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Texas Department of Transportation Commission Meeting

McNease Convention Center
500 Rio Concho Drive
San Angelo, Texas 76903

Thursday, July 30, 2009


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


Amadeo Saenz, Executive Director
Steve Simmons, Deputy Executive Director
Angie Parker, Office of General Counsel
Roger Polson, Executive Assistant to the Deputy Executive Director


MS. DELISI: Good morning. It is 9:01 a.m. and I call the regular 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 4:10 p.m. on July 22, 2009.

Before we begin today's meeting, please take a moment to set all of your pagers and cell phones and other electronic devices on the silent mode, please.

The records show that this is the third time the commission has met in San Angelo, and it's been almost 14 years since the last meeting in the Concho River Valley. We're glad to be here. I thank each of you for the warm welcome we've received and I thank all the TxDOT employees who have been working so hard to make this meeting a reality. You've made our visit enjoyable and productive. We've had an interesting and informative trip and look forward to a productive meeting today. I welcome all citizens who are viewing this meeting via the web. In addition to our live streaming, an archive of the web cast will be available on our web site within the next 24 hours.

Now, as is our custom, my fellow commission members will make opening comments, beginning with Commissioner Bill Meadows.

MR. MEADOWS: Thank you, Madame Chair. You know, 14 years is too long. I can't believe that's how long it's been since we've been in San Angelo because I will tell you, the hospitality, the extraordinary welcome that we have received into this beautiful and impressive community is truly appreciated. I have to tell you it started yesterday and I saw Doc Anderson come in a moment ago of course, he wouldn't have known this, but you know you're really somebody when the State Representative Drew Darby is standing at the bottom stairs of the airplane welcoming you to the community. That's how it's been from the time we arrived till this very moment.

We had a delightful dinner last night at Fort Concho; our employees did a spectacular job, as they always do, entertaining us, but maybe more importantly, informing us as to what it is that is going on in this region. And when this commission has the opportunity to get out, when this commission has the opportunity to get out and see what's going on, the good things that are going on in the State of Texas, we do learn, and I think it helps us make better decisions.

So I just want to thank you all, everybody in this room that's had a part in welcoming us and making this a very productive and enjoyable visit to this great community. Thank you.

MR. UNDERWOOD: I'd like to associate myself with my fellow colleague's comments. I'm not quite as verbose as he is, but I do appreciate all the hospitality of all our employees and also all the elected officials. And I do want to share one thing that I shared last night and I want to make sure the audience understands that there are 180, 181 legislators depends on how you look at it there's very few statesmen, and one of them is Drew Darby a lot of legislators, very few statesmen, and you are very fortunate to have him represent you.

We appreciate the time to be here, look forward to hearing your comments. Thank you.

MR. HOLMES: Thank you very much for the warm welcome. We enjoyed our afternoon reception, the dinner with the employees, seeing our chair shoot the cannon. And we really do appreciate this great turnout, it shows a level of interest in your community and a commitment to your community, and it helps us understand your needs better, and we appreciate the warm welcome. Thank you.

MR. HOUGHTON: Good morning, and I echo the sentiments of my fellow commissioners. We've had just a wonderful time here. And, Walter, thank you for the hospitality of the district. Our employees are outstanding, above and beyond the call of duty, as usual, and I can imagine, Walter, that you'll be glad to see us leave too it's like relatives coming, nice to see you and nice to see you leave. But thank you very much.

Representative Anderson, nice seeing you here today, all the way from Waco. And Representative Darby, thank you for your hospitality. And I did get to see the train, the engine that said South Orient last night. So thank you very much for your hospitality.

MS. DELISI: 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 during the open comment period at the end, and for those comments, please fill out a blue card. Regardless of the color of card, we ask that you please limit your comments to three minutes.

And now, as is custom for out of town commission trips, we give local city and county officials a chance to let us know about the important activities going on within their community, so at this point, I'd like to ask our San Angelo District engineer, Walter McCullough, to introduce today's presentation.

MR. McCULLOUGH: For the record, I'm Walter McCullough, district engineer for the San Angelo District, Texas Department of Transportation. Good morning, commissioners, Chair Delisi, Mr. Saenz. And yes, we will invite you back next month if it rains again.

The last opportunity that the commission had to come to San Angelo was in 1995, and certainly that is too long. A lot of things have changed, and again, we are proud and pleased to showcase our district and the activities that we do. At this time we have a short video presentation that specifically highlights some of the activities from our district, so at this time we will run that video.

(Whereupon, the video was shown.)

MR. McCULLOUGH: Thank you. At this time I would specifically like to recognize Travel Division employees that have helped us with this. That would be Debbie Snyder and Bernard Stafford, as well as Karen Threlkeld, our public information officer here in San Angelo. I think they did a great job with that.

I will come back to some specific points in reference to our district operations in a moment, however, at this time I'd like to recognize our State Representative Drew Darby, and ask him to come and address the commission, give him that opportunity. So at this time, Representative Drew Darby.

MR. DARBY: Thank you, Walter. Madame Chair, commissioners, Amadeo, Roger, it's great to see you. I've welcomed you three or four times already and I know you're getting tired of my welcoming, but I hope you're not getting tired of our appreciation and my expression of our appreciation to each of you for taking time to come to our community and be a part of the process, and I think that's important.

In the last session and the special session, TxDOT seems to be a convenient target. At times it appears to me that it's almost like a pi ata: The more times you hit the pi ata, the more candy or some would think more money would seem to fall out. But I believe that TxDOT has a critical important role in the success of Texas and the growth of Texas as we move forward into the next century.

The challenge has always been how do we find the resources to deal with these problems, and as most things occur in life, our revenue and revenue stream will almost a rising tide will float all boats, and I know that's a challenge and you have to deal with every day, as I do and Doc Anderson by the way, Doc, thank you for coming; a pleasant surprise to see my colleague here today but I'm sure Doc will also echo the fact that it's popular to bash TxDOT. And I for one and I know Doc Anderson is another would like to use every opportunity we can to build up TxDOT, not to tear it down, to give you the tools that are necessary for you to succeed, and if you succeed, then the people in this room succeed and the people of Texas succeed.

And I pledge to you my support to continue to try to find revenue sources that will allow you to do your job, and I know your challenge is to make sure those resources are used wisely and appropriately and you prioritize that, and that's the challenge for you today as you consider some of these projects.

I will submit to you, as the video showed, that TxDOT is not some group of appointed members of our state, career individuals who lead some bureaucratic agency that's not responsive, TxDOT is the people you saw in that video, TxDOT are the people you met last night at the barbecue, they're the Doug Roberts, the Jane Grays, the Debbie I forgot Debbie's last name that I met last night. But I want to stress again how important it is that this is the face of TxDOT, this is the 13,600 employees that you have and that you have responsibility over, and are the State's responsibility and state employees for us.

And that's the TxDOT that I want you to continue to send the message out this is an agency that has worth, that has value, that has a purpose, and that we need to make sure we direct that purpose for the betterment of Texas and it's not simply a bunch of bureaucrats, it's the people that live and work in our community, that go out in the middle of the night and make sure our roads are sanded in icy conditions, it's the wives that work and teach in our schools, it's the volunteers in our communities. That's the face of TxDOT that I keep trying to promote to my colleagues in the Texas House. Let's stop bashing TxDOT and let's start giving them the tools necessary to meet the challenge, and so I continue to pledge my efforts in that regard.

Let me say briefly, a couple of those projects that were mentioned: Martifer is very near and dear to my heart and it's an asset that I think is extremely valuable to the State of Texas. We own it and a lot of people didn't know that, but the State of Texas owns this rail line. My predecessor in office, Judge Junell, saved the railroad. My challenge is to make it work, my challenge is to give it the resources that it can be the economic driver that will spur Texas, and in particular West Texas, to greater economic glories. And I appreciate everything that you have done to assist and coordinate the resources to make that vision happen. I think that vision will pay many, many dividends for all of us for many, many years to come, and I congratulate you for that and for your efforts in helping us fulfill this vision.

Also, I want to thank you for anything you can do with regards to Ports-to-Plains. I think Chairman Cauthorn from Del Rio expressed it best: if we can devote some of the resources that we have to fix our congestion problems, let's devote it to the Ports-to-Plains. We can take those trucks off of the busy commuter system and the I-35 corridor, we can move them to the less populated areas, less wear and tear on our roads, and less congestion in the I-35 corridor. And so I would submit to you as we go through the challenge of finding resources to support that Ports-to-Plains corridor, I would hope that it would be very high on your priority list.

But I've taken much more than three minutes, and I apologize, Chair Delisi, but I do again want to tell you that you have friends, you have friends in the legislature, you have friends in West Texas, and certainly you have friends here in San Angelo and the Concho Valley. And thank you again, sincerely, for coming to our great community. Thank you.

MR. McCULLOUGH: Thank you, Representative Darby, appreciate those comments.

Now at this time I would like to recognize Mr. Jon Mark Hogg, mayor pro tem for the City of San Angelo. Mayor, we certainly appreciate the opportunity to meet here in the facilities that you have, they're great.

MAYOR HOGG: Thank you, Walter. Welcome, good morning again. On behalf of the City of San Angelo, and not just the city government of San Angelo but the entire community of San Angelo, we want to thank you, commissioners and Mr. Saenz and Mr. Polson, and all of your staff for taking the time to come to San Angelo, to see and talk with us and hear our needs and concerns. I want to share with Representative Darby, share his sentiment regarding who TxDOT is and the important part that it plays.

I like to tell the story of my father-in-law who is a retired engineer from the Texas Department of Transportation, or the old Highway Department, and he began working on the plans for Houston Harte Expressway before my wife was born and we finally got it done after my daughter was born. So thanks to Representative Junell and the hard work of the district engineers and lots of people that was able to come to pass.

We were driving down Loop 306 just earlier this week in the 100-plus heat and the TxDOT employees were out there working diligently in the heat of the day to do that, and my wife said to me: I don't know how much they're paid but it's not enough. And I hope I didn't mess you up there on your Appropriations Committee, Drew, but that's just the God's truth.

I can't add anything more to what was presented in the video as far as what our issues are with transportation here in the San Angelo area. As you saw, the challenges that Walter and his staff have are not just dealing with an urban environment but an urban environment and a rural environment at the same time and the challenges that go with that.

We talk about economic development a lot, but I can honestly say that economic development, the key that we always overlook in economic development is the important part that transportation plays. Probably the biggest economic development benefit that we have received in recent years is the completion of the Houston Harte Expressway. I can't tell you how much that has improved the retail trade and business in and around San Angelo. Economic development means nothing if we don't have the proper facilities for people to get here and for goods and services to move in and out of here.

We also want to thank you for your hard work, both on our Loop 306 projects, the Ports-to-Plains that have been done and I know in the future will be done, and also particularly thank you for your diligent work with the legislature and with Representative Darby on a project for the South Orient Railroad, particularly with the Ballinger line, how important that was to Martifer and the Martifer-Hirschfeld program coming in.

In addition to that, the contributions that you have given in that regard and the hard work that has been done by your staff has allowed us to use that as an opportunity to leverage funds. There has been an appropriation through Congress that Representative Conaway has put in to help us with our safety railroad crossings in the City of San Angelo, 42 crossings, to also improve that. And of course, our biggest need is the rail, our economic development, every time we're talking to businesses, particularly anybody in heavy industry and in particular with the wind industry, rail is crucial to their success, and so we are also eager and glad to support the project with the TIGER grant that I know you'll be taking up later today to improve that line through Fort Stockton.

Again, we want to thank you very much for your time today and I appreciate and want to thank you also for your public service to the State of Texas. Thank you.

MR. McCULLOUGH: Thank you, Mayor Hogg.

At this time I would like to ask Tom Green County Judge Mike Brown to come and offer some comments this morning. Mike is certainly one of our diligent individuals that worked with us on our MPO and he's concerned not only about issues and transportation in our county but also in our entire West Texas region. Judge Brown.

JUDGE BROWN: Thank you, Walter. Welcome, Chairman Delisi, commissioners, Amadeo. Thanks for coming, thanks for bringing the rain, we needed it, and you can take all the credit you want.

I would like to echo everything that's been said so far. The video was excellent, the legislature has done a fine job of funding you and you have done an excellent job of providing leadership for the Texas Department of Transportation, getting Drew to find the funding that we need out here. I would like to say, as has been said before, that the key to economic development which is the key to the lifeblood of any community and any area, is infrastructure, and Texas has had the honor of having the best infrastructure in the world, and I would echo the fact that you are doing a very good job of trying to maintain that infrastructure and keep it that way.

The roads, the highways that move the food, fiber and energy to the major metropolitan areas cannot be overlooked, they have to be maintained. Providing that food, fiber and energy to the metropolitan areas is primary, and we thank you for doing everything that you can to help us do that. Tom Green County, we're describing ourselves now, statewide county officials are getting together and describing counties like Tom Green as transitional counties, we're transitioned between rural and urban, we're fast-growing, we have all the problems that urban counties have but we're rural at our heart, and so the economic development issues are primary in everything we do and everything is key to infrastructure.

So I thank you for everything you do and keep thinking about us out here, and thank you for coming and don't wait so long the next time. Thank you.

MR. McCULLOUGH: At this time to recognize some fellow district engineers from West Texas that are here with us today, and if you would, gentlemen, would you stand as I introduce you. Mike McAnally from Odessa, Terry Keener from Childress, Howard Holland from Amarillo, Lauren Garduno from Abilene, and Doug Eichorst from Lubbock. Have I missed anyone? Thank you for being here today.

I'd also like to recognize our San Angelo District employees, and I know several are here this morning, and if they would just stand, please, all the San Angelo District employees. Let's give them a hand.


MR. McCULLOUGH: These individuals are very dedicated to what they do. They work hard, they're career employees, they give it 110 percent, and they represent this department well, and they represent you commissioners well. Thank you.

At this time I'd like to present some specific items in regard to the San Angelo District. We are the second largest district in the state with over 19,000 square miles, 15 counties, with 7,300 lane miles, our largest challenge is our preservation of the system as well as safety to the traveling public.

One of the keys to the operations in San Angelo has been the ability to assist other districts in the area of planning and design. Through some cooperation with the San Antonio District, we have completed eleven projects totaling $28 million in design work. These have been rehabilitation, bridge projects and safety type projects, and this has been a lucrative sharing for both districts, it's given us an opportunity to retain expertise in the design area. We currently are working with the Waco District in conjunction with the Childress design office staff on a major design of I-35, and that project is about $144 million.

If you're part of the TxDOT family, then assisting in emergencies is just the way we're brought up. In the hurricane events from a year ago, we were ready to assist our neighbors, even though those neighbors may have been in Beaumont or Yoakum. In this year's planning efforts, our district is participating in teams to assist those coastal districts of Texas that may receive damage from hurricanes. This ranges from debris cleanup to fueling to tree removal, and signal and sign repair. West Texas districts are also on the receiving end of these types of disaster events such as floods and fires and snowstorms and ice storms. These activities just go to show that TxDOT districts truly are family and work with each other in times of need.

For the past several years the district has concentrated on the planning, design and construction of elements of our Texas Trunk System. Projects starting in Glasscock County on US 87 have completed the route north to the Howard County line and there is now a four-lane divided roadway all the way to Lubbock. US 83 in Concho, Menard and Kimble counties total 51 miles on our Trunk System. The first ten-mile project on this route is being completed actually probably this week, and that is in Concho County. However, as you can see, there are numerous projects unfunded on the remainder of this route, approximately $154 million in construction work needed.

State Highway 158 in Sterling and Glasscock counties is in the remainder of our Phase 1 Trunk System planning efforts. This 53-mile corridor ties into a four-lane section in Midland County in the Odessa District. In our first project in Sterling County, part of the right of way has already been purchased, however, none of that $112 million in construction funding is available. The $226 million to complete these Trunk System routes would fulfill a need for safety, connectivity and economic development in West Texas.

The Ports-to-Plains trade corridor overlays our Trunk System projects in this district, and again, as was stated earlier, this trade corridor runs from Mexico to Canada. The Ports-to-Plains corridor utilizes our State Highway 158, US 87, and US 277 routes through the district. The US 277 route at this time is unfunded as well; with current funding restrictions, this project really will be pushed further down in the planning horizon.

One of our local projects that was highlighted in our earlier video is our Loop 306 relief route, and that's actually part of our Trunk System as well as our Ports-to-Plains development. Our first project was completed in 2007 at FM 388 for $12.4 million. The second project went to contract in March of 2009 for $15.7 million, using Proposition 14 funding. This project on Loop 306 and FM 388 serves the north Goodfellow Air Force Base and it's been a high accident location in the district for many years. The next project on Loop 306 at FM 765 is partially funded by Congressional High Priority funds, however, we lack $6 million in Category 3 funding which will allow us authorization to complete this project.

The blue dotted line indicates the future development of our relief route system. These projects all contain high accident locations for our city and part of the development that would connect US 87, US 67, US 277, all being Trunk System routes. This route has the potential to remove truck traffic and hazardous cargo from our downtown San Angelo area.

I will briefly report on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act projects in our district. These are known as economic stimulus projects, and that's really a whole lot easier to say. The first is US 67 in Irion County which is a roadway rehabilitation project. The next two which are also rehab projects but include bridge replacements in Menard and Edwards counties on the San Saba River and Little Hackberry Creek. The next is our intersection improvement project in Bronte in Coke County on US 277. These projects total $4.84 million and are all in recognized disadvantaged counties.

The first economic stimulus project in San Angelo's MPO area is an ACP overlay project and a traffic signal upgrade on US 67 Business Route; it totals $2.76 million. Next is a locally let project on Avenue N for $1.1 million which will rebuild a major local city street, leading to retail trade areas in San Angelo and Angelo State University, and this also complements our project on Business Route US 67.

On off-system project on Avenue K, known locally as the Lone Wolf Bridge, will remove this structure from local traffic and place it in service as a pedestrian facility which is part of our San Angelo bike/pedestrian plan. This bridge was originally built by the old Texas Highway Department back in 1922, and it's been in continuous service until 2008 when it was struck by a vehicle in an accident and they took it out of service for safety reasons.

In San Angelo we also have a multimodal transit facility which will be partially funded through the economic stimulus. This facility will accommodate city transit, rural transit, as well as commercial buses, and this terminal will be located in the downtown area on US 67, the East-West Freeway. And RM 853 which is known locally as Arden Road, we have a resurfacing project there which will complete the resurfacing on all of our major arteries in this highly developed western side of the city. All these MPO economic stimulus projects together total about $8 million.

The San Angelo District, along with the Brownwood, Odessa and El Paso districts, and the Transportation Planning and Programming Division have been working on improvements to the South Orient Rail line which is a TxDOT-owned facility. The first project will be before the commission today for consideration which is the track improvement project to get the line from San Angelo to the Coleman junction up to 25 miles an hour. The cost of this contract will be $5.8 million.

The second project will be a $3.9 million railroad bridge replacement project that you saw in the video. It's in Ballinger and across the Colorado River will replace a narrow bridge. It's too narrow to accommodate the wind turbine generator towers. The structure is a key component in the development of the Martifer-Hirschfeld Energy Systems development in San Angelo.

As you saw in our video, our maintenance practices take front and center stage in everything that we do. We have the best pavement scores in all of the 25 districts in the state, 94.6 percent of our pavements are in good or better condition, and we're really proud of that. We maintain high scores in other comparisons with rankings in the top four for the last five years in our TxCAP scores. One of our major maintenance contracts is on the historic bridge on the South Llano River in Junction that should be complete this next year. Our total maintenance contracting program is around $9 million, however, one of the greatest needs that we have in the future is increased funding for our maintenance program. Needs identified in this district, and actually statewide, always seem to outpace the dollars.

I want to thank you again for the opportunity to present our information to the commission, and thank you for being here. At this time I would entertain any questions you may have.

MR. HOLMES: How do you maintain your paving scores so high, Walter?

MR. McCULLOUGH: I knew that question was going to be asked. There are several things that add to that: one is we have good subgrade materials in West Texas, we have good access to base materials in West Texas, we have good construction practices, we have good maintenance operations, we spend our maintenance dollars wisely, we rehabilitate those roads that require rehabilitation rather than just placing seal coats or hot mixes on them, and we have good people that take care of business.

MR. HOLMES: That was kind of a softball question.

MR. HOUGHTON: Now the hardball question. The piece of the Ports-to-Plains that's unfunded that you had on your map, the red piece, what's the cost to improve that for that segment in the red?

MR. McCULLOUGH: That one segment runs from San Angelo down to the Edwards County line.

MR. HOUGHTON: And that's another district.

MR. McCULLOUGH: There's another district that goes further south in Val Verde County to Del Rio. I think the construction cost on our portion is in the range of $250 million, and probably I'm going to estimate another $150 million as you go further south because the terrain changes and really gets difficult as you go further south into Val Verde County.

MR. HOUGHTON: Into Del Rio.


MR. HOUGHTON: So you're talking about $400 million?

MR. McCULLOUGH: More than likely that's a good estimate. Okay, thank you very much. Any other questions?

MS. DELISI: I don't think so, no other questions. Thank you, Walter, thanks for the presentation, and again, thank you to all the district employees who worked on that presentation.

The first business item today on the agenda

MR. MEADOWS: Madame Chair?

MS. DELISI: Yes, sir.

MR. MEADOWS: I don't want to put him on the spot but we might all be smarter if we had an opportunity to hear from Representative Doc Anderson.

MS. DELISI: We are. What I'm going to do is I'm going to adopt the minutes, and then we're going to move around the agenda items. Representative Anderson is here to talk about the TIGER funding, and we're going to move that up first.

MR. MEADOWS: Great. Thank you.

MS. DELISI: The first item on today's agenda is the approval of the minutes of last month's meetings on June 24 and 25. Members, the draft minutes are in your briefing materials. Is there a motion to approve these minutes?

MR. HOLMES: So moved.


MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

Amadeo, I'm going to turn the meeting over to you now.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Madame Chair. Walter, first, thank you for the hospitality, thank you and your people for the great job that you're doing. We can see that your people show the dedication that we have across the state, and probably even a little bit more, so thank you and thank them.

Madame Chair, we're going to move agenda item number 5 up first that deals with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the ARRA or economic stimulus, and John, I'd like to cover 5(b) first, 5(a) and then Phil can cover 5(c). Item 5(b) deals with the TIGER portion which is the discretionary program that U.S. DOT is administering now as part of the ARRA funding. John.

MR. BARTON: Thank you. For the record, my name is John Barton. I have the pleasure of serving Texas as the assistant executive director for Engineering Operations at the Texas Department of Transportation. Good morning, Madame Chair, commissioners, Director Saenz, and Roger, good morning to you as well.

I appreciate this opportunity to be here this morning and discuss with the commission the TIGER grant, a discretionary program that's part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and to present for your consideration a recommendation on projects that the department is recommending participating in as we prepare nominations to submit to the United States Department of Transportation in response to this call for projects that they have made.

I would direct your attention to the screen on the wall as I make my presentation as it shows some additional information that I will not be covering directly in my remarks.

On February 17 of 2009, many of you know, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. One component of that act created a $1.5 billion surface transportation grant program to be administered by the United States Secretary of Transportation. This grant program has been named the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER, grant program. On June 17 of this year, Secretary LaHood published the final rules for this program in the Federal Register, he provided notification of these rules widely to all communities within Texas, as well as the other states, that qualify as submitting entities under this call.

As you may recall, I briefly discussed this issue with the commission during your meetings in May and June of this year. Candidate projects may be submitted under the TIGER grant program by any state or local governmental entity, including our transit agencies, port authorities, metropolitan planning organizations and other political subdivisions of any state or local government. Projects that are eligible for TIGER grant discretionary consideration include infrastructure improvements such as those shown in the slide: highway and bridge projects, public transportation projects, and of course, rail-related projects and port infrastructure investments, as well as others. The discretionary grant program will be awarded on a competitive basis to projects from across the nation that do have a significant impact on our nation, a metropolitan area within our nation, or a region.

The primary selection criteria that were described in the grant submittal notice were shown here on this slide and relate to long term outcomes that the United States Department of Transportation believes should be addressed by any candidate project, those being: taking care of state of good repair of existing transportation infrastructure; providing for economic competitiveness within the region that the project is housed in; livability issues, making sure that it provides for more choices for modes of operation and transportation for people connecting different modes of transportation, and providing an opportunity for them to use a transportation system that is less congested and easier to use; sustainability, this is an area where they look at is the investment going to reduce our dependency on oil, is it going to reduce greenhouse gases, is it going to effect a positive benefit on the environment; and then, of course, safety is, without saying, a high priority for any project that we might do as well.

Secondary considerations also include: making sure that jobs are created and the economic stimulus that is intended of the entire act is brought forward by projects, as well as bringing forth innovative ideas on technologies and the implementation of those, as well as creating strong partnerships within the entities that are associated with the project.

This particular grant notice also stated that the projects that do not demonstrate a likelihood of significantly providing long term benefits for the nation or the region that they serve will probably not proceed through the evaluation process, and as well, projects that are not expected to quickly create and preserve jobs and stimulate the economy rapidly are less likely to be successful than those that perhaps will take longer to implement.

As you can imagine, many communities and entities across the state are eager to submit projects and take advantage of this grant opportunity and to seek funding for much needed projects within their regions, so the question that people might be asking is what can Texas, our communities and our transportation partners here in this state expect from this grant opportunity.

The act specifically states that no more than 20 percent of the funds can be made available to any one state and that equates to $300 million, 20 percent of $1.5 billion. It also requires that the Department of Transportation take measures to ensure that there's an equitable distribution of funds across the state. And lastly, it requires that they do things in a way that would ensure the balance between meeting urban and rural needs as they select projects.

The act also specifies that grants funded under this program must be at least $20 million in value and may be no greater than $300 million in value, but as in most governmental operations, they do provide one caveat or way out: if a small community has a project of great need, they may ask for a waiver from the minimum $20 million level, and if granted, could submit projects of less than $20 million. The applications for projects must be submitted to the United States Department of Transportation no later than September 15 of this year.

And so just to summarize and to make sure that I'm very clear in this point to the commission as well as our audience here today and those that might be listening in over the internet, it is possible and let me state this very clearly it is very possible that the State of Texas might not receive any funding from the TIGER discretionary grant program. That is a distinct possibility, and it is most definitely that Texas will not receive any more than $300 million in total. So the range of potential opportunity is from zero dollars as a minimum to $300 million as a maximum for the entire state.

As you can imagine, soon after the publication of the final rules went out for the TIGER grant program, we began working with our local governmental entities and transportation partners to make sure Texas was prepared to take full advantage of this opportunity. This grant program has been the main point of our discussions that we have on a weekly basis through our weekly conference calls with our transportation partners about the Recovery Act that we implemented in January of this year, and as I've already mentioned, any state or local government, transit agency, port authority, metropolitan planning organization, or any political subdivision of a state or local government can submit projects directly to the United States Department of Transportation, and we are encouraging them to do so for projects that they feel meet the requirements of the act and are important to their communities.

We also want to make sure that we provide support and evidence of that support from the commission and the Department of Transportation for projects that are within the system that we work on and are responsible for, and so we are establishing means of allowing that to happen through an internet link on our website where any entity or community that is developing a project and would like to solicit a letter of support and endorsement from the Department of Transportation may do so through that internet link.

Also, our local TxDOT district engineers take their jobs very seriously, as well as their staff as evidenced by the warm welcome we've had here in San Angelo and Walter McCullough and his colleagues from around the state are working with their local communities and other project sponsors to assess the value of projects that interact with our transportation system under our jurisdiction and providing them assistance and support in developing nominations within the limited resources we have available within TxDOT and are there to support and recognize that support as they move forward.

We also realize that as the state's department of transportation, TxDOT does play a role and has a major role to play in submitting nominations for projects that may be of statewide or national significance. The issue that is before us today comes down to this: how do we determine which of the few projects from this very, very large universe of potential projects are worthy of the state's recommendation to the U.S. Department of Transportation. And as this matter was being discussed with you in May and June, staff at least I understood clearly from you that you wanted us to reach out to the communities, to our transportation partners in a manner similar to the very successful collaborative process we had in the initial implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to develop a recommendation for your consideration.

In an attempt to replicate that successful process that we put in place at the beginning of the Recovery Act, TxDOT, in cooperation with our metropolitan planning organizations, the cities and communities and counties across Texas, our tolling authorities, transit providers, railroad companies and port authorities began to develop a unified approach of how we would identify and then go through the arduous task of prioritizing projects that are potentially qualifying for consideration under this grant program.

The metropolitan planning or organizations and our local transportation partners were polled, they asked their cities and counties to develop a list of projects with their toll authorities, their transit providers, the railroad companies in Texas and port authorities to identify the potential universe of projects that were available to them, and realizing that this universe of projects was much too large for any single group to effectively evaluate, we created a multimodal team of members consisting of Rail Association members, port authority members, our transit agencies, three representatives of the Texas Metropolitan Planning Organization Association and two TxDOT district engineers to assist us in evaluating the candidate projects.

Entities were asked to work with the local metropolitan planning organizations and TxDOT district staff to submit candidate projects in a summary form. The metropolitan planning organizations and TxDOT district engineers and staff then took those hundreds of project submittals that were submitted to them, reviewed them for national, regional or local priority, and then submitted to be reviewed by this multimodal team of eight members a list of about 95 projects to be considered and evaluated.

The multimodal team that I mentioned was made up of the following individuals representing those entities I've already described: on behalf of the Texas Rail Association, it was their president, Dennis Kearns; for the port authorities and freight movers it was John Roby from the Port of Beaumont; the transit agencies were represented by Doug Allen who works for Capital Metro in the Austin area; the three MPO representatives that were nominated by the Texas MPO Association were Roy Gilyard from El Paso, the director of the El Paso MPO, Melba Owens from the Midland-Odessa MPO, the director there, and then Tom Niskala, the director of the Corpus Christi MPO; and then to make sure that TxDOT's presence was important and valued in this process, I asked two district engineers, Mr. Bill Hale of our Dallas District, and Mr. Mario Jorge of our Pharr District to serve on this selection team.

The process that this eight-member team used was to screen the submittals that were provided from around the state as I mentioned, there were 95 of them and do a yes/no evaluation of whether or not the projects met the specific criteria identified in the TIGER grant notice. After this initial analysis, they did a second round of scoring for those projects that had filtered up to the top from that initial analysis, giving a numeric value of zero to five on each project based on their opinion on how well it would compete at the national level, given the criteria that was established under the grant.

The committee also took into consideration issues such as the dollar volume and total number of projects that might be submitted from around the state in their recommendation to the commission to consider, and while they did not believe that there was a need to stay at that $300 million level that's the maximum Texas could receive, they felt it was necessary to have some kind of reasonable level of projects to be worked on because it is going to take a very great deal of time and effort in order to adequately prepare a nomination.

Each application requires an extensive technical analysis, a 25-page narrative nomination with additional attachments that can be supported to provide the technical data that supports the narrative that's provided. And of course, given the September 15 deadline for submitting these projects, a great deal of work lies ahead of us as we prepare to select and submit projects on behalf of the state.

MR. HOUGHTON: John, let me ask you a question. You're telling me that there's 95 projects totaling $7.7 billion chasing potentially maximum $300 million.

MR. BARTON: That is correct.


MR. BARTON: Potentially maximum of $300 million, and it might be as little as zero.

MR. HOUGHTON: And now you're talking about the second wave, a 25-page narrative?

MR. BARTON: A 25-page narrative application with technical data supporting it, so I would suspect that each nomination would be similar to a book the size of this.

MR. HOUGHTON: For a maybe?

MR. BARTON: For a maybe potential chance of $300 million maximum.

MR. HOUGHTON: How many man hours are you talking about on a 25-page narrative for 20 projects?

MR. BARTON: Without having prepared one ‑‑ and there are several entities represented here today that have begun that process ‑‑ but without having started that within TxDOT, my back-of-the-napkin evaluation was that for each project we would need to assign a two-member team and they would, basically, 40 hours a week in the month of August work on that, each application.  So two people a full month for one application to do it correctly.

MR. HOUGHTON: I guess this is one of those I'm from the Department of Transportation, I'm here to help you. Right?

MR. BARTON: Absolutely.  Always TxDOT is here; we're open for business.

MR. HOUGHTON: No, I'm talking about the other guys.

MR. BARTON: Well, and I can't speak for the U.S. DOT but I know that our federal partners at the Texas division of the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration and Federal Rail Administration are fearful that this workload may go to Washington, D.C. and be returned to their federal partners at the state level to do the evaluation.

MR. UNDERWOOD: John, so I understand, 95 projects, so that's 190 people involved, if you were to try to do all of them?

MR. BARTON: If we were to try to do all 95 of them, yes, sir, it would take a workforce of that magnitude to do this correctly, in my opinion.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Do we have that many people qualified to do that?

MR. BARTON: No, sir, we do not.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Okay, thank you.

MR. BARTON: And hence the question: How do you select a few, if we were to do that, from the hundreds that were actual candidate projects?

MR. HOUGHTON: And did all 100 meet the criteria?

MR. BARTON: All 95 of the ones that were submitted to us, based on my cursory review, met one or more of the criterion, but none of them met all, as far as I'm concerned.

MR. HOUGHTON: So they're all good projects, in other words.

MR. BARTON: I didn't see any of the projects that I reviewed ‑‑ and I did review all 95 that were submitted to us ‑‑ none of those appeared to me to be superfluous or frivolous projects, they were all needed projects within their communities.

MR. HOUGHTON: And they believe they're needed.

MR. BARTON: They believe they're needed, and to be quite frank and honest about it, those were the 95 that we saw, there were several hundred, I'm sure, that we did not see at the state level, and I can assure you that there are many, many projects that didn't make it to the smaller list of 95 that are just as important or perhaps even more important than some of the 95 that did come to us because of the way the process had to work. So as I mentioned in the presentation, we encourage and will support the submission of any nomination by any entity for consideration under the grant program.  The question is how much resource can the state DOT bring to the table in helping prepare those nominations and taking on that responsibility.

MR. HOUGHTON: But when you look at it on a national basis, it's $1.5 billion, no more than $300 million, so five states potentially could suck up the entire program for 50 states.

MR. BARTON: Yes, sir, that is correct.

MR. HOUGHTON: Five states.

MR. BARTON: Five states could consume the entire grant program, and I'm sure that that's probably not the intent of the current administration in Washington, D.C., so it's more likely that most states would receive much less than $300 million. And again, that's speculation on my part.

MR. UNDERWOOD: John, I want to make sure I understand. Ninety-five projects, seven point how much billion?

MR. BARTON: $7.7 billion worth of total project cost, $5.5 billion worth of grant request for $7.7 billion worth of total project cost.

MR. UNDERWOOD: But there's nothing to stop those that if we don't pick that they can go out and do their own, they can follow the same processes that we would do.  Isn't that correct?

MR. BARTON: That is absolutely correct, Commissioner Underwood.  Every entity that I mentioned in my presentation, any government or subdivision of a government in Texas can submit their projects directly to the U.S. DOT, and there is no limit to the number or dollar volume that can be submitted on behalf or through the State of Texas.

MR. UNDERWOOD: So they can use their own resources if it's that important to them.

MR. BARTON: That's correct.

MR. UNDERWOOD: All right, thank you.

MR. BARTON: At this time, I think what I would like to do, based on the questions that you've asked and the comments that have been provided, is kind of pause for a minute.  We do have three of the team members that worked through the weekend, literally within a 48-hour period of time, to help us review these projects.  I'd like to recognize them and if it's all right with you, Madame Chair, I'd like to give them an opportunity to maybe say a few words about their involvement in this process, if you're comfortable with that.

I believe that three of them are with us.  I know that Mr. Gilyard from the El Paso MPO is with us ‑‑ if you'll stand up, please ‑‑ and then Melba Owens is here with us from the Midland-Odessa MPO, and I saw Dennis in the back because Dennis and I have the same hair stylist.

(General laughter.)

MR. BARTON: Dennis is in the back of the room, Dennis Kearns with Burlington Northern.

And again, if you would indulge me, would you at least join me in recognizing the effort that they put forward in preparing this recommendation.


MR. BARTON: And I would just ask if any of you have any brief comments you'd like to share with the audience or the commission about this enjoyable experience that you had working with us over the last few days.

(General laughter.)

MR. UNDERWOOD: John, while they're coming up, I want to understand something also.  If some organization/entity, a government entity besides TxDOT decides to go into this process, what are their odds?  I mean, would they be competing against what we turn in as TxDOT?

MR. BARTON:  I do not believe so, Commissioner Underwood.  That question has been asked by a lot of people, including the three behind me: If TxDOT submits projects and others submit them outside of TxDOT, what does that do to their chances of being selected.  And my personal opinion, based on conversations with our federal partners, all projects will be received of equal value, they'll be received as a candidate project and they'll be evaluated on the merits of the project, not on who submitted it.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Right, because I hate to see a community go out and spend the resources and then not feel like they're going to get a fair shake at the table.

MR. BARTON: Absolutely, I completely understand.

MR. UNDERWOOD: But I think Commissioner Houghton was very astute in saying that it's a very small apple and a lot of people want to take a bite out of it.

MR. BARTON: Yes, sir, it is.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Thank you.

(General talking and laughter.)

MR. GILYARD: Good morning, commissioners. I'm Roy Gilyard, the director of the El Paso Metropolitan Planning Organization, and I was privileged to be one of the three MPOs selected by TEMPO to spend my weekend last weekend reviewing a hundred applications, and I was very impressed with the projects that were submitted from around the state, and as a member of this committee, it gave me an opportunity to get a snapshot of the difficult challenge that this state faces in its transportation system.

I must commend TxDOT, as well as the commission, on finally recognizing that the transportation needs of this state are not limited to just more highways. The list that you have represents a multimodal transportation system consisting of highways, rail, ports, transit, and I think we should all be commended for looking into the future that our transportation needs in the future really needs to address multimodalism.

I might also add that it's becoming very clear, having looked at all of these applications, that the partnership criteria that was part of the TIGER grant application has indicated that your message has gotten across that one size won't fit all about transportation needs, that we need to bring both public and private sector entities to the table, and many of the applications that have been submitted, I gave them a very high score if they brought private monies or other monies such as regional mobility authorities might have, in our case, as well as transportation reinvestment zones.       

So I'd just like to say, again, thank you to TxDOT and to the commission for allowing my participation in this very important exercise.  Thank you.

MR. KEARNS: Good morning.  Dennis Kearns; I'm an employee of the BNSF Railway Company, but I'm president of the Texas Railroad Association which, by the way, is one of the longest standing trade associations in Austin that was formed in the early 1900s.  I appreciate this opportunity.  I'm going to echo the comments of both John Barton and Roy Gilyard, this was a very collaborative effort and it was very difficult and very enlightening, and as those gentlemen have said, this was a challenge and I appreciate the task that you have.

The role of the commission has been somewhat maligned over the past few years. I want to say, on behalf of our industry, that Jim Randall's group and Jennifer Moczygemba's section has been very fair and evenhanded with us, I have enjoyed working with Amadeo over at the legislature.  I think this is indicative of the collaborative effort that all modes need to engage in. We have a huge crisis in front of us, and I think that with efforts such as this, we're going to make inroads, we're going to make progress, and we're going to show the rest of the country that it can be done, and I, for one, am grateful for the opportunity. Thank you, and I'd be happy to answer any questions that you may have.

MS. DELISI: Thanks, Dennis.

MS. OWENS: Good morning, Chairman Delisi and honorable members of the commission.  It's a real honor to stand before you today, and I just wanted to ditto Roy's comments too from the MPO perspective.  I consider it a distinct honor to be a part of the screening committee.  I just wanted to let you know that we are so appreciative of the fact that the MPOs were allowed to participate in this very important process. We feel that it was very fair, it was very open, it included all partners, and we just thank you very much for the opportunity to participate in this process.

MS. DELISI: John, if you don't have anything else at this time, I'd like to go ahead and call up Representative Anderson. He's been waiting patiently.

MR. ANDERSON: Thank you, Madame Chair and commissioners.  My role here today is twofold, and let me say Mr. Kirk McAllen, who runs our district office with us, and Chris Avila from our Waco MPO is here also today if there's any questions.

Let me echo what my colleagues said and that is that you have done a tremendous job, it's a difficult scenario, particularly in the shifting paradigm of what I like to call the logic-free zone in Austin Texas.

(General laughter.)

MR. ANDERSON: And Amadeo, particularly this session, did a tremendous job in a very, very difficult environment, and I appreciate your professionalism.  And it's a pleasure to be here in San Angelo. It's ironic that I had to drive all the way over here to see rain.  In Waco we normally get about 39 inches a year, and Drew was telling me they normally get about 18 inches a year here, but what he didn't tell me is that they get it in one night.  But we're glad to see it.

(General laughter.)

MR. ANDERSON: But I'd like to lend a shoulder to the stone on supporting our area, particularly the I-35 corridor and what I like to call the absolute heart of Texas, McLennan County, and organizing a strike force and working John Barton on that and to try and get McLennan County, Hill County we're meeting with next week, and eventually Bell County, and kind of get all our needs and kind of get our priorities straightened out so it's easier to deal with TxDOT as we go forward, because I know you have a tremendous job.

And let me say, Ted, when you grasp the difficulty of the problem of dealing with these TIGER funds and how the general public has no conception ‑‑ you know, they hear a billion dollars, we can get all this done ‑‑ the same thing, it makes me think we're back in the legislature. But on the federal level, also coming out with the Race to the Top on education and they want to incentivize some issues in the education industry and it's $3 billion on a national basis, well, in Texas we have over 1,000 school districts alone, and when you take that money and try to divide it up into what would actually be helpful, the general public, it's a constant education process to try and let them know what we're dealing with.

And just as an aside, it just scares the devil out of me when they talk about national healthcare, controlling everything.  When you see what we're dealing with here on transportation and education, it really is a concern.

But let me say I'm pleased to be here today, we appreciate the efforts that you have, the eventual Ports-to-Plains and the I-35 corridor are all integral parts of our transportation system so we can move our good and service and folks safely, and I appreciate your efforts, and in particular with the TIGER funds and being on that list.  And we certainly understand what the next step is and hopefully that will be beneficial to our area.

But I certainly appreciate the courtesy with the agenda today, Madame Chair, and thank you for your efforts.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Sir, before you step down, thank you for all your hard work in the legislature.  That's an unsung job and we appreciate what you do. You're a class act, and thank you, sir.

MR. ANDERSON: Well, thank you.

MR. BARTON: I think that that concludes the remarks I was going to make before the commission, and before I make a recommendation on the agenda item for the minute order, I don't know if it would be appropriate to take discussion from the commission, I don't know if anyone is signed up to talk on this item as well.

MS. DELISI: I do have one more person signed up. Are there any questions for John?

(No response.)

MS. DELISI:   Okay.  Then I'd like to call up at this time James Beauchamp.

MR. BEAUCHAMP: Madame Chair and commission members, we appreciate the opportunity to be here with you today and to testify before you on the TIGER grants.

We realize there are a limited number of resources available and numerous needs and it places a heavy burden on your shoulders and we don't take that lightly and don't want to waste your time on this.  With me today is Drew Crutcher who is one of my past chairman and was a member of your 2030 Committee, also Dave Nix from the Ports-to-Plains Coalition is with us.

We realize these TIGER grants, as Commissioner Houghton got straight to the point, are not a slam dunk, they've got to compete with projects from across the nation. That being said, even with the limited number, Commissioner Houghton, we feel like any time you can bring more money from Washington, D.C. back to Texas, it's worth a run.  Now, admittedly, you have some staff concerns and time for the department that may be a little different than ours.

We came together as the Midland-Odessa Transportation Alliance and the Ports-to-Plains Coalition to make a joint submission for consideration in this program. The project that we are submitting is expansion of a segment of State Highway 349 between Midland and Lamesa. It's a unique partnership between our two entities and represents a concept that came out of the Lubbock I-10 studies originally.

MOTRAN and Ports-to-Plains have both collected enormous amounts of data on this segment of roadway which overlaps both of our national high priority corridors and state-recognized corridors.  Part of that data includes an economic impact study by Dr. Perryman which we'll provide to you today which includes an economic impact analysis and a job creation analysis that clearly defines what we feel the benefits to this project are, both to the region and to the state.  The project traverses an economically disadvantaged area but it also has a greater impact by connecting four of our dominant West Texas and Panhandle MSAs in Amarillo, Lubbock, Midland and Odessa, as also noted in the report.

Between the economic data, the completed environmental review, the regional significance, as well as the unique partnership between our two entities, as well as our respective metropolitan areas, we feel the submission would be competitive and that it deserves consideration beyond the two-page summary that was requested from us.  It really didn't allow us the opportunity to provide to the committee the type of economic impact analysis in the Perryman report, job creation data and those sorts of things. So again, that was something we looked at.

We certainly realize that there were other things to take into consideration. Of course, for this project it's not within a city, it's within two counties, it's not within an MPO, so it has some unique issues.  We have pursued private funding initiatives that we've worked with the department on that were not successful as private funding for this particular project, and we do realize there are other venues ‑‑ and we're going to have a meeting this afternoon on one of those other venues to try to look at submitting this project ‑‑ but we do have concerns in some of the conversations we've had that this project, even though there might be a letter of support attached to it from the department, the fact that it's not part of your submission may be problematic for our ultimate review.

With that being said, we would ask you to consider that project as part of this, and if not, we would certainly ask for you to continue working with us in support of these projects from your partner entities.

MS. DELISI: Are there any questions?

(No response.)

MS. DELISI: Thank you very much.

There's nobody else signed up to talk.  John, did you have anything else that you wanted to say?

MR. BARTON: No, ma'am.  I'll be happy to answer any questions the commission may have.

MS. DELISI: Well, I don't have a question, it's more of an observation.  We received the testimony, and as John has said, we've received hundreds of applications, and as John said, all of them worthy in their communities. I'd like to maybe have the discussion, building on what Commissioner Houghton said, of rather than just picking some projects, why don't we look at a process whereby we work ‑‑ if this is a resource issue that is limiting us, we have lots of resources out there in the state among our transportation partners, why don't we look to work with our transportation partners to submit all of these projects in a way where the locals can actually do the application and we'll submit everything with a letter of recommendation.  Does that make sense?

MR. UNDERWOOD: Now, Chair, are you saying the 95 projects?

MS. DELISI: I think any project, anyone who is allowed, under the rules, to submit a project, what I'm proposing is that let all of those projects come to us and ask our local partners to put in some of the man hours and the resources to developing these 25-page applications.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Exactly.  In other words, we would help coach them but we wouldn't have to tie up all our resources on one particular project.

MS. DELISI: Right.

MR. HOUGHTON: I just don't think it's fair, because of resource limitations, that we exclude projects that are good projects, John.  Ninety-five of them, they're all valuable to the state and their region, so I think for the lack of resources, I don't think we ought to pare it down to a few.  And based on volume, I'd like to flood the Department of Transportation in D.C. with quality projects.  Being the cynic I am about this, I think there's more politics going to be involved in the selection process than what we know ‑‑ but that's just my opinion.

MR. UNDERWOOD: That being said, John, can we help coach different communities through this?  I agree with the Chair, I think that there's some of our people, the major metropolitan areas probably have the capability and the staff to do something like this which wouldn't tie up our employees, and allowing our employees to be able to go out and help some of the other communities that don't quite have the resources.  Can we do that, John?

MR. BARTON: Well, certainly we can provide assistance and advice through our district engineers and their staff as well as some of our divisional staff in helping communities and entities consider nominations. If I understand what is being proposed correctly ‑‑ and I'll share it in terms that I understand ‑‑ is that the department, rather than moving forward with the recommendation that was being presented to you today, would, in turn and instead, be a clearinghouse, if you will, of applications or nominations, but anyone that wants to go through the conduit of the Texas Department of Transportation submit their completed applications to us, we would submit a letter of endorsement on all of those, and in essence, send in a package of projects from all across the state to the U.S. DOT saying: Here are ‑‑ whatever the number is ‑‑ completed applications from the State of Texas that we would like for you to consider.

That would not exclude anyone from having TxDOT as part  of the submission package, and the other, would not give any essence or sense of priority from the Department of Transportation to the projects. That's what I'm kind of understanding the direction you're asking us to take.  And if that is that, then the question can we do it, technically, I think we can, and resource-wise, I think we can.  We're just going to have to take a different approach. What we'll have to do is tell all the entities it's your responsibility to prepare applications. If it's for a project in the rural area of the state that doesn't have a staff around it, like for instance, the I-35 project that Representative Anderson spoke on, I think the TxDOT district may have to take the lead in getting that done because it's really our responsibility on our network outside of an MPO's or other entity's jurisdiction.

But short of those few that are that way, if it's a port project, a rail project or within an MPO or a toll authority's project, we turn to them and say: If you prepare the package, get it to us by the end of August, we'll put it as part of a package from TxDOT and send them a couple hundred or whatever it is to U.S. DOT.  We can do that if that's what you're directing us to do.

MR. UNDERWOOD: I'm leaning that way. I'm not going to speak for my fellow commissioners, but I like that idea.  I just want to make sure that we can help them, that we have some form of an outline of things, steps that need to be taken.  Do we have that?

MR. BARTON: Yes, sir, we have.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Because some communities may not have ever done this before and they need the ability to say okay, a fill-in-the-blank kind of mentality.

MR. BARTON: That's correct. I have prepared, with the assistance of former Texas FHWA division administrator, Dan Reagan, an outline of what a nomination would need to include and a description of all of those elements so that anyone that is putting one together can have a better understanding than reading the Federal Register ‑‑ which, quite frankly, is a little bit difficult for a kid from Texas A&M and Archer City to understand.

MR. UNDERWOOD: But you don't think that the fact that we turn in 95 is going to water down anything.

MR. BARTON: I don't believe so. Again, as I stated in my presentation, I think the process that the U.S. DOT will take is to receive all applications, ask the states' federal entities to review them, and I can assure you that the Federal Highway Administration in Texas is not going to look at one project as higher value than another based on who turned it in, they're going to look at it on the merits of the project.

MR. UNDERWOOD: I'm hoping that, and I'm excited about your recommendation, Chair, because I feel like it's going to show the real needs that we have for transportation.  If we say here's our ten, they don't understand that we have $7.7 billion worth of problems or whatnot or needs ‑‑ I'm sorry, wrong adjective ‑‑ freshman English twice, you can tell.

But anyway, thank you, John. I appreciate it, Madame Chair.

MR. BARTON: I'm sorry, Commissioner.

MR. HOUGHTON: Go ahead.

MR. BARTON: I was going to say if that's the direction of the commission, then I don't have an action to recommend to the commission.

(General laughter.)

MR. MEADOWS: Let me just make a couple of comments and ask a couple of questions.  I guess I should begin with this, and that is I don't want in any way for this to take away from the good process that you did employ bringing us to this point to date, and all the people that were involved, back to our MPOs in the state, there were a number of different individuals involved in developing this list and that were participants in this process, and I think it's important to acknowledge their good work and really their good work product.

I mean, the fact is that we as an agency, this is another good example ‑‑ and I'm glad that we have two members of the legislature here ‑‑ understanding that what we are doing in this process is as opposed to making top-down decisions, we're going down to local communities and developing lists of projects and prioritizing them, having them participate actively in the process of selection.  And I think that's a great direction that we have taken and it's the right direction for this agency to have taken and it yields a better result.

Saying all that, I'm not taking away from the process. I think that in this particular instance what we've recognized is that this agency, this state are not making the decisions as to which projects are being funded.  And Commissioner Houghton stated it well a moment ago, the fact is that what we need to do in this particular instance is make sure that the projects that are pushed forward to the federal government meet the basic criteria.

And I think we can do that and we've done that through this process, and there are some other projects that inadvertently, perhaps, were dropped off the list that should have been included on this list, and this gives us an opportunity to advance those projects and let those that are going to make the decision make the decision knowing full well that we provided all the information and have effectively certified that these projects meet the criteria and that they are worthy projects, and we do that because there are a lot of worthy projects in the state.

September 15 is the application date.  Is that correct?

MR. BARTON: That's the application deadline, yes, sir.

MR. MEADOWS: The thing that I have a little concern about ‑‑ and I think we're really going to have to get on this ‑‑ there are a couple of issues. One is really speaking to Commissioner Underwood's point and that's a point of communication. I mean, the fact is how do we intend to ‑‑ and I'm sure you're already thinking about this ‑‑ effectively communicate fairly to all potential applying entities with a very short time fuse on this deal.  I mean, if it's due in Washington, D.C. on the 15th of September, I assume we don't want receipt of those applications on the 14th, so that's going to have to happen pretty quick.

I do think that being able to provide the sort of support necessary for these entities is really important so the playing field is somewhat level. I mean, entities like HCTRA or NTTA or any of the larger metropolitan areas certainly have professional staff capable and they will be presenting projects that are worthwhile projects, but I do think it's important we make sure that the playing field is as level as it can be so we assist everybody in making the applications.

Anyway, I appreciate everybody's participation in the process because it is a good one and I'm glad we're moving in this direction.  I appreciate the recommendation.

MR. UNDERWOOD: I want to reinforce that. Your work was not in vain, it just brought up some other issues to us and whatnot, and thank you for all the hard work you did do, and thank you.

MR. HOLMES: John, I want to go back to a point Fred made earlier.  You estimated two people per application, 95 potential projects, I have concern that we have the staff to help as many communities along.  How comfortable do you feel that we're going to be able to give appropriate attention to that many different projects from around the state that do not have imbedded staff like NTTA or HCTRA?

MR. HOUGHTON: Can I piggyback here, can I piggyback your question with a question?

MR. HOLMES: Absolutely.

MR. HOUGHTON: James Beauchamp, can you come up, and Roy? Come on up, please. This is to your question. I think it brings the El Paso MPO, do you have the resources to fill out an application?

MR. GILYARD: Yes, sir.

MR. HOUGHTON: James, do you?

MR. BEAUCHAMP: Absolutely.

MR. HOUGHTON: And what organization is going to fill out your application?

MR. BEAUCHAMP: Michael at Ports-to-Plains and MOTRAN will jointly work on that.  We've also agreed to help some other folks who we've talked to over time. I realize the package that they're talking about is a very expansive type of thing, and from an engineering standpoint, there may be some things that we'll have to outsource and help with a little bit, but most of the economic data is available through our economic development organizations out here.  In San Angelo, a project they have has been vetted by their economic development organizations, their chambers, their cities.  I think most of us can come up with everything to help relieve a lot of this burden from the commission.

MR. CRUTCHER: Commissioner, I can tell you that our board will pledge whatever resources that we need to make sure that this application is in the format that they can review and sign off on.

MR. HOLMES: I am really happy to hear that because that was a strong concern that I had, and self-help is going to be critical because John has already said that he doesn't have the staff to do 95 applications in the next 45 days.

MR. CRUTCHER: Commissioner, sometimes this image comes to me of like a famine area that somebody comes in with a load of grain and has got all these sacks that we're trying to throw off and everybody is clamoring for, and the process gets disorderly, but we're going to help to get it as orderly as we can.  I think your idea is excellent.

MR. HOUGHTON: Dennis, where are you? Dennis, while you're walking up here, as you listen to the question, and John, how do you apply this to Tower 55 which is a private sector?  Is it going to be the BNSF and UP working jointly on an application?  How would you approach it, Dennis?  Because it's a big project.

MR. KEARNS:  Dennis Kearns with the BNSF Railway and Texas Railroad Association.  Both railroads have internal departments, we have a network development department and a public-private sector, we have our own employees and we are collaborating with Union Pacific ‑‑ I know some of you may find that hard to believe ‑‑ not on rate-setting, let me make the record clear, there's no anti-trust matters involved with this.

(General talking and laughter.)

MR. KEARNS: We have internal staff because we operate in 28 states.  We're doing this in other states as well, so we've got the manpower and we're also working in conjunction with the COG, North Central Texas Council of Governments, so the Tower 55 project will be ready to go and will not be a drain on any TxDOT resources.

MS. DELISI: So John, of the 95, how many projects do you think ‑‑ I know this would be a rough off the top of your head estimate ‑‑ how many of those projects do you think will need significant TxDOT resources in terms of time of getting the applications together?

MR. BARTON: Of the 95 that made it to the shorter list, it's probably in the order of six or seven.  My greater concern would be those that are beyond the 95 that are out there that people will want to submit.  It's not the projects that are within an MPO that I have a concern necessarily, it's those that are in communities like the City of Vernon who asked to do some paving of some dirt roads ‑‑ technically it qualifies, will it compete very well is the question that has to be answered, but if we want to assist them in preparing an application for them to submit, then it will take some of our time.  It won't be as extensive as Tower 55 simply because when you look at doing a cost-benefit analysis, it's much easier to do one on a $300,000 city street paving project than on a $70 million rail interchange project.

When you look at doing a freight movement analysis to show how much freight moves through there today versus what would move through there after the improvement, it's easy to do that for the City of Vernon's street paving job because no freight moves through today, they're all in residential neighborhoods.  So it really will be an issue of where is the project located and what resources does that community have.  The City of Socorro probably doesn't have the resources to do the nomination adequately for the project that they have.  Can El Paso MPO help them?The answer is I don't know; is it even within the El Paso MPO.

MR. HOUGHTON: I think the answer is yes.

MR. BARTON: The City of Vernon, can TxDOT staff in the Vernon area office help them out?  We can help them out; to what extent and how well would the application be prepared is the question. I think we have the resources to provide strong local assistance and support to prepare a reasonably adequate nomination, but clearly, people like the Ports-to-Plains group and others that have been working on these things for a while and have had Dr. Perryman prepare an economic impact analysis are going to be much better prepared to submit a more robust and complete application that someone who is just out here finding an opportunity in the wind.

MR. HOLMES: I have a concern, John, that we are creating a level of expectation that is not realistic.  To go from ten to 95 with a number of entities proposing that have professional staff that can prepare their applications is one thing; going from 95 to 600 ‑‑ was that the number?

MR. BARTON: Absolutely, could be, yes,

MR. HOLMES: That's not realistic, not in 45 days, and so I think we need to be careful about exactly what we're promising in terms of help because there is a limit to the human resource we have.

MR. BARTON: If I've understood what the commission has asked us to do, it's not so much take on the responsibility of providing any assistance necessary to get the applications prepared, it's more of a willingness to accept a completed application from any entity and take ownership of those that are on our system that are in areas that don't have a local community to do that.  And again, the two examples that were on the list of ten that I would think of are the Interstate 35 project in McLennan County and the South Orient Railroad project here in the San Angelo area because that's our railroad, we own it and it's multi-jurisdictional.

So I think the expectation to the public would be: we'll be happy to receive your application, review it to make sure it wouldn't embarrass us if it was turned in because it didn't meet all the requirements of the act, and then we'll submit it as is on down the line, giving local support and advice where we can, but not committing to anything other than doing what we can, and taking on the responsibility and ownership of those, like I said, the I-35 and South Orient Rail projects that are out there. Those around the state are probably less than 15 or 20, and while it will be a reasonable demand on our staff, I think that we have to take advantage of an opportunity to hopefully get some much needed resources to Texas. It's really a business decision of how much investment do you want to make knowing the possible rate of return.

Well, I think my three minutes is up.

(General laughter.)

MR. BARTON: So with that, I guess my recommendation is that the minute order before the commission not be adopted, and that we move in the direction that the commission has appeared to provide for us, and I believe, Director Saenz, I understand where that wants to go.

MR. SAENZ: I think based on the direction that we received from the commission about now working and processing applications that come to us completed by others, then there is no need for the minute order that we have before you, so I would recommend we cancel that agenda item.

MR. HOLMES: Do we need a vote?

MR. SAENZ:   No, sir.


MR. SAENZ: So that agenda item is canceled and there's no minute order.

MR. BARTON: I'll be happy to move forward with item 5(a), if you would like for us to.

MR. SAENZ: 5(a), John, please.

MR. BARTON: Perhaps a little less time-consuming than the one we just went through, for the record again, my name is John Barton, and I'm here this morning to present my monthly report to the commission on our efforts as a state to implement the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act here in Texas. I don't have a PowerPoint presentation for that, and if I could go ahead and get some assistance in drawing that down.

I would like to share a couple of items with you and receive any feedback that you might have regarding this program. First, I want to share with you where we are in implementing the Recovery Act here in Texas in our efforts to get Texans back to work, and then I would like to present a minute order to make a few technical corrections to the list that had been previously approved by the commission for preservation projects here in Texas.

We've got some good news to share with the commission and the State of Texas today.  Texas's transportation industry partners have been working very diligently since the initial approval of the commission's projects in March of 2009.As you will recall, you approved approximately $500 million of preservation projects and about $1.2 billion of mobility projects to be funded through the Recovery Act. Our efforts are beginning to show strong, positive results, and I wanted to share a little data about that with you this morning.

A quick review of the Recovery Act highway projects that have been awarded to date over the last four months since the act was initiated shows that we've either executed or taken bids on 179 contracts here in Texas that are valued at $611 million in Recovery Act funding.  That's a significant improvement or shows a lot of progress towards getting people back to work.  Through these projects alone, we estimate that more than 3,266 construction jobs will be created or retained as they are completed, and to date, our contractors have reported that they currently have 1,314 employees working on these projects that are already under construction.  So it's a healthy boost to the economy in terms of jobs created.

So far, we have made payments to contractors of a little over $12.6 million for the work that they performed in the months of May and June.  We anticipate this number to rise very significantly as we make payments for the work that they performed in the month of July later next week.

I would also like to note that our local metropolitan planning organization partners have been working very diligently to get the projects they have selected under the Recovery Act underway and moving forward.  More than a third of the 100 projects that they have identified to fund with their discretionary funds have been moved forward to a point where they have their require federal certifications posted, and therefore, are approved to move forward to construction once bids are taken.  Approximately ten of these projects have already been bid on and are currently being executed.

Again, all of our transportation partners have been working very, very hard to move this program forward and to meet the time frames required in the act. And of local interest ‑‑ Mr. McCullough has already talked about that ‑‑ I wanted to point out that here in the San Angelo region alone, they have been the recipients of more than $27 million of Recovery Act funds for projects that Walter talked about, so I think that's an important note that might be of local interest.

One particular component of the Recovery Act that continues to receive a lot of attention in the media is the extensive reporting requirements that are being imposed on the recipients of these funds.  These reporting requirements are intended to provide the public with clear information on how these monies are being spent, the jobs that are being created, and the benefit these projects are providing to the areas that they serve.  That's the accountability and transparency part of the program.

These reporting requirements do consume a great deal of our time. We talked about just the nomination of packages for the grant program a minute ago.  If you can take that and magnify it many times over, you can get a good understanding of the amount of time and effort staff is spending on reporting information on these Recovery Act projects.

We have been asked by the Governor's Office to estimate how many man hours and the costs we are expending each month on the reporting requirements under the Recovery Act, and we believe, based on our initial analysis, that we are spending as much as $80,000 per month as an agency simply in reporting information on the Recovery Act projects and the work that they are generating here in Texas.

While managing these reporting requirements is something we have done and can do with current staff, I wanted to make sure the commission understood it's so important as we consider this that we believe it's important now to start creating staff specifically assigned to these reporting requirements alone, and partly because many people believe that as we move forward with federal reauthorization, these type of reporting requirements are going to be associated with all future federal transportation funding for the states.

I'm happy to share with you today that Texas did receive a grant ‑‑ it wasn't a TIGER grant but we did receive a grant for a ferry boat in the Corpus Christi District. The Ferry Boat Discretionary Program is a federal program that provides funding for ferry boats and ferry terminals, and under the Recovery Act, a certain amount of money was set aside to provide additional funding for that discretionary grant program. We submitted two project nominations, one for a new ferry boat for our Galveston-Port Bolivar ferry system in the Houston District, and then one for our Port Aransas ferry system in the Corpus Christi District, and a couple of weeks ago we received notice that we will be receiving $7.2 million for the purchase of a new ferry boat for our Port Aransas ferry system which will greatly improve operations and efficiency on that system.  So we were proud to receive that, and Commissioner Houghton, we do get a win, and so it's an example of how you might get a little bit when sometimes it's not very hopeful that you would get anything.

We will continue to make significant progress in completing the implementation of this act as we move forward.  I also wanted to share with you that on the transit side of things, I learned yesterday that the Federal Transit Administration has obligated about $40 million of our Recovery Act funding, that equates to about 80 percent of the overall program. And I think that Eric Gleason and his staff will have the remainder of the program ready for you to review and approve submittal on next month at your commission meeting. So that particular component of the Recovery Act is moving forward very, very well.

This concludes my general remarks this morning on the Recovery Act, and before I move into the description of the minute order, I'd just like to pause to see if there are any questions from the commission.

Okay, if not, then I would just like to present to you today for your consideration a minute order that will make a few technical revisions to the list of previously approved maintenance and preservation projects.  As we've already talked about today, there are a couple of key issues with the Recovery Act:   quick time lines and making sure your data is correct.  This particular minute order will allow us to correct some technical revisions from the Minute Order 111844 that was approved last month by the commission.  We had some minor changes that need to be made in the description of some projects, a few of the descriptive numbers were wrong and some of the limits that were shown in the projects were slightly different, and we want to make sure that we have complete transparency and accuracy in our data.

Also of substantive note, the Austin District had chosen not to ask for approval of additional maintenance projects last month as they considered the value of some of the projects within their district, and so this minute order does include the addition of seven additional projects in the Austin District that would be funded from the allocation you've given to them for maintenance and preservation activities, and they're in various counties, Caldwell, Hays, Llano, Travis and Williamson Counties, that are projects that are much needed to continue to preserve the system that we have in the greater Austin area.

We also are needing to remove a project that was approved last month from the Atlanta District. As the district got ready to implement that project, they determined that it was not eligible for federal funding because of the classification of roadway that it was on, and therefore, we will not be able to do that project with these federal funds, but we'll have to use state funds to do that under our normal program.

And in the Beaumont District, as they got ready to implement one of their projects, determined that through the efforts of our maintenance sections they were able to keep the road that they were asking to have a project on in good shape and they don't feel like it would be a wise investment to put the project that they had in there underway, so they're going to delete that project in its entirety.

So with that brief description, I would recommend your consideration and approval of this minute order that is before you this morning.

MS. DELISI: Are there any questions?

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.

Commissioners, moving on to agenda item 5(c) so we can complete 5, and this also deals with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dealing with the high-speed rail program. Phil Russell will present.

MR. RUSSELL: Good morning, commissioners, Mr. Saenz and Roger.  For the record, I'm Phil Russell, assistant executive director over Innovative Project Development.

In some aspects, item 5(c) is really a companion minute order to Mr. Barton's 5(b), but it is focused just on rail, and there are some unique features to it, and if you'll permit me, I'll go through some of the relevant elements.

Again, commissioners, this is part of the stimulus package and it specifically provided $8 billion for high-speed intercity passenger rail, and again to be administered by the Secretary of Transportation.  The minute order before you, should you approve it, would provide for a candidate list of high-speed and intercity passenger rail projects for submission to the Federal Highway Administration.

Commissioners, as you may recall, we had a workshop in June, and again, to hit some of the high points, the FRA promulgated, kind of sketched out their process for developing this program on June 17, so we had a real need for speed, we had to scramble a little bit in trying to put together this program and be able to submit it on time.  The way they have put it together, they have four different categories, funding categories. They call them tracks, I call them categories.

Track 1 are projects that are shovel ready, ready to go, they're independent, utility, high-speed rail projects.  Track 2 are those projects that might be a little further behind but specifically it looks at corridor-wide that they in themselves may have a number of individual projects that had been prioritized within that overall corridor. Track 1 and 2 would be funded with the $8 billion of the stimulus money that the Obama Administration has put together for the program.

Tracks 3 and 4 a little bit different, they would be funded with a smaller amount of money in the area of about $90 or $100 million, and that money comes from previous appropriations in '08 and '09.  Track 3 is for planning, again, projects that are just being initiated.  States may have a need to start doing some preliminary work, some early on planning work for developing the rail line.  Track 4 is for intercity passenger rail and capital grants for those sorts of projects.

Now, the challenge again has been trying to put together a cohesive program in a relatively short period of time.  The Transportation Programming Division, with Jim Randall, Wayne Dennis and Jennifer Moczygemba, have really done a great job in working, they've collaborated with the FRA, metropolitan planning organizations, transit authorities, rail districts and the Class 1 railroads in trying to develop the list that's before you.

Now, a couple of things that are, I think, really considerably different from the previous stimulus programs that John has briefed you on, first off, because the program is new, unique and probably a little complex, FRA has a two-stage submittal process ‑‑ and again, I mentioned this to you in your workshop in June ‑‑ but the process requires a pre-application submittal which we did on July 10.  From that July 10 pre-application submittal, FRA will be looking at the projects, they'll get a sense for the universe of projects that might be out there, and also, it will enable them to give us some feedback on those individual projects, whether they're appropriately put in this track or that track, perhaps they're not ripe and they may suggest that we wait till another program call.

So we're anticipating getting that feedback probably next week, next Friday, and at that time, based on that feedback, we'll finalize the list of projects and the submittals will be due on August 24 for Tracks 1, 3 and 4 and on October 2 for Track 2.So they've got a staggered submittal process, but those first three tracks, Tracks 1, 3 and 4, will be due on August 24.

Now, a couple of things that you should be aware of, first off, Track 1 and 2, again, will be funded with the $8 billion.  One hundred percent of those funds will be available, very similar to the program that Mr. Barton has managed.  Tracks 3 and 4 will require a 50 percent local match and that's something we'll be working with all of the groups that have initiated these projects, because I think as Mr. Saenz and I have talked before, the 50 percent match from TxDOT, from state funds may be a bit of a challenge for us to come up with those additional funds, so we'll be working very closely with those individual groups or agencies to come up with that 50 percent match.

One other thing, and I found it kind of interesting ‑‑ there was obviously a little bit of a dialogue in Mr. Barton's presentation about the need to put together applications and how intensive they can be.  On these applications, I think it's a 16-page form so it's not quite as intensive as Mr. Barton's.  It's a 16-page form that the entities will be required to put together for each one of these projects.  And so in one of those we submitted 17 projects, 17 pre-applications on July 10; subsequent to that, we did receive a letter from Union Pacific and one of the reasons that they requested that we rescind three of those projects was because of the manpower issue, trying to put together all these applications.

So three of the projects they rescinded were:  a siding extension project in Missouri City, $22 million project; McNeil siding project in Travis County, $6.3 million; and a crossover project in El Paso, estimated at $2-1/2 million. So Attachment A that you have before you now is composed of 14 projects, I think it's in the realm of about $1.9 billion.  We don't have the same criteria, the bookmarks of zero to $300 million, but still I would anticipate that just because it's on this list, it will be  a challenge to get those funded, it will be very competitive nationwide, and again, hopefully we'll be getting some pretty good feedback on August 5.

So the last point, I guess, before I open it up for questions, that I would make is what you're seeing here, a list of 14 applications, 14 projects, is our best guess right now.  We will be receiving some feedback next Friday that could and probably will adjust this list. It may be simply moving a project from one track, and if the FRA thinks it's more appropriate to put it in a different track, we'll do that.  It could be removing projects and moving them to a subsequent program call.

So again, we'll know a little bit more next Friday and we'll be happy to brief you all in the interim, but the final applications will begin to be due on August 24, so that will be before our next commission meeting and we will have that need to move forward fairly aggressively.  So staff would recommend approval of this minute order with Attachment A of the 14 rail projects, and I'd be happy to address any question you might have.

MS. DELISI: Any questions? If not, 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, Phil.

Moving back, commission, to the agenda, agenda item number 2 deals with management.2(a), Steve Simmons, deputy executive director, will make a presentation on the status of our independent management audit, and he'll have some people helping him present.

MR. SIMMONS: Thank you, Mr. Saenz, Chair Delisi, commissioners.  For the record, my name is Steve Simmons, deputy executive director of TxDOT.

I do want to take a minute to just express my appreciation to John Barton for the stimulus work that he's done.  He has a regular job that he is responsible for and we asked him to take on this stimulus work and he has done a yeoman's work and really has been the critical cog in making sure we meet all the deadlines, all the reports are done, and I want to personally take this opportunity to thank John ‑‑ if he's still here. He might be out working on stimulus right now.

As you know, last month you approved the department to enter into a contract with Grant Thornton to look at the department and evaluate the management structure and how we operate to see how we can become more open, more transparent, more efficient. When you approved us to move forward with that contract with Grant Thornton, we didn't waste any time and neither did they ‑‑ in fact, I believe right after the meeting they were talking to several of you about what direction they needed to go and who they needed to talk to and things of that nature.

During this last month they've done a lot of talking to our different partners around the state, whether it's staff members of TxDOT, the commission, legislature or some of the MPO directors, but they've been hard at work.  They now are evaluating the scope of the project and are here today to talk a little bit more about the direction they're going. We have Susan Pentecost with Grant Thornton who is the team project partner for this and she'll give us a presentation on where they're at.  So Susan.

MS. PENTECOST: Good morning.  As introduced, this is a top-down review of the TxDOT organization, looking at efficiency in management practices.  We are in the process right now of finishing out an updated project plan for this.  That was the first task under this project based on initial data collection and interviews regarding what the scope of the project really needed to be, and that's what I'm going to update you on today. The plan at this stage is being reviewed by all of you and by TxDOT so it is not quite final yet, but is anticipated by mid August.

So in terms of the focus of this study, it really is looking at the organization structure, particularly in the management area, so headquarters, regional offices, the district leadership, and also staffing, again with the focus on the management areas.  We're looking at communications, meaning the communications within TxDOT as well as transparency which we're looking at about the effectiveness of communications and messaging to external partners and members of the community.

From a business process standpoint, this is not an effort to try to map all the business processes across TxDOT, however, we are looking at some key processes. We're going to focus in the scope of our current study on the planning process, looking at how projects are identified, selected and funded, but we'll also be taking sort of a functional diagnostic view of other key business processes within the organization around things like finance and budget, human resources, the way information technology supports the rest of the mission of the organization, and some things within the design-build and procurement areas.  To the extent that we find anything that's outside the scope of what we're working on but looks like it offers future opportunity for benefit to TxDOT, we'll identify those topics to you for consideration.

From a project approach standpoint, much of what has been emphasized to us is the need to get very broad and diverse input from stakeholders not only within TxDOT but also from organizations and entities outside TxDOT who have an interest in the transportation world.  We're trying to include as many people as we can within a fixed time frame and we'll use a variety of channels, including in-person one-on-one interviews and meetings as well as video teleconference and surveys in an internet site so that people can provide input from many, many places across the state.

We're also wanting full and open participation so we'll be using a non-attribution approach to the comments that we gather so those will not be attributed to individuals in the actual report but rather just be able to provide free input into the recommendations and observations about the department.

We expect to complete the majority of the interviews ‑‑ and we're estimating somewhere around 185 to 200 of those ‑‑ between mid August and the end of September this year, and we will be also providing an opportunity during that time frame for anybody in TxDOT to provide input to the study but we'll be focusing on certain areas.  From an in-person standpoint, we're going to interview all of the stakeholders in the Austin area in person; we're also looking to visit five of the districts in person. Those would be the ones for not only Austin but Fort Worth, Houston, Lubbock and San Antonio, and while we're in those locations, we'd like to take advantage of that opportunity to also meet with the other associations or transportation entities that are located in that area as well so we can meet as many people face to face as possible.

We'll be interviewing every district engineer, as the director has requested, and we'll also be complementing all of this data collection from a human standpoint with additional requests from information from TxDOT.

So as we move forward in terms of deliverables, the first product, a set of organization recommendations that are specific to the management levels of TxDOT and what we think might be positive in that area.  The next report will be a full set of recommendations based on the entire scope of the project, so the transparency, business process and so forth, for your consideration. And we're still in discussion about the final piece of reporting that was within our scope of work which is to come up with implementation plans on those recommendations, so we're in discussion about how that would need to be handled based upon what choices the commission actually makes about where you want to move forward.

That completes my comments this morning.  Did you all have any questions that you wish to ask?

MR. HOLMES: We appreciate the briefing and look forward to your continued work.  It's a big task, and I think you've gotten off to a good start.

MS. PENTECOST: Thank you very much.

MR. SIMMONS: Thank you, Susan. Just for information purpose, we will each month be bringing back Grant Thornton to give an update on where we're at.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Steve. Thank you, Susan.

Agenda item 2(b), commission, is a discussion item led by Mary Meyland on our development and the procedures we're going to use in putting together our strategic plan and the several other transportation plans and the statewide plans that we're putting together now.  Mary.

MS. MEYLAND: Good morning, Chair Delisi, commissioners.  It is my privilege to be here today.  Again, my name is Mary Meyland.  I have been special assistant to the executive director and now I'll be director of our new Strategic Policy and Performance Management Office.  I'd like to provide a brief overview of the agency's planned internal and external outreach efforts to ensure effective stakeholder collaboration and coordination in the development of our new strategic plan.

Why are we engaging in this effort?  Well, quite frankly, I only have several planned components that we're required to do, and the first of which I mention is the Texas Government Code Chapter 2056 requires each state agency to prepare a five-year strategic plan every biennium. The Texas Governor's Office and the Legislative Budget Board require certain items to be contained within that plan.

The second item of concern is in December of this last year, the executive director created this office, the Performance Management Office, and we're responsible for developing and implementing performance measurement and management systems into TxDOT business processes and reporting.  The office will be focused on creating a measurable and attainable goal set so we can drive the new performance-based strategic performance plan. That's performance-based and performance-measured.

As you know, through the Sunset Advisory Commission report on TxDOT, they recommended several restructuring opportunities for our planning process. We are now currently engaged in receiving public comment on our formal processes and planning development process procedures, and that comment period expires August 10.

The commission has recently approved realignment of the agency's field operations support functions into four support areas we now commonly refer to as the regions. And during this recent legislative session, the legislature ‑‑ and Senator Carona specifically ‑‑ requested that the commission engage in our top-down organizational review which Grant Thornton just reviewed and obviously just gave you the feedback. So with all these things going on, it's time for us to move forward in a direction of developing our new strategic plan and our goals.

I used this funding funnel on a separate presentation a couple of months back just to reiterate the fact that the interim strategic policy performance management team has developed this plan to inclusively involve the public in our outreach from both our internal perspectives and external stakeholders and the general public regarding the agency's strategic ‑‑ we're calling that a five-year strategic measurable and attainable goals ‑‑ performance targets and measurable resource allocations essential to the composition of the vision and policy level document which is shown at the very top of the funnel.  If we can't start with a long-term vision that is set down on goals that we can all agree upon and that we can all measure and obtain, then we cannot complete the overall function of our planning process.

We anticipate the planned outreach activities to run parallel and support every step of the Strategic Transportation Plan development process.  We have included our outreach process flow diagram in your packet to help you follow through as I go through the various steps we've got planned for this summer.  It follows the presentation and it looks like this, it's actually a flow chart.

The activities we've planned include, first of all, eight regional public focus groups. We have employed Texas Transportation Institute to conduct these focus groups, they've worked with us on many projects in the past, and they have decided and selected these areas between Houston, Temple, Amarillo, El Paso, Brownsville, Brownwood, Fort Worth and Lufkin to conduct those focus groups.  These are areas that represent both urban, metropolitan and rural areas of the state, they already have very good resources in those areas that they've used for other outreach and focus group efforts for TxDOT.

We have a detailed script that has been prepared for each one of these focus groups' effort's, it's about a three- to four-hour focus group participation level where we're really intentionally asking the folks to think about the projects and issues ahead of TxDOT and give us their feedback through interactive planning of options.

The second element is obviously one that's already been discussed, the ongoing Grant Thornton interviews through our legislators and our stakeholders ‑‑ and let me go back, I think I missed one ‑‑ yes, there's the one. We have public outreach educational tools that we used.  We have developed two which is a video and we have discussion questions which I'm going to preview for you at the end of this presentation, and the second one we're calling a TxDOT Hold'em Game, which is an interactive transportation financing game we're going to be using with the public to help them understand what it takes to fund roadways and where we get our funds and how it's disbursed. This will go along with our TRENDS model which we've discussed before, and this will be the public interface for the TRENDS model to help them understand how funds are forecasted and how we utilize those funds.

And we're also developing a TxDOT website.  It's a public portal for the strategic plan information so that people can comment and we can keep that open throughout the process.

I do want to mention the public outreach from Cambridge Systematics.  We are going to be using some public polling opportunities. Between 1,200 and 1,500 individuals from the Harris polling database will be utilized to engage into about a 20-minute internet survey which will be strategically and statistically valid to represent a good sampling or a cross-section of all of our Texas citizens. So we're looking forward to that to be our strategically and statistically valid sample so that we can move forward from their input in the development of our goals.

I don't know how we got out of sync here but we'll get back.  One of the last things I wanted to focus on is our internal and external stakeholders ‑‑ we're calling them stakeholders instead of just the general public.  In September we hope to hold four regional and one headquarters strategic planning workshop developed with group members that will be comprised of both the agency's emergency leadership and our TEMPO leadership which is our MPO leadership, and we're going to solicit feedback and input and participation from our regional service providers to help them or engage them in the process of developing our goal statements as well.  I think it would be very important for them to be involved and rely on them to help us develop these most important directions as we go forward.

As we move into October, we're hoping to have enough information by then to have scripted or drafted the goal statements as we see fit for goal development, and that we would use that information to go back to the district engineers and go back into their districts and communicate this to their elected officials through their already scheduled local resource meetings, the counties, the city councils and the MPOs and policy boards.  In addition, we hope to go out statewide with public open houses ‑‑ not necessarily public meetings but open houses to use these educational tools that we have provided and produced to engaging the public on a more personal basis to help them understand why we need measurable draft goals and why we need to move forward, and we do not have the locations determined for those yet.

And the final steps, in December we hope to have completed basically drafting the new goals which will be measurable and obtainable, and working with our work groups that we've already put together to help align those with strategies or work activities that will help us pull through and build our performance management system so that we can report back publicly and internally on how well we are accomplishing and taking care of our goals as we've determined.

Of course, this is absolutely essential to have a strategic plan which is the first part of the funnel that pulls all the planning and the alignment of all of our functions down so that our MPOs and our partners and our TxDOT districts can start aligning their projects in their 2010, 15-, 5- and 4-year plans which they definitely are already in the process of doing and are necessarily needing this information as soon as we can produce it.

Then we have life after our strategic plan.  Obviously, once the strategic plan has been adopted by the commission ‑‑ which we are hoping is in January ‑‑ that the agency and its MPO partners work on the process of documenting their new transportation plans and their long range plans.  The development of the transportation plan and the subsequent work plans will be closely coordinated with our MPOs through the public involvement process and their public involvement process.

I appreciate your attention to this.  Again, it was just an overview of the things we're going to try to accomplish this summer in engaging the public and trying to outline the direction for this organization, keeping it very open and intentional as we set forth on these measurable goals, understanding that even at the federal level and the AASHTO level that there have already been a set of four to five goal sets that we're working towards, trying to harmonize amongst all of the DOTs so that we can move forward in developing measurable goals.

With that, I just wanted to leave you with a little taste of one of the documentation tools that we have for the education outreach to the public.  It is a video that has been developed in house that we're going to use to just incite interest and basically start thinking about the future, and that it is our job as the Department of Transportation, and your job specifically as the leaders of this agency, to start thinking about how we strategically align ourselves to take care or to manage or at least to administer the issues and the problems that we might be facing in the future.

To go along with this, in your packet I have the questionnaire that we give out to those that have the opportunity to visualize and be involved in this video production just to get their feedback about their choices in the future. Thank you.

(Pause due to technical problems.)

MR. BARTON: I just wanted to let Ms. Meyland know that her video worked about as well as my plan to present to the commission on the TIGER discretionary grants.

(General talking and laughter.)

MR. SAENZ: But the goal is to go out there and work with the public and work with our stakeholders and kind of educate them about the transportation issues that we face and the challenges that we face to help them, and get feedback from them as to see ‑‑ kind of show them what direction we're going and approaches we're taking and get feedback from them to help us in developing this strategic plan. And I think one of the comments I'm hearing is we're not going to see anything till January when you bring us the plan.  No, we plan to be updating the commission and letting them know what we're seeing and the direction we're going throughout this time frame, so that when you do see the strategic plan, it's really something that's been an evolving process.

Mary, if we can't show it, we'll just go ahead and do a plan B, and why don't you just print three or four of them that will work and we'll send them to the commissioners.

MS. MEYLAND: Okay, we'll do that. Thank you.

MR. SAENZ: Do you have any questions of Mary?

MR. MEADOWS: I'll make a couple of comments, if you don't mind.  Well, first of all, I have to start by saying, Mary, thank you so much for the presentation. I know we're not going to watch the video so you guys can just calm down ‑‑ as a matter of fact, you can sit down, if you don't mind.

(General laughter.)

MR. MEADOWS: Thank you so much. I know that you all have put a lot of effort into this and I know you've had an opportunity to visit with members of the commission.  But you know, I'm just reminded, as I listen to this process as it's outlined and see the critical points in the process, I think we might want to engage the commission a little bit more in the construction of the process because I'm not sure we have the order exactly right.

I think it's important to understand ‑‑ and this is just fact ‑‑ and that is that this commission sits up here with its primary responsibility to set the strategic goals for the agency, and we work with you to develop the strategies to accomplish those goals, and I think we do a good job at that.  But what I see with this order is that you engage the commission formally in January of 2010, having gone through a fairly extensive process.

And you know, I think one of the great tools that Amadeo has brought to the table for this commission has been the workshop sessions, and if there ever was an agenda item that is appropriate for a workshop session where we really have the opportunity to dialogue, not only amongst ourselves but with staff, this is it. And I would just like to make a request that perhaps we rethink this, that we put on the brakes just a little bit ‑‑ not being critical of anything, we've got to have a place to start and it's a good place to start the discussion, and thank you for that ‑‑ but I'd like to ask Amadeo to put this as an agenda item on our workshop session for August so we really do have an opportunity to engage and become involved in the development of this agency's strategies.

MS. MEYLAND: To answer that question, I have you down on the September workshop to bring the first level of what we get back from the public in August.

MR. MEADOWS: Well, again, if you'll remember what I was just ‑‑ I know you heard what I said, I think it's a matter of construction of the order of business, and not that I'm an impatient person, as you may know, but it might be that we might want to move this up to August.

(General talking and laughter.)

MR. SAENZ: We'll bring it in August. I guess the approach that we had taken is we wanted to get some early feedback from the public based on what's out there to be able to bring to you this is what we've learned from the public, commissioners, now we want to work with you to help us put together the goals of the department, but here is some early feedback, based on the knowledge base that's out there, based on the understanding of transportation that's out there, and that we thought would help the commission kind of set a barometer.

MR. MEADOWS: Amadeo, what I'd tell you is every one of us, every single one of us are out in our communities every single day talking to people about transportation.  We want to engage, we want to be involved.  One of my biggest concerns I had  coming on this commission was the first time I read the strategic plan, you know who was not mentioned in the previous strategic plan?  The people of Texas. I'm serious and that is absolutely critical and I get that, I think everybody at this table understands that that's who we effectively answer to.

I think we are engaged and we are involved and I think when we start talking about the development of a strategic plan, the commission needs to be involved at the very earliest stages of the construction of the process.

MR. SAENZ: That's fine.

MR. HOLMES: It might be a good idea to have it on multiple workshops.

MR. SAENZ: And I think this presented a time line. This, just like the Grant Thornton report, is going to be reported.  This is an evolving process with feedback lines from the commission so that we make sure it is developed based on what the commission wants, because we understand that it is the commission's and the department's strategic plan. The approach that we took so that we could get started is:   let's go see where the public is today; based on that, we come to the commission and the commission gives us direction, and then we build from that; and after we build certain blocks, we come back with a second submittal so that eventually by January, as I mentioned earlier, when you do see the final plan, it really is an evolving process with the commission direction incorporated just about every month.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Amadeo, what questions do you ask when you're seeing what the public is interested in?  I think what Commissioner Meadows is saying is that we feel like we also have some ideas as to the public questions that need to be asked when you do this.

MR. SAENZ: We'll bring you something in August and get some feedback to make sure that you are comfortable with what we're asking.

MS. MEYLAND: Very good.  Thank you.

MS. DELISI: Before we move on, are there any other questions?

(No response.)

MR. SAENZ: Moving on to agenda item number 3 dealing with Aviation, Dave Fulton will present a minute order on the Aviation Program.

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 five airport improvement projects.  The total estimated cost of all requests, as shown in Exhibit A, is approximately $2 million: approximately $1.8 million in federal funding and about $200,000 in local funding.  A public hearing was held on June 18 of this year, no comments were received.  We would recommend approval of this minute order.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.


MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. FULTON: If you'd permit me just one more moment, I'd like to publicly acknowledge and thank Walter McCullough for what he's done for our program.

When the legislature transferred the Aviation Program into the Highway Department in 1991, this was not something the Highway Department had requested and we had trepidation. It's become a wonderful home for us, and we didn't have much money either.

Walter was the first guy to give me a call and say I think we can help you out. He had some small airports in his district, he said, I think when we do our highway projects out here, if you'd like to join us, we can save you some money and get it done, and we did that, and those projects wouldn't have been done otherwise.  Over the years a lot of districts have helped us, but Walter has always been the leader in that and I appreciate it.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Dave.

Agenda item number 4, we have two minute orders.  Agenda item 4(a) deals with a project in El Paso County dealing with commuter bus service, and Eric Gleason will present that minute order.

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

Agenda item 4(a) awards approximately $192,000 in federal Section 5304 Program funds and $65,000 in state funds to El Paso County Rural Transit District for an interstate commuter bus service demonstration project between El Paso and Las Cruces, New Mexico, with intermediate stops at other locations in Texas and New Mexico. Up to an additional maximum of $50,000 of state funds are awarded to encourage and partner with local funds generated in support of this project.

The New Mexico Department of Transportation is the lead agency on this project. New Mexico DOT approached TxDOT in early May of this year soliciting support for the project which, as designed, benefits residents and employers of both Texas and New Mexico. Our share of the project represents approximately 43 percent of the direct operating subsidy required for the service consistent with our share of the estimated route mileage for the service. Service is scheduled to begin this coming September.  Funds are sufficient for one year of operation and evaluation is planned to assess the viability of the service for longer term funding.

We recommend 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. SAENZ: Thank you.  Agenda item 4(b), commission, is a minute order dealing with Statewide Transportation Planning Program and matching funds for public transportation, also presented by Eric.

MR. GLEASON: Thank you.  Agenda item 4(b) approves the award of up to $1.32 million of federal Section 5304 State Planning and Research Program, and state matching funds to support continued regional public transportation coordination plan efforts in 22 of the 24 planning regions across the state.  This activity is required by both federal and state law. An equal amount of up to $60,000 is awarded to each area.  Each of the regions has submitted a proposed scope of work for these funds. We recommend your approval of this minute order.

MS. DELISI: At this point I'd like to call up Robert Stephens.  And for the record, please state your name and who you're representing.

MR. STEPHENS: For the record, my name is Rob Stephens, director of the Concho Valley Transit District.  Good morning to you.  Thank you for allowing me to make some comments.

I just wanted to say thank you this morning and make a few comments about this process. Several years ago I got to sit on a study group for coordinated planning that was formed by the former Commissioner Hope Andrade and the very talented Michael Morris of the North Central Texas COG, and we were tasked with ways to create opportunities to work with each other, possibly ways we hadn't done before, and to look at study methods for delivering regionally coordinated planning of services in Texas.

Since that time, we've been the beneficiary of the commission's leadership and vision. Thank you for that continued support. We'd like to recognize also the Public Transportation Division, Eric Gleason and his staff, for their support and guidance as well.

As the lead agent in the Concho Valley, State Planning Region 10, we have had some outcomes and enjoyed some success engaging in this process.  In 2006 the regional coordination discussion resulted in consolidated delivery of services between the City of San Angelo and the Concho Valley Council of Governments, a small urban and rural system, providing the services under a consolidated district umbrella. The final result there was a better opportunity to constrain costs and improve some services.

And at the same time we asked a simple question of how could a passenger terminal help public and private carriers deliver better service, be more efficient, and be more effective.  The result is an intermodal passenger terminal, as Walter explained earlier, in downtown San Angelo slated to begin construction this next year and then the summer of 2011 be operational.

We've had numerous and continued examples of success in partnering with the health and human services agencies in our region in developing service plans that meet our needs and creating long lasting relationships that better serve our communities. I once again thank you for entrusting us with this responsibility and then giving us the resources to carry it out. Thank you.

MS. DELISI: Thank you.  There's a motion before us.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.


MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, commission. Moving on, agenda item number 6, John Barton will present a minute order dealing with the Keep Texas Beautiful Governor's Community Achievement Awards Program.

MR. BARTON: Again, thank you. For the record, my name is John Barton.

Just a little background, the Governor's Community Achievement Awards Program was first initiated by the commission in 1985, it created a statewide annual awards program in partnership with the Keep Texas Beautiful organization, and Keep Texas Beautiful sponsors a competition each year with its member communities throughout Texas, they seek to recognize communities that have done an outstanding job in litter prevention, managing their solid waste or trash pickup system, recycling, beautification of their communities, public education and litter law enforcement activities.

Originally the program was established at $700,000 and was shared between eight winning communities, in 1989 they added a ninth community, and in 1998 it was added to part of our Unified Transportation Program at a level of $1 million. TxDOT participates in this program by providing the funding as well as designing and installing the landscape projects for those winning communities on state-maintained roadways in and around their communities.  The awards range from $60,000 for populations of about 1,500, for communities that size, up to $265,000 for communities that are over 300,000 people, and the current level, as I said, is $1 million.

This minute order would increase the total award amounts up to $2 million and it was an initiative brought forward to us by the commission, so staff recommends adoption of this minute order and I don't know if there's any questions or comments that anyone would like to make at this time.

MR. HOLMES: I'd like to make just a brief comment. This is a really interesting program because it incentivizes 80 or 90 communities around the state to improve their community, and then a few are selected, nine or ten, I guess ten if we go forward.

MR. BARTON: That's correct.

MR. HOLMES: Awarded money that then improves state right of way, and so it's kind of a two-for-one ‑‑ actually, it's about an 80-for-one type project, and it's the kind of initiative that I think it's important to encourage.

MR. BARTON: And Commissioner Holmes obviously brought this issue to our attention after he attended the Keep Texas Beautiful Awards program this year, but I'd just add to it, it is an 80-fold return on investment and perhaps it's even more because not only are those 80 communities incentivized to keep them looking nice, but their efforts help reduce the litter that is on our system in those communities which reduce our cost to pick it up.  So as we move forward, we haven't done a cost-benefit analysis, but this is clearly a win-win-win opportunity for the department, the communities, and all of Texas.

MR. HOLMES: So moved.

MS. DELISI: Is there a second?


MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, John, don't leave.

MR. BARTON: I'm not leaving.

MR. SAENZ: This is going to probably be, almost the rest of it, the John Barton Show.

Agenda item number 7 deals with the promulgation of administrative rules.7(a) deals with final adoption of rules, and John Barton will present final adoption of rules dealing with Contract Management and Contractor Sanctions.  John.

MR. BARTON: Very quickly, item 7(a) is for the final adoption of the proposed rules amending our opportunity for formal hearing section.  This is simply to clarify that contractors are allowed the opportunity to request a formal hearing for any type of sanction that's been imposed on them.  Previous rule revisions only inadvertently omitted the procedure for requesting a formal hearing from the Level 1 sanctions, and Level 1 sanctions amount to about a 50 percent reduction in bidding capacity, so this rule revision and its final adoption would allow those contractors subject to those sanctions to request a formal hearing, and staff recommends your adoption of this minute order.

MR. HOLMES: So moved.


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 7(b) deals with proposed rules dealing with Aviation, and Dave Fulton will make that presentation for us.

MR. FULTON: Again for the record, my name is Dave Fulton, director of the TxDOT Aviation Division.

This item is a minute order to repeal TxDOT's authority to regulate intrastate scheduled air carriers.  Prior to 1978, the Civil Aeronautics Board was vested with the authority for regulation of interstate scheduled air carriers.  Authority to regulate intrastate carriers was delegated to the respective states. With the passage of the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, the Civil Aeronautics Board was disestablished and the airlines were economically deregulated by gaining the right to establish routes and set prices as they so chose.  The act also preempted the states from exercising regulatory authority over intrastate carriers.

Article 46C-6, Vernon's Texas Civil Statutes previously  granted authority to the department to regulate air carriers.  Senate Bill 334, 81st Legislature, 2009 repealed Article 46C-6 making the department's rules to regulate air carriers obsolete. We recommend approval of this minute order.  Any questions?

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. HOUGHTON: Hey, Dave, I need to ask you a question. You were talking about Walter and working together out here, you had runways, obviously they needed surfacing, so as he was surfacing roads, he'd surface your runways.

MR. FULTON: Actually, in Eldorado we built a brand new runway, we kind of did it as a change order ‑‑ the first one, a change order to a road project, we provided the funding out of our budget for our part, the aviation part, and the contractor was in the vicinity and just went out and paved the strip.  A lot of similarities there, and Walter did several other projects like that for us over the years, and now other districts have.  So it's projects we couldn't have afforded to do otherwise.

MR. HOUGHTON: That's a wonderful collaboration. I'm glad you explained that further.

MR. FULTON: Thank you.

MR. HOLMES: Dave, did you lengthen that strip at Eldorado too?

MR. FULTON: We did.  Isn't that right, Walter?

MR. HOLMES: Because you had to kind of jump the fence.

(General laughter.)

MR. FULTON: The county judge deserves a lot of credit out there, he was the driving force that got us started. I knew you had flown in there, someone mentioned that.

MR. HOUGHTON: Well, you know, the planes that Commissioner Holmes flies in on now don't meet the requirements of that strip and he needs a lot longer strip.

MR. FULTON: We're getting there. Thank you.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Dave.

Commission, moving on to agenda item number 8 that deals with our toll road policy, and Phil Russell will make a presentation on enhanced toll recovery program.

MR. RUSSELL: Again, good morning, commissioners. For the record, I'm Phil Russell, assistant executive director.

As Mr. Saenz mentioned, item 8 would authorize the development of a one-time policy for establishing a toll violation recovery period under which a percentage of administrative fees related to toll violations on certain state toll projects would be discharged.  Essentially, by approving this minute order you would authorize us to establish a toll violation recovery period which would involve the discharge of a percentage of the administrative fees related to the toll violation in exchange for the customer paying the total amount of the tolls owed as well as opening up a TxTag account. The proposed recovery period is anticipated to enhance the collection of outstanding toll revenues due and increase the number of tolls paid with the TxTag which, of course, is the lowest cost and the most reliable transaction.

Customers need to understand very clearly that customers who do not resolve outstanding violations during this period would be subject to further collection and ultimately court action.  Commissioners, we would recommend approval of this minute order and I'd be happy to address any questions you might have.

MR. HOUGHTON: It's called what?

MR. RUSSELL: It's called a toll violation recovery period.

MR. HOUGHTON: Toll violation recovery period. Have you thought about publishing the names in the newspaper if they don't pay?

MR. RUSSELL: Clearly, that's something that we have discussed, some of the other toll authorities do that, I've seen it in a couple of those publications.

MR. HOUGHTON: Does HCTRA and NTTA do that?

MR. RUSSELL: I've seen it on NTTA, absolutely, top ten toll violators, here they are, with pictures if they have them. It's quite embarrassing.

MR. HOUGHTON: With pictures?

MR. RUSSELL: With pictures, the best I remember. And Commissioner, I guess, just to further dialogue, our intent, as we've initiated our program, we didn't want to be perceived to be heavy-handed government coming in, and so we very much ‑‑ we've had patience, we've tried to be very customer-friendly, but we're at the point now that we must move forward and we will be initiating court proceedings.

MR. HOUGHTON: The reason I asked about the name ‑‑ and I'm not being facetious about it ‑‑ out in El Paso for parking fines or violations like that, they give them a period of time to come in and pay, and if they don't, then they print their name in the Sunday paper, and it seems to work pretty well.  People don't like their name in the paper under that kind of association.

MR. RUSSELL: I think we could certainly do that if that would be the commission direction, and I think this whole notion of offering one last recovery period, one last time, we're not the first to come up with that bright idea, it's something that's predicated on what other entities have done, cities with parking tickets.  It seems to be a fairly reliable way ‑‑ and again, the carrot that we're offering is, as we develop this plan, perhaps we would discharge as much as 90 percent of the fees which is really the escalation that people kind of push back on, so it might be up to 90 percent of those fees, so by discharge of that, they would still be paying the remaining 10 percent and all of the tolls.  That's what I don't want to be misunderstood, we're not suggesting waiving any of these tolls, we wouldn't, so they'd pay 10 percent of the fees ‑‑ which can be very large ‑‑ all of the tolls, and they would go ahead and subscribe to a TxTag which, again, it's very friendly for them, it's great for us, it's a low cost and we want to try to incentivize people to take out a TxTag.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Phil, a question ‑‑ I jumped in front of Ned ‑‑ how much money are we talking about forgiving?

MR. RUSSELL: I think we're on the order of about $3 million of actual tolls, $3.1-, $3.2 million.

MR. UNDERWOOD: So we're hoping to collect $3 million in tolls and forgive the sundry charges that we've tacked onto it because they haven't paid it.

MR. RUSSELL: The sundry charges, of course, are much higher than that, but the actual tolls are about $3 million.

And Commissioner, you bring up a great point, we haven't just stumbled into this, we've really looked at it from a cost-benefit analysis.  And you know, data is a little of a challenge, it's a little bit of a challenge to figure out what level is the 90 percent waiver correct, should it be 50 percent waiver, should it be a 30 percent waiver.  And what we've been able to piece together is If you approach somewhere around 90 percent, you are likely to get more participation and more folks that will jump into that, and by doing that, we think it's a positive gain for the state.  We will bring in more revenue than we would normally with no program.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Because I can understand we can bring in all the revenue if we take them to court, but then we'd turn around and spend it all.

MR. RUSSELL: Yes, sir.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Thank you.

MR. HOLMES: Phil, the relative numbers, if I recall from the briefing, is $2-1/2- or $3 million worth of tolls but $50 million worth of fees.

MR. RUSSELL: Yes, sir.

MR. HOLMES: So when you waive 90 percent of the fees, it's still about double the amount of the toll you would collect. Is that what I recall?

MR. RUSSELL: That's a fair analysis, and people will say my goodness, $50 million in fees, why don't you go ahead and go after it? And we could, if the commission wants us to do it, we will be dogged and we will go after everyone.

MR. HOUGHTON: What is the highest fee?

MR. RUSSELL: I don't remember offhand, but I can get that to you.  But the ‑‑ I guess my point, commissioner, the reality is there will be folks from Bremerton, Washington, I'll be the one to volunteer to go up there and knock on the door in Bremerton, I just think we're going to be spending $10 to chase a $1, and I think from a cost-benefit, this is the appropriate policy.  Commissioner, I will get the highest level.

MR. HOUGHTON: I'm just curious, how many total violators do we have?

MR. RUSSELL: It's on the order of several hundred transactions.  The $3 million in tolls is something in ‑‑ let me see if I can find that figure for you, I think I have it here somewhere.

MR. HOUGHTON: Well, the reason that I ask about what other agencies do, Bill Meadows, you were on NTTA ‑‑

MR. RUSSELL: 2.9 million transactions.

MR. HOUGHTON: 2.9 million transactions.

MS. DELISI: Is that all transactions, that also includes rental cars?

MR. RUSSELL: No, that should not include, because rental cars are excepted, we're working with them separately, so that 2.9 million transactions, if you drive down 130, you would go through four gantries, one trip, four transactions.

MR. HOUGHTON: Okay, four transactions.

MR. RUSSELL: Yes, sir.  I'm sorry, go ahead.

MR. HOUGHTON: I was just asking what our other partners, Bill, in the tolling agencies are doing as far as collecting these types of tolls that haven't been paid.

MR. RUSSELL: I think there's two or three strategies that are being utilized.  I believe the CTRMA is initiating court proceedings, NTTA and Harris County have been for some time ‑‑ I know NTTA and I think probably Harris County also will post the top ten violators, the top twenty violators, whatever the case may be, as you suggested.  There are also ongoing discussions about utilizing a company to start tracking down some of those out-of-state drivers, some of those out-of-state license plates and some of the other toll agencies are having some reasonable luck with that, so we're looking at that.

The Chair mentioned discussions with rental car companies.  That's been a challenge for the industry for many, many, many years.  Somebody gets in a rental car, drives through it, the rental car company really has that rental fee, they really don't want to chase the person that drove on that toll road, and so they're working out agreements kind of with an intermediary agency where the agency will do that for them.  They'll go and collect those tolls from their rental care patrons, and that really seems to be a bright spot, and more and more of the rental car companies, with a couple of exceptions, more and more of the rental car companies are choosing to enter into an agreement with a company like that, and that really helps us on our side as well.  But that's kind of a separate issue, Chair.

MR. HOLMES: Just out of curiosity, Phil, when you've looked at other toll recovery programs from around the state, the country, what percentage of the tolls are they recovering?  Do you know that number?

MR. RUSSELL: Not really, Commissioner. To my knowledge, there's none in the state that are having a similar recovery program.  I think some cities do it for parking violations and that sort of thing.  There's been a couple perhaps the TCAs might be one, there may be another toll entity that has implemented a similar program, and the only thing we've really been able to glean in it is that as you start approaching maybe 90 percent waiver, you start getting a higher and higher recovery.  I don't recall offhand what that recovery rate would be, but if it's too low, if you say we'll waive 20 percent, most people will say okay, fine, take me to court ‑‑ we will ‑‑ but that 90 percent figure seems to be kind of a baseline of what we need to look at, and at that 90 percent is how we've kind of done our calculation that we think it would be a positive cash flow.

MS. DELISI: So I want to be clear, we're talking about this in terms of a one-time recovery program.  Right?

MR. RUSSELL: One time.

MS. DELISI: So people shouldn't get used to every year we're going to do this.

MR. RUSSELL: One time.  This is the last chance.  We're still customer-friendly, Chair, but this is the last time and we will be implementing court action.

MR. HOUGHTON: How many transactions?

MR. RUSSELL: There were about 2.9 million transactions.

MR. HOUGHTON: That have violated, that have not paid.

MR. RUSSELL: Yes, sir.

MR. HOUGHTON: So I'm trying to get to my newspaper analogy here.

MS. DELISI: That's a lot of names.

MR. RUSSELL: Well, I think that's a good point, Commissioner.  What I think the toll entities have done in the past, they haven't taken out a front-page ad in the morning news for 2.9 violators, what I think they have done is we'll select the top ten, the top twenty most egregious offenders and we will put them on the front page of the metro, that's what I think we're talking about.

MR. HOUGHTON: I'd like to do that.

MR. RUSSELL: If that's a commission prerogative, we'd certainly look into it, and I suspect we cold implement that as well.

MR. HOUGHTON: I think there's a cut line, I just don't know where the cut line is to the egregious offenders.

MS. DELISI: Well, I think the point is we've got to see how many people come in through this process, because this is what, a 60-day, 90-day process?

MR. RUSSELL: Again, it's up to your direction, but we're thinking probably 60 days or so.

MR. HOUGHTON: The 91st day and then you print.

MR. SAENZ: And I guess the other thing is we'll check to verify that we don't have anything that would restrict us, legislatively, from printing.

MR. HOUGHTON: Other municipalities do this, they print the violators.

MR. SAENZ: But sometimes when laws are passed, we are given different guidelines that we can follow.

MR. HOUGHTON: Ben Wear's name wouldn't appear?

MR. SAENZ: I hope he's paid.

(General talking and laughter.)

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Saenz, again, if the commission, if that's their prerogative they would like us to investigate that, we can certainly do that.

MR. SAENZ: Why don't you check that, Phil, and prepare a report for the commission.

MR. RUSSELL: Absolutely.

MS. DELISI: The rest of the commission wants to make sure you have the spelling of his name correct.

(General talking and laughter.)

MS. DELISI: Are there any other questions or observations?  I need a motion.

MR. HOUGHTON: A motion for the enhanced toll recovery program?

MS. DELISI: Yes, sir.

MR. RUSSELL: Yes, sir.

MR. UNDERWOOD: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. RUSSELL: Thank you, commissioners.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Phil.

Agenda item number 9, James Bass will present two minute orders dealing with toll projects.

MR. BASS: Good morning.  For the record, I'm James Bass, chief financial officer at TxDOT. And Commissioner Houghton, just to clarify what Phil was saying, it's 2.9 million transactions, not customers.

MR. HOUGHTON: Oh, I know that.

MR. BASS: So it wouldn't necessarily be an Austin metro phone book, it would be something much smaller.

I have a couple of agenda items today, both dealing with toll equity requests and they also deal with the earlier allocation of stimulus dollars by the commission. The first one, item 9(a), is for preliminary approval of a request to include $181 million of stimulus dollars for the State Highway 99 or Grand Parkway project in the Houston area from Interstate 10 to US 290.  Again, this is the first of a two-step process and staff would recommend your approval.

MR. HOLMES: So moved.


MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. BASS: The second item, item 9(b), is the second step of this two-step process for another utilization of stimulus dollars. This is for just under $50 million to be utilized on a project associated with the Southwest Parkway in Fort Worth, dealing with the UP Railroad's Davidson Yard, and again, it would utilize just under $50 million of stimulus dollars on a project associated with a toll road, therefore, this process is required.  This would be final approval, and staff recommends your approval.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. BASS: Thank you.

MR. SAENZ: Thanks, James.

Moving on to agenda item 10, commission, dealing with our Proposition 14 Bond Program, John Barton will provide a minute order for your consideration.

MR. BARTON: For the record, my name is John Barton.

The minute order before us today addresses the Proposition 14 Bond Program. Stepping back just for a moment, if you will, I think there's some important information that the commission has been asking for and I hope that we've been able to provide this in a way that meets your needs as well as that of the public.

As you know, the commission is authorized to issue up to $6 billion in bonds through the Proposition 14 Bond Program.  These are bonds that are pledged and payable from revenues deposited into the credit of the Highway Fund.  In October of 2008, I appeared before the commission in Dallas and presented a plan relating to the use of the remaining $2.9 billion worth of bond proceeds that the commission has the authority to sell at some point in time ‑‑ again, limited at $1.5 billion worth of issuance per year.

I would direct your attention to Exhibit A that's contained in the minute order, and I'd just like to briefly go over the contents of the two-page exhibit with you to explain it to you and hopefully begin the process of being able to clearly and transparently convey to the community at large, the State of Texas and anyone interested how the $2.9 billion worth of Proposition 14 bond proceeds are currently anticipated to be expended, and then the expenditures that have occurred under those to date.

The first page of this two-page exhibit is a reconciliation, if you will, of how the bond proceeds were anticipated to be spent and where we are to date.The first column indicates the original plan that I laid out to the commission in October of 2008, I won't go through it, but if you'll look down, it's broken into types of expenses, there were some expenses for engineering and right of way activities, construction activities, and then a commission discretionary account, if you will, or pool of funds that were made available.

In general, we had presented to the commission a plan to consume about $783 million for engineering and right of way for much needed projects around the state, about $1.9 billion for construction activities on projects that you had identified as priorities, and then a $200 million reserve, if you will, for the commission to use for future projects that might be of importance to the state, totaling $2.9 billion.

In that same meeting in October of 2008, Minute Order 111550 was presented to the commission and approved and the expenditures, or obligations, if you will, that were endorsed or approved by that commission minute order are laid out in the second column. Quite a few dollars were committed to those engineering and right of way activities for safety-related projects, those projects that had been delayed previously in November and October of 2007, as well as some additional priority transportation projects identified around the state.  About $1.73 billion was outlined for expenditures on construction projects of importance to the state that you had selected, as well as $180 million to the Dallas-Fort Worth area for a repayment of money that we had used from them for projects that were important to the state prior to the issuance of this minute order.In total, about $1.8 billion was committed in Minute Order 111550 in October, and if you would like the details of that, you can certainly go to the minute order and see those project-by-project details.

In January of 2009, I appeared before the commission and you approved Minute Order 111680 committing $219.8 million for additional engineering activities.These are activities that are necessary to get projects that will ultimately be funded by either Proposition 14, Proposition 12, the Recovery Act, or future revenues that may be made available to the department.  As the original plan shows, we had $200 million anticipated, when we put the list of consultant contract together, we need $219.8 million, and so $19.8 of the contingency and overruns account was necessary to be obligated in order to meet the full $219.8 million.  You did approve that activity in January of 2009.

Then in March of 2009, I again appeared before the commission asking for the adoption of Minute Order 111751 which obligated $60 million of your commission reserve account to the US 281/1604 interchange project in San Antonio which was part of your American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Program. There was not enough money available in the Recovery Act funds that were at the commission's discretion to fully fund this project, and so you chose to fund $60 million of that project using the Proposition 14 bonds available.

Those are the three minute orders that the commission has approved related to Proposition 14 to date.  Today I stand before you asking that you approve an additional $457 million of Proposition 14 Bond proceeds to specific activities which are shown on page 2 of the exhibit.If you'll turn your attention to that page, there are five activities or projects that I would like to draw your attention to.

The first is $200 million of funding from the Proposition 14 Bond Program to fund projects that are currently funded under the State Highway Fund.  By moving the funding for those projects over to the Proposition 14 Bond Program, we will then free up those State Highway funds to then be used to pay off commercial paper debt that we have outstanding with the department.

Mr. Bass is here, and I think the number that we currently are holding today is around $264 million ‑‑ $284 million of outstanding commercial paper.This will allow us to pay off $200- of that and get it down to a reasonable financially manageable level.This was part of the original plan and this action would allow us to move forward with that.

The next row shows various activities for consultant contracts services of $67 million.In October of 2008, I explained to the commission that we needed this money to fund consultant contracts across the state in all of our districts for much needed projects.Many of those activities have moved forward.  In preparing for this minute order, we realized that I  had failed to memorialize in the October 2008 minute order, and this activity would memorialize it for transparency's sake.

The last three rows are for specific projects that we are requesting authority to move forward with using Proposition 14 Bond proceeds.  The middle one or the first one there is for the DFW Connector right of way project.  We discussed this in previous commission meetings and were asked to withhold bringing it forward to the commission for action until a later date.  We are moving forward with that DFW Connector project and eagerly awaiting its final execution.

About $107 million is needed to fully fund the acquisition of all the required right of way for the entire project, not just the Configuration 2 that is currently being planned to be built but for the entire project so that at some point in the future when funding is available to complete the construction of the entire DFW Connector project, that right of way will be acquired and prevent it from being further developed between now and the time that that construction activity occurs.That's a $107 million need.

The last two are for projects on Interstate 35.  The first one that's shown there is from Salado, Texas to BeltonTexas.This is one of the Recovery Act funded projects that you selected two to three months ago ‑‑ actually, I guess, in March of 2009.  We need $45 million to complete the right of way acquisition and utility relocation activities of that project.

The last one is for another project on Interstate 35, it's the one that Representative Anderson was here talking about this morning, it's a project to reconstruct Interstate 35 from just north of Waco in the Bellmead area up to the community of West, and again, about $38 million is needed to complete the right of way acquisition and utility relocation activities on that particular project.So in total, we are requesting a documented obligation of $457 million through this minute order for the specific activities I've just laid out for you.  That's shown in the fifth column on the first page of the exhibit.            

The sixth column on the exhibit is labeled overruns and underruns.  For those construction projects that are funded from Proposition 14 that we have already taken bids on, assuming a 5 percent increase from the bid price to the final construction cost, we have about $85 million of underrun money, if you will.  Those projects' low bids came in about a little more than $85 million below the estimated amount that was committed in the Proposition 14 Bond approvals in October of 2008.Holding back 5 percent, again, for potential change orders on those projects would mean that there's $85 million in underruns that can be returned to fund other projects from around the state, and in future minute orders we can show those underrun amounts either in the contingency and underrun line or add that to the commission reserve account, but not knowing what the commission's decision or direction would be on that today, I just chose to show it as a separate item.

So when you summarize this all in the bottom right-hand corner of the first page, you can see that of the $2.9 billion available, the plan that's been laid out has moved forward to a point that $400 million, roughly, of additional Proposition 14 Bond proceeds have not been committed to a specific project or activity.And I believe that this particular format will provide complete transparency to anyone that's interested in how the Proposition 14 Bond proceeds are committed and being used.

MR. HOUGHTON: A question regarding the over-underrun.$85 million for this program.

MR. BARTON: Yes, sir.

MR. HOUGHTON: What does the entire program look like?And we're approaching year-end.

MR. BARTON: That's correct.Currently to date we have taken bids on about a third of the projects that were identified in this particular bond package, so I would anticipate that $85 million worth of underrun, if it continues along those trends into the future months, as we take bids between now and August of 2010 ‑‑ which is near the end of when all the projects committed under this program will be out to bid ‑‑ that number may grow to as much as $300 million.

MR. HOUGHTON: The question is on the entire transportation program.

MR. BARTON: Oh, for everything we've bid to date, I don't know that I have that number readily available.  The last I remember, James, it was about $300 million that we were under so far to date on the bids we've taken.

MR. HOUGHTON: Not inclusive.

MR. BARTON: It does include these funds.

MR. HOUGHTON: It does include this.

MR. BARTON: Yes, sir.

MR. HOUGHTON: Currently.  Okay.

MR. HOLMES: John, on the last two projects, the I-35 in Bell and McLennan counties, when we originally approved those ‑‑ what was that, a couple of months ago ‑‑ had we identified these amounts as being basically the shortfall that needed to come out of the Prop 14?

MR. BARTON: We had and we had talked about ‑‑ actually, I think we had talked to the commission about $75 million worth of right of way and utility relocation costs that would need to be committed from Proposition 14.  We obviously did not have a minute order to memorialize and specify that, and clearly we're a little over that.  Instead of at $75 million, we're at about $83 million, but it was anticipated, yes, sir.

MR. HOLMES: I was thinking it was but I couldn't remember the number.

MR. BARTON: We talked about the $75 million there and actually $82 million for the DFW Connector.  This recommendation, based on my perspective, was to go from the $82 million for the DFW Connector to a full $107- because $82 million would just get us the right of way for the project we're building today, but the northern section that goes from the airport up to the LBJ Freeway would not be acquired, and the thoughts that I had is as we start building this new corridor, people will start developing along the extremities of it and I would recommend we go ahead and buy the right of way today for the full project.

Any other questions? If not, I would recommend 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. SAENZ: Thank you.  John will continue and present agenda item 11 dealing with the creation of a Rulemaking Advisory Committee for our Transportation Planning rules.

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

As you well know, prior to the 81st Legislative Session, the Sunset Advisory Commission worked with members of the legislature, the public and the department and brought forward numerous recommendations regarding the department's operations, and some of those included improvements to the redevelopment of the state's planning processes and to provide a regular update to our statewide transportation plan, and to create a more well-defined, understandable and transparent system for planning and programming our projects.

Although our Sunset bill did not pass, as you well know, the conference committee report that was prepared for House Bill 300 did contain many of these concepts and we believe would be a good basis for moving forward with revisions to the department's existing transportation planning and programming and project development process.

Several points that I would like to make that I think can be accomplished through this are a more well-defined short-term, mid-term, and long-term transportation planning program.  We can take this opportunity to better define how we select our projects.  We also can memorialize a rule how we establish funding programs and categories of work, as well as how we create the formulas for allocating those funds to our metropolitan planning organizations for their use in planning purposes as well as our districts.  At the end of this process, it's important that all that we do be transparent, well-defined and reliable to our transportation partners and the public as we move forward with the development of transportation systems here in Texas.

By rule, you have the authority as the commission to appoint a rulemaking advisory committee to assist the department and the commission in the development of your administrative rules, and this particular minute order today would envision that.  House Bill 300 contemplated the development of a cooperative process with TxDOT's local transportation partners and entities in any rulemaking process we adopt into the future. This proposed minute order will establish an eleven-member advisory committee and direct the executive director, Mr. Saenz, to designate an office or employee of the department to provide administrative support for these activities as we move forward into the future.

I will not go over the members of the committee that are recommended in this Exhibit A to the minute order, I would just tell you that it was a well thought-out group of individuals, not by name or position but more by association with entities across the state representing metropolitan planning organizations, transit agencies, tolling authorities, councils of government, counties, and cities of all sizes, the Federal Highway Administration, and the general public at large.

So I wanted to share this information with you and would recommend that you approve this minute order for the creation of this Rulemaking Advisory Committee. And I'll be happy to answer any questions that you may have.

MR. HOLMES: So moved.

MS. DELISI: Is there a second?


MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. BARTON: Thank you. Do I get to stay up here or can I sit down for a little bit?

MR. SAENZ: Stay up there, John.

Moving on to agenda item number 12 ‑‑ I'll skip around to give you a rest ‑‑ moving on to agenda item number 12 dealing with Traffic Operations, John will present two minute orders, the first one dealing with the 2010 Highway Safety Plan.

MR. BARTON: Thank you, Director Saenz. Again, for the record, my name is John Barton, and I will direct your attention to the screen, I have a brief PowerPoint presentation to share with you about the fiscal year 2010 Highway Safety Plan for the Texas Department of Transportation.

The minute order before you today seeks approval of the 2010 Highway Safety Plan which is designed, of course, to reduce the number and severity of traffic crashes that we have around the state of Texas, to reduce the number of injuries sustained in these crashes, and ultimately, obviously, to reduce the number of fatalities that we see through activities such as stepped up enforcement, training and education efforts that we see throughout the state of Texas about the perils of driving on and around our transportation systems and the importance of doing so in a safe and effective manner.

Improving safety is clearly our most important goal at the Department of Transportation and programs like the Highway Safety Plan are included in this particular proposal to help us to implement our safety goals as we protect the citizens of this great state.

Just to give you a little bit of a background of the benefits of a program such as this, from 2003 to 2007, through the efforts of the Highway Safety Plan and the men and women in law enforcement, as well as our employees in the department, we have experienced a significant reduction in the number of fatalities that we have seen on Texas highways and streets from year to year. Unfortunately, as you can see, in 2008 we did see a slight increase in the number of fatalities from 3,461 in 2007 to a record 3,468 in 2008.

We've also shown that the number of alcohol-related fatalities associated with accidents has started to have an impact and has continued to be a major contributing factor in traffic crashes and fatalities in Texas. The fiscal year 2010 Highway Safety Plan obviously now will be targeted on education, training and enforcement addressing this particular problem of driving while under the influence.

An alarming concern that I have and I wanted to bring to your attention ‑‑ and I know it will be of significance to all the commission members but perhaps closer to the heart of one ‑‑ is the alarming rate of increases that we are seeing in the number of motorcycle-related fatalities.

MR. HOUGHTON: More than half?

MR. BARTON: Yes, sir.  It's almost all of the increase, and in fact, if we had not had the increase in motorcycle-related crashes/fatalities in 2008, we would have seen a decline yet again, but because of the increase in motorcycle crashes, we actually saw an increase in the number of fatalities from 2007 to 2008.

Ten years ago they accounted for about 10 percent of our overall fatalities, today they're 15 percent, and the thing that's important, though, is motorcycles only make up 2 percent of the traffic, so they're an exceptionally disproportionate level for obvious reasons.  Again, because of that, our Highway Safety Plan this year will focus a lot of training and public education efforts on our Share the Road Program to improve motorcycle safety in the State of Texas.

MR. UNDERWOOD: John, one quick question on motorcycles. When you say they have a fatality, what are the specifics:   was speed involved, was alcohol involved?

MR. BARTON: Unfortunately, Commissioner Underwood ‑‑ and I know this is very near and dear to your heart ‑‑ there are three things that appear to be involved in most of these or can be categorized in the three general areas:   Operating a motorcycle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a critical factor for us; speed is the third critical factor, operating a motorcycle at an unsafe speed; and then, unfortunately, a lot of the fatalities ‑‑ not the crashes themselves but the fatalities resulted from the lack of the drivers wearing headgear, proper protective headgear.

And then I guess the one element that I didn't mention that is a big player is the fact that those that operate other motorized vehicles still have not reached the level of observance and recognition of motorcycles on our roadways ‑‑ in other words, those that are driving cars and pickups are not seeing motorcycles as much as they should be.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Right, I understand that, but I worry that part of it may be the speed involved.  I've seen some of these kids on rice rockets, and I mean, they're scooting.

MR. BARTON: They are, sir, and some of those kids are approaching your and my age too, so that has a little bit to do with it.

(General laughter.)

MR. UNDERWOOD: I'm not going to talk about my close friends, but I understand exactly what you're talking about.

What about bicycles too, though, do we have any statistics on the fatalities on those?

MR. BARTON: We do have statistics on pedestrian/bicycle related crashes and fatalities and I believe that those numbers are pretty consistent with what we've seen in the past ‑‑ which was news to me.  I thought they would have gone up some because of the price of fuel and the fact that more people are operating bicycles and walking and jogging rather than driving cars, but if I recall correctly, we haven't seen a significant spike or increase in those.

MR. UNDERWOOD: The reason why I ask that because that's another vehicle that's hard to see for a driver, whether you would be on a bicycle or a pedestrian stepping out between a car or whatnot.

MR. BARTON: That is correct.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Thank you.

MR. HOLMES: John, I was told recently that there were more deaths on bicycles than motorcycles in Texas.  Is that true?

MR. BARTON: I will have to get that information for you.  If it were, I think I would have remembered that and could have relayed it to you. As far as I know, it's not to be the case, but I will confirm that and get back with you on it.

Just one last brief piece of information, as you can see from this slide, the 2010 Highway Safety Plan also will include our successful Click-It or Ticket campaign to get more of us wearing our seatbelts as we operate motorized vehicles. We started this program in 2002, and as you can see, we've seen consistent and improving statistics over this time. I'm extremely pleased to tell you that we have achieved a record-setting 92.94 percent seatbelt use here in the State of Texas this past year.  This is the fourth straight year that we've exceeded 90 percent and a goal that many states wish they could achieve.

Our goal for 2010 through the Highway Safety Program is to reach at least 93.25 percent, and we estimate that for every percentage point that we can increase safety belt use in Texas, we save 25 Texans' lives each year and we keep 586 people from being seriously injured.  So if you can imagine those numbers, we estimate that about 2,000 people have been saved in car crashes through the use of seatbelts over the life of this program, and 46,000 fewer people have been seriously injured here in Texas due to crashes because of our Click-It or Ticket campaign and its success.

A large portion of this funding goes to stepped-up law enforcement activities through what we call STEP programs.  These grants help provide additional law enforcement activities focusing on speeding areas, intersection violations, driving while under the influence, and then certainly activities around specific events or holidays throughout the year, as well as increased seatbelt use and proper child safety restraints.

We also have programs in other areas such as emergency medical service training, increasing pedestrian/bicycle safety ‑‑ again, something we've already talked about ‑‑ improving our crash records system so we have better data to evaluate where we actually have problems that can be addressed through improvements in our roadway system, and providing information and education to the people in the communities here across Texas to help influence and affect proper attitude and behavior.

The budget consists of about $76 million worth of funds that will fund approximately 360 traffic safety projects throughout Texas through the year.  $44 million of that comes to us from the federal government, $24 million of that is through local participation, and the state's contribution is $8 million. So that concludes my presentation of this information to the commission, and I would suggest and recommend your approval of this minute order.

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: John will now present agenda item 12(b) dealing with the authorization of a temporary reversible lane in Tarrant County.

MR. BARTON: Thank you, Director Saenz.

The minute order before you today would authorize the temporary reassignment of lane operations in and around the Cowboys Stadium in the Arlington area.  Specifically, it would allow reversible lanes and traffic signal operations on a section of State Highway 180 from FM 157 to State Highway 360 which is kind of on the south side of the proposed Cowboys Stadium area ‑‑ I guess not proposed, it's almost completed ‑‑ and then it would also allow for north-south operations on FM 157 ‑‑ which I think is locally referred to as Cooper Street ‑‑ from Roger Street which is about the middle of the Dallas Cowboys Stadium, south to State Highway 180.

This is necessary when events are occurring to allow for the efficient movement of traffic into the event area, and then once the event is over, out of the event area. It's kind of a contraflow for special events at this area, and it's something that the local traffic safety plans have put together with law enforcement, TxDOT, the city and the coordinators of both Arlington Stadium as well as the Cowboys Stadium. So we believe it's a good way of managing traffic, improving safety and effectively reducing the impact of these events on the rest of our network in that area, and staff would recommend your approval and adoption of this minute order.

MR. HOUGHTON: And we need this type of action to allow that?

MR. BARTON: Yes, sir.

MR. HOUGHTON: Okay.  So moved.


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 to agenda item number 13, Steve Simmons, deputy executive director, will present a minute order.

MR. SIMMONS: And going back to the agenda item that Ben Wear came to talk about, he personally wanted to do his civic duty by not only paying his fees but he actually asked for the 20 highest abusers of the system and was told that we could not release that after an opinion from the Attorney General's Office ‑‑ but he did try to help us by doing it at no cost.

(General laughter.)

MR. SIMMONS: Once again for the record, Steve Simmons, deputy executive director of TxDOT.  Agenda item 13 proposes to approve the transfer of real property to Polk County in compliance with Senate Bill 1670.  Senate Bill 1670 requires the state to transfer to Polk County 10.549 acres of land to be used by the county for a purpose that benefits the public interest of the State.  The property includes both fee simple and easement interests in the state is to be reimbursed for the department's actual cost to acquire the property in 1975.  Staff recommends approval of this minute order.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.


MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Steve.

Moving on, agenda item number 14, James Bass will present a minute order dealing with our 2010 operational budget.

MR. BASS: Good afternoon. Again for the record, I'm James Bass, CFO at TxDOT.

Before I move into item 14(a), I'd like to apologize.  Back on the earlier agenda item dealing with the UP Railroad and Southwest Parkway, in my oral comments I mistakenly said that that $50 million was stimulus dollars. Stimulus dollars are on the HCTRA project, the earlier item, but on the Southwest Parkway it's Category 7 money from the MPO. So the minute order was correct, I apologize for my oral comments being off mark on that one.

Agenda item 14(a) is a minute order that would approve the department's Fiscal Year 2010 operating budget.  It is listed by strategy in accordance and matches up with the general Appropriations Act, including the actions of the first called session.  The primary purpose that I see of this minute order is not for the commission to approve what the legislature did but at the bottom of the minute order the commission is directing the executive director and staff to carry out and manage the operating budget in accordance with the provisions of the Appropriations Act, and staff would recommend your approval.

MR. HOUGHTON: James, the $8,087,782,181 ‑‑

MR. BASS: Approximately.

MR. HOUGHTON: Approximately ‑‑ how does that compare to the last fiscal year's budget?

MR. BASS: We're about on pace, the same numbers when you look at it bottom line, and you may recall from last month's meeting or it may have been the workshop, we compared not one year to one year but the 2008-2009 biennium to the 2010-2011 biennium.

MR. HOUGHTON: So be it.  How do we compare one biennium?

MR. BASS: Bottom line, everything comes in we're about the same and we're about the same due to stimulus dollars and Prop 12.

MR. HOUGHTON: Back out stimulus dollars.

MR. BASS: Back out stimulus dollars, then we would be lower, roughly about a billion dollars over the biennium for statewide delivery.  I want to add something to that, if I can.  I know it gets into too much details but if you just look bottom line to bottom line, sometimes that can give you a misleading impression.  Bottom line to bottom line over the two bienniums, the first step is realizing the problem ‑‑ right? We're slightly lower but as far as program delivery, a lot of our budget as we move forward, more and more of it is having to do with debt service, and debt service, valuable and needed, but is not delivering new projects, it's paying for projects we've already delivered in the past.

So if we account for those things and if you take out the Prop 12 for the upcoming biennium we'd be almost a billion dollars lower for statewide delivery of projects than what we were in '08 and '09.  Including Prop 12, it gets us back to basically at the same level for that statewide program delivery as we were this current biennium.

MR. HOUGHTON: Well, I look at the stimulus as a one-time shot of $2 billion?

MR. BASS: Two and a quarter.

MR. HOUGHTON: $2.25 billion, and you back that number out, we are, from an appropriations standpoint, lower than the last biennium.

MR. BASS: Without Prop 12 we are lower; with Prop 12 we're right at the same.  The challenge you point out, as was covered in an article this morning, for '10 and '11, we seem to be basically the same and actually able to award more in contracts.  I think the Prop 12, the additional $2.9 billion of Prop 14, the stimulus dollars, our lettings are going to be elevated and be high in '10 and '11.The issue for the department is right now we're needing to allocate resources, staff, money to environmental studies, right of way mapping, right of way acquisition and design plans for those projects that are going to be awarded in 2012, 2013, 2014.We all know how long it takes to get a project from concept to concrete, so allocating those resources right now, '10 and '11 look fine, but when you get to '12, stimulus dollars are gone, Prop 12, whether we'll receive additional Prop 12 through the legislature in 2011, obviously is unknown at this point, Prop 14 will have been capped out at $6 billion, might the legislature increase that statutory cap to $9 billion, don't know.

And so it's kind of a catch 22 for the department if you allocate too many resources you get questioned why did you spend all that money on environmental studies and right of way mapping for projects you can't build.  Well, if you don't allocate those resources and you get the funding in 2012, why can't you spend the money, why weren't you prepared for this money.  And so it's kind of the age-old issue of the department's planning horizon is much more than one current biennial budget.  In looking out into the future, that uncertainty causes issues today in allocating resources to make sure we're prepared for all that.

MR. HOUGHTON: Got it.  I'm glad you explained it.

MR. BASS: Staff would recommend your approval.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.


MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: James will now present agenda item 14(b) dealing with credit agreements.

MR. BASS: Item 14(b) deals with our commercial paper program.  As you heard Mr. Barton state earlier, we currently have $284 million outstanding. The current contracts with that are set to expire at the end of August and so this minute order would allow staff to replace that current contract with a new contract, also go out to the market with an offering memorandum, and another thing the minute order does is it adds the Finance Division director to the list of TxDOT staff who have the authority to execute issuances or payoffs on the commercial paper.

I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have on this; if there are none, staff recommends your approval.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.


MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you.  Moving on to agenda item 15, 15(a) presents a final approval of a State Infrastructure Bank loan to the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority. James.

MR. BASS: Thank you.  This minute order provides for the final approval of an application submitted by the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority requesting a loan of $31.6 million to pay for right of way acquisition and partial funding of final design for Segment 1(a) of the 290 East project in Travis County.

Once money is distributed from the SIB, interest would accrue or be assessed at a 2.95 percent rate for the first two years.

MR. HOUGHTON: Where did you get that rate? Can I come to the SIB for that kind of rate?

MR. BASS: For a two-year loan, yes, you may, for 2.95 percent.

The detailed answer is we subscribed to Delphis Hanover that gives us market rates based on different maturities.

MR. HOUGHTON: Are you doing LIBOR or something?

MR. BASS: No, it's not LIBOR. This would be tax exempt. At 2.95 for the first two years with the thought being that once the project has been developed and CTRMA is able to go out and do their long term financing, this loan would be paid back. If, for whatever reason, the project is not feasible and there is no long term debt issued, the loan would continue but the rate would then jump up to 7 percent for the next 30 years and the repayment of this loan would then come from revenues off of the 183A project. And I would be happy to answer any questions the commission may have on it; if not, staff would recommend your approval.

MR. HOLMES: Are there enough revenues to pay it?

MR. BASS: Yes, off the current projection for 183A, it would be a subordinate lien, so of course, the senior bondholders for CTRMA would be paid first.

MR. HOUGHTON: How subordinate?

MR. BASS: The only lien I'm aware of, there would be the senior debt and then any TIFIA and we would be behind that. The revenue projections that we've seen would show there would be sufficient revenue off of just 183 itself to pay it off within the 30-year period.  How accurate those estimates or projections will turn out to be, obviously is a big guess, but there appears to be sufficient to do that.

MR. HOLMES: Is there any control mechanism for preventing re-leveraging in front of the subordinated piece?

MR. BASS: Not in the minute order. That's certainly something if the minute order is approved, giving the direction to the executive director and staff to finalize the agreement, that's certainly something, a provision we could work to put in that prior to anything being inserted above the SIB past this point there would need to be a concurrence by the department and/or the commission to do that.

MR. HOUGHTON: I would also look at any kind of when you say re-leveraging, refinancing of this that we come out; the refi would consider us to be paid in full.

MR. BASS: So the plan, just to make sure I understand, the plan is if 290 East gets issued, it would take out the SIB, but what you're clarifying is if that project doesn't move forward and 183A gets refinanced eight years from now that this be one of the primary beneficiaries, if you will, of the refinance to take out this loan.


MS. DELISI: Any other questions?

MR. HOUGHTON: Those are part of this minute order.

MS. DELISI: No, they're not part of the minute order.

MR. HOUGHTON: Part of the negotiations.

MS. DELISI: It's direction from us to staff which I think they clearly have.

MR. BASS: Correct, we clearly have that, and that will be our position when we work with CTRMA to finalize the agreement. My understanding, that's the offer being made by the commission.  If that's not acceptable, obviously CTRMA won't sign the loan agreement and look elsewhere.

MR. HOUGHTON: That's fine.

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, James.

Continuing agenda item 15(b), (b)(1) is preliminary approval of a State Infrastructure Bank loan to the City of Burnet.

MR. BASS: This minute order provides preliminary approval ‑‑

MR. HOUGHTON: James, let me ask you a question real quick.  What is the balance of the SIB today?

MR. BASS: The available balance is about $68 million, and over the next five months we expect to receive another $7 million in loan repayments from already outstanding debt, but the unencumbered balance today is $68 million.

MR. HOLMES: But that's before the CTRMA loan.

MR. BASS: Correct.

MR. HOUGHTON: Another question, are we still pursuing the idea of NTTA and working with them?

MR. BASS: Looking at that one for that existing loan?


MR. BASS: Yes.

MR. HOUGHTON: Okay.  That would help us greatly.

MR. BASS: We're still working with General Counsel's Office to figure out the most efficient avenues to accomplish what the commission has expressed they'd like to see.

MR. HOUGHTON: Okay, thanks.

MR. BASS: Back to agenda item 15(b)(1), it's preliminary approval from an application for the City of Burnet requesting a loan just over $1 million from the SIB for the replacement of utilities along US 281 and State Highway 29 in Burnet County.  Again, it's for preliminary approval, and staff would 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. BASS: The next agenda item is also one for preliminary approval.  It is for the City of Splendora requesting a loan in the amount of $600,000 for the relocation of water, sewer and gas lines along US 59 in Montgomery County. Staff recommends your approval so we may begin negotiations on terms with the city.

MR. HOLMES: So moved.


MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Moving on to agenda item number 16, James will present his report dealing with obligation limits.

MR. BASS: This agenda item deals with the Obligation Limit report, there is no action or vote required by the commission, just an update on status.  And Commissioner Houghton, I think if we look at the overall program, if you have the attachment before you, on the far right you see that variance column.


MR. BASS: And it breaks it down by different funding sources, but if you see September through June, from the current estimate, after taking out any projects that were postponed or rejected, the variance from our estimate was $406 million, and then from the local let there was another $175-, so we're in the neighborhood of $575 million under engineer estimates on those projects for any and all funding sources the department has gone through, and I think that's in the neighborhood of 15-plus percent over what the engineers' estimates were.

This is the time normally every month I kind of update you on where we're at on our motor fuels tax. The news this month is not a lot has changed from last month.  We've gotten the deposits for the month of July but we continue to be fiscal year to date, so for the first eleven months of Fiscal Year 2009, we're 2.6 percent lower than we were at the same time, and that equates to roughly $55 million less in the first eleven months of 2009 than what we had received in Fiscal Year 2008.

Just to give you a heads-up, a meeting earlier this week with our forecasters, one of the things we're dealing with obviously is updating the forecast as we go forward, and as we've talked before, our assumption on motor fuel tax has been a growth pattern of 1 percent per year going forward, and that had been dialed down from 1-1/2 percent growth that we had twelve months ago.

As we sit here today, we can't see a whole lot of reason or basis to continue a projection of an additional 1 percent in 2010, so that forecast group is reaching out to the Comptroller's Office, to some of our MPO partners and other economist firms to see what they're seeing, what trends they may see to assist us in revising that update, but I think in future months we're going to have to, more than likely, revise our forecast for fuel tax collections going forward.

Just to wrap this up, through July we have utilized about $1.2 billion of the $2.53- of our UTP funding dollars.  In addition to that, we've allocated roughly $600 million for the CDA projects. August is projected to be another $300 million, so that's going to get us in the neighborhood of, at the end of the year, probably about $2.2 billion out of the allocation we have of $2.53-.What will happen is that leftover allocation that was not utilized by particular districts will roll forward and kind of be the first money allocated next year.  So if a district, for whatever reason didn't fully utilize all of the money that was there because a project got delayed for environmental reasons or what-have-you, that money will be available to them in 2010.

MR. HOUGHTON: That's just your regular letting.

MR. BASS: Correct, just the traditional Fund 6.In other words, it doesn't include Prop 14 or the others, it's really focused on the UTP and that process.

Those are the comments that I had planned to share with the commission, I'd be happy to answer any questions.  Again, there is no motion required on this item, it's just an opportunity for us to provide an update to you.

MR. HOUGHTON: People aren't driving yet, huh?

MR. BASS: No.  I get updates on traffic counts, again, not VMT but traffic counts from our Transportation Planning and Programming Division. I got one earlier this week for the month of June, and it was interesting, it was the first month that traffic counts in both rural and urban Texas were up from twelve months prior. And so we had seen a couple of months in the past where maybe rural was up by just a hair, but both of them were up on traffic counts.  And so we're hopeful that that may be an early indicator for fuel tax receipts coming in a couple of months.  Whether or not it's a one-month blip or oddity, we'll see as we continue to collect that data. Thank you.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, James.

Agenda item number 17 deals with our contracts that we award each month.17(a)(1) deals with Highway Maintenance and Building Construction contracts.  John Barton will present that minute order, and he'll follow up with a second minute order dealing with our regular Highway and Transportation Enhancement Building Construction contracts.

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

Item 17(a)(1) is for the consideration of the award or rejection of Highway Maintenance and Department Building Construction contracts that we let on July 7 and 8 of 2009.We took bids on nine projects, we averaged about 8.11 bidders per project, and we realized about a 26 percent underrun on these maintenance projects.  Staff does recommend the award of all maintenance and building projects with the exception of one project in Hidalgo County for a new maintenance facility in Edcouch.  That particular project had seven bidders on it but only one of the seven bidders was considered responsive as the others did not submit complete Historically Underutilized Business subcontracting plans, and therefore, we don't believe that we had adequate competition for that particular contract.

So I would ask if there are any questions.

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.  Item 17(a)(2) is for the consideration of the award or rejection of our Highway and Transportation Enhancement Building Construction contracts that we took bids on July 7 and 8 of 2009.  We had 48 projects we received bids on, we had an average of 8.29 bidders per project and an underrun of about 18.3 percent.  Again, we have a healthy bidding environment, continue to see underruns, and I think we have particular interest in at least one of the projects that is being recommended for award today.

So staff will answer any questions you have, and otherwise, would recommend your adoption of this minute order.

MS. DELISI: Before we go on, I've got someone signed up to testify.  I call up Gaynelle Riffe.

MS. RIFFE: For the record, my name is Gaynelle Riffe, and I am from Stratford, Sherman County. I'm the tip-top town in Texas, I'm also a board member on the Ports-to-Plains.

Madame Chairman and commissioners, I want to thank you for this opportunity to meet with the commission in the wide open spaces of Texas. Nice to see you out of Austin.  Austin is a long way from Stratford.

Stratford and Sherman County are in the Amarillo District and we've been looking forward to celebrate this day since May of 2007.This is the first day of the project to widen US 287 through Stratford and our Main Street enhancement projects, and so I thank you very much for this consideration. We're excited. Thank you.  Are there any questions?

MS. DELISI: Thank you.  Is there a motion?

MR. HOLMES: So moved.


MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, John. Thank you, Miss Gaynelle, and thank you for all the help that you've given us.

Moving on to agenda item number 18 is the routine minute orders that we deal with every month dealing with donations to the department, eminent domain proceeding approvals, finance, load zones and postings, right of way dispositions, and speed zones. These are routine. I would be happy to answer any questions on any individual minute order or staff will, but staff recommends approval of these minute orders as a whole.

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: Those are all the agenda items.

MS. DELISI: That concludes all the items on today's regular agenda.  There's no need for an executive session?

MR. SAENZ: No, ma'am.

MS. DELISI: If not, we'll proceed to the open comment period.  At this time I'd like to call up Carol Sue Dakin.

MAYOR DAKIN: Thank you.  I'm Carol Sue Dakin; I'm mayor of Colorado City. This is basically small town Texas coming to the commission.

I would like to ask for you to consider repair to Highway 208 in the city limits of Colorado City. This comes off the Interstate 20.Our town, as most towns are along the interstate corridor, is moving from a downtown area up toward the interstate.  We need some sidewalks, curbing to allow disabled citizens and wheelchairs to stay off the highway. There are many citizens that walk. This is probably, as I said, the most traffic on this street  in the town. As I said, I feel it is a dangerous situation.

I have spoken to Roy Dill, which is our district TxDOT representative, for about the past five or six years.  So far we're not getting anywhere but we will.  He says that they will do a study on the pavement and it will need repair and he's in agreement that it's going to need it real soon.

I compare our town to the video that you had a while ago of Edwards County, a small town, I ask for your consideration, and thank you for your time.

MR. HOUGHTON: Who is your district engineer?

MAYOR DAKIN: It's out of Abilene; I don't know.

MR. HOUGHTON: Is it Abilene?

MR. SAENZ: Yes, sir.

MR. HOUGHTON: He was here?  He escaped.

MS. DELISI: He was here.

MR. HOUGHTON: He had a meeting? Okay.

MAYOR DAKIN: Thank you.

MS. DELISI: And I'd like to call up Paul Alexander.

MR. ALEXANDER: For the record, I'm Paul Alexander; I'm a citizen of San Angelo, Texas.  I represent a small number of citizens, 36 citizens I've talked to who all love an idea that I've come up with, and I'm going to present to you to make sure I am okay on thinking this way.  One of those citizens presented the idea to me. We had the same idea, I met with him, I said where did you hear about that, he said I came up with it on my own.

San Angelo is the oasis of West Texas, and we're in a 4.5 million-acre river valley, we have a lot of inherent advantages in West Texas, yet we're behind Midland and Odessa in size, Lubbock, Amarillo, Abilene is a sister city but they're still ahead of us and we have a better location, I believe.  I feel like our city has potential, and Ports-to-Plains is a project that I feel has hit the tipping point, meaning that the  project is going, it will move forward and be completed, I hope, in the future, but I think it will be.

What is next for San Angelo is the question, and I haven't heard many ideas or any ideas about what is next, but I have opinions.  Ports-to-Plains services the transportation of goods through and around San Angelo, but we need to hit the professional industry, we need to do something for the professional industry, because San Angelo wages are low and if you try to get a job for $40-, $50-, $60,000 a year, you really can't find them here, and I know several people have tried to move to San Angelo and cannot do it, the professional jobs are not there.

Transportation is the issue.  We are west of the core population of Texas and if you drove to San Angelo, you know it's back roads from Austin to San Angelo. I believe what's next is a new thinking, something that supports development of professional services. Right now we're depending on American Airlines for transportation.  I also believe that we're going to hit what's called peak oil ‑‑ I'm not sure if you've heard the term, but peak oil is when the world's oil supply hits a maximum and begins to dwindle, and at that very point the price of oil skyrockets and people begin thinking different.

I believe that it's time to start looking at a 25-year plan for high-speed rail service from San Angelo to Austin, I believe that Houston to Austin has already been discussed, I'm not sure, but I think Midland would jump in on that, Lubbock would jump in, Amarillo, and it plugs the western part of the state with into the eastern part of the state and makes San Angelo a viable place to do business statewide and nationally.

By the way, I do business nationally and it's very difficult to do out of San Angelo.  So in the 25-year plan, I hope you hear from us again, from me, and I plan to really push this hard in the city very soon. And I appreciate you listening and considering.  Thank you.

MS. DELISI: Thank you.

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. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: Please note for the record that it is 12: 40, and this meeting stands adjourned.

(Whereupon, at 12: 40 p.m., the meeting was concluded.)


MEETING OF: Texas Transportation Commission

LOCATION: San Angelo, Texas

DATE: July 30, 2009

I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 173, inclusive, are the true, accurate, and complete transcript prepared from the verbal recording made by electronic recording by Nancy H. King before the Texas Department of Transportation.





(Transcriber) (Date)

On the Record Reporting

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