case some projects did not move forward.

MR. BARTON: Thank you, Director Saenz. Again for the record, my name is John Barton.

This is my monthly report to the commission on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and where we stand in that process, and just a few slides I'll share with you, I don't have any prepared remarks necessarily today.

When you look at our Highway and Bridge Program, to date we have obligated just over $1 billion of funding to projects all across the State of Texas. We have contracts awarded at about $1 billion -- that would include the September awards that will be before you later today.

The funding that we've spent so far is a little over $109 million worth of contractor payments on those projects. If you approve all the contracts anticipated that you will today, that will bring the total of contracts awarded under the Highway and Bridge Program up to 237 projects. Thirty-one of those have been completed so far, and these numbers are a little out of date, as you can see, as of August 31 our contractors have reported that they have been able to either retain or employ new employees to the number of 5,767. So the Reinvestment Act here in Texas and the programs that you have supported and allowed us to move forward with are certainly making a difference.

In the Transit Program, this slide again is a little bit dated in that Eric Gleason allowed us to consider at your last commission meeting last month the award of the remaining $10 million or so dollars worth of grants for transit projects across the state. The Federal Transit Administration hasn't responded to our request for authorization as of last night, but we expect that at any time.

We have spent just over $1.5 million on those transit related activities to date for 50 grants that have been executed and have created 608 hours of job creation is the way they report it under the Transit Program.

The Aviation Program, we received some good news this morning from the Governor's Office. Dave Fulton and others may be able to expound upon this a little more if you would like, but we have received funding for a little over $16 million, the last was a $5.4 million grant that we received notice of from the Governor's Office this morning, so one additional project for aviation work here in Texas has been added to our Recovery Act funded program. We've awarded all of the previous projects, the $11 million worth, and have paid contractors a little over $576,000 on the six projects that have been executed and underway -- again, we have a seventh now that we've been granted -- and so far those projects have created or retained 37 jobs.

That's the topic of the day, people have been interested in the TIGER grant program, we've had a lot of discussions about it over the last several weeks. I wanted to share with you just a real quick summary of that. It was a $1.5 billion program nationwide to be selected at the discretion of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Secretary Lahood. It is a competitive nomination and grant process. Again, no state can receive any more than $300 million and the program required that the grants be between $20- and $300 million in value, and applications were due on September 15.

Any governmental entity, for the most part, in the nation was able to submit nominations for projects here in Texas, and I just wanted to share with you that the department, at your direction, provided over 87 letters of support for nominations for projects around the State of Texas that were submitted on or before September 15.

We, on behalf of the programs and roadways and infrastructure that we owned and that fell outside the jurisdiction of those other government entities, submitted five nominations. One was for Interstate 35 in McLennan County for the continued expansion of that NAFTA corridor. We also submitted a project nomination on the South Orient Rail to continue improvements on the section from the San Angelo area down to Fort Stockton. We also submitted a nomination to expand US 281 in Comal County, to construct an overpass in San Patricio County near the vicinity of a Chinese pipe company plant that they are in the process of preparing for, and then a project that's supported by Motran and try to focus on State Highway 349 in the Midland and Martin county areas.

So we did submit several applications. I have asked for a detail on the number of applications submitted from Texas from the federal government and haven't received a response yet, but as soon as we have those numbers, I'll be happy to share those with the commission and the communities at large.

And then it brings me down to the minute order that is before us today, and I suppose it might be best if I pause before we go into the discussion of the minute order to see if you have any questions or comments about the general Recovery Act program.

MR. HOLMES: John, you mentioned that we had just received approval on an airport deal today?

MR. BARTON: Yes, sir.

MR. HOLMES: And what airport was that?

MR. BARTON: Steve, do you remember, or Dave? I don't know if Dave is still here. I will get that for you before the end of the day's meeting. I have it and Steve is going to walk out and look on his Black Berry and see if he can get it for us.

If there aren't any other questions or comments, I would like to --

MS. DELISI: Did you say when we expect to know about the TIGER grant applications?

MR. BARTON: I did not, Chair Delisi. The Secretary of Transportation has indicated that he will make decisions on those before the beginning of next calendar year, so by January 1 we should have answers from him. By the Act itself, he has to announce those selections before February 17 of 2010, so he has ensured us it will be before then, but by the Act itself it has to be by February 17.

If there aren't any other questions or comments on that particular portion of the presentation, the minute order before you today would allow the staff to continue to work with our transportation partners to develop several projects. I guess you would call it a substitute plan in case we have trouble on any of our remaining projects.

What this slide shows are those projects that were in our Mobility Program and have yet to be obligated or moved forward to contract. I don't anticipate that any of them will run into trouble in moving forward, but as good stewards of the public's interest, we need to be prepared in case any of them do, so I'll just quickly go through those.

We have a project yet to be obligated on Interstate 35 in the Waco District in Bell County, it's a continued expansion of I-35, similar to the companion project we submitted under the TIGER program. In the San Antonio area we have a project on US 281 at Loop 1604 to construct a direct connect interchange. The Alamo RMA is preparing for that project, and again, I don't anticipate any issues with it, but that project is yet to be obligated as well.

The next one shown is also in the San Antonio District in Bexar County on Loop 1604 out in front of the Randolph Air Force Base area. This is a very low risk project by all indications and I fully expect it to move forward, but again, it has not yet at this time. We also have the State Highway 550 project that the Cameron County RMA is preparing and working on for us and we have yet to obligate it as well.

And then in the Corpus Christi District there's a project on the Joe Fulton corridor near the Port of Corpus Christi that we expect to take bids on later this fall but have yet not done so. And then the US 290/US 183 interchange here in Austin in Travis County, again, this is a project being developed by the Central Texas RMA and we don't anticipate any problems on it as well, but we have not fully obligated or moved forward to contract on it.

Moving on to the West Region, we have three projects listed -- there are in reality two. One is a bridge replacement on the South Orient Rail at Ballinger, I don't expect any problems there but we still haven't been able to move forward to contract on it and so we need to be prepared in case it doesn't. And then in El Paso, the Americas Interchange project we spoke of earlier this morning has two funding lines because of the way the project was structured but it's just the one project there in El Paso, and certainly we don't expect problems with it but need to be prepared in case something unfortunate and unforeseen happens.

And then lastly in the Eastern Region of the state we have two projects that are still left to be completely tied up. One is the Grand Parkway State Highway 99 project in Harris County that is moving forward by Harris County themselves and expected to roll forward unencumbered or without trouble. And then the last one is on Interstate 10 in Orange County, again a project that I don't anticipate any trouble with.

But those are the list of projects that the commission has authorized us to move forward with, and should something unforeseen and terrible happen that prevented any of those from moving forward, we need to have a set of projects in place ready to go to replace them.

So the minute order before you today lists projects from each of the regions to be ready to stand in place and replace those projects should that need arise. They're not listed in any priority order, they're simply listed by the region of the state. I can put those up on the ELMO if you'd like for the audience to see them, but they represent those projects that were authorized last month by the commission or in previous actions or were considered as candidate projects for the Recovery Act that ultimately were not selected because these and others were.

We believe that they wold be implementable within the time frames of the Recovery Act and we have discussed with the commission before a process by which we would go through an analysis of these projects depending on when and if any of these became imperiled and then move forward with a replacement activity. So the minute order would allow the staff the authority to continue to work with our partners to get these projects ready to implement.

I wanted to briefly describe for you the time line, if you will, that we're facing and by which we would have to make these decisions. March 1, 2010 is the deadline for having all obligations made and approved by the Federal Highway Administration. If you back up from that, the time required for us to submit the necessary paperwork without cutting it too close and running the risk of failing to meet the March 1 deadline, that means we would have to submit our applications for approval no later than February 19 to the Federal Highway Administration.

If you back up from then, the time necessary for staff to review everything and ensure it is appropriate and prepared to move forward, then we would need to make a determination of eligibility, if you will, by February 5 of 2010, and that would mean the time we would have to make sure that everything was in place to do everything that needs to be done. In order to ensure that we have the opportunity to do that, if you back up approximately one month, really the go/no go decision would need to be made on January 1 of this coming calendar year to recommend to switch to an alternative project.

Having said that, all these projects have to go through the required public review and approval process which means they have to be in the State Transportation Improvement Plan and we typically have to go through a somewhat extended public involvement process, and so my suggestion is that we need to be making decisions about project readiness and our approach to doing things in November of this year.

So that's kind of just a brief review of an approximate time line that we would need to follow and that's why it's important that we have this action today to allow us to be prepared should something become necessary.

So that ends my comments on this particular minute order, and staff would recommend your approval.

MR. HOLMES: John, on the State Highway 99 project, is Harris County aware of the November date?

MR. BARTON: I believe so, and again, it's one of those where rather than it being a decision on the State Highway 99 project being able to move forward or not, we need to have a list of substitute projects identified and then included in that Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan so that if something happens and we make that decision, in the January time frame we'll be prepared to move forward with those other projects.

MR. HOLMES: And the last time we talked about this, there was some question as to whether we could have an alternative project approved and that is resolved to the point where that decision could be delayed until January?

MR. HOLMES: I believe so, yes, sir.

MR. SAENZ: Is that correct, John, or would it be November because of your STIP requirements?

MR. BARTON: We would have to have the STIP revisions made on those substitute projects in November but the go/no go on the Grand Parkway or State Highway 99 project would probably have to be made in January so we could final out the preparations of any alternative projects.

MR. SAENZ: John, could you give the commission, we've got a plan, these were the projects that were selected by the commission, we've got the replacement projects identified, we're moving forward with those to make sure we meet a deadline. The MPOs across the state also had an allocation and they selected projects. Are their time lines the same, or can you give the commission what their time lines are and what coordination you have been doing with them?

MR. BARTON: Yes, sir. Their time lines are the same as ours. We have been working with the MPOs across the state having weekly and now biweekly conference calls with them to review the status of their projects. We have prepared a tracking spreadsheet that we submit to the MPOs and the districts on a weekly basis, and now biweekly for them to review the status. They have identified 100 projects that they are doing with their money, if you will; 40 of those have moved forward and are in place or in the process of being executed to contract, the other 60 are still in a developmental stage.

We have described to them this same time line that I just shared with you, and in fact, when we met with them on September 16 to talk about the Proposition 12 Bond Program, I also took an opportunity to discuss the Recovery Act and the status of those projects with them and their executive directors. I followed up with some additional e-mail communication with them, and our process in place right now is through the leadership and hard work of Mark Marek and several of the members of the Design Division, Dianna Noble and employees of the Environmental Affairs Division, and Jim Randall and employees of the Transportation Planning and Programming Division, as well as Brian Ragland and the Finance Division staff.

We're monitoring all of their activities, we're telling them where we believe they are, we're asking for them to feed back that information to us, and I've reiterated to them time and time again it's not trying to control their work but simply to ensure that no dollar that was intended to come to Texas is lost because a project wasn't ready to move forward.

MR. HOLMES: Just fo further clarify, I focused on 99 because it's closer to where I live, but the same information flow needs to be very clear with all of the communities that have projects that are potentially going to be delayed.

MR. BARTON: That's correct, Commissioner Holmes, and by design and intent, it's our goal to have all of the obligations that are required made in the January-February time frame so we're not bumping that March 1 deadline, and if we feel like we're not going to make any of those, then that's why this minute order is so important so we can take an alternative approach.

MR. HOLMES: And you said November and January, but is that November 1, November 30. there's a bit of leeway in a 30- or 31-day month.

MR. BARTON: Yes, sir.

MR. HOLMES: So when in those months are we talking about?

MR. BARTON: I can ask our Transportation Planning and Programming staff to get us a definite date. I put that together based on the approximate time lines as required for the public involvement process for the STIP revisions. They have definite dates in the schedules that they work with with our federal highway partners; I did not ask for that. But it's probably early in November and I'll get a definite date for you, and early in January when those decisions will have to be made.

MR. HOLMES: I think it's important to know the exact date, but from this point it's probably better to say November 1, January 1. Right?

MR. BARTON: And actually I had November 1 in the slide and I thought I better take it out because I was afraid someone would push me on the issue.

MR. HOLMES: And ask you the question.

MR. BARTON: Ask the question.

(General laughter.)

MR. SAENZ: I think normally most MPOs have a 30-day public comment period for their TIP revisions and then we have a statewide 45 days.

MR. BARTON: Forty-five days, that's correct.

MR. SAENZ: So November 1 gets you to December 1 or pretty close and then gets you to almost January 15, so if we're going to have to take some action in January, I think the 1st is a good solid date to shoot for.

MR. BARTON: Yes, sir.

MS. DELISI: There's one person signed up. Are there any other questions for John?

(No response.)

MS. DELISI: I'd like to call up Mike Heiligenstein.

MR. HEILIGENSTEIN: Good morning, Madame Chair and commission. My reason for speaking on this item is actually to give you sort of an update. It's kind of important that I think we, your partners at the local level, let you know how we're doing.

Recently I did speak with Administrator Mendez about this stimulus program and he was very interested and very concerned that we get the stories out how this is being successful in different areas and different states, and I think this is one of them that is going to be a good story to tell, and I'm going to give you a quick update.

As you saw, a total of $90 million in stimulus funds was committed by the commission during the March 5 meeting, and that's to provide the four direct connects for 290 East/183. The CTRMA has been working very closely with TxDOT Design Division, TxDOT Austin District, and the FHWA office staff and we have aggressively advanced this project.

TxDOT and FHWA have been involved in the review and comment of the 30, 60, 90 and 100 percent plan submittals. We've also worked very closely with TxDOT and FHWA to ensure that all of their requirements and time lines are met. Tom Beaman of the Design Division and his staff have been hugely helpful in getting this completed.

As of today, on the 290/183 project, we have final 100 percent plans, bid package and estimate documents were submitted to FHWA, TxDOT Design Division and TxDOT Austin District on September 15. We anticipate completion of the TxDOT and FHWA final review in the next day or say, we're just right around the corner on that. We are also nearing completion of the project development agreement, we are hopeful to have that in the next couple of weeks.

Once we have the final review of the 100 percent documents and the fully executed PDA, the letter of authority should be issued by TxDOT Design Division and the $90 million in stimulus funds will be obligated by FHWA. The obligation of funds should occur in the next three to four weeks which is well in advance of the stimulus deadline of March 2.

Once the funds are obligated, we will issue the advertisement and let the project 21 days later. Again, we anticipate that the construction will commence early 2010, the duration is expected to be two years which would maintain consistency with the original stimulus requirements that we're giving priority to projects that can be completed within three years. We also will ensure the expenditure of funds prior to September 30, 2015.

And the other reason this is important is this commission obligated and saw fit to authorize a SIB loan for the CTRMA which is also a stimulus in its own way. That SIB loan has allowed us to pull our resources forward in this particular area of 290 East and focus on this first segment, all of which will be fully designed by the end of the year.

So I appreciate the help from Amadeo and his staff, from your legal staff, everybody involved has done a really great job of getting this to fruition, and we appreciate the partnership.

MS. DELISI: Thanks, Mike.

MR. HEILIGENSTEIN: You're welcome.

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, commissioners.

MR. SIMMONS: Amadeo, to follow up with the request for information that Commissioner Holmes had on the grants that we received notification on, we received notification this morning so it's still fresh, but the Federal Highway Administration granted Galveston Airport $2.262 million for airfield lighting replacement, and $5.4 million to McAllen Miller International Airport for the rehabilitation of Runway 1331.

The Governor's Office gets notification of all the grants that apply to the State of Texas; because it's dealt with transportation issues, they forward it on to us. One of these I believe will be under the department's purview and that's the Galveston Airport, and our contact person is actually our Aviation Division on that. The other one will probably be a direct grant to McAllen Airport.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Steve.

Agenda item number 7, Mary Meyland will present a followup of yesterday's discussion item, a draft Strategic Plan vision, mission and value and goals and focus areas that we will use to take out to the public and get some additional feedback. Mary.

MS. MEYLAND: Yes, sir. Good morning, commissioners, Chair Delisi, Director Saenz. My name is Mary Meyland, I'm currently the director for the Strategic Policy and Performance Management Office.

We have in front of you today the first stage of our required documentation that is required every two years, and that is called our Strategic Plan. This plan is a formal document that communicates the agency's goals and directions, outcomes to various audiences for the next two years. The initial step in this effort is to develop the draft agency vision, mission, values, goals and focus area statements to guide the development of the Strategic Plan document.

What's different this year is that we have decided we will become goal and performance based, and in essence, to do that we have to create new goal statements that are obtainable and measurable for this agency. This is a very first part of making that a reality and also to push performance management down into the organization. So we appreciate the participation that we have had from you in the last couple of meetings that we've had, and I have in front of you, just for final review, a copy of the revised draft strategic documents that we worked on yesterday, and I would like to just briefly have them on the overhead -- they're the blue pages like this.

I believe there was general understanding about the mission and vision. We did add the references and emphasis that we felt were appropriate, based on your comments yesterday, particularly in the area of multimodal. And you'll see under the value statements that we added the citizens of Texas, as obviously those who we are responsible to and for in our accountability and transparency. We took in the concerns of making sure that we maintain the respect of our citizens and how we are going to do that by speaking and seeking to understand their needs.

We did add one specific value statement that was brought to us by staff concerning our legal/ethical commitment and our compliance with law, and that was one that was missing and was not carried from yesterday.

MR. HOUGHTON: Who might have brought that, what staff?

MS. MEYLAND: Do I have to tell -- it was Bob Jackson.

MR. HOUGHTON: I thought so.

MS. MEYLAND: I appreciate him taking time to read the documents and give us those comments.

Moving on into the goals themselves, we've actually collaborated and brought some of the goals into each other to make them more meaningful, and we've provided a format which will obviously evolve as we take these out to the public. The first goal you saw yesterday was basically to cultivate -- we had to create -- organizational structure and strategies designed to address the future multimodal transportation needs, again emphasizing multimodal.

And we brought through some various potential focus areas or action areas, how we are going to accomplish that cultivation. The first one is obviously through the development and nurturing of partnerships to obtain their guidance in development of their programs for projects. The second bullet is to provide proactive and transparent communications with our legislators and citizens about our responsibilities.

This was one issue, as you remember yesterday, we talked that the citizens at large as we polled them and as we participated with them in focus groups really don't have a true understanding of what our responsibilities as an agency are, so we thought it important to highlight that as an action item for us to move forward on.

Again, moving down, the other did not really change in any reference. The second goal was the communication of the financing packages and financing options. We made another emphasis about multimodal transportation funding strategies, again not limiting ourselves just to the highway. And again multimodal in the action itself.

The third goal -- these are in no specific order -- took off all references based on priorities that were not able to be mentioned or set yesterday. We're focusing on our maintenance of the existing transportation system, all inclusive of everything that is currently part of the Texas Transportation System. Instead of making separate goal statements highlighting economic and environmental, we thought it was most appropriate to bring them into alliance in those action areas or goal areas where we actually have responsibility and can make a difference.

So the second and third bullets there that are highlighted are the maintenance practices will be designed to support the economic growth and vitality of Texas and the promotion of maintenance process standards to sustain the human environment and protect environmental assets of Texas. That speaks a lot more for us who are responsible for those activities and are obviously held accountable by permitting and also public and general public around the projects that we do as far as keeping their businesses open and vital during construction activities.

And finally, we have the final three goals where the congestion relief strategies, we went from reducing congestion to relieving congestion, particularly, and making an emphasis on multimodal congestion management plans, working with our partners -- that means coordinated with everyone who has responsibility for systems that interface or interconnect with our corridors to help us provide congestion management plans that, again, support economic growth and vitality and sustain our human environment and protect environmental assets, again trying to highlight the importance of those two issues as we continue to do our work.

Connectivity was a new one that has been highlighted. This is to support the locally prioritized Texas Transportation System completion or connection projects intended to strengthen the economic growth and vitality and sustain our environment.

And then the last one was our safety goal, and again, in no specific order but all important, working with our construction opportunities and our upgrades on our system to improve safety and then providing strong partnerships with our local law enforcement to encourage responsible driver behavior through our programs.

Those were basically the synopsis of the six general areas, moving environmental concerns and stewardship and moving our economic concerns into the goal statements themselves and making them relevant so that we can measure them most appropriately.

We present those to you today for your consideration and adoption for us to move forward to present these to a wider variety of audiences, as Commissioner Houghton brought forward yesterday, have we vented these through. No, that's the process now, that we will move forward, put together packages for our district engineers and our directors to take to their employees to encourage them and educate them about the Strategic Plan process and to also rely on the district engineers in their local areas with their local contacts and with their local relationships to get feedback from the local leadership on these strategic goals and directions of the department as well.

And we will present packages for them to be able to communicate this and using these as the draft, subject to change, flexible based on incoming concerns and issues that are coming across on our organizational study as well. Thank you for your attention. Staff recommends approval.

MR. HOUGHTON: Mary, I want to thank you for all your hard work, publicly, and let you know that and this is a beginning. It will be interesting to see the feedback you get from our partners out in the real world. Thank you very, very much.

MS. MEYLAND: Thank you. We will make sure to bring back the results every month as we go through this process.

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, Mary.

Agenda item number 8, commissioners, deals with our administrative rules. Agenda item 8(a)(1) deals with the final adoption of administrative rules. Rebecca Davio will present final adoption of rules dealing with Vehicle Titles and Registration. Rebecca.

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

For you this morning we have a quick item, final adoption of a rule that is a statutory cleanup regarding foreign commercial motor vehicles. We received no comments on this, and we request your approval.

MS. DELISI: Are there any questions? You're not going to have many more times.

MS. DAVIO: I'm coming back in October.

MS. DELISI: You'll have one more month.

MR. HOUGHTON: You will be back in October?

MS. DAVIO: Yes, sir. We have final adoption of the special --

MR. HOUGHTON: Your swan song?

MS. DAVIO: Yes, sir, the special license plate marketing fees, and don't you think that's an appropriate swan song?

MR. HOUGHTON: Do you need a recommendation from us?

MS. DAVIO: Yes, please, job references.

(General laughter.)

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MS. DAVIO: Thank you very much.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Rebecca.

Agenda item 8(a)(2) deals with final adoption on rules to Traffic Operations. Carol Rawson will present this minute order.

MS. RAWSON: Good morning. For the record, I'm Carol Rawson, interim director of TxDOT's Traffic Operations Division.

The minute order before you proposes final adoption of amendment to the department's existing rules for crash records. Law enforcement officers are required under state law to report to TxDOT motor vehicle crashes that result in property damage of $1,000 or more or a serious injury or death of a person. The form an officer uses to make these reports is the Texas Peace Officer's Crash Report, commonly referred to as the CR-3. This amendment adopts the CR-3 by reference.

This will bring our rules into compliance with the Texas Department of Public Safety rule in place when the crash records function was transferred to TxDOT from DPS in October of 2007. The amendment will also remove reference to the commercial motor vehicle supplement since the information is being merged into the main report of the form.

The proposed amendment was published in the June 12 edition of the Texas Register and a public hearing was held in Austin on August 4. In the notice published in the Texas Register on June 12, the department announced its intention to remove the driver's phone number from the form. We received written comment from the Department of Public Safety asking for a change to the field used to identify hazardous materials that may have been involved in a crash. We concurred with this comment and proposed to revise the form accordingly.

We also received approximately 220 written and oral comments related to the removal of the driver's phone number from the form. Those comments are summarized in the preamble.

After further consideration, the Department of Public Safety advised the department on September 1 that they believe the inclusion of the driver's phone number serves a law enforcement purpose. Since state law gives the Department of Public Safety approval authority over the phone, the amendment proposes to return the driver's phone number to the form.

We recommend approval of this minute order.

MS. DELISI: We've got some people signed up, but before I call them up, does anyone have any questions for Carol? Okay, I'd like to call up Mark Hanna.

MR. HANNA: Good morning, Madame Chair and commissioners. Mark Hanna with the Texas Committee on Insurance Fraud, also representing the Insurance Council of Texas.

There's a little history behind all of this. As you'll see in your recommendation, back in 2007, the Department of Public Safety agreed with Texas Department of Insurance, Insurance Council of Texas, Texas Trial Lawyers Association and others that they should remove the phone numbers from the crash reports. This was done to alleviate the problem that we were having that we continue to have with solicitors, people who purchase these crash reports in bulk and do this at every major city, line up at the central records divisions of every police department, purchase these crash reports.

And then within 48 hours after these people have been involved in collisions, whether they've been injured or not, they're receiving telephone calls urging them or demanding that they go to a health professional -- in many cases it's a chiropractor -- saying that the doctor's appointment is already set up and that they need to go there. They'll basically tell them whatever it takes to get them there saying that they represent the insurance company or that their claim can't be settled unless they show up.

So we agreed, the Texas Department of Public Safety, along with the Texas Department of Transportation were there, they agreed to take these phone numbers off. They were urged, shortly afterwards, they were threatened that if they didn't do this through a regulatory hearing, that there would be litigation, so they decided to leave the phone numbers on for the time being. We went through the Texas legislative session and then you have your regulatory hearing here.

During the legislative session, House Bill 148 was passed, making it a crime for lawyers and health professionals to solicit by telephone and in person. This bill was signed by the governor and it became law September 1. We were hoping that with this bill passed and becoming law just 24 days ago and also that the hearing that was held here August 4 where you had people from the Texas Department of Insurance, you had the commissioner in favor of keeping the phone number off, you had the director of the fraud division in favor of keeping the phone number off, you had representatives from the National Insurance Crime Bureau come down here from Chicago, you had the head of the Texas Chiropractic Association here testifying keep the phone numbers off.

Our concern is we don't understand why there was a 180 degree turn of events here, now saying that law enforcement says that the phone number should be on there, and also we have a big question of why now that it's a crime that you would want this phone number on here.

My remarks, thank you for listening.

MR. HOUGHTON: Carol, let me ask you a question. What is on the form other than the phone number?

MS. RAWSON: On the crash report for a driver you would have their driver's license number, you would have the address and the phone number, whether it be added or not added, insurance information, plus all the information that's pertinent to the crash. But the phone number seems to be the one point that we have a lot of comments on.

MR. HOUGHTON: And we have comments. And the reason why we're leaving the phone number on?

MS. DELISI: Putting it back.

MR. HOUGHTON: Putting it back, right.

MS. RAWSON: We had actually proposed, when the rules came out we had actually proposed to take the number off. Then on September 1 we got a request coming from our partner, Department of Public Safety which is our law enforcement piece. The phone number to us, as TxDOT, we do not use the phone number so we have to rely on our other partner -- which is DPS or enforcement -- to see if that number was needed or not needed. They had come back to us on the 1st, Colonel McGraw had sent us a letter and requested for that number to be put back on. And being that we both need to approve the form and their request was coming, that's why the number got put back.

MR. HOUGHTON: Bob Jackson, when I fill out my disclosure for the State of Texas ethics, I think there's a question whether I want my phone number on there or contact. Is that accurate? I think there's something like that.

MR. JACKSON: [Inaudible; speaking from audience.]

MR. HOLMES: I couldn't hear that, Bob.

MR. JACKSON: [Inaudible; speaking from audience.]

MR. HOUGHTON: But there are some privacy issues that you have a right to exclude your phone number, the individual, from certain records or filings. Why are we putting this back on?

MS. DELISI: There's two folks here from DPS who can come up.

MR. HOUGHTON: Yes, I'd sure like to know why.

MR. HOLMES: You know, my sense is you have this whole no-call program that's going on. I really resent calls coming in to my home that I didn't want, didn't solicit, and they just arrive. I'm having trouble with this one.

MR. HOUGHTON: I am too.

MR. HOLMES: The notion that the DPS can't find somebody's phone number if they need to contact them is lost on me, so I'm interested in hearing what they have to say about that.

MS. RAWSON: Absolutely. I think Director Baker and Major Diggs which is part of the Texas Highway Patrol, who is my partner in the form, can help.

MS. DELISI: Why don't you guys come on up.

MR. BAKER: Good morning, Madame Chair, commissioners and Director Saenz. My name is David Baker, and for the record, I'm the assistant director of the Highway Patrol Division of the Department of Public Safety.

The DPS does support adding the phone number to the CR-3, the crash report. We believe that the DPS has an obligation to ensure that police officers and our troopers have the information that they need to efficiently and effectively conduct crash investigations. We believe that the phone numbers are useful data that allow law enforcement officers to contact participants for followup interviews in major crashes, to include fatal collisions where criminal charges may be forthcoming.

On a personal note, I've been involved on both sides of this issue: I've been an investigator of a crash, I've been a party in a crash where I was solicited. It's our belief that House Bill 148 which was filed by Senator Todd Smith will be a big determent in the problems that we've experienced.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Sir, at this point in time I'm not that comfortable with to see whether or not the law is going to work or not. I'm uncomfortable with putting in the phone number.

MS. DELISI: Any other questions for the DPS officers?

MR. HOUGHTON: Is not the address enough? I mean, like this Black Berry and I get more junk on it.

MR. BAKER: Yes, sir.

MR. HOUGHTON: Your information is all over the place and I think the last bastion is not giving out contact information, at least a phone number.

MR. BAKER: It is, and our troopers sometimes it's months, possibly a year or so before they need to go back and do a followup or a reconstruction on an accident. We've had cases where we have had crashes throughout the state reconstructed several months and a year after the fact. It's just additional data that's useful to us.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Sir, I respect what you're saying, I understand your job is just as dangerous because you're standing there three feet away from traffic going 30 to 70 miles an hour.

MR. BAKER: Yes, sir.

MR. UNDERWOOD: I do respect that, sir, I want you to understand that, but I do have reservations about a phone number.

MR. BAKER: I understand, and let me just reiterate or ensure the fact that there's a blank on this crash report where our officers will ask the party that's involved if they would like to be solicited. We put a Y for yes and an N for no. Also, when we ask for this information, we're not going to twist anybody's arms, we're not going to threaten them with arrest or coerce them for a phone number.

MR. HOUGHTON: So Officer, you're the clearing house now, they are allowed to be solicited, you have to ask that question?

MR. BAKER: Yes, sir.

MS. DELISI: Is that subject to the bill?

MR. BAKER: No, ma'am, that's not subject to the bill. That block has been on the crash report for some time.

MR. HOUGHTON: It's just a policy issue. Whose policy, your policy or our policy?

MR. BAKER: It's your form.

MR. HOUGHTON: I'd have that one removed.

MR. HOLMES: Yes, I would too.

MR. HOUGHTON: To be solicited, we're asking somebody if they want to be solicited?

MR. HOLMES: If they've just been involved in a crash and a uniformed officer is asking them that, I have a lot of trouble with that too.

MR. HOUGHTON: Can we have a motion to remove that too?

MS. DELISI: Hold on one second.

(General talking and laughter.)

MS. DELISI: Hold on one second. Any other questions for these guys?

MR. HOUGHTON: No. Thank you very much.

MS. DELISI: Thank you very much.

MR. HOLMES: Thank you very much.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Thank you.

MS. DELISI: Then the last person I'd like to call up is Javier Guajardo.

MR. GUAJARDO: Good morning. My name is Javier Guajardo and I'm here on behalf of myself. I'm an attorney in Austin, Texas, and I was the attorney that successfully challenged the predecessor to HB 148, and I also served 14 years at the Attorney General's Office and represented DPS a number of times before I left public service.

But I'm here to support the inclusion of the phone numbers, and the first thing that pops to mind when I think of that is the prior action to exclude them had no state evidence of compelling state interest to exclude them. And I'm just talking about the record that was presented before you all. You may think of a lot of compelling reasons like Mr. Holmes, you don't like to be solicited, I don't think anybody likes to be solicited, but the fact that including these phone numbers is done by the request of the Department of Public Safety adds a compelling state interest to your action and helps insulate it from administrative attack at SOHA or at the district court level.

I want to quickly -- and I'm not here to support every concern or to argue against every concern that you have, but in 1944 the Texas Supreme Court, in Brown and Root v. Haddad, held that police reports and the information contained within those reports was not privileged and was public information. And since then we've seen it just open the doors to any information. For example, use of force reports, even though they're in the personnel record of an officer, are now open. And we see it every night in the news, whether you watch Fox or CNN, you're suddenly listening to 911 calls. And so although not based on the right of privacy, the right of the people to know what goes on in police action has become extremely broad.

I also want to comment quickly, I also believe there's a business purpose behind allowing the inclusion of phone numbers, and the business purposes -- we had testimony at the August 4 hearing by, for example, Adrienne Anderson who is a private investigator and runs Anderson Currier that she does investigations for the insurance companies, by and large, who need that information to prevent fraud.

As far as there's evidence, I just want to point out very quickly as evidence, Trudi Torres from El Paso brought 5,000 affidavits, who is a manager of a clinic, a chiropractic clinic, of people who said they were glad they were contacted, and so that evidence is in the record.

And in fact, Dr. Montero from San Antonio testified that inside of the study, 15 percent of insurance fraud comes from the insurance industry, 1 percent or less than 1 percent from healthcare providers.

That's all I have to say. I think it's a good move, it might not be tasteful or palatable to all of you, but I think it makes the agency's actions supportable. If you have any questions, I'd appreciate them.

MS. DELISI: Are there any questions?

(No response.)

MS. DELISI: Thank you very much.

MR. GUAJARDO: Thank you, Ms. Delisi.

MS. DELISI: I think there are a lot of questions about what exactly is on this form, so we don't have to do anything, take any action on this today. What I'm going to suggest is we have staff work with DPS and see if we can't figure this out, plus the question of do you want to be solicited -- that was news to me.

MR. HOUGHTON: I'd sure like to have that reviewed.

MS. DELISI: Right.

MS. RAWSON: It was state law. It was actually added on and there's code that's written within state law that put the solicitation onto the form. It wasn't just something that we added, it was dictated.

MS. DELISI: But what happens when you've got this one law that says you can't solicit but then sort of an opt in for solicitation? Do those two conflict with each other?

MS. RAWSON: The problem behind it is, yes, the phone number is on there on the current form as it stands and the solicitation. But there's no enforcement, like who enforces when someone solicits off these reports, there's not an enforcement agency or someone that is responsible for that. Who do you report that to as an individual who gets a phone call that I had a checked box no?

MS. DELISI: Well, I would imagine if it's a lawyer it would be the State Bar, whoever the licensing body is.

MS. RAWSON: And I think that maybe the public doesn't know that, where do you go for that. But that particular thing was something that was added.

MR. HOLMES: I don't understand how that would be policed or controlled.

MS. RAWSON: Correct.

MR. HOLMES: I think that's a bit of a stretch. And make sure that I understand this, does our current form have the phone number on it?

MS. RAWSON: Yes, we had to add the phone number back on. There was an actual suit against the department whenever we removed the number earlier. When the request came back in '07, we worked with the Department of Public Safety, took the number off, but then there was a suit that came that basically looked at it and said we weren't following the rule. Well, what it was is there was a rule within DPS's rules that transferred over that we didn't know about.

There was something within the Texas Highway Patrol rules that said you had to go through the administrative process. It wasn't one that DPS had been following so basically they just produced the form without going through the administrative process, so we were kind of following their lead, didn't know the rule was there. So whenever we found that this rule was, by court action, we had to put the number back on.

Then as we were redesigning the form -- we're looking at the form as a whole, as coming up with a new crash records information system to make sure that the data that we're collecting is all good data, so we started a user group of all of law enforcement, we have a different group that's been working for many months, we put together the new form, and with that we took the form off and then have now come through your administrative process. That's why you're seeing our rules to adopt our recommended form by reference.

MR. HOUGHTON: Let me ask you a question, Carol. Is this going to be transferred over to the new agency?

MS. RAWSON: No, sir.

MR. HOUGHTON: This is going to remain with us.

MS. RAWSON: Correct, this is correct, crash records is with us.

MR. HOUGHTON: Remains with us.

MS. RAWSON: Correct.

MR. HOLMES: We had the phone number on, then we took it off.

MS. RAWSON: Yes, sir.

MR. HOLMES: Now we've already put it back on? And we're voting to take it off or to put it on?

MS. DELISI: To keep it on.

MS. RAWSON: Keep it on, yes.

MR. HOLMES: And if we don't vote, it stays on. It's on now. Right?

MS. DELISI: It's on. If we were to adopt this, it would stay on, if we don't adopt it, they would have to go back to the drawing board or there would have to be a substitute motion. What I would suggest is there's a lot of confusion about what's required and what's not required, we don't have to take this action today, we have some time.

MR. HOUGHTON: I'd like to have us research all the things by statute we have to put on there.

MS. RAWSON: And we have done that, sir, in the development of this form, the current form that we're proposing today. Because it's not just the number that we're changing within this form, we've gone and redesigned the form, information very much of it the same, but the phone number just seems to be the one issue.

MR. HOUGHTON: So the phone number is the issue.

MS. RAWSON: The phone number is the issue, sir. We've changed a lot of things and that's the issue.

MR. HOUGHTON: We can't exclude checking the box, do you want to be contacted. That's law?

MS. RAWSON: Yes, sir.

MR. HOLMES: The phone number is not law.

MR. HOUGHTON: But the phone number is not.

MR. HOLMES: That's just simply rule.

MS. RAWSON: No, sir. That's dictated through administrative rule, correct.

MS. DELISI: And if I'm in a crash, do I have to give that piece of information?

MS. RAWSON: No. According to my partners from DPS, no, ma'am, you don't have to, you wouldn't have to provide that.

MS. DELISI: I'd like to get more clarity. I don't understand how there can be a law that says you can't solicit but then there's another law that says you have to have a box that says you can be solicited. I don't see how one can supercede the other.

MR. SAENZ: Commissioners, let me recommend that we defer this minute order to next month, and during the month we'll go talk to DPS and get all your questions answered so we can come back at the next commission meeting.

MR. HOUGHTON: I think, Amadeo, if you took a vote today on this -- I'll speak for myself -- I would vote that these phone numbers go off.

MR. SAENZ: Let us go talk to the Department of Public Safety.

MR. HOUGHTON: If I could remove the question, I'd remove that too, but Carol says we can't remove it.

MR. HOLMES: If there were a vote today, I'd vote with Commissioner Houghton. I'd like to understand very clearly this conflict between you can't solicit but you ask the question do you want to be. I mean, to me that is unusual at best.

MR. SAENZ: Like I said, would recommend we defer, we will discuss with DPS and get answers to all these questions before we come back to you next month.

MS. DELISI: That's what we're going to do. Thanks, Carol.

MR. SAENZ: Thanks, Carol.

Moving forward, agenda item 8(b)(1) deals with proposed adoption of new rules. Dianna Noble will present some proposed rules of Chapter 2 dealing with our environmental process.

MS. NOBLE: Good morning, commissioners, Mr. Saenz and Roger. For the record, my name is Dianna Noble and I'm the director of Environmental Affairs for TxDOT.

This agenda item is regarding the proposed repeal of Rule 2.22 and a simultaneous proposal to adopt a new rule under 43 TAC Chapter 2, concerning the memorandum of understanding with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and TxDOT coordination with Texas Parks.

Transportation Code 201.607 requires this MOU with Texas Parks and Wildlife concerning the environmental review of a transportation project. The MOU describes the responsibility of each agency, including the information the department must provide to Texas Parks and Wildlife and the period during which Texas Parks must provide comment.

The most significant changes include the addition of provisions concerning the department making mitigation payments to Texas Parks and Wildlife to account for the impacts of transportation projects on important unregulated resources. It is estimated that the annual compensation to Texas Parks will be approximately $3 million a year, but that may change following the completion of a final compensation plan developed by an interagency team. The compensation is limited to impacts from the state highway system since the authority to mitigate is related to the state highway system.

In addition, the MOU requires agreements be in place by December 2010 regarding five key items. These items are: habitat description guidelines to facilitate the coordination; B&Ps for construction and maintenance; a list of significant remnant rare vegetation and unique vegetation and habitat features to assist the avoidance minimization and compensation; number 4, procedures for early coordination with Texas Parks and Wildlife; and number 5, performance measurements and criterion goals to assess the work described in the MOU.

If this proposed repeal and proposed adoption is approved, a public hearing would be scheduled for October 28 and receipt of comments would need to end November 9, 2009.

That ends my presentation.

MS. DELISI: Any questions?

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MS. NOBLE: Thank you.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Dianna.

Agenda item 8(b)(2), Glenn Hagler will present proposed rules on Chapter 9 dealing with Contract Management.

MR. HAGLER: Good morning. For the record, my name is Glenn Hagler, I'm the director of Purchasing with the General Services Division.

This minute order proposes the adoption of amendments to Section 9.3 concerning protest of department purchases under the State Purchasing and General Services Act. This amendment does not contain any controversial elements, it addresses cosmetic changes to accommodate organizational changes resulting from the regionalization effort within TxDOT.

Amendments to Section 9.3 reflect the transfer of purchasing responsibilities from the district engineer to the regional service center director and streamlines the procedures by removing agency titles, and direct resolution of a protest of the director of purchasing or other individual, as designated by the director of the General Services Division.

The agency's chief financial officer has determined there will be no fiscal impacts for state or local governments as a result of administering this amendment, and staff recommends approval of the amendment, and would be glad to answer any questions.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. HAGLER: Thank you.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Glenn.

Agenda item 8(b)(3) deals with proposed rules dealing also with Contract Management, and the Historically Underutilized Business Program. Toribio.

MR. GARZA: Good morning, Madame Chair, commissioners, Mr. Saenz. For the record, my name is Toribio Garza, I'm the director for the Maintenance Division.

This minute order before you modifies the administrative procedures for the submission of HUB subcontracting plans for state-let building contracts. The bid proposal will require a commitment agreement as evidence of the contractor's good faith effort to fulfill the program requirements. These modified procedures will mirror our highway projects. The completed HUB subcontracting plan will be required of the conditionally awarded bidder in full compliance with the HUB Program guidelines.

Current HUB contractors will continue to qualify as certified firms. This rule change will also allow us to utilize our new electronic bidding system for building contracts.

Staff would recommend your approval.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: I've got a question. Will this make it easier for the smaller businesses to be able to do work with the state.

MR. GARZA: I believe it will, sir, because it will allow the conditionally awarded contractor to work individually with these HUBs after they have the conditional award of that contract, instead of what we're doing now is kind of a last-minute thing all of these primes are getting quotes and bids from HUBs.

MR. UNDERWOOD: So it will help the smaller businessman be able to be involved in contracting with the state.

MR. GARZA: We believe it will help our HUB program, yes, sir.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Thank you.

MS. DELISI: There was a motion. 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, Toribio.

Agenda item number 9, commission, deals with the establishment of a rulemaking advisory committee for our State Infrastructure Bank Program. James Bass will present.

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

As Mr. Saenz said, agenda item 9 would create a rulemaking advisory committee in order to advise the department on the development of rules for a program to make loans out of the State Infrastructure Bank to be funded by the proceeds from bonds issued under Prop 12. The attachment suggests that the department get representatives from seven different entities to serve on the rule advisory committee, and staff would recommend your approval.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. BASS: Thank you.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, James.

Agenda item number 10, John Barton will present a minute order dealing with Proposition 14 Bond Program.

MR. BARTON: Again for the record, my name is John Barton, assistant executive director for Engineering Operations.

This minute order is being brought before the commission for your consideration of the authorization of some additional highway improvement projects and programs to support critical projects around the state. If you'll recall in July at your commission meeting in San Angelo, I went through an analysis and review of the Proposition 14 Bond Program that we implemented in October of 2008 at your commission meeting in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for the use of the remaining $2.9 billion worth of Proposition 14 Bond proceeds.

I'd like to put up for your review quickly some information and show you the reconciliation of the minute order that's before you today.

This is provided to you in your exhibits that were attached to the minute order, but the $2.9 billion program was, again, originally evaluated by the commission in October of 2008 at your meeting in Dallas-Fort Worth. The first column of numbers on your exhibit shows the original plan and use of those program funds for the support of engineering, right of way acquisition and construction activities on highway improvement projects around the state.

At that same meeting you authorized Minute Order 111550 which committed some of those funds to specific projects around the State of Texas. Subsequently you have issued additional minute orders. In January of 2009 you issued Minute Order 111680 which was the commitment of some engineering resources for some projects around the State of Texas to move forward to prepare them for construction, as well as some right of way activities for some projects along I-35 and other corridors.

And then in March, through Minute Order 111750, you again issued some authorization for additional projects that needed to be moved forward in Texas. And then in July of 2009 in San Angelo, as I said, we prepared this reconciliation for you and you considered funding for additional right of way activities for a project on I-35, as well as the DFW Connector, and some additional engineering support for construction projects around the state.

Today we're asking you specifically to authorize the use of some additional Proposition 14 Bond proceeds for several important projects around the state. Let me start first with the reverse of that. There is one project that's shown in Exhibit A that was in the Corpus Christi District on I-37 at Carbon Plant Road -- as locally referred to. That particular project has been added to the Recovery Act Program and is being removed from the needed Proposition 14 bond proceeds. You had authorized that in a previous minute order and we're asking that you allow us to remove it from the Proposition 14 Bond proceeds obligations.

It is shown in that exhibit and if you will move it to the right, it's about a $12.1 million reduction in the need for Proposition 14 Bond proceeds for that project, again, being funded out of the Recovery Act.

Moving on to those projects, we're asking you to commit or obligate to today, we have four projects that are shown on the exhibit, page 2 of 5 in your handouts, that would be recommended by staff to be funded under the Proposition 14 Bond Program.

The first is a project in Williamson County, it's to connect O'Connor Road, a project that's being developed by Williamson County through the use of the local bond program as well as some MPO funding, and this is an important connection of that particular new location roadway with State Highway 45, part of the Central Texas Turnpike System. It's a project that we have been discussing with Williamson County for quite some time, they've been working on this particular roadway project for most of this decade and are close to having it ready to implement.

The cost to the department for the implementation of this project and this interchange is $36.6 million. The county is delivering just over $7 million, I believe, to support some frontage road improvements, as well as the connection of this roadway at this interchange location.

In addition to that, we have a project in the Corpus Christi district, it was mentioned earlier this morning, it's on State Highway 35 at FM 136. This would construct an overpass in support of an expansion of an industrial activity at this particular location. It's an approximately $17 million project and would help improve the economy of that particular area of the state through the allowance of a Chinese company to come in and build a pipe manufacturing facility at this location.

The third on the list is US 67 in Johnson County. This is a Recovery Act funded project. As the project was more fully developed, it was determined it would need $10 million of additional resources being brought to bear as a local contribution, if you will, from future Category 2 dollars of the North Central Texas Council of Governments MPO. Unfortunately, our cash flow right now won't allow those funds to be committed, and so in order to allow that project to move forward under the Recovery Act, we would need to use Proposition 14 Bond proceeds to pay for it today and be replaced, if you will, out of cash flow in the future from the Category 2 commitments of the Dallas-Fort Worth MPO.

And then the last one is a project in the Waco District on State Highway 9. This is a project to do some additional construction of a partial loop to support movements in and out of Fort Hood. This project was envisioned and committed to by the department on behalf of the State of Texas as BRAC realignment issues were considered a couple of years ago and the project is now ready to move forward and it's a commitment that we made in order for the Department of Defense to continue to expand and support troops at Fort Hood in the central part of the State of Texas.

And I don't know that I'll put those up on exhibit, it's a little more cumbersome than perhaps is worth the effort.

Page 3 of 5 of your exhibit shows the commitments for some right of way and engineering functions. The State Highway 9 project that I just mentioned in association with Fort Hood will require $400,000 of right of way acquisition and so we're asking for that to be funded as part of this total package as well.

And then two projects shown for engineering services, again, one on State Highway 9 in association with that Fort Hood project. The second is US 181, this is the Harbor Bridge -- Harbor Bay Bridge, as many people refer to it, crossing the ship channel at the Port of Corpus Christi, and as many of you have known -- we've talked about this in the past several months -- that bridge is a very large structure, one of three that in total will cost a little over $1.7 billion to reconstruct, but it's important for us to have a plan in place to move forward with something on that bridge in the not too distant future so these engineering services will allow us to complete the environmental process, the planning process and prepare design details to replace that bridge.

And then lastly, sheet 4 of 5 of the exhibit is showing what the Houston District, after you so graciously gave them authority to move forward with engineering services funded through Proposition 14 Bond proceeds in January of this year, have further evaluated their needs and they're simply asking to move the money around, so to speak, not to add additional work but to spend it on much needed projects in a different order in order to be able to advance those projects to a point where they can move forward to construction.

So the net sum of this sheet is just to show for the record and the effort to be completely transparent, that there's no additional dollars being committed, we're just asking for your permission to spend them a little differently than what was originally envisioned for those engineering services.

So with that, I'll be happy to answer any questions you might have, and before doing so, would just mention that staff does recommend your approval of this minute order.

MR. HOLMES: John, these all seem like perfectly sensible projects. I wonder why the full $96 million is put under Commission Discretionary, can't that go above that line?

MR. BARTON: It could, and I would direct the commission's attention to page 1 of 5, that program reconciliation sheet. If I understand the question correctly, Commissioner Holmes, the $96.6 million of additional construction activities is shown as coming out of the Commission Reserve. As you noted, we do have a contingency fund now due to project underruns as well as just the withholding of the funds originally, about $253 million of contingency, and if I understand it correctly, you're suggesting that $96 million be committed out of that contingency line rather than the Commission Reserve line?

MR. HOLMES: Right, yes.

MR. BARTON: It can be done. I mean, it's certainly just the reconciliation of how we show it on the sheet. I'll be happy to make that change to the minute order if that's what the commission would like for me to do.

MR. HOLMES: Well, subject to that change, I move approval.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. BARTON: Thank you.

MS. DELISI: At this time I'd like to call up at the same time, if you don't mind, Commissioner Lisa Birkman and Judge Dan Gattis.

MS. BIRKMAN: I just wanted to thank you. I'm Lisa Birkman, Williamson County commissioner. The O'Connor/SH 45 project is in my precinct, in fact, near my home, about half a mile. We've been working on this project, like Mr. Barton said, for about ten years and we really appreciate your support of it. I want to thank Mr. Saenz for his help, and like I said, Mr. Barton, Mr. Lopez, and we invite you to come drive on it here in a couple of years. So thank you very much.

MR. HOUGHTON: Are you responsible for hiring away our district engineer from Austin?

MS. BIRKMAN: I will blame the judge for that.

MR. HOUGHTON: We may have to reconsider this minute order.

(General laughter.)

JUDGE GATTIS: And I will gladly take that responsibility.

Commissioners, Madame Chairman, Mr. Director, I just want to say thank you also. We've been working on this or the county has been working on this project a lot and for a long time. But I wanted to also say thank you for all of the help that the director has given us, not only on this project but on all of our projects.

As most of you are aware, Williamson County is a very rapidly growing county, we have lots of projects underway, we're pretty aggressive. We've got lots of cooperation not only from TxDOT but from our cities and partners, and we will continue to be back, I'm sure, with more projects. But thank you very much for your consideration today.

And I take full responsibility for Bob Daigh. I think we've moved our professionalism up several notches and we're looking forward to moving into another era with that. Thank you.

MS. DELISI: Thanks, Judge.

MR. SAENZ: Moving on to agenda item number 11, John will present a minute order on our Pass-Through Toll Program.

MR. BARTON: Thank you, Director Saenz. Again for the record, John Barton, assistant executive director for Engineering Operations.

The minute order before you would allow the selection of some pass-through toll proposed projects that were submitted under the February 26, 2009 Pass-Through Toll Program call and would authorize the executive director or his designee to begin negotiations for the financial terms of these particular toll projects.

The pass-through toll financing program was first implemented by the department in 2004. In 2007, December of 2007, it was determined that all available resources for the program had been committed and that our cash flow wouldn't support the additional program calls from Category 12 which is the Strategic Priority category that's available for the commission's discretion.

On February 26 of 2009, by Minute Order 111710, you did approve a call for submission of projects under this program and to extend the use of funds to the greatest extent possible to support public and private entities' opportunities to advance programs and projects across the state.

In response to the call, we had 31 nominations for projects submitted or applications submitted. We evaluated those based on the criteria set forth through the Administrative Code and our Pass-Through Program, and staff, I believe, did an excellent job in evaluating those projects and bringing forth a recommendation for selection of ten of those projects, as is shown in the exhibit to the minute order that's before you.

I'll just briefly share with you that those ten projects have a reimbursement value estimated and requested at this point in time of approximately $273 million. Knowing that the commission has indicated a desire to develop a program of approximately $300 million, not to exceed that amount, staff also included four additional projects that might be considered if negotiations on any of the first ten projects are not successful or if the negotiations are brought forward in a way that allows for additional projects from the remaining four to be forwarded to negotiation to fit within the $300 million program.

I have the exhibit, I can put it up on display if you would like, but I just wanted to share this information with you, I think it's completely contained within your exhibits to your minute order, and would be happy to answer any questions you might have, and in doing so would like to share with you that due to the requirements of our appropriations bill, I believe, Director Saenz, we are moving forward with this program call for the 2009 fiscal year. We anticipate coming before you with a request to move forward with a 2010 program call of similar size in terms of dollar amounts later this year, probably in late winter, early spring, and would be making a recommendation of additional projects for your consideration in late spring, early summer of 2010.

So with that, I'll be happy to answer any questions, and again, staff recommends your approval of this minute order.

MS. DELISI: Any questions?

MR. HOLMES: Yes, Madame Chair.

John, I note that when the staff ranked the various projects that were proposed that five out of the top ten didn't qualify for one reason or another. I'm assuming that some of those might actually be encouraged to go back and do what they need to do to qualify since they were high ranking projects and were disqualified for other reasons. Is there any hope for these that were so highly ranked but didn't make it through the screen?

MR. BARTON: Yes, Commissioner Holmes. There were a total of seven projects submitted that were deemed ineligible based on staff review for one of two reasons: either they are not on the state highway system -- which the Pass-Through Toll Program rules require; or they requested reimbursements greater than 100 percent of the total project cost which is ineligible under the program call as well. In other words, we will not pay for financial costs associated with bond sales and those sorts of things.

In responding to this decision that you make today, depending on what it is, we will certainly notify those that are successful as well as those that were not, and as you mentioned, five of the top ten were either larger than the total project call itself in terms of requested reimbursement, were not on the state highway system, or requested more than 100 percent reimbursement, or a combination of those two things. And we'll be discussing their applications with them and would encourage them to reevaluate an opportunity to submit under the 2010 program call.

MS. DELISI: Any other questions? Then I'd like to call up, both at the same time, if you don't mind, Commissioner Andy Meyers and Thomas Kuykendall.

MR. MEYERS: Thank you, Madame Chair, honorable commissioners. Good morning. Thank you for this opportunity to speak on behalf of Fort Bend County. We'd note that I'm assuming that these are in ranked order, and if it is, Fort Bend County's project ranks first. I'm sure there's a reason that you like us so much.

This is actually a continuation of the West Park Toll Road and feeder road that has been a very successful program, a very successful partnership between Fort Bend County and TxDOT, and fortunately or unfortunately, we've become a victim of that success. The developers have continued to develop property along this corridor. According to one national housing authority, there were two subdivisions in the first quarter of 2009 in the entire United States that had an increase in home sales year over year. Those two subdivisions front on two-lane Farm to Market 1093.

In addition, we have several other subdivisions that are being developed along 1093, we have several major commercial developments along 1093, and as I mentioned, 1093 is a two-lane road.

The project that's been proposed here is four lanes of feeder road as well as four lanes of main thoroughfares with overpasses. The total project costs are estimated to be $137 million for the 8-1/2 miles of feeder roads and approximately 6 miles of main lane plus overpasses. Of the $137 million, we're asking TxDOT for $36 million which works out to about 26 percent of the total project cost.

So we have, in addition to Mr. Kuykendall who is the chairman of the City of Fulshear's Planning Commission, also Mr. Joel Marshall is the senior vice president for TrendMaker who is developing Cross Creek Ranch, a 3,200 acre development that is one of the two subdivisions that, in fact, he mentioned that for the first half of this year their sales have been above the 2008 and 2007 years that they had out there.

So in addition to the 3,200 acre Cross Creek Ranch, we've got the 3,000-plus acre Cinco Ranch West, 1,000 acre Westheimer Lakes North and Westheimer Lakes, so we have a lot of development that is going on along this particular corridor, and we have continued development that is going on on the west side of Fulshear which is actually west of where this particular project is going to end. So here's a tremendous amount of activity going on in this particular corridor, and as I said, it's a natural as it's a continuation of the West Park Toll Road that has been such a successful partnership between Fort Bend and TxDOT.

And we very much appreciate that partnership arrangement. It's worked very well for both of us and we anticipate it continuing to work, and we very much appreciate the commission and TxDOT's working with us in getting some very much needed mobility in our area, so thank you again for your time.

MR. KUYKENDALL: Chair Delisi, commissioners, Director Saenz, my name is Tommy Kuykendall. As Commissioner Meyers mentioned, I'm chairman of the Fulshear Planning Commission. We're a very small town at the terminus of this FM 1093 project that you have before your consideration today, and we just wanted to come here supporting Fort Bend County in their effort to make this application and to encourage you to pass this item on your agenda today.

As Commissioner Meyers mentioned, for a city so small, our population on our sign is about 700 but we have more than 5,000 acres under development currently within our city; 4,000 of those acres, those developments front FM 1093 as Commissioner Meyers enumerated. We also have a major school site, 125 acre school site that will front FM 1093 as well. The economy has slowed down some, but for a city so small, last month we had four plats on our agenda, next month we have four more plats on our agenda for continuing development, this month we approved about 100,000 square foot commercial development within the city which would access FM 1093.

So we're continuing to grow, we want to be a partner and support the county, they've proven themselves with the West Park Fort Bend section for the toll road to the east of our area, they've proven themselves. We know that they'll follow through and get this project done in a timely manner. It's very important for our continued economic growth for the people of Fulshear and we ask our support on this agenda item today. Thank you.

MS. DELISI: No more questions. 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. HOLMES: Chair, just a quick comment. I kind of echo the comments that I made about El Paso, it's nice to see local groups come together bringing funding that helps move projects forward, and you're doing a great job out there, Commissioner Meyers. Thank you.

MR. SAENZ: Moving forward, commission, we've already done item 12 and 13(a). Agenda item 13(b), Mark Tomlinson will present a minute order where we will propose toll rates for new ramps that are being built on State Highway 130.

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

This agenda item does establish the toll rates for new ramps at State Highway 130 and Cameron Road to serve the Bird's Nest Airport. This new ramp pair is located approximately two miles north of US 290 and will serve the Bird's Nest Airport, a general aviation airport that is being constructed east of State Highway 130 access by Cameron Road.

The ramp pair will be an all electronic open road facility, collecting tolls through TxTag or pay by mail. In suggesting or recommending the toll rates to you, we considered traffic and revenue studies as well as previous practice in setting toll rates. The toll rates, should you approve them today, are contingent on TIFIA approval. We have bond counsel review and sign-off, again, contingent on TIFIA approval.

Austin District is planning the project for the actual construction of the ramps. Current tentative letting is March 2010, could possibly be moved up if TIFIA approval is gained sooner. Staff recommends approval of the 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: Thank you, Mark. Mark will now present a minute order for you all to accept the actual traffic and revenue report for the CTTS project.

MR. TOMLINSON: Thank you. Again, this is the annual report for traffic as of August 31, 2009 as required by the CTTS indenture of trust that you review this report. The report, as previous ones have, compares current traffic and revenue data with data from the prior fiscal year 2008, as well as traffic and revenue projections from the original 2002 TNR study.

During FY 2009, the CTTS generated more than 73 million transactions and almost $59 million in revenue. The amounts exceeded the totals for 2008 by more than 7 million transactions and $10 million in revenue. Current revenue for the year was about 19 percent above what was projected back in that original TNR report.

I think a couple of things are notable. State Highway 45 Southeast is not a part of the CTTS but its opening in May had a significant impact on our revenue, State Highway 130 and the system overall. You can see on those exhibits almost precisely when it was opened.

At this point we have over 407,000 active TxTag accounts, 703,000 active TxTags, and TxTag transactions account for about 73 percent of our total transactions on the system today.

I'll be happy to answer any questions you have but staff would recommend your approval of the minute order.

MS. DELISI: Any questions? Is there a motion?

MR. UNDERWOOD: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Mark will now present agenda item 13(d) dealing with giving authority to the North Texas Tollway Authority to do some work on some state-owned projects on the state highway system.

MR. TOMLINSON: This is for two projects in the Fort Worth District, improvements to State Highway 360 from Green Oaks Boulevard to US 287, and to State Highway 170 north of Fort Worth from State Highway 114 to Interstate 35W. It would authorize the executive director to enter into project agreements with the NTTA.

Under this approval, if it's approved, the NTTA will conduct advanced planning, environmental work including public involvement, and development of toll feasibility studies, as well as the preparation of schematics and environmental documents.

Staff would recommend your approval of the minute order.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. TOMLINSON: Thank you.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Mark.

Agenda item 15, John Barton will present a minute order approving the allocations for the Green Ribbon Program. Uh-oh, we lost John, he's out there politicking.

MR. BARTON: I apologize, I had so many pass-through toll recipients that wanted to say hello and talk to us.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to be with you here today. I wanted to, under this item, just briefly discuss with you the Green Ribbon Landscape Program and request your approval of a 2009 program allocation. I wanted to provide a brief background, if you would, for the commission on the Green Ribbon Landscape Program because it has been such an issue of discussion over the last couple of years associated with the Sunset review of the department.

Beginning with the 77th Legislative Session, the appropriations act for the department has included riders that instruct us to spend Green Ribbon Program money through a public-private to enhance the appearance of our public highways. It began in the City of Houston and now has grown to other areas of the state that are considered non-attainment or near non-attainment.

These riders require that each time we do a highway improvement contract within one of those communities or districts that is classified as non-attainment or near non-attainment that we will allocate to the district an amount equal to not less than one-half of 1 percent and not more than 1 percent of the contract amount to be spent on landscape improvements associated with that project, or another highway located within that district if that work cannot be done with that specific project.

For the purposes of these riders, landscape improvements are defined as planting of trees or other plants that are indigenous to the area and suitable for their climates, as well as preparing the soils to take those plants and providing irrigation systems to promote their growth. And to the extent possible, they ask us to plant trees and other vegetation that would help mitigate the effects of air pollution that might be caused in those non-attainment or near non-attainment areas.

The status of the current program is as follows. The general appropriations act that we currently have that was in place from 2002 to 2011 provided us an opportunity to meet this rider, and under previous program allocations, the commission approved those by minute order -- which is what we're asking you to do today. Originally it was by separate minute order; ultimately it moved to the adoption of the Unified Transportation Program which included this line item.

And as we looked back over the history of the program, we had discovered that previous improvements had been put in place of about $50 million through these particular programs. This is obviously a significant effort on our part to comply with these riders and to do these types of activities that promote and encourage better air quality in these non-attainment and near non-attainment areas.

The appropriations act for the 81st Legislature did include the same rider, Rider 20, which asks us and instructs us to continue the program through fiscal years 2010 and '11. And to help us in planning for that and making sure that we set aside an appropriate amount of dollars, we looked back at the actual amount of work that was put in place in these districts in fiscal year 2009 and based on that particular program amount, we're asking for your consideration of this minute order, as is shown in Exhibit A for the different TxDOT districts that have counties that are considered non-attainment or near non-attainment.

This program does have the potential to help us focus on beautification efforts by these corridors that are affected within these counties that are suffering from air pollution. It's perceived favorably by a lot of people that look at it as a way of promoting tourism within those particular counties, but most importantly, it does have an opportunity to have a positive affect on the air quality.

So the recommendation before you in this minute order is that you would authorize us to allocate to these districts as shown on Exhibit A the amounts of dollars that are enumerated there for them to move forward with landscaping activities associated with their construction contracts in fiscal year 2010 to the amounts shown.

And staff would be happy to answer any questions you might have, and of course, again, we recommend your approval of this minute order.

MR. HOLMES: John, just to note, over the last six or eight years I'm told that in the Houston region there have been a million trees planted. The city takes credit for that, but I understand from the Houston District that they're responsible for over 600,000 of those million trees.

MR. BARTON: I believe you're correct. In fact, I believe I recall at Gary Trietsch's retirement reception it was noted that he was, I guess, personally responsible as the district engineer for Houston of planting nearly a million trees in the Greater Houston area through this program.

MR. HOLMES: Right. It's a great program. So moved.

MR. HOUGHTON: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. BARTON: Thank you.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, John.

Agenda tem 16(a), commissioners, we're recommending that this item be deferred, we will bring it to you next month.

Moving on to agenda item 16(b), we have a minute order in Cameron County making some amendments to a prior minute order passed for the Brownsville Railroad Relocation Project.

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

This proposed minute order supplements a minute order that the commission adopted in September of 2006. It's concerning Cameron County's development of the Brownsville West Rail Relocation Project. The order amends the UTP and transfers Category 6 dollars from three previously authorized railroad grade separation projects to this West Railroad Relocation Project. they're developing this West Railroad Project to move a rail line that currently runs through downtown Brownsville.

There are some stipulations they need to meet, and if they do so, this project is currently scheduled for a march 2010 letting, and staff recommends your approval.

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, Brian.

Moving on, agenda item number 17, John Campbell, director of the Right of Way Division, will present a minute order on an option to purchase some right of way.

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

I'm presenting for your consideration today a minute order under agenda item number 17 a minute order to authorize the Dallas District engineer to negotiate for the use of options to purchase for the advance acquisition of right of way required along IH 35 for expansion in Denton County. This is in the vicinity of the Lake Lewisville Bridge in the city of Corinth.

Due to the ongoing and eminent development along the corridor requiring the option to purchase in this case will enable the department to purchase development rights, and therefore, realize an overall lesser cost to the right of way down the road when we receive regular release and environmental clearance. Staff recommends your approval of the 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: Thank you, John.

Agenda item number 18, James Bass will present our obligation limit report.

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

Last month the commission adopted and established a $2.185 billion obligation limit for fiscal year 2010. This report shows the status towards that obligation limit for the month of September, the amount utilized and then also the amount that is projected to be utilized in the October letting. Between those two months, in addition to the $585 million to be charged against the program for the CDAs in DFW, we will have utilized about $760 million of that $2.185-.

There is no action required by the commission but I'd be happy to answer any questions that you might have. Thank you.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, James.

Agenda item number 19 deals with our contracts. Ken Barnett will present two minute orders. The first minute order deals with our Highway Maintenance and Department Building Construction contracts.

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

As Mr. Saenz said, the first item on the agenda is consideration of award or rejection of Highway Maintenance and Department Building Construction contracts let on September 9 and 10 of this year. There were eight projects this month, average number of bidders was 5.1. This month for maintenance we had a 34 percent underrun from the engineers' estimate. Staff recommends award of all these contracts. I'll take any questions if you have any.

MR. HOUGHTON: Significantly under budget.

MR. BARNETT: We had two contracts in maintenance this month, Commissioner Houghton, that were approximately 50 percent under the estimate.

MS. DELISI: So we're constantly under our estimates. At what point do we readjust our estimates? I mean, I like being under, it makes me feel good.

MR. HOUGHTON: At some point the baseline has got to be brought up.

MR. SAENZ: We are doing that now. Steve has been working with David and John and our district engineers and putting in place so that we use a lot more current project cost data as we develop our engineers' estimates. Part of the process is that the projects that you all are awarding today came into Austin and were through the review process almost five months ago, and so we're trying to make some adjustments in that area.

I'm gong to let Steve kind of cover some of the other items that we're doing.

MR. SIMMONS: Thank you, Director Saenz. For the record, Steve Simmons, deputy executive director of the department.

This has been a concern of ours with our estimates lagging behind and we're working with our divisions and districts to improve our estimates. The big issue that happened at first was we have to get the plans in so far ahead of time to advertise and everything like that, so that's when the estimates were originally locked. But we've now opened that up to a date closer to the letting.

But also Ken has been working to look at establishing some futures prices because a lot of bid items are really tied to the price of gasoline and things of that nature, and Ken has been doing a lot of that where we can look at futures market to determine what the prices will be in the future. And I don't know if Ken wants to add to any of that.

MR. HOUGHTON: This kind of begs the question. Commissioner Holmes showed me one project at 59 percent. There's something wrong with that number. And when you talk about futures and you go look in your rearview mirror a little bit on the cost of petroleum products. How much in those bids are actual commodities and how much are labor costs and then obviously you've got your margin.

MR. SIMMONS: That's exactly what we're looking at, and every project is a little bit different. It may be just a flat overlay project where the bulk of the cost is in materials, asphalt and rock, and the transportation of that material and you have one small crew that lays it. But you have other projects that are large interchange projects that have a lot larger labor cost involved in it.

But we know we're going to get a handle on this particular issue and we've got the best and brightest working on it, and that doesn't include me.

MR. HOLMES: As you break those down and see where the biggest moving parts are, I assume you'll bring that back and share it with the commission.

MR. SIMMONS: Yes, sir, most definitely.

MS. DELISI: Is there a motion?

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MS. DELISI: How about a second?

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Ken will now present a second minute order dealing with our Highway and Transportation Enhancement Building Construction projects.

MR. BARNETT: The second item or your consideration is award or rejection of Highway Transportation Enhancement Building Construction projects let on September 9 and 10. Unfortunately, commissioners, the order of these minute orders could have been better. We had 112 projects, 6.52 bidders. This is where the actions that Mr. Saenz and Mr. Simmons have taken place. On this particular item we have a 14 percent underrun this month; we had been averaging over 20 percent the last several months.

As Steve said, there is some issue with lag and this number should get better.

Staff recommends award of all projects under construction.

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, Ken.

Moving on, agenda item number 19(b), Ed Serna will present a minute order where we establish our statewide annual participation goals for the HUB Program.

MR. SERNA: Good morning, commissioners. How are you this morning? For the record, my name is Ed Serna, I'm the assistant executive director of Support Operations at the department.

The minute order before you establishes goals for the department's use of Historically Underutilized Businesses. These goals are primarily driven by a disparity report that is published by the Comptroller's Office. The current disparity report that we're using was established back in 1994, it's being revised right now, we have staff working on it. So next year when we come back to you to establish goals, the numbers may look different.

Basically, the department has a very aggressive program in attempting to identify Disadvantaged Business Enterprises which is a federal designation, as well as Historically Underutilized Business enterprises which is the HUB and that's what we're talking about today. We attempt to identify as many firms as possible, make them aware of opportunities to do business with the department, but at the same time, we attempt to establish goals that we strive to achieve to kind of help us keep focused on what our mission is.

So the minute order before you establishes goals for special trades contracts at 57.2 percent, professional services contracts at 20 percent, other services contracts -- which would basically be building janitorial services, things like that -- at 33 percent, and commodity purchases at 12.6 percent.

MS. DELISI: Any questions?

MR. UNDERWOOD: Are these realistic goals?

MR. SERNA: No, sir, I don't believe that the special trades contracts is a realistic goal, but we've got to use the information that was produced in that 1994 disparity report which is why we're developing a new disparity report and very active in working with the Comptroller's Office to come out with that. And the reason I say that's not a realistic goal is the department really hasn't ever gotten anywhere close to achieving that, despite our outreach efforts.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Thank you.

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: Ed will also present agenda item 19(c) that establishes our annual participation goals for our Small Business Enterprise Program.

MR. SERNA: This minute order establishes a goal for our Small Business Enterprise which is basically race-neutral. There was some discussion at last year's commission meeting on this topic. The department had arbitrarily set a goal that was unrealistically high; never having achieved that goal, the department set a goal of 5 percent this past fiscal year and got to about 4.2 percent in reaching that 5 percent goal.

Staff has gone back, reexamined the ready, willing and able pool of small businesses that can do business with the department, as well as considered the actual activity, and is recommending that for fiscal year 2010 we set a goal of 4.5 percent. In fiscal year 2009, we achieved 4.2 percent of our 5 percent goal. So we did try to take into consideration the effects of our outreach program, the availability of the firms, and the types of jobs that we're bidding out to them which is why we're looking for the adjustment to 4.5 percent for 2010.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Ed, refresh my memory. How often do you report back to us, is it once a year?

MR. SERNA: Yes, sir, we report annually to the commission. There should be a report coming to each of you that outlines our activity for DBEs, the federal dollars, HUBs which we just talked about, and then small business as well.

MR. UNDERWOOD: How much effort would it take from your part to give me a little bit better heads up as to how this is going instead of yearly, quarterly? I'm not asking for the commission, it could be just a conversation, if nothing else, but I would like to track that.

MR. SERNA: I can provide that information to you quarterly without any real problems. The HUB information is submitted semiannually.

MR. UNDERWOOD: That would be fine.

MR. SERNA: So for the HUBs it's semiannually; on the DBE and the SBE I can provide you information quarterly.

MR. UNDERWOOD: I appreciate that. Thank you.

MR. SERNA: Yes, sir.

MR. SAENZ: I believe also Federal Highway requires a DBE report semiannually, so we could, and it would be good to have so we can track progress.

MR. SERNA: We can do that.

MS. DELISI: Is there a motion?

MR. UNDERWOOD: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SERNA: Thank you.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Ed.

Agenda item number 20, commissioners, is the Routine Minute Orders that deal with donations to the department, eminent domain proceedings, highway designations, load zones and postings, right of way dispositions and donations, and speed zones. Staff recommends approval of all of these minute orders, and we would be happy to answer any question on a particular minute order should you have one.

MR. HOLMES: So moved.

MR. HOUGHTON: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Item 21 is executive session, there is no need for executive session.

MS. DELISI: This completes all items on the posted agenda. We'll now enter into the open comment period of the meeting. Is there anyone signed up?

MR. SAENZ: We don't have any.

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

(No response.)

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 it is before noon. It is 11:52 a.m., and this meeting stands adjourned.

(Whereupon, at 11:52 a.m., the meeting was concluded.)

C E R T I F I C A T E

MEETING OF: Texas Transportation Commission Workshop

LOCATION: Austin, Texas

DATE: September 23, 2009

I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 116, 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.

C E R T I F I C A T E

MEETING OF: Texas Transportation Commission

LOCATION: Austin, Texas

DATE: September 24, 2009

I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 138, 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.

 

 

 

9/28/2009

(Transcriber) (Date)

On the Record Reporting

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