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February 25, 2010 Meeting Transcript

Texas Department of Transportation Commission Meeting


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

Thursday, February 25, 2010


COMMISSION MEMBERS:

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

STAFF:

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

PROCEEDINGS

MR. HOUGHTON: Good morning.

AUDIENCE: Good morning.

MR. HOUGHTON: Lively crowd. It is 9:01 and I call the regular February 2010 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 Secretary of State at 4:55 p.m. on February 17, 2010.

Before we begin, as customary, please turn your cell phones to the vibrate or off position or what other position other than ring.

As is our custom, we'll open with comments from the commissioners, and we'll start with the commissioner from West Texas, Bill Meadows. Isn't that what they call it in Dallas?

MR. MEADOWS: I think it's where the west begins, and I'm not going to comment on the second part of that.

Well, first of all, I'm curious as to how it is that you happen to be chairing this meeting. Just as a matter of parliamentary procedure, do you think perhaps we should vote on this matter? It might be a different outcome.

MR. HOUGHTON: You can have it if you want it.

(General laughter.)

MR. MEADOWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Houghton.

The only comment I'd like to make really follows the comments that my distinguished colleague, Commissioner Underwood, expressed last month about our crews dealing with our winter weather events which we've had with great frequency this year. In fact, I understood that there's been a discussion in the Dallas-Fort Worth area about the possibility, given the snowfall that we've enjoyed this year, of perhaps being an applicant for a future Winter Olympics site.

We are one inch away, I think it is, more or less, from it being a seasonal snowfall record, and our crews up there have handled it beautifully. They've kept our freeways and our highways in North Central Texas open and free-flowing and safe for our citizens, and they just need to be recognized for the tremendous work that they have put forth on behalf of the citizens, and I just wanted to say that. Thank you very much.

MR. UNDERWOOD: I'll reinforce that, I associate myself with my colleague's remarks. Also, I want to thank Howard Holland for the work he's done recently, and he knows what I'm talking about and whatnot on an issue.

And again, we really appreciate our men and women that do the work that people never get to see, they just enjoy the fruits of the men's and women's labor of TxDOT, and I thank each and every member of them.

MR. HOLMES: Good morning. Welcome, and I want to say welcome to the delegation from Pearland. I see Woody but I understand that Kevin Cole and Carol are here. Welcome, we look forward to hearing from you in just a few minutes. Thanks.

MR. HOUGHTON: And I echo my fellow commissioners' remarks. Welcome to all, and I am to remind you that if you want to comment on an agenda item, it's a yellow card, if you want to comment in the open period which is at the end of this session, it is a blue card. But regardless of the color card, we will limit the speakers to three minutes. And as former Chairman Ric Williamson used to say, if you're a member of the legislature, you've got all day.

Our first item of business is the approval of the minute of the January 27 and 28 meetings. Members of the commission, the minutes have been provided in your briefing materials. Is there a motion to approve?

MR. UNDERWOOD: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MR. HOUGHTON: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. HOUGHTON: Passes.

I at this time recognize Commissioner Ned Holmes from Houston to recognize a delegation and a presentation.

MR. HOLMES: WE have a very dynamic city in the Houston region, Pearland, that is growing, is working hard to provide great quality of life for their citizens, and we appreciate all you do and look forward to hearing from you, Kevin. Thanks.

MR. COLE: Thank you, Commissioner Holmes, for a warm welcome. I'd like for our delegation to stand up just real quick to show the commission the number of folks that jut got off of a bus from Pearland, Texas.

So with that, just to formally introduce myself, Kevin Cole, I'm on the Pearland City Council. I've got two fellow council members, Woody Owens and Scott Sherman, here with me as well. Unfortunately, our mayor was unable to make it today being a little bit under the weather.

So thank you for just a brief moment to come and address the commission and the fine work that you guys are doing. I know you're in a tough spot, just like many city councils around the state. We're always wondering where the funding is going to come from and how those types of things happen.

Later in the agenda, I believe you guys have an agenda item to reauthorize the Pass-Through Finance Program once again, and as a Texan I'm glad that you're doing that and looking at that. It just gives yet another funding option out there for cities and counties and looks as though possibly private entities can help take a part of that, so would encourage that.

We did have a pass-through finance program that we had to turn back. We were awarded a program; unfortunately, we couldn't get our partner to the north with Harris County to full agreement on that and it was just going to be too much for our taxpayers to have to pay on our own without having our partner at the table. But nonetheless, we thank you and your staff for all the work that you worked with us to help us get that done.

But with that, there's a tremendous amount of things that are happening in Pearland and TxDOT is certainly right there with us. We thank you for that. We've got State Highway 35 has been awarded, we should see mobilization on that probably next week, so timing is great. If there's anything that you guys can do to help push along a construction schedule and shorten it from 44 months, every business along 35 would be greatly appreciative for that.

Also, we're just about to finish up frontage roads on State Highway 288, both north and south, and that certainly couldn't have been done without the support and help and funding from you guys, and we appreciate that.

There's another project that we do want to let the commission members know that your staff greatly helped us. It's FM 2234, or Shadow Creek Parkway, which ties into State Highway 288 and goes all the way back over into Missouri City, but your staff helped us move that to the alternative funding list, as you guys put projects out for bid and leftover monies. It's one of the projects that's been targeted for some of those leftover monies. All the engineering is done, it's just ready to go, and we believe it's going to be in line to get funded this year with some of the savings that we've all enjoyed through the competitive bid process.

But the biggest thing that I wanted to do today was just thank you guys for the help that you have given us. On the pass-through finance topic as it comes up, every city and county is going to have to evaluate every single deal, it's going to have to stand on its own merits, but it is a good way to get additional projects out of the ground and get local participation.

We do have a county commissioner, Stacy Adams, from Brazoria County, with us, and we would be completely remiss if we didn't also thank you guys because Brazoria County had a very significant pass-through finance project, State Highway 36, from the port leading up out of the port area and out of the county, and that was awarded in the funding and is moving forward. So I know they do want to thank you for that opportunity.

And with that, in your packet -- I believe Mr. Polson has passed those out -- after a long meeting today and all of your business, if you have the opportunity, we are meeting at the Paggi House from four to six o'clock for a reception tonight. You'll see it in your packet, and come and see if you're smarter than a Pearland fifth grader and see what you know about Pearland and the history of Pearland, and we're going to have a good time with that and we would like to encourage you and invite you to come take part in that.

As well as, I believe Mr. Polson may have passed out, I'm not sure, the stress pears. They have become a hit in Austin, and if you feel the stress and the need about two hours into this meeting, just pick it up and take it out on us a little bit.

But with that, again, this morning we just wanted to come and thank you for all that you have done. Commissioner Holmes is correct, Pearland is one of the fastest growing communities not only in Texas but in the nation, and we've been not just struggling but we've been moving infrastructure as fast as we possibly can in our growing and bustling community, and you guys have been a great partner to help with. Thank you.

MR. HOLMES: Thank you, Kevin, and I appreciate the comment about every deal needs to stand on its own, it's kind of a novel approach.

(General laughter.)

MR. HOUGHTON: Thank you for coming. Pearland has been a great, great partner in transportation and we thank you all for showing up today, and enjoy your day in Austin and your travels.

Amadeo, with that said, I'll turn the rest of the meeting over to you and proceed through today's agenda.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Commissioner Houghton. Good morning.

The first item on today's business agenda is the approval of our airport improvement projects, and our director of the Aviation Division, David Fulton, will present a minute order for you.

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

This minute order contains a request for grant funding approval for twelve airport improvement projects. The total estimated cost of all requests, as shown in Exhibit A, is approximately $8.7 million: approximately $4.6 million federal, $1.3 in state funds, and $2.8 million in local funding. A public hearing was held on January 21, no comments were received.

Before I make a recommendation, I think there are a couple of individuals who would like to speak.

MR. HOUGHTON: There are two that have signed up. Jodi Ann, I'm not even going to try the last name, I'll butcher it, president and CEO of McKinney Chamber of Commerce. Jodi Ann, how do you pronounce your last name?

MS. LAFRENIERE: Lafreniere.

MR. HOUGHTON: Thank you. Welcome.

MS. LAFRENIERE: Thank you very much for having me, Commissioner Houghton, members of the commission; I appreciate being here. I am Jodi Lafreniere, president of the McKinney Chamber of Commerce, and with me this morning is our airport director of Collin County Regional Airport, Mr. Ken Wiegand.

I'm speaking today on behalf of the largest and most active chambers of commerce in Collin County who have come together to jointly support the economic development desires and concerns of our regional business community. Collectively, the McKinney, Plano, Frisco and Allen chambers of commerce represent over 4,000 member businesses, and there's two issues that I wanted to speak to you about briefly this morning.

First and most importantly, we want to thank the TxDOT Division of Aviation and the commission for your continued outstanding support of aviation in Collin County. Although Collin County Regional Airport is owned and operated by the City of McKinney, it's recognized by the chambers and the communities we serve as a true regional asset served by all. Collin County continues to experience tremendous growth, even in this difficult economic time, and in many cases, that growth has contributed to our airport. The annual economic impact of the airport is $85 million and it generates $3- to $3-1/2 million annually in ad valorem taxes.

The replacement control tower project that you may fund today with your approval of Division of Aviation's recommended funding allocations will enhance the safety and security of flight operations by providing enhanced visibility over the airfield and allow for state of the art technology to assist controllers in managing more than 100,000 annual operations.

The three, soon to be four, $5 million federal discretionary allocations you have so generously approved are to be invested in multi-year construction projects in the airport's replacement runway, another safety project that has been in the planning environmental stages for more than five years.

With your assistance over the last eight years, the airport has completed many projects, but the replacement runway project and the control tower projects will define the future of the airport and economic development and business growth across Collin County. Construction of both projects will start in the next four months.

Aviation is key to our business growth and development in our area, but obviously managing mobility and our scarce resources, road projects need to be the focus of that for us. So one particular road project that we wanted to make sure you're aware of is FM 546. It's right of way being required and the design are now being completed with local fundings, however, there is no funding for construction of that project. It's important for regional mobility for employment and it will also serve as an important eastern loop around McKinney. Currently, our existing airport access roads are being used as bypass corridors for traffic that must go by McKinney for traffic in and around our region.

The second issue that I just wanted to mention to you briefly is about Prop 12, and we realize that was an effort of the commission to create a small funding mechanism, an equitable funding allocation to help alleviate a portion of the huge needs identified across the state, and that the recommendations by staff that were approved by the commission last fall are important improvements to the state's highway system.

We're committed, as a business community, to be more engaged in the process, and our ability to have an understanding of the allocation formulas is important for regional planning, project prioritization and future business development initiatives. So it's our goal to work more proactively with the commission and the department so that we have a clear understanding of the criteria and priorities of future funding mechanisms so that we can better assist our jurisdictions in identifying and justifying projects that meet the needs of our ever-expanding region.

So in summary, the chambers of commerce, collectively, in Collin County are united in support of the continued growth and development of our regional airport, and we thank you for your tremendous support, and collectively, the chambers of commerce of Collin County are united and focused and actively representing the transportation needs of our region. It's our desire to work with you and the TxDOT staff to identify our highest priority needs to meet the demands of the explosive growth across North Texas and across Collin County, and that will continue well into the future.

We very much appreciate your time and your support and your continued service to the citizens of the State of Texas. Thank you.

MR. HOUGHTON: Any questions from the commissioners? Thank you very much.

It seems to me, Dave, that McKinney, twice a year we're funding something up there, aren't we, on a regular basis.

MR. FULTON: That airport is probably the fastest developing airport in the region, that's why, and it's become a very major business jet airport for the Metroplex area.

MR. HOUGHTON: Richard Cordes, County Judge. Judge Cordes, thank you.

JUDGE CORDES: You pronounced my name exactly right.

MR. HOUGHTON: I had to have help.

JUDGE CORDES: I get called a lot worse back in Menard County.

MR. HOUGHTON: We know that feeling.

(General laughter.)

JUDGE CORDES: On behalf of Menard, we're the fourth poorest county in the state on tax base, our total tax base is $148 million, and without support from your commission, there would be very little chance of us doing anything as far as keeping our airport up and whatnot, and it's a very important part to Menard County and very essential to Menard County for our tourism which includes our biggest business is hunting, and that airport is just about full during hunting season.

So we appreciate your efforts and we appreciate your time. Thank you.

MR. HOUGHTON: Judge, thank you for coming.

MR. FULTON: That concludes my presentation, and I'll be glad to try to address any questions you may have.

MR. HOUGHTON: Any questions of Dave? Motion?

MR. HOLMES: Motion.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MR. HOUGHTON: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. HOUGHTON: Passes.

Dave, thank you for your service.

MR. FULTON: Well, thank you.

MR. HOUGHTON: Thank you very much.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Dave.

Commission, agenda item number 3 deals with Public Transportation and we have several minute orders that will be presented by Eric Gleason, our division director.

MR. GLEASON: Do you want to do all five?

MR. SAENZ: Well, no. Just present each of the items, I won't call them out.

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

Agenda item 3(a) awards approximately $3 million of federal funds under the Federal Transit Administration Elderly Individuals and Individuals with Disabilities Program, Section 5310, and $373,000 in transportation development credits for various public transportation capital projects. The amounts in this minute order are consistent with the published FTA apportionments based on available funds under the current continuing appropriation resolution.

The formula for allocating Section 5310 funds is established in Title 43 of the Texas Administrative Code, Section 31.31. Following a reduction for state administrative expenses, the remaining balance plus unobligated funds from previous projects is allocated to all 25 TxDOT districts for selection of projects.

The award of transportation development credits is consistent with the commission's intent to make development credits available to support fleet replacement, fleet expansion and capital projects supporting the coordination of services. The 5310 program was envisioned as one of the programs consistent with this intent.

The department is responsible for public involvement and completion of a transit-planning process to establish a network of transit services for elderly individuals and individuals with disabilities in their respective areas. Projects are selected based on need for service, available funding, cooperation and coordination with area stakeholders. Projects recommended for funding are listed in Exhibit A.

Over 129 providers operate services for elderly and persons with disabilities in Texas. Last year these services carried over 1.5 million riders and traveled almost 7 million miles. Fifty-eight of these providers are included in this award. We recommend your approval of this minute order.

MR. HOUGHTON: Any questions of Eric? Motion?

MR. HOLMES: Motion.

MR. MEADOWS: Second.

MR. HOUGHTON: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. HOUGHTON: Passes. Thank you, Eric.

MR. GLEASON: Agenda item 3(b) awards approximately $12.1 million of available and an estimated anticipated total of approximately $20.1 million in federal funds under the FTA Section 5311 Nonurbanized Program to rural transit districts for rural public transportation. The amount available at this time for award reflects FTA apportionments for fiscal year 2010 funds consistent with the continuing appropriation resolution passed by Congress minus a required 15 percent set-aside for intercity bus program needs plus a remaining balance of previous fiscal year Section 5311 federal apportionments. The formula for allocating Section 5311 funds is established in the Texas Administrative Code.

There are 38 rural transit districts in Texas, operating a fleet of almost 1,300 vehicles. Last fiscal year these systems carried more than 4.9 million riders and operated over 26 million revenue miles of service. These services these transit districts provide are, in many cases, critically needed mobility options for transit-dependent individuals in the rural areas of the state. They provide access to jobs, healthcare, education, shopping, recreation and social opportunities for persons who have no other means of travel available to them. Staff recommends approval of this minute order.

MR. HOUGHTON: Questions of Eric? Motion?

MR. HOLMES: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MR. HOUGHTON: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. GLEASON: Agenda item 3(c) awards approximately 322,000 transportation development credits to the Greater Southeast Management District in Houston. Transportation development credits will be used as the local match for transit and pedestrian access infrastructure improvements in the City of Houston. These improvements include design and construction of street scape improvements to enhance pedestrian access to bus systems and facilities, construction of bicycle and pedestrian trails in Houston's Third Ward, and planning for a transit terminal in the Greater Southeast Management District. Taken together, these improvements will connect residents living in the community with access to employment, shopping and medical services via transit.

Use of TDCs for these purposes is consistent with current department goals. Federal funds leveraged under this minute order total almost $1.6 million. Staff recommends approval of this minute order.

MR. HOUGHTON: Questions, commissioners?

MR. HOLMES: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MR. HOUGHTON: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. HOUGHTON: One more, Eric, right?

MR. GLEASON: Two more, sir.

MR. HOUGHTON: Two more, I'm sorry.

MR. GLEASON: Agenda item 3(d) awards approximately 603,000 transportation development credits to three public transportation agencies to be used as local match for federally funded transit capital projects.

Brazos Transit District is requesting the transfer of a remaining rural program TDC balance of approximately 534,000 to projects in both their rural and urban area capital programs to assist with other capital projects in their service area. Golden Crescent Regional Planning Commission is requesting approximately 30,000 TDCs to help match a federal award for replacement fleet in the urbanized area of Victoria. And finally, Rolling Plains Management Corporation is requesting 39,000 TDCs to help match a federal award to replace a rural program fleet.

This award is consistent with Minute Order 110771 passed in December of 2006 where the commission expressed its intent to award TDCs for these purposes. Staff recommends approval of this minute order.

MR. HOUGHTON: Questions of Eric? Motion?

MR. HOLMES: So moved.

MR. HOUGHTON: Second?

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MR. HOUGHTON: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. HOUGHTON: Okay, Eric.

MR. GLEASON: Last one. Agenda item 3(e) awards approximately $675,000 of Federal Section 5316 Job Access Reverse Commute Program funds and 72,000 transportation development credits to Golden Crescent Regional Planning Commission. These funds and TDCs were originally awarded to Work Force Solutions Golden Crescent in March of 2008. Work Force Solutions has informed the department they are not able to manage the project and that Golden Crescent Regional Planning Commission has agreed to assume responsibility for the project.

Golden Crescent has experience with a similar effort already in place and is well suited to implement this project. Staff recommends approval of this minute order.

MR. HOUGHTON: Questions of Eric? Motion?

MR. UNDERWOOD: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MR. HOUGHTON: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. HOUGHTON: Eric, thank you.

MR. GLEASON: Thank you.

MR. HOUGHTON: Thank you for your work.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Eric.

Agenda item number 4, commissioners, deals with the promulgation of administrative rules. 4(a) deals with final adoption, and Carol Rawson will present rules of Chapter 25 for final adoption.

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

Medical examiners and justices of the peace are required under state law to report certain information regarding traffic fatalities to the department. Senate Bill 1218 from the 81st Session requires that these reports note if the fatality occurred due to a bridge collapse, and if so, the count in which the bridge was located. The proposed amendment will implement the requirements of this legislation. The proposed amendments were published in the December 4, 2009 edition of the Texas Register and no public comments were received. We recommend approval of this minute order.

MR. HOUGHTON: Questions of Carol?

MR. HOLMES: Carol, we didn't add their phone number in this, did we?

MS. RAWSON: No, sir, we sure didn't, nothing to do with it.

(General laughter.

MR. HOLMES: So moved.

MR. MEADOWS: Second.

MR. HOUGHTON: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. HOUGHTON: Thank you, Carol.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Carol.

Agenda item 4(b) deals with proposed adoption, and Bob Jackson will present proposed repeal of rules.

MR. JACKSON: Bob Jackson, general counsel. House Bill 3097 created the Department of Motor Vehicles last session. The bill provided that commission rules governing the functions of the new DMV would continue to serve as rules of the DMV starting November 1, the DMV has recently adopted its own rules, so it's now the appropriate time to go ahead and repeal the commission's rules concerning DMV functions. This minute order proposes the repeal of those rules.

MR. HOUGHTON: Questions? Motion?

MR. HOLMES: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MR. HOUGHTON: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. HOUGHTON: Thank you, Bob.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Bob.

Agenda item 4(b)(2) deals with proposed adoption of some rules dealing with contract and grant management, and Steve Simmons, deputy executive director, will present that minute order.

MR. SIMMONS: Good morning, commissioners. For the record, I'm Steve Simmons, deputy executive director for the Texas Department of Transportation. I'm presenting item 4(b)(2).

Proposed Chapter 9, Subchapter H grants sanctions, allows the department to impose sanctions on a sub-grantee if the department determines that the sub-grantee has failed to comply with law, grant conditions or contractual agreements of the award. Amendments to Chapter 31 simply remove the sanction provisions in that chapter and refer to the new grant sanctions provisions in proposed Subchapter H.

The department is required by federal law to monitor sub-grantee compliance with federal and state laws. The proposed subchapter is based on and is consistent with the Uniform Grant Management Standards for state agencies adopted by the Governor's Office. Additionally, the proposed rules are in line with the department's emphasis on internal compliance and will ensure accountability for the expenditure of public funds.

These rules apply only to sub-grants awarded under these sections of department rules: Chapter 11, Statewide Transportation Enhancement Program; Chapter 25, Safe Routes to Schools Program; Chapter 25, Traffic Safety Programs; Chapter 30, Aviation Facilities Development and Financial Assistance Rules; Chapter 31, State Programs and Federal Programs.

The sanctions available under proposed Subchapter H are withholding of funds or disallowance of costs, suspension or termination of all or part of the sub-grant, and determination of temporary or permanent ineligibility for a sub-grant award. Each of these sanctions is tied to specific acts.

As for the sanction process, an assistant executive director or designee makes the decision to sanction a sub-grantee and may consider as a mitigating factor whether the sub-grantee has an internal ethics and compliance program that satisfies Section 1.8 of our rules. The sub-grantee receives a notice of the sanction by mail that gives details of the sanction and states the sub-grantee may appeal the sanction. The appeal is to the department's executive director.

Shannon Venable met with the Public Transportation Advisory Committee, or PTAC, to discuss these proposed rules and PTAC recommended their adoption at its March 4, '09 meeting. Staff recommends approval of this minute order and I'll be happy to answer any questions.

MR. HOUGHTON: Questions? Motion?

MR. UNDERWOOD: So moved.

MR. MEADOWS: Second.

MR. HOUGHTON: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. HOUGHTON: Thanks, Steve. Passes.

MR. SIMMONS: Thank you.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you.

Agenda item 4(b)(3), Carol Rawson will come back to the podium and present some proposed rules dealing with speed zones studies.

MS. RAWSON: Once again for the record, I'm Carol Rawson, deputy director of the Traffic Operations Division.

This proposed amendment revises a portion of the department's existing rules for setting speed limits on the state highway system. Currently, a district may develop an interim speed limit on a new or reconstructed highway but is not required to do so. This amendment will require the creation and posting of an interim speed limit when a new roadway is opened. This will help ensure that a safe and lawful speed limit is posted as soon as possible.

A second speed limit study will be conducted once traffic has stabilized on the new highway to determine if the interim speed limit should be replaced. We recommend approval of this minute order.

MR. HOUGHTON: Thank you, Carol. Any questions?

MR. HOLMES: Carol, this was driven by an incident that kind of brought it to light.

MS. RAWSON: Yes, sir.

MR. HOLMES: How quickly will that speed limit be put on, the initial temporary speed limit at opening of the road.

MS. RAWSON: Yes, sir, that's exactly it. And as a matter of fact, even before the rules have actually been passed, Mr. Saenz has sent something out to the districts saying that this is of great importance, to make sure that there is a posted speed limit whenever a road opens.

MR. HOLMES: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MR. HOUGHTON: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. HOUGHTON: Passes. Thank you, Carol.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Carol.

Agenda item number 5, commissioners, John Barton is going to come up and give us some very good news on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or Economic Stimulus I. John.

MR. BARTON: Thank you, Director Saenz. Good morning, commissioners. For the record, my name is John Barton, the assistant executive director for Engineering Operations here at the Texas Department of Transportation.

This morning I wanted to provide to you a brief overview of our status regarding the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for the month of February 2010.

Just quickly, based on numbers that we had on January 31 of 2010, under the highway and bridge program we had obligated about $1.7 billion of those funds, issued contracts on approximately $1.4 billion spent about $350 million on 470 projects that have been executed to date, 117 of which have been completed, and have provided job opportunities to either create or retain positions with construction companies of about 6,126. Again, these were as of January 31.

The transit program has been fully obligated for quite some time on 68 grant projects and has spent approximately $16-1/2 million, creating over 86,000 job hours for employees across the State of Texas and other states. And then the aviation program on six projects has been fully obligated as well for some time, again, creating over 28,000 hours of job opportunities for individuals.

This is, I think, the news that Mr. Saenz was talking about. I am proud to tell you that I am able to uphold my word to you last month and stand before you today sharing with you that 100 percent of the highway and bridge program, transit program, and aviation program have been obligated as of February 24, yesterday afternoon. That does exceed the deadline which is March 1, a couple of days from now, and during the time between now and September 30 of 2010, we will continue to move forward with the projects that you selected and fully funded under the Recovery Act. And should funding become available due to project underruns or other things, we will re-obligate those funds to other projects in the days ahead.

Just a few quotes that I wanted to share with you as I talked for a minute. Over 507 projects have been selected under the highway and bridge program portion of the Recovery Act, and I'll focus most of my attention on that, simply because through the leadership of Dave Fulton and his staff and Eric Gleason and his staff at the Aviation and Public Transportation Divisions, respectively, those two programs have been fully obligated for quite some time.

It's not often in one's career when you've had an opportunity to be a part of a program such as this. I stood before you at your February commission meeting last year to initiate this particular process when you selected many projects from across the state and encouraged us to reach out to our transportation planning partners at the MPOs to continue to develop a list of projects that you subsequently approved in the following week, the first week of March in 2009.

The success that we've enjoyed in this program has received national attention. At some times I think that people felt like we were not going to meet the goal and not obligate the funds by March 1, but through your leadership and that of Director Saenz and Deputy Director Steven Simmons, we were given the resources and the encouragement and the support we needed to be able to do this successfully. And as this one says, Act as though it's impossible to fail, although it is attributed to an anonymous author, I think that I've heard Mr. Saenz, Mr. Simmons and Mr. Casteel tell that to me many times over the last twelve months.

There are too many individuals to name that deserve special recognition because of the success of this, and this is momentous. Again, I've had the opportunity to travel across our nation and talk about the program that you, through your wisdom as a commission, implemented here in Texas that not only did many projects to preserve our system but also built projects that will provide long-lasting economic benefits for the State of Texas and were brought forward through the Recovery Act.

But I do feel like I need to give some recognition to some groups and individuals. Our TxDOT district, division and office staffs have worked tirelessly throughout the last twelve months to make this happen. Designers, planners, engineers, technicians, inspectors throughout all of the department's organization structure have done a great job, and those men and women, although I couldn't name them all, certainly are the ones that deserve most of the recognition and appreciation.

Our Federal Highway Transportation partners here in Texas have certainly stepped up to the plate as well, and they too have been more than willing to step out of the normal processes to help us get things done and have been with us 24 hours a day, seven days a week to make this happen. And then our metropolitan planning organization partners have worked tirelessly as well and have coordinated efforts with many communities across our state to select projects and then get them in a position to move forward to construction.

I think it goes without saying that the people are the reason that these types of projects can move forward, and this is just a photograph of one project, I believe in the Yoakum District, that shows you the type of distress that was on our roadways and ultimately is being reconstructed and rehabilitated so that the public in that area will have a new roadway, for all intents and purposes that will serve them for many years to come.

And individuals such as these shown today are the ones that deserve really all the credit for this success. They have worked on many projects from across the state that have been both in rural and urban areas to take care of needs and to refurbish and rehabilitate many roadways as well as build some new ones. And again, it's the people within these agencies, the Federal Highway Administration, the MPOs and TxDOT that have made it possible.

So I'll close by just telling you congratulations to you, commissioners, for leading us through this cause, Mr. Saenz and Mr. Simmons for the great leadership that they have provided for us, Mr. Casteel for taking the reins and carrying this through with the field operations. And two individuals in particular deserve noteworthy credit, and those are Larry Tegtmeyer, your district engineer from the Wichita Falls District, and Mr. Mark Marek, your director of the Design Division, who have worked with many, many others to lead this and to watch over this and to make it successful.

So I am extremely proud and honored to be able to stand before you telling you that we have met the mark, we have delivered what I believe is the most robust and effective Recovery Act funded program in the nation, and I am very humbled and proud to be a small part of it. And if you would indulge me, for ceremonial purposes, if nothing else, I would like to ask all of the people that are gathered here today to join me in a round of applause for all the men and women that made this possible.

(Applause.)

MR. HOUGHTON: That's a report, there's no action item. Any questions or comments by the commissioners?

MR. HOLMES: John, do you think that there will be some additional funds to re-obligate between now and September?

MR. BARTON: There will, Commissioner Holmes. We already know that some projects are anticipated to be completed without exhausting all the funds that were obligated to them, so we'll have an opportunity to fund some additional projects and we'll be bringing those items back to your attention in the upcoming months.

MR. HOLMES: And do you have a sense of size?

MR. BARTON: It's a little too early to tell, but if I were to estimate at this point in time, it would be probably in the $50 million range.

MR. MEADOWS: John, obviously I think we all believe and recognize this is a real accomplishment on the part of this staff, working through a process of this magnitude that came about really very suddenly. As these things go, this was sudden and we reacted, we reacted in a responsive fashion but also a very inclusive fashion as we reached out to all of the stakeholders and our transportation partners in this state really is amazing.

But you know, say again the total number of dollars. I want everybody to understand that what we were able to do in terms of getting the dollars in the door and out the door to projects, total dollars in this program.

MR. BARTON: In this particular program, statewide was over $2.6 billion that were implemented in less than twelve months' time.

MR. HOUGHTON: On top of our regular program.

MR. BARTON: On top of our regular program.

MR. MEADOWS: It is amazing. And what is remarkable about it is we're going to see the results of that very quickly, we already are. Thank you.

MR. BARTON: We already have.

MR. MEADOWS: Thank you. You're really to be congratulated, you and your staff

MR. HOUGHTON: John, I have a question. That road in the Yoakum District, is that road anywhere close to former Executive Director Mike Behrens?

MR. BARTON: Actually, it's not. I had the opportunity to be in the Yoakum District not too long ago and I noticed that Mr. Gregorcyk, your district engineer there in the Yoakum District, has not taken very good care of his former boss and our former executive director, and the roads in his particular neighborhood could stand some attention, but unfortunately, Mr. Gregorcyk has chosen not to address those.

MR. HOUGHTON: What have you done for me lately kind of a deal. Right?

MR. BARTON: That's right, yes, sir.

(General laughter.)

MR. HOUGHTON: Thank you, John. I think you're up again. Are you doing 6?

MR. BARTON: I think that's going to be deferred.

MR. SAENZ: John, thank you, and really the biggest thanks go to John. John was our lead on this thing and did a miraculous job, so thank you, John.

Commission, agenda item number 6, you heard yesterday in our discussion item that there still is not a second economic stimulus program, so we're deferring that agenda item, and we're also going to defer agenda item number 7 for a later time, so we'll move on to agenda item number 8 that deals with Proposition 14 Bonds and the request for you all to approve going out there and authorizing us to issue some more, and Brian Ragland will present that minute order.

MR. RAGLAND: Thank you. For the record, I'm Brian Ragland, director of the Finance Division.

This proposed minute order approves the fifth supplemental resolution, the preliminary official statement, and other related documents for State Highway Fund bonds, otherwise known as Prop 14. The action would authorize issuance of up to $2.9 billion, $1.5- of that in this fiscal year. Staff recommends your approval.

MR. HOUGHTON: Questions from the commission? Motion?

MR. UNDERWOOD: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MR. HOUGHTON: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. RAGLAND: Thanks.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Brian.

John Barton will now come back for agenda item 8(b) to present the minute order on the Proposition 14 Bond Program.

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

The minute order before you at this time would authorize the additional funding from the Proposition 14 Bond Program for one project. It's for the Southwest Parkway/Chisholm Trail, or State Highway 121 project in the Fort Worth community. It is in the value of $91 million that would be provided through the Proposition 14 Bond Program, attributing and accounting toward the DFW MPO's allocation of Category 2 funding.

We also are asking for the re-prioritization of some previous funding that you had approved through two minute orders previous to today for some engineering work being done in the Houston District for several projects, as is shown on Exhibit A. The first page of your exhibit is the reconciliation, and if you will note that if you approve the minute order before you today, it will allow us to move forward with the partial funding of the Southwest Parkway/Chisholm Trail project, as well as some of the engineering services on many important projects in the Houston District, and leave a remaining balance of $305 million, approximately, in the Proposition 14 Bond Program total package.

So at this time, staff would be happy to try to answer any questions you may have, and if you have none, we would recommend your approval of this minute order.

MR. HOUGHTON: John, we're approving a piece of the financial package for the project at our special meeting yesterday which is Prop 14 for $91 million. Correct?

MR. BARTON: That is correct.

MR. HOUGHTON: I'd like to, first of all, thank you and James Bass, and again, I'm going to miss some people, for the lead that you all took on this unprecedented action that we took yesterday. I think the other commissioners, and I can't speak for them, they may want to say something, but what we did in these hard times, from a credit standpoint, a lack of revenue, again, I'm using the word unprecedented, in trying to get some major transportation assets, especially in the west Fort Worth area that's been on the books, I asked Jungus Jordan, council member, 40 years, and by our action, hopefully, these projects will move forward.

But unprecedented yesterday, I want to thank you I also want to thank your counterpart, Alan Clemson. I think the two of you teamed up to make something real happen yesterday. So that's what I'd like to say about the situation, and thank you very much.

MR. BARTON: Thank you. It's much appreciated.

MR. UNDERWOOD: I want to second that, John, for the work that you and Alan did. That was above and beyond the call of duty. You were thrown into an awkward situation and you came out with an excellent product, and I appreciate the work. Be sure and pass that on to Alan.

MR. BARTON: I will do that, and we certainly appreciated the opportunity.

MR. HOLMES: I'd like to also add my comment that you started with one project and ended up with two that would be a great benefit to the North Texas region. Good job.

MR. BARTON: Thank you.

MR. HOUGHTON: Is this an action item?

MR. BARTON: It is. We would recommend your approval of the minute order.

MR. HOUGHTON: There's an action item, and we've all had our say. A motion, please?

MR. HOLMES: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MR. HOUGHTON: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. HOUGHTON: Passes. Thanks, John.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, John. I think you have agenda item number 9 also.

MR. BARTON: Yes, sir.

MR. SAENZ: Agenda item number 9 deals with (didn't turn on microphone).

MR. BARTON: Yes, sir. Again, for the record, my name is John Barton. And item 9 that is before you now is a minute order that would authorize a call for projects to be developed under the department's Pass-Through Toll Program and designate a period of time for the department to accept project proposals from both public and private entities, as well as the conditions for the project proposals that could be considered.

As you recall, the Pass-Through Toll Program was implemented in 2004 and our rules provide that if the commission determines that funds are available for use in the program that are limited, that you may periodically limit calls for projects under which we can accept proposals for pass-through toll projects to be developed, and as well as to prescribe the conditions for the submission and the costs that we may consider to be reimbursable under the program call.

The initial Pass-Through Program call issued under these conditions was done in February of 2009, as you will recall, those that we are just now wrapping up, and funds have now been determined to be available for a second Pass-Through Program call. To extend the use of these funds to the greatest number of highway projects possible and to allow both public and private entities to have an equal chance to participate in the program, staff is recommending that applications be accepted for a 60-day period of time that would commence with the publication of a program call in the Texas Register and continue for 60 days. We also recommend that the proposals be limited to highway projects only and that the reimbursements allowed under the program call be for a portion of the construction costs only.

We estimate that a total funding allocation of $300 million from Category 12 would be available and would recommend that you approve that limit for the entire reimbursements available under this particular program call for those projects that are selected. So staff would recommend your approval of this minute order and I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

MS. DELISI: Any questions?

MR. HOUGHTON: No.

MS. DELISI: Is there a motion?

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Agenda item number 10, 10(a) deals with a request from Harris County, and John Barton will step in for Mark Tomlinson.

MR. BARTON: Yes, sir. Again, Director Saenz, Mark Tomlinson is not with us this morning, so on his behalf, I'll present item 10(a).

MR. SAENZ: He's out of town, he's still with us.

MR. BARTON: That's right, he's still with us in realms of this world but he's out of town.

Item 10(a) would authorize the designation of Segment F-2 of the Grand Parkway project which is the extent from State Highway 249 eastward to Interstate 45 in Harris County as a toll project and as a controlled access highway facility. The department has received final environmental clearance on the Grand Parkway State Highway 99 for this particular segment from State Highway 249 to I-45 as a tolled facility, we received that on December 31 of 2009.

This is a project that is twelve miles in length and the tolling elements would be that entire length. It would be an all-electric open road tolling facility with a closed ramp system in terms of toll collections and provide frontage roads for access purposes only in portions of the project.

For your information, segments of the Grand Parkway that have previously been designated as such to date are I-2 in Chambers County and then Segments E, F-1 and D on the western side of the Greater Houston Area. So staff would recommend your approval of this minute order and I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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

MR. HOLMES: Motion.

MR. HOUGHTON: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: John will now present agenda item 10(b), a minute order for Cameron County.

MR. SAENZ: Yes, Director Saenz. Item 10(b) presents a minute order that would authorize the executive director to negotiate and enter into a project development agreement with the Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority that provides for improvements to a portion of the state highway system.

The department, along with the Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority, have been working cooperatively to develop the State Highway 550 project that we are referring to in this minute order as the project. This project is for a new location, limited-access toll facility along portions of State Highway 550 from US 77/83 to State Highway 48 at a new Port of Brownsville entrance, including some direct connections providing southbound to eastbound and westbound to northbound movements at the intersection of US 77 and US 83.

The portion of the project in the vicinity of FM 1847 is currently under construction, building some overpasses at a railroad and roadway crossing, and other portions along a new location are scheduled to receive bids in early 2010 and were funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

On September 9 of 2009, the department and the Cameron County RMA executed a market valuation agreement for this project. On September 23 of 2009, the Brownsville Metropolitan Planning Organization approved the development of this project, and this project, of course, is going to provide an important north-south corridor serving as a relief route for traffic in this area as well as providing direct access to the Port of Brownsville.

Staff would recommend your approval of this minute order and I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

MS. DELISI: If there's no questions for John, I'd like to call up David Allex.

MR. ALLEX: Good morning, commissioners, glad to be here, one of many times. I'm David Allex, I'm serving as the Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority chairman, and I'm halfway through my third term.

I'm here to support item 10(b) as far as the first toll road in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Just real shortly we'll open up about 15,000 acres of Port of Brownsville owned property that we're looking at developing over the next 10, 20, 30 years. It will also give direct access to another portion of our master plan on the East Loop which would connect our international bridge systems on the south and east side of Brownsville from Mexico that will give us complete circular loop around the City of Brownsville out to the expressway systems, hopefully in the very near future, IH 69.

In the next 90 days, in June of this year, we will have groundbreaking ceremonies, CCRMA will have groundbreaking ceremonies for $165 million worth of projects, and as soon as we have those dates established, each one of you will be invited to participate in those types of groundbreaking ceremonies.

We're estimating that those five projects alone will create almost 10,000 jobs, I think the exact number is 9,972, and we had a little argument this morning at breakfast, we increased it to -73, so we're being very specific about the number of jobs we're going to create over the term.

The CCRMA has a ten-year program that is in place, that is working to invest about $1.7 billion on projects in Cameron County that are a variety of tourism, international impact, especially international impact on both Mexico and the United States. I'm talking about a second access causeway to the island which we need to have. That alone will create about $8 billion worth of new development on South Padre Island and we have letters of interest on those types of projects.

The new rail bridge going into Mexico which one of the five projects will have in the next 90 days, is close to $80 million. That will eliminate about 17 intersections in the City of Brownsville and another 17 to 20 intersections of rail in the City of Matamoros. The safety factor here is unbelievable when you consider when you have trucks and vehicular traffic that connects up and interferes with rail traffic.

We're extremely excited about these new opportunities. The new rail bridge will be the first international rail bridge on the United States-Mexican border in 105 years, and it's all happening Texas, it's all happening in Cameron County, and it's all happening with your CCRMA.

I want to have this opportunity to thank each and every one of you, and especially your staff down in the Valley and Amadeo and his staff for the support and the leadership that you have given us over the years. We're just starting and we're going to finish the job that by the year 2040 this existing program of work that we have now, that we're moving on right now, it's in writing, the gospel as far as our program of works are concerned, will create somewhere around 60- to 70,000 new jobs in Cameron County alone, it will create a mecca of tourism magnets that will provide the whole world to look at South Padre Island as a world destination rather than just a Texas or US destination.

Most all of these items that we have on our program of work for the next ten years is due primarily to our cooperation and our hard work with this commission, the governor and State of Texas, and Cameron County Commissioners Court and all the cities in Cameron County who have gone on record unanimously of supporting the CCRMA.

If I may be very candid, this is your baby, and we hope that in the years to come and the months to come that when you participate in our groundbreaking ceremonies, you'll become as proud as I am about the six members of my board and the cooperation that we're having from this body right here. So I say thank you so very much for your support.

MS. DELISI: Thank you, David.

MR. HOUGHTON: David, thank you very much. It's a pleasure working with you and the forward-thinking of the folks down in Cameron County. Thanks a lot.

MR. ALLEX: Our pleasure.

MS. DELISI: Can I get a motion?

MR. UNDERWOOD: 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.

Agenda item number 11 deals with Private Activity Bonds and James Bass, chief financial officer, will present two minute orders, 11(a) and 11(b).

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

Agenda item 11(a) will fill a vacancy on the Private Activity Bond Surface Transportation Corporation that was created when Mr. Serna was selected as executive director of the Department of Motor Vehicles. His replacement in the agenda item before you would be Scott Burford, and staff recommends your approval.

MS. DELISI: Is there a motion?

MR. HOLMES: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. BASS: Through agenda item 11(b), the commission would direct the corporation to carry out certain duties related to the LBJ managed lanes project. A couple of primary things to point out would be it would cover the transfer of the allocation the department and the commission had received from the US Department of Transportation for private activity bonds, it would be transferred to the corporation such that the corporation could then issue the debt and loan it to the developer in this instance.

It would also request the corporation to enter into a loan agreement with the developer associated with the LBJ project. There is a provision in there that directs the corporation to take whatever action is necessary in order to support the issuance of the related debt. And I would be happy to answer any questions, and if there are none, staff recommends your approval.

MR. HOLMES: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. BASS: Thank you.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, James.

Agenda item number 12, commission, Bill Glavin, Rail Division director, will present a minute order dealing with rail funding.

MR. GLAVIN: Good morning. For the record, my name is Bill Glavin, I'm the director of the Rail Division of the Texas Department of Transportation.

This minute order authorizes the department to expend $2 million in federal appropriation for infrastructure rehabilitation on the state-owned South Orient Rail Line from San Angelo to Coleman. The 2010 Federal Omnibus Act included $2 million in appropriations from the Railroad Relocation and Improvement Program to be used on the rehabilitation of the South Orient Rail Line.

The rehabilitation of this line is necessary for continued rail service and to provide adequate infrastructure and economic development efforts in the region. The department is in the process of rehabilitating the east end of the line between Coleman and San Angelo; the department is also developing a project to rehabilitate the line between San Angelo and Fort Stockton.

The majority of the planning and design for this additional segment of the line has already been completed. These funds will be combined with other federal, state, local and lessee funds to continue improvements to the line. The staff recommends approval of this minute order.

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, Bill.

Agenda item number 13 deals with finance, and Brian Ragland will present three minute orders.

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

The first item is 13(a). This proposed minute order accepts the annual update with respect to financial information and operational data on the Texas Mobility Fund. The disclosure includes the Comptroller's revenue forecast, a statement related to the legislature substituting dedicated revenues which they have never done, and the audited financial statements which you accepted in a previous minute order. Staff recommends your approval.

MS. DELISI: Any questions?

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. RAGLAND: The next item is a proposed minute order which accepts the annual report on the bonds secured by the State Highway Fund with respect to financial information and operating data. The disclosure includes summaries of the outstanding debt and debt service requirements as well as the financial statements of the department. Staff recommends your approval.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MS. DELISI: Is there a second?

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. RAGLAND: Item 13(c) is a proposed minute order which accepts the annual report with respect to the financial information and operating data on the Central Texas Turnpike System. The disclosure includes quantitative financial information, information operations, debt service requirements, the general engineering consultant's annual inspection report, toll rate schedule and also the audited financial statements which you have accepted in a previous minute order. Staff recommends your approval.

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. Commission, agenda item number 14 deals with the State Infrastructure Bank, and we have two items under State Infrastructure Bank and Brian will present both of those items.

MR. RAGLAND: Thank you. Item 14(a), this proposed minute order amends a minute order that you adopted in December which approved a SIB loan to the Camino Real RMA in the amount of $35 million for four direct connectors on I-10 at Loop 375 in El Paso. The RMA has provided additional security by the city which will lower the interest rate from 6 percent to 4.95 percent. The minute order also requires the execution of the agreement between the city and the RMA, as approved by TxDOT, and the creation of a valid transportation reinvestment zone. 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. RAGLAND: Item 14(b) is a proposed minute order which gives final approval for a SIB loan to the City of Florence in the amount of $138,190 to fund utility relocation along State Highway 195. Staff recommends approval.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. RAGLAND: Thank you.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Brian.

Agenda item number 15 deals with Transportation Planning. Jim Randall, director of the Transportation Planning and Programming Division, will present a minute order dealing with the appointment of members to the Port Authority Advisory Committee.

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

Item 15(a), this minute order appoints three members to the commission's Port Authority Advisory Committee. This seven-member committee provides a forum for the exchange of information between the Texas Transportation Commission, the department and committee members representing the Texas port industry and others who have an interest in Texas water ports.

These members need to be appointed to fill three vacant positions which represent the Upper Coast, the Lower Coast and the Port of Houston Authority. The following individuals are recommended to serve for three-year terms expiring on February 28, 2013: John LaRue with the Port of Corpus Christi, representing the Lower Coast; John Roby with the Port of Beaumont, representing the Upper Coast; and Alec G. Dreyer, Port of Houston Authority which is a dedicated seat on the committee. Staff recommends approval of these appointments.

MR. HOUGHTON: Any questions?

MR. HOLMES: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MR. HOUGHTON: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. HOUGHTON: Passes.

MR. SAENZ: Agenda item 15(b), commission, Jim will present a minute order dealing with the Border Colonia Access Program.

MR. RANDALL: In 2001 the legislature established a $175 million program to provide financial assistance for Border Colonia Access roadway projects. The department distributed the funds to the eligible counties in three program calls. This minute order corrects a typographical error in Minute Order 111442, dated July 31, 2008, which approved projects for funding under the third program call.

Hidalgo County was awarded $104,724 for a population allocation project identified as Colonia Esperanza #1. The department has determined that the documentation submitted by the county in response to the program call contained an error and the project described in the application is actually Colonia Esperanza #2. Staff recommends approval to correct this error and award the funds to Colonia Esperanza #2.

MR. HOUGHTON: Motion?

MR. UNDERWOOD: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. HOUGHTON: Passes. Thank you.

MR. SAENZ: Jim will continue and present agenda item 15(c) that deals with the approval of the organizational boundary for CAMPO.

MR. RANDALL: Okay, sir. As Mr. Saenz said, this minute order approves revisions to the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization's metropolitan area boundary.

Pursuant to Title 43, TAC, Section 15.3, revisions to metropolitan planning area boundaries must be approved by the governor or the governor's designee. On October 4, 2005, Governor Perry delegated authority to the commission to approve metropolitan area boundary changes. In accordance with Federal Regulations, a metropolitan planning area boundary shall, as a minimum, cover the urbanized area and the contiguous geographic area likely to become urbanized within the 20-year forecast period covered by the metropolitan transportation plan.

On January 11, 2010, the CAMPO policy board approved the expanded metropolitan area boundary to include the entire metropolitan statistical area which includes Bastrop and Caldwell Counties. Staff has reviewed and concurs with the proposed boundary changes and recommends your approval of this minute order. And I believe there's somebody that would like to speak.

MS. DELISI: There is. I'd like to call up Judge Ronnie McDonald, please.

JUDGE McDONALD: Good morning. Thank you, commission, for taking the time to hear me.

I just wanted to come and say that I'm in full support of expanding the boundaries. One of you is from Houston; which one is from Houston, raise your hand. I'm going to call you out because you understand the importance of traveling down 290 and 71 and sometimes you have traffic congestion. And here in Bastrop County our population has almost doubled and we understand the importance of planning, not only for Bastrop County but for our region and becoming part of the CAMPO region allows us to have a plan to make sure when individuals are leaving Austin going through Bastrop, going to God's country, Texas A&M to see the Aggies play -- you know where I come from.

(General laughter.)

JUDGE McDONALD: But seriously, we come just supporting this effort, making sure that we're part of the planning region that's going to make it better for the Central Texas area. Thank you for your time. I do also have one of my commissioners, Commissioner Pena, who is here with me also in support of the passage of the expanding of boundaries. Thank you. Any questions?

MR. HOLMES: Thank you for what you do.

MR. HOUGHTON: Thank you, Judge.

MR. RANDALL: I'm sorry, I didn't realize he was an Aggie.

MR. HOUGHTON: Do you want to change something?

MR. RANDALL: No, sir. A deal's a deal.

(General laughter.)

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Jim will now present agenda item 15(d) dealing with the Economically Disadvantaged County Program.

MR. RANDALL: Okay, sir. Transportation Code Section 222.053 requires the commission to report annually on the Economically Disadvantaged Counties Program to the governor, to the lieutenant governor and the speaker of the House of Representatives. The annual report documents the use of matching funds and local incentives, as well as the savings granted to counties participating in the program.

During fiscal year 2009, participating counties were granted over $3.2 million in relief from local match requirements. Since the program's inception in 1998, the department has granted adjustments to over 600 projects totaling over $47 million.

Staff recommends approval of the fiscal year 2009 annual report on the Economically Disadvantaged Counties Program as shown in Exhibit A. Upon your approval, the report will be presented to the governor, the lieutenant governor, and the speaker of the House of Representatives.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. RANDALL: Thank you.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Jim.

Agenda item 15(e), Brian Ragland will come back and present a minute order dealing with the Brownsville West Rail Relocation project.

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

This proposed minute order supplements two prior minute orders related to the development of Brownsville West Rail Relocation project for which the MPO is assigning their full stimulus allocation. The minute order removes the letting authorization requirement and instead stipulates the agreements and notification have to be completed before TxDOT authorizes the award of the construction contract. Staff recommends your approval.

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. SAENZ: Brian will now present agenda item number 16 which is a report dealing with our Obligation Limit.

MR. RAGLAND: This is the monthly report on where we stand on projects let and planned versus the annual letting caps. Through the February letting, and excluding the CDA commitments, approximately $490 million of the obligation limit has been utilized with another $723 million planned for the remainder of the year. Unless you have any questions, there's no action necessary on this item and that's all I have.

MS. DELISI: Do we have the latest gas tax numbers in here?

MR. RAGLAND: I do not have them. Traditionally James has spoken about those on this item, and as you know, they're down, I believe, 1.53 percent.

MS. DELISI: On the year, year to date?

MR. RAGLAND: Through February receipts. We had estimated .5 percent increase, so the swing is 2 percent against our forecast.

MR. HOUGHTON: James is on the edge of his seat back there. You're going to lean back, James? You have something to say? Ragland's got it.

(General laughter.)

MR. SAENZ: We have staff working, commission, to kind of bring us up to date with our projections versus where we're at for the year and to see what impact it would have on our letting, and we'll present it to you all the discussion item meeting at the end of March.

MR. HOLMES: The current run rate, though, would have it at about $50 million lower. Is that right?

MR. RAGLAND: About $52-.

MR. HOLMES: Fifty-two.

MR. RAGLAND: Approximately. And again, it's all diesel.

I heard something on the news this morning about some trucking organization saying that the freight deliveries are up, and I meant to Google it this morning and I didn't get around to it, but there was some news report, it is what it is. Thank you.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Brian.

Agenda item number 17 deals with our contracts. We have two items, 17(a) deals with award or rejection of our highway improvement contracts, and Ken Barnett will present that minute order.

MR. BARNETT: Good morning. Ken Barnett from the Construction Division.

Item 17(a)(1) is consideration of award or rejection of Highway Maintenance and Department Building Construction contracts let on February 9 and 10. We had 22 projects; average number of bidders was 6.09; we had a 6.54 percent underrun this month. Staff is recommending award of all Maintenance and Building Construction contracts.

Built into this recommendation is the rejection of two bid errors submitted by one contractor on two maintenance contracts. This individual failed to convert a quote in gallons to tons and then carried that error through their entire bid preparation. This is almost identical to an error we had a couple of months ago which we also recommended not accepting. I'll be happy to take any questions.

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. BARNETT: Agenda item 17(a)(2) is consideration of award or rejection of Highway and Transportation Enhancement Building Construction contracts let on February 9 and 10. We had 73 projects; averaged 6.07 bidders per project; and we had an overall underrun of 8 percent. Staff is recommending award of all construction projects.

Also built into this recommendation is we are recommending not to accept another bid error submission. This particular contractor, in preparation of their electronic bid, failed to check any of their prices and on two particular items the price was significantly under what they intended to bid, even though the electronic system showed them up in the top right corner what they were bidding. So therefore, we can't say this meets the criteria for a bid error and we recommend that you not accept it. I'll take any questions.

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. SAENZ: Agenda item 17(b), commission, is an item also Ken will present dealing with a maintenance contract to be awarded to the second low bidder.

MR. BARNETT: Agenda item 17(b) is consideration of the award of a highway maintenance contract, RMC 6202-41-001 in Gregg County. This contract was let on December 15, the low bidder has failed to enter into the contract with the department, and in accordance with our rules, we are recommending to the commission that we award the contract to the second low bidder at the first low bidder's price. Staff is recommending that we award to the second low bidder at the first low bidder's price, and we're happy to take any questions.

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. SAENZ: Thank you, Ken.

Agenda item 18, commissioners, is our Routine Minute Orders dealing with donations to the department, eminent domain proceedings, highway designations, load zones and postings, right of way disposition and donations, and speed zones. Staff will be happy to answer questions on any specific minute order, but we would recommend approval of all minute orders in your packet.

MS. DELISI: Are there any questions? How about 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: No executive session.

MS. DELISI: This completes all the action items on the agenda. Is there anyone signed up for open comment?

MR. SAENZ: No, ma'am.

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. UNDERWOOD: So moved.

MR. HOUGHTON: Before that, is this a record?

MS. DELISI: It's a record with you present.

MR. MEADOWS: I know that is true.

MR. HOUGHTON: I think this is just a record.

MS. DELISI: I don't know. There was a June meeting, I think, that was pretty quick too.

MR. MEADOWS: Where you were not present and we were home by now.

(General laughter.)

MR. HOUGHTON: Second.

MS. DELISI: Thank you. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes. Please note for the record that it is 10:17 a.m. and this meeting stands adjourned.

(Whereupon, at 10:17 a.m., the meeting was concluded.)

C E R T I F I C A T E

MEETING OF: Texas Transportation Commission Workshop
Special Meeting
LOCATION: Austin, Texas
DATE: February 25, 2010
I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 73 inclusive, are the true, accurate, and complete transcript prepared from the verbal recording made by electronic recording by Nancy King before the Texas Transportation Commission.





3/02/2010
(Transcriber) (Date)

On the Record Reporting, Inc.
3307 Northland, Suite 315
Austin, Texas 78731





 

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