Texas Department of Transportation Workshop Meeting
Ric Williamson Hearing Room
Dewitt Greer Building
125 East 11th Street
Austin, Texas 78701-2483
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Deirdre Delisi, Chair
Ted Houghton, Jr.
Ned S. Holmes
Amadeo Saenz, Executive Director
Bob Jackson, General Counsel
Roger Polson, Executive Assistant to the
Deputy Executive Director
MS. DELISI: Good afternoon. It is 1:34 p.m., and I would like to call this special meeting of the Texas Transportation Commission to order. Note for the record that public notice of this meeting, containing all items on the agenda, was filed with the Office of the Secretary of State at 4:17 p.m. on February 17, 2009.
Before we begin today's meeting, let's all take a moment to place our cell phones and other electronic devices on the silent mode.
Today's meeting will involve a series of discussions on various topics before the department and the commission. We will accept public comment that is relevant to any of the agenda items, but we will not have an open comment period as we do at our regularly scheduled meetings. To comment on an agenda item, we ask that you fill out a yellow speaker's card and identify the agenda item you wish to speak on. You can find these cards at the registration table in the lobby, and we ask that you limit your comments to three minutes.
I'm going to move around the agenda a little bit because, clearly, the stimulus package is an item of great importance to a lot of people here, but we have already notified members of the legislature that we would probably start that discussion closer to 2:00, so what I'd like to do is begin with 1(b), and then after that we will go on to agenda item 2(b).
Do you any of the other commissioners have any questions or comments?
MS. DELISI: Then, Amadeo, I'll turn it over to you.
MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Madam Chair. We're going to go ahead and start with agenda item 1(b). James Bass, our chief financial officer, will lead us in a discussion dealing with the department's Legislative Appropriations Request.
MR. BASS: Thanks, Amadeo. For the record, I'm James Bass, chief financial officer at TxDOT.
The purpose of today's report that you have before you is just a follow-up from our workshop back in the summer on developing the department's appropriations request and comparing that to what was in the introduced General Appropriations Act. I will remind you that we are discussing introduced legislation and none of my comments inclusion or exclusion in this report should be interpreted as speaking in favor of or in opposition to what is in the introduced Appropriations Act, but some of the items, I think, because of individual or aggregate interest of the commission or because of significance, I wanted to highlight and make sure the commission was aware of how it differs from what we included in our appropriations request. Hopefully, each of you in your book have this report, and I'll just basically go through page by page.
The first item is that the debt service for the remaining $2.9 billion of Proposition 14 bonds is not fully covered through reduced diversions. The plan was to issue $1.5 billion in Proposition 14 bonds.
MR. SAENZ: James, we don't have those reports.
MR. BASS: If you have access to the internet.
(General talking and laughter.)
MR. BASS: The first item is dealing with the additional $2.9 billion of Proposition 14 bonds. The plan, because there is an annual limit on how much we can issue each year -- which is $1.5 billion -- that would have cost $125 million in debt service, approximately, in 2010 and in 2011 when we issued the remaining $1.4 billion in 2010, there would be an additional $115 million in 2011 for a grand biennial total of roughly $365 million. In the introduced Appropriations Act, there are many circumstances of line items within TxDOT's budget or in other agencies that are currently being funded out of the State Highway Fund that in the introduced bill would be funded by General Revenue, but those items add up to roughly a little over $300 million for 2010 and 2011. So again, debt service is estimated to be in the neighborhood of $365-, reduced diversions and continuation of GR funding for debt service is roughly $302-.
The other thing I would highlight to the commission is going forward, because of this staggered issuance approach of $1.5- in 2009 and $1.4- in 2010, once we get to 2012 and 2013, the biennial debt service on that entire $2.9- would be closer to $480 million rather than $365-. So when we've had the opportunity to appear before Senate Finance and House Appropriations, we've been able to highlight this issue and bring it to their attention.
Another item is there's a new budget structure in the introduced Appropriations Act which we feel adds transparency to the process. If you'll recall in years past, our transportation construction budget would include money that was for payments on existing projects, money for payments on new projects we were going to start in the upcoming biennium, and also money for debt service associated with previously let projects. In the introduced version, that debt service has been pulled out from construction and put in a separate strategy within the budget. Again, that really tends to show what's being delivered currently rather than what we're paying for that had been delivered in the past.
In addition, on that transportation construction and contracted maintenance, they've broken the total payment out between the amount of money that is needed for existing projects and the amount of money that would be available to allow us to start additional future projects during the biennium.
One of the things with a new structure, we think there was some kinks in the implementation of that and we've been directed to work alongside the Legislative Budget Board to address this. But if we look at the amount that was appropriated for construction in 2010 and we back out the amount that's needed for existing projects and we back out the amount that's needed for Colonia road bonds and we back out the amount that's needed for pass-through payments, we end up that there's not sufficient appropriation to cover all those payments, much less appropriation to start additional projects.
Again, it doesn't appear that that was anyone's intent, it appears that it's just one of those things we need to work through in implementing a new budget structure, and department staff will be working alongside the LBB to address that.
Another issue is that after we submitted the appropriations request and after the Legislative Budget Board had done much of their deliberations in coming up with their recommendation, the Comptroller's Office issued their biennial revenue estimate, including estimated revenue for the State Highway Fund. If we compare all of the appropriations for TxDOT and other agencies out of the State Highway Fund to the estimated revenue in the Comptroller's biennial revenue estimate, in 2010 the revenue estimate is $139 million higher than the appropriations, so it appears that there may be an opportunity if the legislature is willing to appropriate more in 2010.
However, when we move to 2011, the revenue estimate is $340 million less than the amount that's in the introduced appropriations bill, so over the two-year period of 2010 to 2011, it appears that the revenue projections may be shy of around $195 million to support the appropriation levels in the introduced bill.
One of the questions may be, in addition to revenue you can obviously use any balances on hand at the end of the biennium to cover expenses in the future, however, with an outstanding balance of commercial paper in excess of $265 million, we don't foresee any unencumbered cash balances at the end of this fiscal year.
Along those lines on a revenue estimate -- I'll wait a second; I'm on page 4, I believe, of the package you have now -- the Comptroller's Office also, in their biennial revenue estimate, projects revenues for the Texas Mobility Fund, and as you'll recall, those revenues to the Mobility Fund are dedicated to paying the debt service on bonds from the Texas Mobility Fund. This is another example we don't have full information at this point because before we do an issuance of debt, we actually receive a 30-year revenue estimate from the Comptroller's Office, but in the biennial revenue estimate, it merely goes through 2011.
The last time we've gotten a 30-year estimate from the Comptroller's Office was December of 2007, and based upon that revenue estimate, we came before the commission and the Bond Review Board and received approval to issue a total of $6.4 billion in bonds. Based upon that, the department awarded contracts, started work, whether that be design work, right of way acquisition or construction, totaling $6.4 billion. We've only issued $5.1 billion to date because that's all the expenditures on those committed projects have amounted to. As we get those proceeds, we spend them on progress payments, and once we run out of proceeds, we go issue more.
The concern at this point is in the biennial revenue estimate over the next three years there have been reductions to the revenue estimates to the Mobility Fund, such, not knowing exactly what the projections might be for the next 27 years, it appears that if these lower revenue projections were to be continued. It appears that if these lower revenue projections were to be continued, the revenue stream would not support debt service on a total of $6.4 billion in bond proceeds. And depending upon interest rates and what the remaining 27 years of revenue projections would be, we will likely be in the neighborhood of $300- to $500 million short of that $6.4 billion target previously approved by the Bond Review Board and the commission.
What that means is revenues coming into the department that had been planned and targeted to start new additional projects may have to be redirected to make those final payments on the projects that have already been awarded that were originally planned to be paid for by the $6.4 billion of Mobility Fund bonds.
MR. HOLMES: James, those are projects that are already underway.
MR. BASS: Yes. Based upon the earlier revenue projections and the approval of the commission and Bond Review Board, we have started and committed $6.4 billion of work, and then had merely been issuing bonds as the cash flow dictated. So there's $6.4 billion out there; as the work is done, we're going to have to have the cash to pay. The original plan was to use bond proceeds; now we may be in a position that the bond proceeds will not total that $6.4 billion.
On page 5, one of the items we had talked about with the commission to help move towards transparency is updating the department's management information systems, and requesting funding to update those programs or at least begin a push to update those programs. In the introduced bill, the money for that -- which was $26 million each year of the biennium -- is currently not included in the introduced version of the Appropriations Act.
Moving to page 6, just to highlight a change, there is a transfer authority rider -- and again, inclusion and exclusion of different items is neither positive or negative, I'm just calling the commission's attention to these. This particular rider is a change from what we've had in the past. The rider allows for certain transfers between different line items in our portion of the budget, and some of those, between our large contracted strategies, whether that was contracted design, right of way acquisition, contracted maintenance or construction, had always had different qualities to them or different authority that the department had.
The way the language currently reads now, if we wanted to move money between any line item in the introduced bill, it would be subject to approval of the Legislative Budget Board before such a transfer could be made.
If we look at the next page, the commission had requested roughly $17.6 million of appropriations for public transportation be funded out of the General Revenue Fund. This had been the case from 2003 and prior, beginning in fiscal year 2004, that $17.6 million had gotten removed from General Revenue and had been appropriated out of the State Highway Fund. In our appropriations request, we asked that that prior practice of that $17.6- coming out of the General Revenue Fund be returned. In the introduced bill, the $17.6 million is in there, however, it's listed as being funded out of the State Highway Fund.
The next item on page 8 is a reduction to the full-time equivalent cap for the department. The current cap is 14,830. We had requested a continuation of the existing cap and the cap in the introduced bill is 14,709, 121 lower. That 121 reduction is based upon the budgeted figure, the planned full-time equivalents that we had in our in-house design strategy within the department, and what the LBB did in their recommendations is they just continued that 2009 level for 2010 and 2011.
MR. MEADOWS: Can you quantify that in dollars?
MR. BASS: The 121, I'd say the average salary overall for the department is in the low $40,000s, probably $42,000. If you include the salary benefits that don't hit our budget but still come out of the Highway Fund cash benefits, you're looking at another 40 percent on top of that, so you're looking in the neighborhood of $50- to $55,000 per FTE, and then for 121 of them. And that money, that savings from that reduced FTE, reduced salaries was retained within TxDOT's overall budget in the introduced bill.
On page 9 -- and I think an additional item on today's workshop agenda is the Vision 21 project which is an updating, upgrading and enhancement of the registration and titling system -- it is a capital budget project. The dollars requested for that are not in the capital budget portion of the introduced bill, they are retained in that registration and titling strategy. And I think the reason for that is this is the project that -- if you'll recall from our discussion back in August -- there's a $1 fee that's assessed in certain counties on their vehicle registrations, and that $1 fee is statutorily dedicated for the enhancement and upgrade of the registration and titling system. Again, however, currently in the introduced bill it is not included as part of the capital budget rider for TxDOT.
On page 10, our Rider 12, which is interagency agreements, I think philosophically, this was in line with an attempt by the commission to request a reduction in, quote/unquote, diversions. Under this rider, $500,000 each year is made available to the Historic Commission and another $670,000 to the Commission on the Arts. In our appropriations request, we had requested that that rider be deleted and it is retained in the introduced version of the Appropriations Act.
On page 11, we have a rider specific to TxDOT listing the positions that are able to be funded in a B-22 classification salary group and then capping the annual salary for those positions at no more than $170,000. When Mr. Saenz took over as executive director and changed the organization structure of the department and the administration, the assistant executive directors increased. We had asked for that number you see there in parentheses to be increased from two to five, however, in the introduced bill it was retained at the figure of two.
On page 12, Rider 31 directs the department to construct and maintain roads at different state facilities. The commission had requested in the appropriations request that all of those, or four out of five of those directions -- and those are State Capitol grounds, Camp Mabry, State Health Services Departments, Parks & Wildlife, and UT Permian Basin -- the commission had asked for all of those other than the Parks & Wildlife provision state park roads to be removed, and had asked that the no more than $5 million for park roads be increased to no more than $15 million. The introduced version of the bill retains the rider in its current language, so all pieces continue and the portion for Parks & Wildlife continues to say no more than $5 million.
Moving to page 13, there is a rider on comprehensive development agreements that subjects the entering into any of these comprehensive development agreements be subject to the written approval of the Legislative Budget Board. In the appropriations request, the department had asked for, I guess, some earlier reporting opportunities and some additional information be reported to the LBB, but also that that separate additional approval be removed from the rider and that the rider be more in line with the existing statutory provision which is in the Transportation Code. In the introduced bill, the language continues as it currently is requiring the LBB's separate approval.
On page 14 there is a new rider that says prior to the beginning of each fiscal year, the department would submit to the Legislative Budget Board and the Governor's Office a detailed plan for how we would use appropriations from the State Highway Fund, and I guess for a positive sign, any appropriations from general obligation bond proceeds from Proposition 12 that this plan would be submitted showing how the department is moving forward in making progress in implementing the recommendations that are from the Sunset Advisory Commission, and that if that plan were not submitted in a timely manner, then the department would not be given access to the appropriations within that year, and that we would need to wait for a written approval for use of those particular funds.
Another new rider is Rider 57, and this rider would direct the department to submit a plan detailing how it would get to a level of no more than 20 licensed professional engineers for every $100 million of internally designed construction plans. As it is currently drafted, the language in the rider makes no distinction between professional engineers who may serve in the administration and those who are actually doing plan production, so it would just be all licensed professional engineers within the department, no more than 20 per $100-. And again, we would not have access to appropriation in 2011 until a plan detailing how we would suggest getting to that goal had been submitted and approved.
One rider I'll bring to your attention, and this is the last item I had, is in the appropriations request we had asked for a new rider that would allow whenever state highway surplus property is sold for the proceeds from that sale to come back to the State Highway Fund. Currently there's an Article 9 provision, a general provision that says when any state agency, regardless of how that equipment or property may have originally been purchased, the proceeds from that sale will go back to the General Revenue Fund and the agency will get 25 percent of the proceeds appropriated to them.
What we had asked for through this rider was return of 100 percent of the proceeds and that those proceeds go back to the State Highway Fund or the fund of original purchase. This rider is not included in the introduced version of the Appropriations Act.
That completes kind of the items of significance that we've seen in our analysis comparing the department's appropriations request to the introduced version of the Appropriations Act. Whether today or in the coming days or coming weeks, we look forward to working with you and your commission aides on providing you updates on how we're moving through the process. The House Appropriations and Senate Finance have just really begun their hearings in earnest, and we continue to work with them as well as the staff of the Legislative Budget Board as we move throughout the process.
I'd be happy to answer any questions or provide any clarification at this point, if you would like any.
MR. HOLMES: James, on the 20 engineers per $100 million design work, do you have a sense of how many we have per $100 million that are actually involved in design work?
MR. BASS: I know a number of the overall number we have, those are just within Design, I don't know if Mr. Saenz knows that subset or not.
MR. SAENZ: Commissioner, I've got the Human Resource Division going through all our classifications of all our engineers, and I can have that report prepared so we can see what, in fact, it is.
MR. HOLMES: I'm assuming that a fair number of the people doing construction inspection and environmental work.
MR. SAENZ: Yes, sir, we have people that work for maintenance in the Maintenance Division that are engineers, we have people that work in Environmental Division that do environmental work, of course the majority of administration are PEs also, so I'm trying to determine how many are actually doing the design work and construction work and then we can see what impact this is going to have.
I will say that we have been meeting with the -- we have presented to Senate Finance and also House Appropriations and also to the subcommittees of both in a work group, and the transparency issues are issues that are being really looked at. The format of the Appropriations Bill that will show how much money is being appropriated for existing construction and proposed construction are really being accepted very well. In addition, being able to separate the State Highway 121 money as a separate strategy, since that has very limited areas where it can be used, is also being looked at, and we've had discussions about the stimulus package money, that it would also be tracked separately. So we will continue to work with both the Senate and the House as we move forward.
MR. HOUGHTON: Amadeo or James, where does the criteria for 20 per $100- come from?
MR. BASS: I don't know specifically. I've seen a sheet that compares other entities from the Port of Houston to other state DOTs and what they purport to have as far as licensed professional engineers on staff.
MS. DELISI: And at the Senate hearing they pretty much said it was an arbitrary number.
MR. HOUGHTON: An arbitrary number?
MS. DELISI: Yes.
MR. HOUGHTON: Can we equate that to something that we do in the state like a design-build? Is that an apple and apple comparison?
MR. BASS: Some of the discussions that happened in the Senate Finance Committee introduced that perhaps there's more to the issue than just the number of professional engineers per dollar amount of construction plans developed, because just simply looking at that number, it doesn't bring in the cost element -- it does to some point because obviously you have the salaries for those individuals, but in looking at other entities, obviously if they don't have them on staff, they would be outsourcing it, and some of the discussion has centered on --
MR. HOUGHTON: How do you compare it.
MR. BASS: -- right, what's the most efficient way to achieve the appropriate balance for the state and the department.
MR. MEADOWS: And we can discuss this further, but I'm just trying to understand the goal here because that really is the point. You think about some of these transportation entities that are in the business of providing transportation infrastructure that are absolutely consulting engineer driven -- I mean, that's what they are. I mean, they have very few professional engineers on staff. Trying to compare these animals, trying to compare a HCTRA to a DOT, it's just not a fair comparison. So I think it would be helpful to me to understand what goal, what we're trying to achieve here. I'm all for making things better, I just want to understand what it is we're trying to do.
MR. BASS: Right. I don't think I'm in a position to answer that, but what was brought up -- I think is kind of along your line, Commissioner -- is that some of the entities, their capital program may be a large project every five years. Other DOTs are probably more similar to TxDOT in that there's a continual capital improvement program, but it seems like it's more a philosophical issue or debate as to what and how the legislature wants and others what the department to operate.
MR. HOUGHTON: Well, let me ask you, can you get this simplistic about it? We did the CTTS and it was a design-build. Is that an accurate statement?
MR. BASS: Yes, for State Highway 130 it was a design-build.
MR. HOUGHTON: How many designers/engineers did they have per $100- on that project?
MR. BASS: I'm not sure. We can likely get that information.
MR. SAENZ: I think we looked at the numbers and when we were looking at the numbers, we were just looking at the expenditure side to determine how much was expended to produce that set of plans, how much was expended to inspect that construction so that we could come up with a percent engineering, both on the preliminary side and on the construction management side. We would need to go back and review the number of engineers that were actually assigned to that.
MR. HOUGHTON: Well, I'll give you the one that's ongoing right now. Chairman Pickett has a project in El Paso called Spur 601. It's a design-build. How big is it, $280 million?
MR. SAENZ: About $375-.
MR. HOUGHTON: Well, whatever it is, it's a design-build and it's ongoing. Can you not go back to the designer-builder and say can you tell us what you got here, look under the hood?
MR. SAENZ: We can go back and look at a couple of case studies and drill down to determine the level of effort as well as the type and the classification of people that were doing the different work so that we can compare.
MR. HOUGHTON: Well, when you say compare, when you say 20 licensed engineers per $100-, what does that mean? I don't understand.
MR. SAENZ: Right, and that's what we've been trying to look at. We wanted to start with us to find out how many we had because we know what service we provide, and then, of course, I think it would be good to be able to go to look at one of the other entities that maybe has a lot less and determine what services they're providing, are they just providing management services, and Commissioner, as you said, the design is done by a consultant so then the true number of engineers using that product is a combination of both internal and external. So we just need to do some research to see where we can come up with this.
MS. DELISI: Are there any other questions?
MS. DELISI: Thanks, James.
MR. BASS: Thank you.
MR. SAENZ: Thank you, James. Commissioners, it's now just past two o'clock, and we said, we were going to move over to agenda item 2(b), and John Barton, our assistant executive director for Engineering Operations will provide us a discussion on the Texas portion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or what we call the economic stimulus program that has been rolled out by Congress. John is coming on down.
MR. BARTON: Good afternoon. For the record, my name is John Barton. I work for you at the Texas Department of Transportation as the assistant executive director for Engineering Operations. And if it's all right, at this time I'd like to ask a few of our district engineers that have joined us here today to come up and sit at the table with me. We're going to have kind of a panel presentation that I'd like to share with you in just a few minutes. So gentlemen and ladies, if you'll come on up. And I believe that we have some slides that we can pull as well.
It's my pleasure to share with you today a little bit of information about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, what is commonly referred to around the State of Texas, at least, as the economic stimulus package, and I just have a few slides and some information that I'd like to share with you.
As you all know, the Congress passed this act back in February, just earlier this month, and on February 17 of 2009, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. There are several time lines associated with completing projects, getting them obligated just to move forward, associated with that, and we believe on March 2 of this year, the Federal Highway Administration will be providing apportionments to the states. Our local division office here in Texas has assured us that we should be receiving those numbers on March 2, but on or about that date when we receive the apportionments, we'll have to move forward with the obligation of some of the projects within 120 days and then the remaining projects to consume the remaining funding for that program within one year of receipt of the apportionments, and I'll talk a little bit more about that in just a few minutes.
The funds that have been provided are intended to do several things, but most importantly for the transportation side of things, they're to fund projects that can put people to work, that are classified and focused on things that are being termed shovel-ready. Those are projects that are sufficiently along within the development process or could be over the next year or so to be able to move forward to construction, get contracts out the door, and have people going to work and developing the projects from around the state to get much needed infrastructure and improvement projects in place for the State of Texas.
The Texas response to this, as we anticipated this enactment of this bill over the last several months, has been great. We've been working as a partnership in the industry -- that includes not only our contractors and consultants but as well as our planning partners at our MPOs, our counties, our cities, our toll authorities, our regional mobility authorities, and our transit agencies and aviation groups to identify the universe of what we need to do in terms of responding to this. And I'm proud to share with you that here in Texas on the highway and bridge side only we've identified over 1,500 projects, through the hard work of a lot of men and women around the state, that value total is about $13 billion, and of course, as we sit here today, we know that Texas is not in a position to receive near that amount of funding for economic stimulus, but we have been able to do a lot of good things in terms of preparing for this and we're ready to go and we know that we can respond to the challenge and address it.
If you want to look at the big picture, there's about $27-1/2 billion that were provided nationwide through the act. For highways and bridges here in Texas, our share of that, I won't say that it's a fair share, but our share is a little over $2.25 billion. The money is further sub-allocated within the state to the metropolitan planning organizations, those areas that have populations of over 50,000 or more within their incorporated areas. It's broken up into two pieces, about $394 million is directly sub-allocated to the larger metropolitan areas, those large communities that are over 200,000 in population, and then another $106-1/2 million or so sub-allocated to the small and mid-size planning organizations that represent those communities that are between 50,000 in population and 199,999 in population.
And I notice that you are looking through your handouts, there's a lot of information in there and I'm kind of just talking through some highlights. I don't know that you have a copy of the slides, but there is a paper that I've prepared for you that contains a lot of this information.
When you boil the rest of the funding down here in Texas, the Transportation Commission, the five of you, have the privilege to select projects that will be funded with about $1.75 billion. Of that, $67-1/2 million must be spent on non-traditional projects, commonly referred to as enhancement projects. Those are hike and bike trails, restoration of historic transportation facilities and those sorts of things. You also are responsible for about $174 million that was further sub-allocated through the bill to the rural areas in the State of Texas. And then there's about $1.5 billion left to be spent at your discretion statewide on significant and important projects that you deem of value that should be pursued.
The goals of using this particular funding opportunity I think are unique and specifically important to Texas, and I wanted to share with you a few things. Obviously, we want to be doing things that put people to work. That's the intent of the bill, that's the intent of this program that's been embraced that the current administration in Washington, D.C., and I believe by the American people for the most part. Fifty percent of the funding, as I said, that is not further sub-allocated to the MPOs and the rural areas here in Texas, has to be obligated within 120 days of getting our apportionment. And obviously, that's an intent to get that work out the door, get people back to work quickly. What that amounts to in terms of dollars and cents is about $780 million, and we'll know exactly that number when FHWA gives us our apportionments, but it's about $780 million.
Right now here in Texas, 75 percent of our ongoing construction work that the department has under contract has already been completed and paid out, so that means that of all the billions of dollars worth of construction contracts that we've let over the last few years, we only have about 25 percent of the work remaining to be done. What that means, your contractors are laying people off, they're scaling back their operations because they just don't have the work to do, so this is a critical and important time in the history of the transportation construction industry here in Texas, and we have a great opportunity to help build back that program and get them some very important work to help them sustain their companies, put their employees back to work, and do great things for the State of Texas.
In doing this, we ran an analysis through our Construction Division, Thomas Bohuslav and his staff did a great job of that with our Finance Division, and they think that we can create about 23,000 direct jobs through the use of this $2.25 billion program. That's 23,000 Texans that will have an opportunity to have a job tomorrow that they don't have a job today. That's a great thing to do. And that's directly related to the construction activities. When you take all of the support activities associated with that, the sale of equipment, the crushing of aggregate, all those types of things that are necessary to do these projects, indirectly this particular program could build as many as 69,000 jobs here in Texas. And if we're able to maximize our opportunities to leverage resources to do even bigger projects of greater value, those numbers would only rise. So this is a significant and important thing.
We also feel like it's important that we need to spread the work out. There's been a lot of dialogue in the last couple of days about the types of projects that are being considered, and as you will recall, back in November of 2008 when we released a list of projects in response to an AASHTO survey, there was a lot of discussion about those are just bridge and pavement repair projects, that's just maintenance, that really won't do any good for the State of Texas. Well, I can assure you that in large part we agree with that, but there are men and women who work for construction companies that do paving in rural areas of Texas, that build interchanges in downtown metropolitan areas, they lay storm sewer projects for us, as well as do striping on projects for us.
So we need to have a balanced program that provides opportunities for all types of contractors in all types of projects in all areas of the state. And so spreading the work out, I think, is an important part of this particular program. We want to make sure that we do that in a fair and equitable manner, and that's a part of the requirement of the bill. In fact, the governor must sign a certification that we have done that, so we want to make sure we provide opportunities for job creation in all areas of the state and that we do it in a fair and equitable manner.
And then I think it's important to say that we need to have a mix of project sizes. If all we do are big projects, then those bigger companies will make sure that they get those jobs, and of course, they'll support themselves with smaller subcontractors. But there are a lot of disadvantaged business enterprises, historically underutilized business enterprises that should have and need to have an opportunity to be contractors on the types of projects that they have. And there are contractors in West Texas, North Texas, South Texas and East Texas, so we need to have a mix of projects and mix of sizes and distribute it around the state.
We also think that this is a good opportunity -- and it was at the direction of the commission when I spoke to you last month -- to take advantage of an opportunity to maybe recover some lost ground that we've had in terms of maintaining our system. This commission faced some tough challenges over the last several months and one of the decisions you made was to help us direct funding towards building new highways and new construction for mobility relief and congestion relief.
The consequence was that we had to pull back a little bit on our maintenance program. So this will give us an opportunity to maybe provide some much needed support for maintenance activities to help maintain our roads and replace critical bridges across the state. And then, of course, at the end of the day, we want to make sure that we build lasting and significant projects. Many people have been quoted that in the work program that was done earlier in the 1900s there are monuments that people still go to today, bridges, libraries, schools that were built out of that work program. It got Americans back to work and it helped our economy recover after the Depression.
Well, this is an opportunity to do the same sorts of things. And so we wanted to take advantage of that and build projects that provide tangible results for the communities that they're in and can be lasting monuments to the fact that when we had this opportunity, we did it the right way and we built things that are significantly important to the communities that they're located in.
As I said, we've been working for quite some time to get this underway. It's been the last four months, basically since November of 2008, a little earlier than that, and we began by preparing for this opportunity and asking our district engineers and their staffs to start thinking about the types of projects that hey knew were readily available, that had been partially developed or maybe perhaps completely developed, and were in a position to deliver, and there's where, working with industry partners, cities, counties, our metropolitan planning organizations and others, they identified over 1,500 projects from around the state that total a little over $13 billion.
And as I said, we started having meetings almost on a weekly basis, and then as we got closer to today, on a weekly basis with our metropolitan planning organizations from around the state, with our Federal Highway Administration partners, we've invited the Federal Transit Administration to join in on those conference calls, and of course, our TxDOT staff. And this was at the encouragement and support of not only the commission but leaders like Senator Watson and Chairman Pickett, and so all of those activities, I think, have been very productive and very meaningful.
And I'd like to pause at this point in time, because there has been some concern recently about whether or not we've fully embraced and brought in the broader community, and so I wanted to ask these district engineers that are here with us to briefly just share with you some of the activities that they've been involved with at the local level to engage the leaders in their communities in the planning and implementation partners within their communities in identifying these projects. So I asked them to be here today, they're probably a little uncomfortable, they've seen me up here the last several months since I've been in Austin for the last year, they've noticed how harsh you have been to me, and so they were a little concerned about that. But they're brave enough to be here today, I really appreciate it.
MR. BARTON: So I would just like to, if I could, starting with my friend and colleague, Lonnie Gregorcyk, to share with you briefly and then we'll just go down the line.
MR. GREGORCYK: I knew I chose the wrong end of the table. My name is Lonnie Gregorcyk, I'm from the Yoakum District. And the projects, I guess we took an approach of not making maybe false expectations, but I visited with the judges and talked about some of the projects in those areas and really focused on the two mobility projects that we have and one of them is with the MPO. I met with the MPO on numerous occasions and had the opportunity to ride up here and visit at the state level with all the MPOs. And really that's our priority project that's out there, it's a project that the timing was right and we felt like it was our best opportunity and worked that partnership in the City of Victoria with Mayor Armstrong and Judge Pozzi and really those local elected officials.
The other mobility project is on State Highway 36 and it's in Austin County, and the primary contact there was with Judge Carolyn Bilski and we actually started that, somewhat of a gamble. It's a project that we had a prior commitment years back from when the funding was attached to the hurricane evacuation so we purchased primarily all the right of way, but there were a few parcels, and we re-instituted that back in December, visiting with her, because they do have a portion of the money that goes into acquiring these last parcels. So we did have interaction with the city leaders in Bellville and Sealy, but primarily with the judge.
On the local projects, the more of the maintenance type projects, we looked at that based on the pavement needs, the traffic and this morning there were some minor changes and visited with Commissioner Holmes and tried to get hold of Judge McDonald to talk to him a little bit about the project we're doing in Bay City. But it's a project that's been on the list a long time, it's a paving and rebuilding of pavement.
That was our approach, really working directly with those elected officials -- city managers were, of course, a big part of that as well -- so that's kind of the way we did it and that's really a real rural approach. So I'll surely answer any questions you have.
MR. DENNIS: I guess we'll move right along. My name is Delvin Dennis and I'm the district engineer down in Houston. Lonnie gave the rural approach, I guess I'm going to give a metropolitan approach. We worked, obviously, very closely with our MPO, H-GAC. Alan Clark is in the audience and I think he's going to be speaking to you after while. We also worked with our locals, Harris County Road Authority, we visited with selected county commissioners in the areas. We have looked at this thing inside and out.
We, TxDOT, have a lot of significant projects, multiple projects that were very far along in the development process, it was just a pure lack of funds. These funds that are potentially becoming available through economic stimulus was enough to push these projects over the goal line and it's also helping Alan in his mission with other locals that think they have projects that are ready. We've got locals that have brought forward projects that their development of projects is probably not as robust as what TxDOT does and we help, we coach, we cajole, we bring them along. Alan does as well, and at the end of the day they're not as far along as they think.
We've got a good list of projects and they are absolutely ready to go, and we await decisions you all will be making here in the very near term.
MS. CHAVEZ: Maribel Chavez, the district engineer in Fort Worth, and as hard as Fort Worth tries to separate itself from Dallas, we just can't seem to be able to, so in this case that's actually a good thing, not necessarily a good thing that I always have to work with this guy over here. But actually what has made it easier on us is that our MPO policy board, the Regional Transportation Council, and our region as a whole has been focused on what we call legacy projects and those projects involve all of the partners, it involves TxDOT, it involves the North Texas Tollway Authority, and it involves all of the local elected officials from Tarrant County to Denton to Dallas and Collin County, and those projects impact all of us.
So I guess perhaps I may have had a little bit easier job than maybe my counterparts because our local elected officials are pretty focused on what those projects are and they have been focused on them for many years and have put all of their emphasis on those legacy projects. So it was trying to figure out how much more we could put on those legacy projects to try and get them across the goal line is really what it came down to, and again, working with our local partners -- in my case the North Texas Tollway Authority -- trying to figure out how do we get one more of those legacy projects across the goal line. So it's been a little bit easier on me, if that's possible, and maybe I shouldn't even admit that to my administration.
With respect to the types of projects on our pavements and on the rest of our system for preventive maintenance and rehab, we have been, on the one hand, the beneficiaries of all the drilling activity of the Barnett Shale as far as the economy is concerned, I don't know that our pavements have been as fortunate, they have taken a real beating, and so we have tried to put a lot of emphasis on our pavements. So the little bit of money that I'm getting -- and I'm lobbying, I'm trying to get as much as I can -- but the money that we're getting for our pavements, essentially we tried to figure out how much more of those pavements that had taken a beating from all that drilling activity, how much more of those pavements we could improve.
And of course, I can tell you that our smaller contractors, we've heard from them as well, and every one of them is hopeful that this work will be spread out, that some of that work is the type of work that they perform which is this PF-type work.
MR. HALE: I'm Bill Hale from the Dallas District, and we've been working with the Fort Worth District pretty regularly on a lot of things that we have. Dallas has been the beneficiary of a lot of things over the last couple of years, particularly the 121 project that we have in that area, and we've been able to use that to keep busy with things we've got going. With that, we have other projects that need to be taken care of and that's what we've focused on.
The central part of our region along the Dallas-Tarrant county line has a lot of congestion and problems that need to be taken care of, that whole area right there. The seamless package that we see right there and the amount of money that could possibly be available there, we saw an opportunity to use and leverage some dollars that were coming out of some legal issues with the money coming out of 121 that allowed us to start looking at some opportunities to help with what we're doing with money that would have been going to the Fort Worth side. With that, we were able to work out a situation where, working with Michael and the RTC right here to make sure we were able to develop a package that would be very beneficial for our area.
I was very concerned with the outlying areas of my district because when you look at Denton County, Collin County, Rockwall County, Kaufman County, Ellis County, Navarro County is not even in the MPO, those areas have to be taken care of and we've got to work with that. We worked it in the program to make sure we took care of those areas and helped with their economic stimulus in their area, and in doing that, you'll see projects in there that include projects that were legacy projects that because of funding issues had not gotten dollars to them yet and we're working on doing that and you'll see that Rockwall has got a couple of projects, you'll see that Kaufman has got a couple of projects. Ellis County down there with groups I have been in contact with, several representatives, including Congressman Barton and a couple of the state representatives about the bypass around Ennis and things like that. Those projects were put in there to help those areas with their economic development.
We've got areas in the southern Dallas region along I-20 and 67 that need to be taken care of, it's a bottleneck that has worked on that was put in there, as well as projects up in the northern part of the county. We worked with the MPO and with Maribel and have been able to leverage the dollars that are coming to the region possibly from this economic stimulus package to allow us to move into a bigger package that I think is going to be very beneficial to our region because of this.
MR. HOPMANN: For the record, my name is Randy Hopmann, I'm the Tyler District engineer and I'm also the interim district engineer in Lubbock, and I'd like to talk to you about both districts.
I'll start with Lubbock first. We have an outstanding open relationship with our elected officials and our MPO and we have a very clear understanding of what the communities' priorities are in regards to mobility projects and they're all very clearly listed in priority ranking within our MPO documents, so when it became apparent that the State of Texas could get some economic stimulus monies, we had a list readily available to refer to know exactly what the communities' top priorities were.
Fortunately, with the City of Lubbock they have been an outstanding partner with us and about three years ago we developed a local financing plan for mobility projects inside the MPO boundary involving the City of Lubbock, Lubbock County and the City of Wolfforth. And the City of Lubbock had taken the initiative to hire consultants to begin the preliminary engineering process on some of these top priority mobility projects, so all the preliminary engineering work, the environmental work, the public involvement work was all completed and paid for by the City of Lubbock, and all we were really lacking was the opportunity for construction funding on some of these mobility projects. So we were in a prime position for TxDOT for the district to produce some PS&E for these priority projects, and hopefully with your blessing, we'll be able to move forward.
Also in association with some of the projects, the City of Lubbock is paying for about $25 million of the $40 million construction estimate, and then with the MPO allocation from economic stimulus, they've also agreed to place those dollars on these projects. So the investment needed from economic stimulus for the Lubbock projects is going to be a lot less than the bang for the buck we're going to get overall with the number of jobs created because we have local financing attached to these projects.
In Tyler, obviously we have the Toll 49 project and we are developing that along with the North East Texas RMA. If the next phase of the Toll 49 project is lucky enough to receive economic stimulus monies, then the discussions that I've had with the NET RAM verbally is that that would give them enough to start standing on their own two feet and being able to fund the next phases for the Toll 49 project.
So this is really an impetus to a lot of great things that can happen in both of those districts that I can speak of directly. In the non-MPO areas of both districts, as you heard earlier, we used pavement evaluation scores, looked at where we're having to spend a lot of maintenance dollars to keep our roads together, and those were the projects that we put together
As far as coordination goes, we have worked with all of our county judges in those areas and have received outstanding support and encouragement for the selection of those projects, and we've also coordinated with our state representatives and state senators in those two districts involving those non-MPO projects. So overall, I would say we've had a very open and cooperative working relationship with the MPOs, our elected officials in both the urban and non-urban areas of our district.
MR. McCULLOUGH: Good afternoon. For the record, I'm Walter McCullough, the district engineer in San Angelo.
Let me first begin by just discussing our rural area processes that we've used. A lot of the projects that we've brought forward in the economic stimulus package are projects that we have not had funding available for -- and you've heard that from other district engineers as well. We've taken an opportunity to get our plans produced, plans ready on these projects. Some are based on pavement needs, some are based on safety, and we feel like those projects that we have listed in the rural areas have been discussed with our local county judges and county commissioners. We've got some resolutions from some of those groups to ask us to bring these projects forward in our letting process, it's just that we have not had the funding available to do that.
Locally with our MPO in San Angelo we've worked very closely. We've had our MPO staff in discussions with my staff, we've met with our MPO, they've gone through a selection process, and the products that you see in the economic stimulus package from our district for the MPO area are those that have been discussed and voted on by the MPO.
We've had some discussions on rail projects in San Angelo. We have a new manufacturing company that's coming to San Angelo to produce wind turbine products, and we have some restricted width bridges on some of the South Orient Rail Line -- which is the rail line that TxDOT owns, the State of Texas owns -- and so we've included that as part of our discussions at the MPO level, even though it's outside the MPO boundary.
That's kind of the issues that we've discussed. We've had discussions with our local elected officials, our state representatives and state senators as well, and they're supportive of what we're doing on that.
MR. SKOPIK: For the record, I'm Richard Skopik, the district engineer for the Waco District, of which most all of you know if you travel I-35, you go through the Waco District and that's the one that's talked about the most, it seems like, over the last several years, but it's a real challenge for us. And really our coordination in the Waco District certainly has been where our priorities and needs are the most in the district, although some of my rural county judges and rural towns will maybe argue, they won't argue I-35, but they have needs too and they will certainly remind you of that, that they have those needs, and we work with them very closely to keep those up to par and work through those.
But really getting to the heart of the economic stimulus and what we did, probably the bulk of our work has been concentrated with the two MPOs, the Killeen-Temple MPO which covers most of Bell County of which the cities are Temple, of course, Killeen, the two largest cities there, as well as Copperas Cove on the far west end, as well as Harker Heights, the City of Belton and then Bell County. The Copperas Cove area is kind of a unique challenge. That area is growing to the point that it's spreading out into other multiple counties, both Coryell County and Lampasas County, and then as they spread into Lampasas County, that brings on my partnering district engineer from the Brownwood District, Lynn Passmore, of which he is a member also of the policy board of the Killeen-Temple MPO.
But we've had a number of visits and meetings and technical committee meetings and we studied up real closely in working with our partners at that level which involve the policy board which is heavily populated in terms of elected officials on that board. County Commissioner Tim Brown, many of you know from Bell County, city managers, the mayor of Temple, Bill Jones, who is the MPO policy director. We worked very closely with the current interim director and the current CTCOG director, Jim Reed. The COG there does oversee and manage the MPO there and they are working to develop an MPO director at this point.
And I can't leave out, certainly, the county judges. Particularly as it relates to Copperas Cove, Judge Jon Burrows, has really come over recently to kind of bolster the concerns and issues related to US 190, the US 190 corridor, not only Copperas Cove but all of the US 190 that serves Fort Hood and all the cities along that corridor, all the way to 35.
And then before leaving the 190 corridor and all the folks that we have been coordinating with in regard to economic stimulus, is General Lynch, the current commander for Fort Hood. In fact, I just finished a briefing with him a little less than a month ago. And certainly the projects that we have brought forth for Bell County on the list and the policy board has signed off on, both for Interstate 35 between Salado and Belton, a significant ten-mile section really needed for expansion from four lanes to six lanes, as well as the Copperas Cove bypass or relief route for US 190, those projects certainly are supported by all of these folks that I've mentioned.
Moving to the Waco area, the Waco MPO encompasses all of McLennan County now and certainly their number one focus continues to be, and has been for the last ten years that I've been in this job, has been I-35. They certainly have a lot of other needs and we've worked through those needs as well in the urban areas that surround Waco and all of the cities that are sister cities that are part of that growth there in that area. Of course, Mayor DuPuy out of Waco, Jim Lewis out of McLennan County, and a whole sundry of city managers, county commissioners and other mayors, all led by MPO director, Chris Evilia, who I think may be here today.
And their number one project that came to the list and it's on your list before you today to review and consider is a section of I-35, leaving Waco, really picking up where the six-lane section through Waco ends going north towards Hillsboro, and would pick up about a ten-mile stretch from that point all the way to the south city limits of West. That would leave still about a ten-mile gap between there and Hillsboro. We have a project coming south out of Hillsboro that is scheduled for an August letting is part of the Proposition 14 funding that you've recently provided on that, so that will close that gap even less to about five miles that will be remaining.
One last comment with regard to areas outside our two MPOs, and just a little bit about how kind of our process worked as we went through the economic stimulus. I know you have a maintenance list here, I'll just give you an example of something that I think all of us at the table, and those that aren't here, were very flexible as we went through this process. I had a city manager from the City of Belton, through their downtown area and around their courthouse and an important roadway that runs all the way from Belton to Crawford and to Valley Mills, State Highway 317, a number of issues with that road there around the courthouse and heading north, and we have been trying to do a lot of different maintenance through the years to hold it together, he wondered if there was a possibility that maybe we could do something with it in terms of the economic stimulus. We looked at it and we committed to doing something, we added it to the list during this process of taking input and considering different things.
I might also add that on our maintenance list, although not purely preventive maintenance but certainly a safety project has to do with a previous commission commitment to Fort Hood, it's one of the four different commitments that were made back in about 2004 or '05 that we are beginning to bring those projects online. We've already got one underway of the four; there are two on my maintenance list, one is certainly an intersection safety project. General Lynch, this is his highest priority now out of the three, he made that clear to me about a month ago, and I said, Okay, I'm going to put it on the list. And of course, he had some work to do to give us some right of way easement and that kind of thing on pretty short order, and he committed to doing that.
So that's kind of how our process has worked in Waco.
MR. JORGE: Good afternoon, commissioners. For the record, my name is Mario Jorge and I'm the district engineer for the Pharr District. I guess I'm unfortunate to be the last one so I will make sure I will be brief. I'm also very fortunate to have three MPOs to coordinate with and two RMAs, and they each have their own priorities so it makes it quite challenging.
I kind of want to give you a quick outlook on what we did in the last few months. Regionally, the one thing that all of our elected officials and board members agree on is that our top priorities in the district, our top focus areas are the major corridors that are going into the Valley -- since we are at the south end of Texas -- and the connectivity to the international bridges, those are our critical points of mobility and also for economic vitality of the region.
With that said, over the last three months at each of the MPO meetings we discussed trying to maintain reasonable expectations on this economic stimulus, not knowing the numbers at that time but having an idea that it was not going to be a cure-all for funding, we made sure that those expectations were level. This caused our priorities that was basically all of the projects that we've already been working on in the mill, nothing really new that popped up on anybody's radar. We tried to explain the shovel-ready definition because we did get dozens of calls from cities, like Delvin mentioned, thinking their projects were ready, so I had to explain the process and what really shovel-ready means. So we got through that, all in the last couple or three months.
With that said, I looked at our district and tried to put all the eggs in one basket, and our three major corridors coming into the Valley are 83 from the west, 281 and 77 from the north, all have projects that were in development. We're very fortunate that the commission authorized the Prop 14 dollars for segments of our 83 corridor in the Zapata and Starr County area, so those projects will be going out for bids in the next few months, so that's started to address the one major corridor. We're working on the rest of the projects and we'll probably be looking to future funding either from our district allocation or potential Prop 12 or potential pass-through.
Our 21 corridor, that is one corridor that the entire Hidalgo County group got behind as the coalition from Brooks County, Jim Wells, and strongly lobbied and urged the commission, as well as the legislature and all the MPOs, to push that corridor, it's a major corridor. Again, we were fortunate to have the project ready to go in the Falfurrias area, we've invested time and effort on that project, including purchase of right of way, development of plans, so that project is in a good situation to go for bids this spring and it has regional support for it.
Cameron County, of course, has been focused on improvements to 77 and 511 leading into the port as well as the 550 loop that is the connection to 77. We've got projects that are along in development, especially on 550, that I believe will be a key connection to the port.
So looking at the different corridors and the different pots of money that we can grab from, it looks like we can address, hopefully begin to address some of them. With that said, there's still quite a few needs in the Hidalgo County MPO and Harlingen-San Benito MPO and the Brownsville MPO, and I have to continue to work with them to start looking at available resources, both locally and well as potential future Prop 12 and others that may be coming along the way.
So it's a process, it's not something that we're done, obviously. This is a good start and we hope to be able to continue, but thinking locally from a regional level, it is well understood the constraints that the commission has and that we all have, but they are being partners with us in a lot of different ways.
The last thing I want to say is since I have been involved looking at some of our pavement conditions statewide and have been fortunate to participate in several reviews of our maintenance plans over the next several years, I have to emphasize the need for additional dollars in preventive maintenance and rehabilitation. Over the last two or three years, our pavement conditions have deteriorated extensively, especially in the urban areas, but really throughout the state, and it is money well spent. This influx of economic stimulus money to this area that will allow us to accelerate very much needed rehab and PM projects that I believe will have lasting effect and will give us a jumpstart into improving our pavement conditions. That has been a very big effort on everybody's part.
So thank you all for the opportunity to speak with you and I guess if anyone has questions.
MR. BARTON: Thank you for indulging me with allowing these men and women to be here today to share with you their efforts, and it's going to help me breeze through the rest of my information much quicker, and I know that people are waiting with baited breath to hear the end of the presentation.
As I shared with you, I briefed you last month, you gave us some good direction on where we needed to head in consulting with our staff as well as our transportation partners from around the state, and we have very diligently pursued that. Part of that was to get together with our MPOs on a regular basis and make sure we understood what they were identifying as important projects, but also to identify some selection criteria which is a key component of this decision-making process that we'll spend some time talking about.
Through that effort, we were able to reach a consensus through some teleconferences, but as well as a meeting that we held here in Austin -- and almost every MPO, with the exception of one or two, were available to be here with us, and through that process we identified all types of criteria that people felt like were important to consider as we were making decisions about which of the best of the best projects would be ultimately selected for funding, and they're listed here for you and I'll just summarize them real briefly.
Through a consensus process, everyone there agreed that we wanted to identify projects that improve safety. First and foremost, what we do is save lives each and every day, that's what this industry is about, and so we wanted to improve the safety of our transportation system. We also felt like we needed to address corridors of statewide or regional significance, and I think when you see the staff's recommendation, you will clearly be able to identify that these are corridors that we think are of statewide and national significance. You know most of them without me mentioning them, you could probably list them yourselves, and so that was one of the criteria that the collective group felt was important.
We also wanted to make sure that we maximized partnership opportunities. We encouraged people to bring forward their recommendations and offerings of additional resources to bring to projects to make them stretch the value of the dollar, to get the bigger bang for the buck. So that was an important criterion. And then, of course, as we had been encouraged by Commissioners Holmes and Meadows and Houghton, and all of the commission really, and then Senator Watson early on, to identify projects that did more than just put people to work today, it created opportunities for jobs to be created into the future and to sustain those jobs for Texas.
And then, of course, the bill requires that we look at a couple of things but we also collectively agreed they were important, and that was to identify projects that could be spread out throughout the state in a fair and equitable manner and that would help those areas of the state that are economically distressed. What that means, that last little bit, is a little bit still fluffy but we did a request to the Comptroller's Office and they shared some information with us, dated information, but the bad news is that almost every county in the State of Texas is defined as economically distressed based on the definition that's contained within the bill. So there was certainly an opportunity to meet that criterion wherever projects were selected in the State of Texas.
This is just a picture of the metropolitan planning organization boundaries across the state. I know that many of you have been focusing on the involvement of our metropolitan planning partners, critically important to us, and I thought it would be important to kind of show the areas of the state that they represent. They're the darker shaded colors there, and there are 25 metropolitan planning organizations here in this state and that's where they're located, and I wanted to make sure that I shared that with you.
As I said, we got all those people together, the best and brightest within the industry, our department engineers, all those staff from the metropolitan planning organizations and other entities and we came up with this big list of projects, and then we had to figure out some way of getting to the end of the day, and so we went through an evaluation process that was based on the criteria that we had reached consensus on, and we asked our district engineers to kind of take a first cut at screening those down to something that was a little more manageable. And so they got together, and collectively together, not individually but as a group, looked at all the projects that we had out there, thinking about those six guiding principles, and came up with a smaller list of projects then for staff here in Austin to evaluate. We wanted to make sure that it was open and transparent and also that all projects met the requirements of the bill.
This is the shorter list that we came up with for the district engineers to review, and I can tell you each of you can probably --
MR. MEADOWS: That's our transparent process.
MR. BARTON: Yes, the transparent process is there for all the world to see, and I'm sure you can identify your project of interest on that list.
MR. BARTON: It's simply there to show you that on the right-hand side of that slide is a color representation of the scoring. Each of those columns represent one of the criteria that was identified through the consensus process, as well as looking at air quality. And so the green are the highest ratings, the blue are the middle ratings, and the yellow are the lower ratings. If anybody wants to see it, we can make this information more readily available in a readable format, but this was kind of the screening analysis that staff did to get through the best of the best process, and so it wasn't just picking them out of the air, it was driven by any other motive than scoring them based on the criteria that the MPOs and other partners helped us to identify, and I wanted to show you the tool that was used. As Commissioner Meadows would say, the decision-making process, the decision-making tree, the screening instrument. And like I said, perhaps it's best left in this format and no other, but at the end of the day, I can assure you that no one is going to be completely happy with the decisions that were made.
MR. HOUGHTON: Did they teach communications at Texas A&M?
MR. BARTON: Absolutely. I may not have taken that class, but actually I did and I was at the top of the class.
MR. BARTON: So here we are standing before you today to make a staff recommendation on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for the State of Texas. Staff recommends, based on the input that you provided to us at our last commission meeting, that $500 million in total would be directed to the districts for their selection of projects, and we have a list attached to the report that's been provided to you from each district for their specific projects of approximately $500 million in preservation activities. These are, again, pavement rehabilitation, bridge replacement type projects.
You'll notice that the amount that we believe ultimately should be provided, and each district was given the number, is approximately $474 million, we're a little bit over that, a 5 percent overage, if you will. That's to allow for the anticipation that bids may come in lower than expected and that projects may find a pickup in the process, so we wanted to make sure that we had a complete list sufficient so that we could get $474 million worth of preservation work out the door in a relatively quick time frame. So that's the first part of staff's recommendation.
You will also notice that $500 million, approximately, was sub-allocated to the metropolitan planning organizations, and we've talked about that. We encouraged and am glad to report to you that the MPOs were supportive of this idea that they collaborate with us and provide partnership opportunities with some of those funds that would be made available to them. I just wanted to point out to you that as we move forward with this, based on the decisions you make either tomorrow or sometime in the future, that the MPOs still have $500 million at their discretion to make decisions upon, and we'll need them to make those decisions in a relatively short period of time as well so we can have a better understanding of the full nature of the program and the projects that have been identified and how they will move forward so we can ensure Texans that we will spend every dollar that's provided to us and that we won't lose a single dollar that's been allocated to the State of Texas.
And then I think what most people are here today to hear and see is staff's recommendation of this $1.2 billion, roughly, that is left over for the commission's discretion. Again, this process has been a very challenging one but at the same time, a very rewarding one. I can assure you that I don't believe that the majority of the people will be surprised by the selections, nor will be they necessarily happy, because we had many projects that were eligible for consideration and relatively few, ultimately, that could be selected. Again, it's hard for a small town boy from Archer City, Texas to say that $1.2 billion just isn't that much money in the big scheme of things.
So what I'd like to do at this time is reveal a graphical representation of the projects that were selected across the state, and I'll ask my brother, Lonnie Gregorcyk from Yoakum, to turn over the back chart there, and I think Tim Powers is going to come up and turn over the chart here. The next one, Lonnie, the back one.
MR. GREGORCYK: The back one?
MR. BARTON: Yes, the next one. There you go. Back, B-A-C-K, Texas A&M means the one that's in the back.
MR. BARTON: And I don't have a slide of it but I think most people in the room can see it. This is a graphical representation of where the projects have been located for selection by staff and district staffs and the preservation program, as well as staff's recommendation for new construction or major mobility type projects. The blue circles or dots represent those preservation activities; the yellow circles or dots represent the mobility or new construction type projects. So I just wanted to share that with you, it's a graphical representation, and I think it's important to notice that it does represent distribution of projects and activities all across the State of Texas. Obviously, there's some clustering around some of the major metropolitan areas of the State of Texas, and that's for logical and understandable reasons.
The process that we used to do this, again, was a five-step process: we identified those projects that would meet the time frames of the bill; we then utilized our own staff at our district engineers' level to assess the relative importance of projects from within those regions based on the regional perspective of the value of those projects; we did work with the MPOs to come up with this consensus on how we should score those final lists of projects; and we locally discussed that with people for quite some time at the metropolitan planning organizations and other levels of government; and then using all that input from the first four steps and discussing this with our district engineers, our planning partners, and the staffs of the different entities, counties, cities and others from around the state, we put the best and the brightest information together to come up with this list of projects. Again, we believe that it will create more than 23,000 direct jobs and more than 69,000 indirect jobs, and I think that number will go up.
I would pause just for a moment before we get to the end of it to let you know that those projects that haven't ultimately made it to this final list, if you will, for staff's recommendations to the commission to consider doesn't mean that's the end of the day. The Secretary of Transportation has a $1.5 billion discretionary pool available to him to select projects from around the nation. No state can receive more than $300 million and project nominations will be accepted for projects ranging from $20 million to $300 million in value. You can ask for an exception to the $20 million limit if you have one that's of regional or national significance that's a little less than that, but in general, they want projects that are $20- to $300 million in value.
And they will be putting out the call for nominations sometime between now and 90 days from February 17, and we will expect to get that information, work very diligently with all of our communities and planning partners again to come up with the best of the best nominations for the State of Texas and submit those for consideration. Ultimately, we will have 180 days from the date that the call for nominations has been released to submit our package, and then the Secretary of Transportation his one year from February 17 to announce his decision on which projects will be funded around the nation. So I just share that with you to let you know that there is at least one other opportunity before the end of this program is finished for projects that haven't been ultimately selected to have a chance to receive additional funding.
Real quickly, kind of a rundown of the projects are listed here. I can go through them individually, if you'd like, or I can just summarize the nature of them for you. This is a representation of the North Region. We were able to do a project on Interstate 35 -- and I have a map of the Interstate 35 corridor, obviously a corridor of national significance -- and we are making headway to improving it from a four-lane divided in many areas to a six-lane divided, or better, and certainly at the strong encouragement of our commission and probably most consistently, frequently and vehemently from Commissioner Meadows, and we appreciate your ardent leadership on that, and we've heard you loud and clear.
We also have projects in Tyler, the Loop 49 project that was discussed by Mr. Hopmann. A project up in Grayson County, you'll notice that that particular MPO came to us with 100 percent leverage, almost, for a $3 million project, they're only asking for $400,000. And then the DFW connector project, as it's locally referred to, is also one of the staff's recommendations for a project. And we noted that through this unique partnership that Bill and Maribel talked about, there's an opportunity for another very important project in the Dallas-Fort Worth area which is an interchange on I-20 and State Highway 121, commonly referred to as Chisholm Trail Southwest Parkway, to be funded through that partnership, and so it's listed there as well.
Moving on to the South Region. We have an interchange in Bexar County at the intersection of US 281 and Loop 1604, a very important project in the northern part of the San Antonio metroplex. We also have a project in the Pharr and Corpus districts along US 281 and US 59, the corridor that Mr. Jorge spoke about a few minutes ago, it's certainly one of the gateways to freight movement in the Valley and an important project, and these are corridor improvements along that route to remove what are existing bottlenecks where you have traffic lights and at-grade intersections that cause traffic obstructions as you move through that corridor.
We have a project here in Austin on US 290 at its intersection with US 183 to construct some direct connectors at that major interchange on the east side of Austin. And then a project in Cameron County, the Brownsville area, a project that involves the port as well as the RMA that Mr. Jorge spoke about as well. It's a unique opportunity to take an old rail corridor, relocate the rail -- which the community is doing on their own -- and then bring back a new transportation facility that will provide international movement of traffic without having to stop in the residential neighborhoods on the Texas side of the border. And then the last one is a project on Loop 1604 near Randolph Air Force Base in the San Antonio area to provide some congestion relief to that military base where we have men and women working and operating it.
In the West Region, a couple of projects. We have a relatively unique transportation facility project -- and I think this is a bold statement on the mood of the Department of Transportation here in Texas -- it's to do some rail improvements on the South Orient Railroad. That's a facility that you, as the commission and the Department of Transportation, own and it is a critical link to major economic development in the San Angelo area associated with some new manufacturing opportunities. The current rail facility doesn't allow for appropriate movement of trains.
In many cases, on the track they have to travel less than ten miles an hour and obviously that hurts their competitive ability to use that facility to take truck traffic off of our interstate and other roadways, and so this is a project that will help us get that facility up to an operating capacity that will take a lot of hazardous cargo as well as industrial freight off our roadways and make economic opportunity available in the San Angelo area.
And then there's two other projects they show as four pieces, but those are just two phases of two different projects. One is an interchange in El Paso of Interstate 10 with a loop roadway there, 375, a very important project for the greater El Paso metropolitan that the community has worked a long time and is heavily participating in in terms of partnership in a financial and implementation capacity.
And then the project in Lubbock is locally referred to there as the Northwest Passage, and I was sharing that with someone the other day, and they said every time they hear that, they think of these Paul Bunyan type men with their axes cutting a line through the forest up in Canada, so for the Lubbock area to have a Northwest Passage is kind of a neat thing. But anyway, this is a project on 289 out there in the growing area of Lubbock where commerce and residential growth is continuing to occur. This will open up an area that currently is suffering from some congestion and difficulty in movement of traffic there. And again, if you'll notice, the community has come forward with an extremely high level of participation.
And then lastly, in the East Region we have a very well known project, the Grand Parkway, technically referred to as State Highway 99 by TxDOT, and this gives us an opportunity to start the construction of that greater system that ultimately will be a huge and important transportation corridor for the south part of our state, and we've very excited about an opportunity to help develop and implement that first section of the Grand Parkway.
There's also a project on Interstate 10 in the eastern section of our state in Orange County, as you travel from Houston over towards the Louisiana state line, and similar to the Interstate 35 corridor north of Austin, Interstate 10 east of Houston is a very heavily traveled and freight corridor with the Port of Houston and other activities, and this would provide an opportunity to reconstruct and expand the facility there in Orange County.
And then there's a project in Harris County at the intersection of Beltway 8 and US 59 to construct some direct connectors at that interchange, a very important link in the transportation system that's a partnership between the Harris County Toll Road Authority and the Texas Department of Transportation in two different systems and this will give us an ability to interchange traffic there.
We also have the project on Interstate 10 to do some rehabilitation and reconstruction activities. The Houston District has done a great job of improving the condition of that facility in the heart of the metropolitan area and they've had several projects that have taken place. And as a frequent commuter through Houston -- because I still live in the southeast part of the state -- I appreciate the work on the Katy Freeway. It makes my Friday evening commutes and Sunday night commutes much more pleasurable, and I can tell you that this particular project, from a pavement smoothness and corridor preservation perspective, is extremely important.
And then we have a project on FM 60 in Burleson County out of the Bryan District. This is a safety oriented project to expand the existing facility from two lanes to four lanes as you travel south out of Bryan-College Station. It's a route that many of our college students -- and yes, they are Aggies and so we need to keep that in mind -- but many of our college students return to school from traveling over the weekend or over the spring break or holidays, they use this facility and we've had some problems out there with some fatalities, as well as when they're leaving, congestion problems after games and that sort of thing, so it's a priority project that's been worked on by the district for many years.
And then the last one is a project on 610, I believe that's in the northern part of the 610 Loop area on the east side, and this is going to give us an opportunity to reconstruct that part of the 610 Loop. And if any of you have been on it recently, again, the district and the community have done a great job of taking that initial loop system of Houston's metropolitan area and reconstructing it over a period of time, and this will get us one step closer to having that rebuilt and in a much better pavement condition as well as mobility because of the way the auxiliary lanes and everything tie into the system.
So at the end of the day, when you look at the distribution of funds which is an important issue, this slide just shows the distribution of population in those regions as I've separated them out for this analysis, and then the distribution of the total amount of the funds going to these regions through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act based on this staff recommendation to you. And I think it's interesting to note that although it's not a percentage point to percentage point match, it's a very close match, and in my opinion, represents that we do have equitable and fair distribution around the state in the proposal that we've made before you.
So to wrap up, I think Texas is ready to move forward and I think it's important that we do so. Our partners have been fully involved in this process and have done a tremendous job, and I am going to make sure that we recognize and applaud them for that. I believe that it's been a very transparent process and it has been a great opportunity for us to learn, grow and strengthen our partnerships, as well as our planning and project development process. And we will take much more out of this than just the delivery of these projects: the State of Texas, our transportation planning process and our partnerships will be stronger because of this opportunity which is an added benefit that I can't understate.
And then the recommendations that come forward do meet the intent of the Act, in my opinion -- of course, it should because I'm the one making the recommendation to you -- but at the end of the day, I wanted to just close by sharing with you that leadership is critical to any successful activity. I know that I have been the focal point of a lot of discussions, probably some not so good, others maybe good, but it's not John that's done this, certainly not alone, and I can't take much, if any, of the credit. I've been the keeper of a list that's been growing and changing and still continues to grow and change today. But through the leadership of Senator Watson, Chairman Pickett, our chair here at the Transportation Commission, our commissioners as well, you have given us the focus, direction and charge to get this thing done as a state and as a transportation industry.
Executive Director Amadeo Saenz has been very supportive of me, he's corrected me when I've faltered, he's lifted me up when I've failed, and he's been the stalwart in making sure we got this accomplished. My boss, Steve Simmons -- who is not here today -- has been a champion of all of this. David Casteel has led the charge for the districts and really the district engineers, our planning partners out there, and David Casteel deserves all the credit; they've done all the really hard work. And Tim Powers, who has kind of been helping us put all this information together in a readable, understandable format, as well as Coby Chase and his staff at GPA in doing that and analyzing the bill have just been tremendous. So I wanted to make sure that they were recognized because they are the people that did this. Our MPO executive directors -- many of whom are here today -- and their staffs are also greatly responsible for this, as well as our elected leadership at the judge and mayor level as well.
So those are the men and women who really deserve the credit for the value and significance of this. If there's anything wrong with it, it's my fault; if there's anything right with it, it's because of them. So I'll end my remarks with that, I hope you have no questions, and I think there are a lot of other men and women that are interested in talking -- I've been up here a long time.
MS. DELISI: Are there any questions for staff? We've got several legislators in the audience who will need to leave, so I'd like to get them first. First I'd like to give Chairman Pickett the opportunity to come up and speak.
MR. PICKETT: Good afternoon, Madam Chair, commissioners. Thank you for the time. I was on my way over here so I didn't see all the press releases that you put out, and I did see the last chart kind of breaking out the percentages, and I was asking some folks here in the audience if there had been any more analysis of it, and I know some of it has been done. And I think Mr. Barton mentioned the conversations or the discussions or whatever the last few days, I think it might precipitate additional questions as far as the projects themselves: how many total projects are there, how many of them are maintenance, how many of them are safety, how many of them are non-traditional toll, how many are toll, did anybody take their money period and go home. I wasn't sure on the charts because the way the dollars are shown as stimulus and total construction dollars, if it's one and the same, does that mean that there was stimulus money above and beyond what the direct appropriation would be or share based on population.
Over the last few days we've tried to explain that there was really kind of two categories that if you just wanted to petition for the amount of money that you should get based on those formula funding -- for our case, El Paso, we would get maybe $20- to $21 million, we could just take our $21 million -- so how does that show in there? I think there's probably going to be a lot of people analyzing this over the next week, and I'm probably one of the same that would like to know just I think a little bit more detailed breakdown. I know you have some of that, but did stimulus dollars above a population allocation, if I was entitled to $21- but I'm being recommended to receive $30-, is it just going to show as a $30- construction with no additional match? So if you would just kind of break that down.
And it still isn't going to matter, there are a lot of people in the service industry who tell their employees that if there's someone who has a problem or has a complaint, you want them to tell me, if we did something good or if you have a compliment, tell all your friends. Well, in the legislature we do it the reverse, so I just want you to know that no good deed will go unpunished, so we will not be happy with whatever you finally decide.
MR. PICKETT: But my dad used to tell me that you can't please everybody but you should go ahead and continue to try, so if you'll do me a favor and just break those down again into a lot of categories that you would assume a lot of us have priorities, again, safety. And then what was the total that we actually got, not the $2.25 billion, take out the $67 million for enhancement right now, kind of take that out, what is the staff recommending to you and you're ultimately going to approve. Did we get a total of $4 billion in projects because of the leveraging -- and the leveraging is not always a bad word. In our case we are asking your discretionary portion or a portion of that we're leveraging, but it's not a traditional toll, we're using our transportation reinvestment zone, and we're going to put up our property taxes, our portion, so there are some leverages in there. And again, I know John probably has those numbers and if you could break them down even more, I would appreciate it.
And the only thing I can say is if anybody could have gotten to Obama and asked him to do it before the second Tuesday of January or on June 2 -- but that didn't happen -- so we're here, we're going to tell you how good you're doing. Again, I just want to thank you for the communication, at least at this point.
MS. DELISI: Yes, sir, absolutely.
MR. PICKETT: I'm sorry. John did mention that there has been a working group, not just the district engineers, they've been working with their MPOs, I want to recognize the fact that Sal Payan from my Congressman Reyes's office is here in the audience. He was sent down here by Congressman Reyes just because of the information that you put out, and we have been working on this from the very beginning. In fact, when there were some of those political bumps in the road and whether or not states would take it or not, my congressman has been working with me, we've been talking about concurrent resolutions, I had mentioned you to about a month ago in case that was necessary. The congressman's office has a relationship with Chairman Oberstar and he's helped us get some information from Federal Transit, from the administration. So I did want to recognize the fact that the congressman felt that this was important enough to send one of his staff here today. Thank you.
MS. DELISI: Thank you. On that note, I just also want to recognize that we have representatives from Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson's office here today, as well as Congressman McCaul's office, I understand. So anyway, thank you very much for coming.
I'd like to at this time call up Representative Kleinschmidt.
MR. KLEINSCHMIDT: Good afternoon. Thank you, Madam Chair, commissioners.
What I have to bring to you is a small issue but important; lives are at stake. As you'll notice on your map, the area that I represent, District 17, is east between Austin and Houston, we're a transportation area, a travel-through area between Austin and Houston. Unfortunately, the increases in transportation quickness over on the east side over in the Bryan-College Station area, we have people dying on narrow bridges over on the west side of our district, closer to Austin, that's our problem. We have several small bridges, narrow, two-lane bridges on FM 696 east of US 290 and west of Lexington, we've had recent deaths there.
It's the only access out of the northern part of our area to the Austin area is that Farm to Market 696. It's a favorite shortcut for the UT/A&M students. We've got a large amount of traffic that comes through on FM 696. There's been a recent relocation of an aluminum plant, the Three Oaks Mine plant to that area, which brings increased traffic to the area. And without use of stimulus funds to help us on those two-lane narrow bridges, we're going to continue to have people die in the western part of our area over there. I'd like to note that these projects, these small bridges that need to be widened, they would meet all of Mr. Barton's goals for transportation funding.
I would like to strongly commend TxDOT for the fact that warning devices have been placed on the narrow bridges and I'm sure currently saving lives at this moment.
I just needed to bring that to the attention of the commissioners and TxDOT in hopes that the people of District 17 can get some help on the widening of these small bridges. Any questions?
MS. DELISI: Thank you for coming.
MR. KLEINSCHMIDT: Thank you very much.
MS. DELISI: Is Representative Maldonado still here? Oh, she is. Representative Maldonado.
MS. MALDONADO: Good afternoon, Madam Chair, commissioners. Representative Maldonado from Williamson County, southeast portion.
Again, just in finding out about the meeting, quickly we kind of gathered some notes fairly quickly, and I wanted also to share some of the priorities for southeast Williamson County, and in particular, FM 1460 which is the Old Settlers Blvd. The portion from Old Settlers Boulevard to University Boulevard, it is a two-lane road which my understanding has been an old road from 1920 and we're wanting to expand it to a four-lane road with a center turn lane.
While I do realize there's been a reduction in the amount of the stimulus funds we thought we might receive, I do implore you to include this project in the list that receives stimulus funding. It is also currently in our MPOs TIP and it is, for sure, a shovel-ready project. It is a portion of the area that is a little over two miles that we're asking for it to be included in the priority.
And also with regards to the identification and selection criteria, we do have the Texas A&M Health Science Center that is slated to open this fall, we have Seton Hospital, we have Texas State bringing the nursing program, we have Austin Community College also that is being built there, we have the Outlet Mall, we have Ikea, we have Scott & White Hospital, and we have St. David's. So we do have a good mix of businesses there, and while we may be in recession, we do have healthcare and education that will continue to be a strong component in this area and this county which happens to be one of the fastest growing counties in the State of Texas.
Round Rock started out with maybe 35,000 residents probably around ten years ago; it's at 100,000 right now and slated to be 250,000 in the next maybe five-ten years. Hutto has also grown by over 656 percent in the last five years. So I do come and ask for this to be included as a priority project. We are looking at $6- to $10 million to be considered for this package.
Again, one of the initiatives of the folks at the local level working on thinking outside the box and thinking ahead is that the county, city and property owners, ACC, A&M, Texas State, Seton Hospital, have all contributed money and land to help complete this road. So it is 75 percent completed and we're asking for the remaining 25 percent to make sure that we expand this road, and again, it does fit the criteria on identification selection and meeting the goals to have a good mix of projects and long lasting vitality to the region. Thank you very much.
MS. DELISI: Thank you. Commissioner Brown.
MR. BROWN: Thank you for letting me speak. Ellis County and TxDOT have identified some $272 million worth of state projects that need to be done alone in Ellis County -- I'm not going to ask for all of them -- and that includes $20 million projects, $1.5 million in bridges, and $250- on the system. What I'm really asking for is look at the region and that's continuing of 35E through Ellis County, and you, as the commission, has on the list as a top priority for goods movement and traffic movement through this area.
And the only other thing, I wish you'd look at the 287 bypass around Ennis that has been two lanes for 15-20 years, needs rehabbing and they don't have enough money to finish a portion of that now.
I do appreciate what you are doing. Thank you.
MS. DELISI: Judge Carlos Cascos.
JUDGE CASCOS: Madam Chair, members of the commission. Thank you so much for your public service and that of your district directors. I know that at least speaking to our district director, he's been squeezed, though not as much as you all have been squeezed over the last several weeks and months, but I want to thank you for your public service.
You know, being Cameron County judge is kind of a unique situation. I'm the county judge of the only county in the State of Texas that has a deepwater port and international bridges, and with that comes a lot of challenges. As you know, you've been responsible and helped us during Hurricane Dean and Hurricane Dolly. Infrastructure is the lifeline of every and any community and it's unfortunate that we as fellow Texans have to sit and compete for some of these funds, and so we're here to advocate for these funds.
It's unfortunate, again, that it's not a well that we can dip into at leisure, these monies are limited, but at the same time, it's your responsibility, as you well know, to focus on the region that warrants and needs these types of funds. We have several shovel-ready projects, as you are familiar with, Loop 550 which is going to develop the beginning, I hope, of the interstate Highway I-69; we also have a west rail project that is in dire need of some additional funds.
We have strong support from the local MPOs, all the cities within Cameron County, and Cameron County has also taken a regional approach in dealing with infrastructure, in dealing with veterans issues, in dealing with flood control; we've taken a regional approach in working with our neighboring counties to the west and the north. But it's important that we receive the amount of monies that we not only deserve but it enhances the economic vitality of this state.
Mexico is one of our largest trading partners. We have corridors that the roads and highways that are mentioned that are thoroughfares from South Texas to anywhere else in the United States must go through our community, and with that, we need the infrastructure investment that you can give us.
So with that, I want to thank you for working with us. We're very proud to have had Amadeo as our district director for many, many years, and now with Mario Jorge there as well, it's an honor and a privilege to work with him and it was an honor and a privilege to work with Amadeo.
I'm somewhat a little humbled when I come into these chambers because it's named after a good friend of mine, Ric Williamson, as you know, who passed away and he was a strong advocate and friend to South Texas, like I know many of you all are, and I just continue to ask for your continued support. I know some of you all have been down in the Valley, I've had the privilege of meeting many of you, and I want to extend an open invitation any time you want to go down to the Valley, and we will treat you to a cup of coffee and we will host you as you've never been hosted before.
With that, I want to thank you very much for your public service and your hospitality, and God speed to each and every one of you. Thank you.
MS. DELISI: Thanks, Judge. I'd like to call up Michael Morris.
MR. MORRIS: Madam Chair, Michael Morris, director of transportation in the MPO in Dallas-Fort Worth. TxDOT asked several MPO directors to come forward today to talk about the process, and I'll try to keep my presentation very short.
The second thing I ask you to do that will help us a lot in the communication is to include the group of projects that the metropolitan planning organizations are selecting as well. There's a lot of confusion out there when you produce a list of projects that just has yours so the assumption is there are no others, and there are very innovative and imaginative things occurring in each of the regions, and you could help us in that particular area of communication.
Of course, you know this is about job creation and retention. I think urban regions should be focused on large capital projects, as you heard your staff talk about. One of the other things to underscore is the immediacy of which we're trying to work. Normally, if this was a regular communication process, these projects would have been sequenced and you would have been asked to approve these six months from now. Six months from now is too late because of our nation's desire to move forward, so we're doing things very quick, and I want to applaud a couple hundred of my colleagues from TxDOT and MPOs across the state on how hard they've worked in such fast fashion with regard to the immediacy.
I do want to support the process. Lots of communication has occurred on lots of people's parts. John has taken the lead and done a wonderful job; so have his colleagues that are sitting here and across the region.
In our particular region, we think we have been able to develop the ability of partnering projects and developing multiplication or the speed of money through partnership, probably a tenfold increase. And I want to just talk about the importance of that. Now, I'm not trying to take away that you shouldn't be doing maintenance projects, as I indicated to you last month, but I think the urban regions owe it to do large capacity projects, and commissioners, the smaller urban regions and the rural regions maybe should be focused on those maintenance items, and together that might be a very good partnership for the State of Texas. So we think in the urban regions we owe you the need to get the speed of revenue associated with regard to it.
In our particular region we're going to solve two problems: we're going to bring together the needs-based revenue that is there from economic recovery, and we're going to solve an existing issue with regard to east-west revenues from 121. So when you talk about economic recovery in our region, we ask you to pool the larger partnership we have with you with regard to this leveraging that we are talking about.
Madam Chair, because of your leadership, because of the leadership of the legislators who are here, because of this commission over the last two legislative sessions standing up to the tools that we have, several of you working on new partnerships with partners in our region and across the state, it is only through all of that work that you get the ability of multiplying these particular funds.
Stop for a moment and think in Dallas-Fort Worth we may be able to proceed with the LBJ project, the DFW connector, the North Tarrant Express, the Southwest Parkway, and State Highway 161, all wrapped in the same partnership program, and it's this system of financing that permits us to do this. And I know, Madam Chair, there's lots across the street that say maybe they should be earmarked by legislators, you would never get the same system of finance of leveraging with regard to this because you're looking at projects in a specific way.
I've had several conversations with Commissioner Meadows on this approach. Judge Whitley is here, Jungus Jordan is here, who have been briefed on this; Linda Koop, our chair, has been briefed as well. This is a high level policy initiative with regard to it. I've got three quick power point graphics and then I'll just walk you through the handout.
In our particular public involvement process, we can't establish criteria without taking them to the public, but let me first, as an MPO director -- well, there's probably two things I need to apologize to you. First, I've got to apologize that I'm a professional engineer, apparently, after listening to Mr. Bass's presentation. The second thing is because of the speed in which we have to act to meet Congress's interests, lots of communications, dozens of meetings have occurred with TxDOT. We, under our federal requirements as MPOs, are communicating with our public, and of course, we have to communicate with our bosses as the policy officials, and what makes this complicated is we have to do this all at the same time and not sequentially because of the immediacy with which we have to move.
And to make it a little bit more complicated, you as the commission are picking projects and then MPOs are picking projects, and we're asking you today to staple them on the same piece of paper or I will spend more time explaining why certain projects that are going to be picked aren't on a certain list than the amount of time we've partnered with you to get them to the goal line today. I'd rather talk about how we got our partnership together.
We asked our region at our public meetings: Can we afford to be this comprehensive this fast? And the answer from our public is yes. So again, I think in urban regions, first you can create jobs by spending transportation money, but also -- as John indicated earlier to you -- you can create indirect jobs from the construction workers who have to buy services with their particular funds, to multiply two or three jobs for every one you put into construction.
The part that never gets enough discussion, in my opinion, is the mobility improvements that occur as a result of doing these larger projects in urban regions which I call it creates productivity jobs by creating a more efficient transportation system where the private sector benefits. By us putting together programs that are partnering with other monies that are available so the economic recovery could be the last share of funds that brings a big project to construction -- that's what we've referred to as partnership funds or pool funds -- and then if we put these projects on projects that actually generate revenue, you actually are creating financial leveraging to do other particular projects: 161, 121, LBJ, North Tarrant Express.
So the graph that John described to you which has job creation in two or three or four years, if the urban regions forward with leveraging capabilities, those jobs can be sustained for a much longer period of time. And in our case, we think $143 million, partnering with you, could create $3- or $4 million worth of transportation projects within the region.
Ready-to-go projects, high priority, big mobility bites, pooled revenues, projects that can be leveraged, fair distribution, sensitivity to projects that recently lost funds, and sensitivity to projects that have been previously staged so they're not bypassed by new ideas on previously staged projects are all the equity issues associated with this particular initiative.
If you turn to your handout at your table, you have draft recommendations, again somewhat dangerous since we're still in conversation with other elected officials in our region. Obviously, you have full responsibility to pick commission-selected projects. You're looking at one project in our region, the DFW connector. If you turn over to projects in our western sub region, as you heard earlier from our district engineers, we are proposing to keep it simple and to put all of our funds that are allocated to our region into one project, the Southwest Parkway interchange. That will create an opportunity to put other funds into railroad agreements, the 35W-820 interchange, and US 67, the southern end of the Southwest Parkway on a very stage constructed US 67.
But in order to accomplish this, the money that would have went to the west side of our region from the 121 agreement, we're going to keep it all in the eastern side of the region, a dollar-for-dollar swap, again, advancing several hundred million dollars faster. We pledge it to you in case you need it for the LBJ project -- that's on your agenda tomorrow, I've signed a proprietary agreement with regard to that -- so if you need it for the LBJ, take it for the LBJ project. If you don't need it for the LBJ project, then you see, as indicated previously, we've got a project in Denton County on US 380, we have two projects in the southern Dallas district on US 67, we have a project in Ellis County on US 287, we have a project on US 80, we have a project on Interstate 30 -- just look at that list for a second -- US highway, US highway, US highway, US highway, Interstate highway. You flip it over, another project in Rockwall County on Farm to Market Road 740 and the next four projects are in Dallas County: State Highway 183, Spur 348, Industrial Boulevard downtown, and the Sylvan Avenue Bridge across the Trinity Parkway.
So if someone were to just look at your information from your perspective, you would see potentially two projects picked in the western side of our region and no projects picked in the eastern side of the region, and obviously we're showing you two pages of projects as part of this partnership with you to develop partnerships and leveraging capabilities. We have almost a dozen projects on the eastern side of the region we wish to partner with you from funds solely from our particular region.
So Madam Chair, in summary, I think it's been a very good process, hundreds of people across the state have worked in extremely short order to get to this particular point, your staff should be commended with regard to that particular effort. Urban regions have been working through weekends on MPO staffs, checking lists five and six times to get to this particular point. I think it's been a terrific process in short order. We encourage you to stay strong to the process you've established, an earmarking process would decimate the leveraging and job creation that Congress intends. And please, when you publish what you do, if you could, at least publish as draft the projects that we're considering in the east, or in our particular region I'll spend more time giving this presentation than the presentations to get to the consensus we have today.
And Madam Chair, thank you very much for your time.
MS. DELISI: Thank you, Michael.
MR. HOLMES: Madam Chair, I have just a statement.
MS. DELISI: Yes.
MR. HOLMES: Michael, I was just saying to Commissioner Meadows that I believe that you and the RTC and Judge Whitley and his counterparts, the county judges in your area and the elected officials, transportation advocates, NTTA, et cetera have done a better job at marshaling resources for transportation needs in your area than anybody in the state, and we could all take a lesson. You've really done a fantastic job.
MR. MORRIS: Commissioner, I thank you. I think the one thing you need to look out for in the future is when programs like this come along -- I hate to say it -- it's the people that are already using the tools you gave us have an opportunity to continue to leverage more and you're quickly going to have an issue across the state that if they don't use the tools the legislature and you give them, when new initiatives like this come about, they don't have all of the tools capable to fully partner and leverage what we're asking them to do. In this case, I believe Congress is asking us to leverage job creation and sustaining the jobs we have, which in this state and all the hard work that you've done didn't permit us to retain these tools, Dallas-Fort Worth could have not leveraged what we bring to you today.
MR. HOUGHTON: Thank you very much for what you're doing for the state.
MS. DELISI: Alan Clark.
MR. CLARK: Good afternoon, Madam Chair and commissioners, Amadeo. My name is Alan Clark and I'm the director of transportation planning for the Houston-Galveston Area Council. I'm here today really as a resource to you, but I will make just a few remarks. I wanted to be sure that if you had any follow-up questions about the program of projects that we are proposing to you in the Houston-Galveston area, I could hopefully respond to them.
I'm not going to repeat all the briefing materials that you've heard from Mr. Barton about the projects from our area. I do, though, want to add my emphasis to the fact that despite being an extremely complex process, the consultation and work with TxDOT has been outstanding, perhaps the best I've experienced on any effort where we've worked together. And John not only had all those meetings and made available to us staff from TxDOT, but when I sent him e-mails late in the evening, I got almost an instant answer. So I don't know if his family has seen him for however many months it's been. And I think we could defend this process to any who question how we were able to respond so quickly with so many productive projects.
You already heard and saw that the four projects from our region not only, I think, respond well to the priorities that staff have presented to you for the use of these funds, but as in the Dallas area, carry very significant leverage and will multiply your dollars and the benefits to our area, at least double and almost triple depending on what one considers about the investment in the northeast part of Beltway 8 where the US 59 interchange is located. One of the things that our area has done is again focused on what was referred to as legacy projects. We inherited an even larger list of legacy projects back in 2007 when a large part of our program scheduled for letting had to be quickly put on hold, and we've attempted to address that on the MPO side. You see a larger list of project that you've seen from the Dallas area.
But the four projects that we're asking for you to support not only are of statewide significance because of their presence on major interstates or on potential hurricane evacuation routes, but I think will have a very long lasting impact in terms of continued economic development in our region. Now, I know that's a difficult thing for us to measure and I wish I could tell you how many more jobs that would be, but I think Texas has taken an outstanding approach. It would have been easy for you to spend all your money on maintenance projects, and that would have had great benefit, but by investing especially in the major urban areas in these large mobility projects, you're going to create another wave of economic growth that we can sustain.
I do have one recommendation for you to consider and that is I think there is a need for us to continue to develop what I showed in the handouts I provided to you as contingency projects, and there's really three reasons for that. The first one is Texas could get more money. I'm not sure about other states in their ability to act as effectively as Texas has in getting projects to contract, so when that 120-day period rolls around, I hope that Texas is looking to get another slice of the pie, and we certainly want to have projects ready to go.
You already heard about the fact that there will be projects considered for federal selection. I do not know yet what strategy you all may wish to pursue, but my thought was that some of the projects that you may be considering for statewide selection may also be good candidates for the federal process as well, and again, you would want to have contingency projects to be able to quickly backfill that.
And then, of course, the third reason is that inevitably there's a few things that come up a bit short. What we are prepared to do is we are going to further develop both from the MPO side additional contingency projects so that any time we have one that looks like it's going to fall short, we are quickly ready to move projects into that process. These will be projects that are in our TIP, they will have, of course, have met the project readiness criteria. And let me say that TxDOT has done an outstanding job, especially I know our district offices have, in scrubbing the projects for your consideration so that they can move forward in a timely way.
And if you get negative feedback from our local governments about their project ideas, I'm sure that this will be one of the things that is most difficult to communicate to them. We've spent a lot of time trying to explain all the steps that need to be completed and I am sure that we will have many, many worthy projects unable to move forward.
Of the projects on our local list, some are of various sizes and scales. We, like you, tried to look at issues like geographic balance, although our urbanized area is much smaller than the full eight-county area, our Transportation Policy Council board has always looked at regional impact and priority as its criterion for using sub-allocated funds in our region. So the projects, many of them are in Harris County but you'll see many are not, many are outside the Houston urbanized area, and that's because of their significant importance.
We're trying to marry up our projects with those that are expected to be let this year with programs that you have helped to fund through your pass-through finance agreements and have the best balanced package for our area. And with that, let me see if I can respond to any questions from you about the program we've put together.
MR. HOLMES: Alan, on the Segment E part of the Grand Parkway, the $181 million is really designed to stimulate not only all of Segment E -- because this only represents a portion of it -- but really the entire Grand Parkway. Do you recall the total cost of E, and then the total estimated cost of the entire Grand Parkway?
MR. CLARK: The entire project is well over $5 billion in today's money, and I'm sure that price tag continues to inch up. Segment E is over $400 million -- I've heard between $400- and $500-, and I'm not sure why the math is different. It may have to do with the extent to which grade separation and connectors are built down on Interstate 10. But it is certainly more than double the $181 million being requested of the commission. And you're absolutely correct, Segment E which was the subject of action by Harris County Commissioners Court this week, I think the key thought here is that your investment in this section of the corridor will enable our county toll authority or you, as a commission, to have greater flexibility in expanding and accelerating the construction on the remaining sections, because we know that the entirety of the project is likely not to be toll-feasible, just solely from toll revenue.
Thank you very much.
MR. HOLMES: The front-end equity audit will help.
MR. CLARK: Absolutely. Front-end equity helps a ton, and especially in today's borrowing environment. Thank you very much.
MS. DELISI: Thank you very much. Kristen Ogden.
MS. OGDEN: Good afternoon. Again, my name is Kristen Ogden and I'm here to represent the Associated General Contractors of Texas. I'm here to talk about the stimulus project list, and more specifically, the effects of delaying those projects.
This is actually a pretty easy thing to explain because the Texas highway industry mirrors exactly what's going on with the national economy. John Barton went into it pretty much in-depth, so I'll be brief about this, but currently there's less than half the highway work in the state than there was three years ago. Contractors statewide are about 70 percent earned out, as you've heard earlier, and not a lot of committed future work.
Industry layoffs began to a lesser extent earlier last year, but starting in December, the massive ones started. Just in the month of December alone, there were 5,000 layoffs in the highway industry, and in January, the same exact thing happened. In February there was a sort of stay of execution because the stimulus bill was signed and there is this expectation of a very healthy March letting. If those projects are delayed further, it's very easy to determine what's going to happen because it already happened in December and it already happened in January. The contractors just cannot maintain their current workforce if there is no work to do, and if the stimulus projects are delayed, then the mass layoffs will resume.
That's all I have for now unless you have any questions.
MS. DELISI: Thank you. Dick Kallerman.
MR. KALLERMAN: Good afternoon, commissioners. My name is Dick Kallerman; I'm with the state Sierra Club, we call it the Lone Star Chapter.
We've heard from a number of people this afternoon who have some excellent projects. District 17 has some bridges that are badly in need of work. Representative Maldonado from Williamson County certainly has some good projects. We think there are a couple of projects, however, that don't make the grade, and I'd like to tell you what those are.
One is a very big project, in fact, it's eating up about 10 percent of the money that you have distributed, and Sierra Club considers it a poor candidate for the stimulus. It's the Grand Parkway Section E, Echo, $181 million for starters. How $181 million is going to get an expenditure of $466 million to do Section E which will kickoff the rest of the Grand Parkway which is over $5 billion, I'm not a whiz at math, but even I know that that's a stretch. This 10 percent of your money is draining funds from lots of very good projects. The size makes it questionable, I think, as to whether it's shovel-ready. It's hard to get started projects of that sort.
A couple of others that we think are questionable. One is the intersection of US 281 and 1604 north of San Antonio. That project basically is being put in because it would be the foundation for making a much bigger road a toll road really, US 281 north out of San Antonio. That road runs right over the aquifer recharge zone and those lanes and the development that they stimulate are not friendly projects to aquifers. And a million people in San Antonio drink from that aquifer, so it's a very sensitive environmental project, not a good one, I think, for stimulus.
The US 290 east of Austin is projected to be a toll road, and it's crowded and has a lot of traffic. Interestingly enough, it hasn't had any increase in traffic in four years, so a couple of road lanes or maybe a bridge or two across roads would be a much better expenditure of money on that project, would save a lot of money that could go to a lot of very more needed projects.
It's wonderful sitting here this afternoon hearing about the projects in the state that do need fixing. It's a marvelous opportunity for you people to fix a lot of very, very important projects. So you have a very good work ahead of you, and thank you very much.
MS. DELISI: Thank you. Justin Keener.
MR. KEENER: Good afternoon. My name is Justin Keener. I represent the Texas Public Policy Foundation. We're a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, non-partisan research institute.
I have a couple of recommendations here, but I'll start off with the federal stimulus bill, in general, we think is the wrong direction for America. We think it will put this country in significant debt and place us on unsure footing. But that being said, Texans are not able to withdraw the amount of taxes they pay toward the stimulus bill and we think it is quite all right for the state government to pursue those funds that don't otherwise create a future financial obligation.
In regards to the activities you're undertaking, I'm pretty encouraged by the signs I've seen in talking with people around the state and with legislators about the diligence you've put forward in making sure the projects you've selected are a priority and needed, but I have two recommendations.
First, I would ask that you continue to expand your transparency efforts. I was very glad to see a website up and I received a list of projects this morning that you sent out to the media, but kind of echoing what Michael Morris said earlier, I think if you teamed up with the MPOs and really found a way to list those projects, all of the projects, that would be quite a benefit for the public because they just hear of this stimulus project but they don't quite understand that it's many entities working together as one.
Secondly, there's another piece of criteria I would ask that you extend to the other criteria you're using. We wholeheartedly agree with Governor Perry that any use of the stimulus funds should not create an additional financial burden on the state, and I would ask that you add that criteria to your consideration, and I know that's tough because you have maintenance concerns that you deal with, but I think there are some projects that you have the engineering and technical expertise of which to apply that criteria and say does this project create a greater financial burden in the future than another project, and we certainly don't want to dig ourselves into a deeper hole in the future. And I think just as we're applying that criteria to other areas of the state where we're looking at stimulus funding, whether it's unemployment insurance, healthcare or education, I think the same in transportation would go a long way.
And with that, I appreciate your time.
MS. DELISI: Thank you. Those are the only people here to testify.
Commissioners, do you have any questions for staff, any comments?
MR. MEADOWS: I will be very brief, and my comment is really focused on what we've focused on the last couple of hours, and that is good process. And I think that what that means is we start with thanking and recognizing our staff and the people in this room that have been part of that process that has yielded what I think is a very good result.
The fact is that it's simple: good process typically yields good result. I'm not saying it's perfect, I'm not saying the result is perfect, and I think we're going to find time over the next week to find out what people believe is not perfect about the result, but the fact is, that's part of the process too, that is just part of the process. And I think under, really, John Barton's direction and leadership, the MPOs who engaged, our district engineers -- I notice the toll authorities weren't mentioned but the toll authorities were at every one of those meetings -- the list is long one, but everybody that was involved in the process that has yielded that I think is a good and fair result and a good place to continue the discussion from, really needs to be thanked, and I'm doing that.
MR. HOUGHTON: I echo Commissioner Meadows' remarks about our staff.
Barton, how late were you here last night?
MR. BARTON: I went home to shower and shave to be here this morning.
MR. HOUGHTON: I mean, that's the dedication I think people need to understand of this staff and how seriously they took the process, along with our district engineers, along with the MPOs, and it's been going on since last November. And again, congratulations -- it's not in order quite yet. Can I make a motion? I can't make a motion?
MS. DELISI: No.
MR. HOUGHTON: But again, congratulations on the process. I think it worked.
MR. BARTON: Again, for the record, my name is John Barton. I work for you here at the Texas Department of Transportation. If you don't mind -- I know we've been at this for a long time -- there are two other elements of this package that we will discuss before you tomorrow, and that's the Aviation and Public Transportation side of things, and I'll leave it to your discretion if you'd like for us briefly to discuss those with, and I promise that we'll be brief. But if you've had enough, then enough is enough.
MS. DELISI: Tomorrow is fine.
MR. UNDERWOOD: One quick question, John, while I've got you up here. How much money did we pull out of maintenance last time?
MR. BARTON: When we made the decision to move forward with the new construction program, succinctly the answer is about $500 million, and I believe that it was about $300 million per year. Is that correct, Amadeo?
MR. SAENZ: $225 million per year.
MR. UNDERWOOD: About a billion dollars?
MR. BARTON: Just over a billion dollars, yes, sir.
MR. UNDERWOOD: And you said that we pulled a billion dollars and you made the comment that we kind of pulled back a little bit. To me, that's kind of like saying that the Grand Canyon is just a little dent in the dirt.
MR. BARTON: Well, you've got to remember I'm from Archer City.
MR. UNDERWOOD: I understand, okay. But my point is that maintenance is critical, I think, to rural Texas. You don't see them having a ribbon cutting when they fix a pothole, but I promise you that is critical. And you gentlemen agree with me, Walter, Lonnie, Randy, that is critical that we replace those maintenance dollars and whatnot because we actually have construction firms that are one payroll away from closing their doors
MR. BARTON: Yes, sir. And I know several of our engineers and maintenance supervisors and Mr. Casteel and myself certainly applaud your efforts to bring that to the forefront.
MR. UNDERWOOD: We just need to protect a valuable asset that the citizens of Texas own, and maintenance is how we do that. Thank you, Madam Chair.
MR. HOLMES: I'd like to add my appreciation for the hard work, John, that you and your team have done, all you guys in the MPOs, the county and state officials, the toll road authorities, but I'd also like to openly thank Eddie Bernice Johnson and Congress who have done really yeoman's work. We wouldn't be here talking about this and divvying up money but for the fact that you guys did that. And so would you please tell your boss thank you very much.
MS. DELISI: I just want to reiterate the process going forward on these lists, tomorrow it's my intention to take a vote on the maintenance, the $500 million portion of the stimulus package. The remaining $1.2 billion worth of projects, we will let lay out for about a week and we'll be back in special commission meeting on March 5 --
MR. BARTON: I just wanted to clarify for you, Madam Chair, that we are asking that you take action on the Aviation and Public Transportation elements as well.
MS. DELISI: Yes, we will also do the Aviation and Transit portions tomorrow as well. And then we'll be back on March 5 at 10:00 a.m. to take up the remaining $1.2 billion worth of projects, so everyone is clear about what we're doing going forward.
And I just want to say one thing, and several people have made comment, I want to make sure we do it to the best ability possible, working with the MPOs, that this need to make sure that all the projects from the stimulus package, including the MPO projects, are married together with our list so that there's no confusion out here. Because no one is going to understand that this road was built with one pot of money, this road was built with another pot of money. Basically it is one pot and we need to make sure we communicate that effectively. And I believe that's it on this discussion item.
MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Madam Chairman.
The next item, we're going to go back and start our agenda, and agenda item 1(a), we have a report from Rebecca Davio, Vehicle Titles and Registration director, on the Vision 21 projects. Rebecca.
MS. DAVIO: Good afternoon. My name is Rebecca Davio, I'm the director of the Vehicle Titles and Registration Division, and I'm here this afternoon to give you an update on our Vision 21 project initiative.
Vision 21 is TxDOT's name for really our new initiative to think about titling and registration in the 21st century. Just so we all start from the same vantage point, I want to just quickly review what the Vehicle Titles and Registration Division does. The first thing that we do is we manage vehicle ownership records, those are the titles. We also collect, we and our partners, the county tax assessor-collectors, collect the annual road use fees. That's really what the registration sticker on your vehicle means. We also help differentiate one vehicle from another vehicle, and that's that unique identifier, the license plate. In doing this process, we generate more than $4.5 billion in revenue for the state and for local governments, and $1 billion of that stays right here in the Highway Fund.
We also work with many partners throughout the state. Our first, our most important primary partner is the tax assessor-collectors. We work with the tax assessor-collectors in every county and they are really our front-line service provider for this process of titling and registering and issuing license plates for vehicles. We also work closely with law enforcement throughout the state, Homeland Security kind of efforts, the information in our records is very, very important for law enforcement. We work with new and used car dealers, salvage dealers, the trucking industry, we register the carriers that travel throughout the multiple states through the international registration program. We also work with lien-holders and speciality license plate sponsors.
We provide a lot of service to the customers. There's more than 21 million vehicles registered in the State of Texas. Last year we produced 13.7 million plates, over 6 million titles, we answer almost 2 million public inquiries, and that's just the inquiries that we deal with directly through the Vehicle Titles and Registration Division. One of the largest numbers on here, the most astounding, is that almost 65 million law enforcement inquiries are made to our database every year, that breaks to 250,000 every day, so the information in our records is very, very important to them.
So we do lots of stuff, we interact with lots of people throughout the state, but there really are some issues that are facing us, and those issues include aging technology, the registration and titling system that is the foundation for the work that we do to maintain the vehicle records and issue the registration renewal notices is more than 20 years old, and in technology years, that's ancient.
We also have very, very complex statutes, very detailed and very complex statutes that are the basis for our technology and our business processes. Registration started in 1917 in the State of Texas, that's when the first law was passed on this. There's never been a comprehensive review of that, and so there's some complexity and some contradictions in things that are involved in that.
So we've got old technology, complex statutes, and we have a growing customer base. The population of Texas is still growing, that makes it very difficult to provide good customer service. With our old technology and that growing population, and it's very difficult also for our county partners.
We've tried to figure out the solution for this. Vision 21 is really, as I mentioned, a very large project to take a comprehensive look at our business processes and try and really re-engineer them from the start to the finish and we'll also be developing a new technology system that is more flexible, more adaptable, more accessible so that information is available to our customers. This whole Vision 21 initiative is really grounded on the idea of providing superior customer service. We take the fact that we interact with 21 million in one way or another every year, very, very seriously. We want to be a good service provider for them.
We also need to make some changes in our business processes and in our technology to be able to improve not only our efficiency but also the efficiency of our tax assessor-collector partners and the other folks the dealers and things that are involved in this process of titling and registering vehicles in the State of Texas.
So when we were thinking about Vision 21, we've been working on this really since about 2006, and it's not just the people in VTR think that we need to do to improve our business, to be able to improve our customer service and our efficiency. We asked the tax assessor-collectors what they needed, we've talked to them in lots of different forms. We also went out and asked our industry partners and we also took the step to go out directly to our customers and ask them through focus groups and through telephone surveys how we could provide better service to them, how we could make it easier for them to do the interactions that they're required to do with us to title their vehicles, to register their vehicles, and to get new plates.
We've used all of that input to try and develop this process. There is a new technology component. That new technology, though, will be coupled with streamlined processes and also we have to improve the quality of our data. We can use technology to do that, things like building in to automatically go out and verify the address so if the clerk mis-heard they can catch that right there at the time while the customer is still in front of them to verify what the address is.
We also want to simplify the fee structure. Just as an example, there are more than 1,600 heavy vehicle fees in use. The paper backup to be able to calculate that is half an inch thick, and it means that because of the way everything is crafted that one vehicle that weighs 10,100 pounds may not pay the same fee as another vehicle that weighs 10,100 pounds. We'd like to really significantly simplify that in order to make it easier for the customers, easier for the tax assessor-collectors that are having to convey this information, and be just more efficient and more consistent. That's what Vision 21 is all about.
We feel like that this initiative really accomplishes a lot of the Sunset recommendations. It will be more transparent because we anticipate being able to let customers access information about their records -- not information about other people's records, but information about their records, their vehicle that they can understand. Right now the only way to get that information is to call, maybe get a phone queue or something like that, and we anticipate that that's something that they would be able to do online, so that's a good thing. Our accountability, our responsiveness, if we have new efficient technology and more streamlined processes, we can be more responsive to our customers, it's easier to make the explanation.
We feel like -- and I love the quote from the Sunset report -- A significant changes are needed to begin this restoration, tweaking the status quo is simply not enough.@ And Vision 21 is not a tweaking effort, it's really standing back and saying how can we improve this process, there's nothing that's sacred about it, how can we make it better for our customers and make it more efficiently administered.
We feel like we've improved our public involvement process by seeking all the input, and we are using technology to increase the public awareness. We really feel like this Vision 21 initiative is one of those projects that like yes, why not, who would object to this, because the motoring public is benefitted, they'll be able to have more options about how they conduct their business with us, easier ways, we won't take away the ability to go into the tax assessor-collector's office, but we'll offer more options to do that transaction online -- if you're like John Barton and you're doing all your transactions late at night.
It also benefits the tax assessor-collectors because it just makes their work easier, more efficient, easier to convey the information. And also, because we are working to increase the accuracy of the information, it will significantly help law enforcement and our Homeland Security efforts. And the industry partners, the dealers and lien-holders and things, we're taking initiatives to make their work easier too.
So just wanted to give you that information, a summary of the project. We're excited about it and wanted to make sure that you knew about it.
MR. HOUGHTON: Questions?
MR. HOLMES: Rebecca, I'm having a hard time getting my arms around 248,000 inquiries a day. It means that everybody in the state of Texas contacts you three times a year?
MS. DAVIO: They're using their automated system to access our automated system on that, and so every time an officer makes a stop, a traffic stop, for example, and they go in and do an inquiry to get information about the person that's presumed to be in that vehicle, the driver of that vehicle, that's where they're accessing our information.
MR. HOLMES: Is that the majority of the hits on the system? And this is just out of curiosity, when you take those 248,000 inquiries a day, how does that break down between law enforcement and whoever the other biggest block of users of the system would be?
MS. DAVIO: Well, the 248,000 hits that I mentioned, those are only law enforcement hits. That's law enforcement officers all across that may also be doing investigations. It is staggering, isn't it?
MR. HOLMES: It's unbelievable.
MS. DAVIO: It is. It's one of the things about the vehicle title and registration database that people don't realize how significant it is as an element of law enforcement and protection of us all because the information about those vehicles and the presumed occupants of those vehicles is very important to the citizens of Texas.
MR. HOUGHTON: Can you break it down into local, state and federal?
MS. DAVIO: I don't know. I'd be willing to look at that and see. I'm not certain we can do that, but I don't believe that we could because the hits come through the Texas law enforcement system.
MR. HOUGHTON: So a US Marshal?
MS. DAVIO: Would have access to that system just the same.
MR. HOUGHTON: It doesn't register where the hit came from?
MS. DAVIO: No, sir, I don't believe so. I don't think that we store that information if it's registered at the time.
MR. HOUGHTON: How many people live in the State of Texas? What is our population?
MS. DAVIO: I believe 24-25 million.
MR. HOUGHTON: Not quite one-to-one cars per person?
MS. DAVIO: That's right. There's a few people out there that aren't driving.
MR. HOLMES: Three cars?
MS. DAVIO: That's right. There's some people out there that have many more than that.
MR. HOLMES: Let's go back to that 1,600 different rates for heavy vehicles.
MS. DAVIO: Yes, sir.
MR. HOLMES: Is that statute or is that rule-making withing your department? Where does that come from?
MS. DAVIO: The over 1,600 heavy vehicle fees that I mentioned are in statute. The weight is broken out in 100-pound increments by different types of vehicle, so a motorbus may pay a different registration fee than an apportioned vehicle, and the apportioned vehicles are the ones that travel in multiple states, the interstate vehicles, and so it's just extraordinarily complex. That level of detail is in statute, and we don't have the ability to modify it through rules at all.
MR. HOLMES: Let me ask also about the billion dollars a year that comes in to TxDOT from vehicle registration, and another $3-1/2 billion goes in to the counties.
MS. DAVIO: About $3 billion goes to the State, to the General Revenue fund. That comes primarily from sales taxes on vehicles. The remaining half billion is disbursed among the counties as compensation for their assistance and also their portion of road and bridge fees.
MR. HOLMES: If I recall, I saw an average cost of an average annual registration fee, it was like $47 or something. Does that sound familiar?
MS. DAVIO: It's probably a little higher than that, but yes, sir.
MR. HOLMES: And I've also experienced significantly higher registration fees in another state, in Colorado. Do you have any data on registration fees, the annual fee of various states that you could make available to me?
MS. DAVIO: Absolutely. We did a benchmarking study and we compared the registration fees, the titling fees, various things that we do with all the other states so that we can provide that information to you. We collected it for all 50 states but we felt like the comparison was most relevant to about five other large vehicle population states. So we'll be happy to provide that information to you.
MR. HOUGHTON: Where are we ranked?
MS. DAVIO: Speaking in average, and again talking about those six largest vehicle population states, in I believe every category we were among the lowest if not the lowest, and that's on registration fees and titling fees and that kind of thing. And titling fees, sometimes there were some lower fees, but there were also many that were higher.
MR. HOLMES: I'm going to ask you one more question that may be kind of beyond what you've been looking at. One of the concepts that is being explored to fund highway departments around the country, around the world, really, is the VMT charges, and have you looked at any technology that could be put into the window sticker on the vehicle, the registration sticker on the vehicle that could be read by readers around the state? Is that a concept that you've seen other states do or have heard about?
MS. DAVIO: We haven't done really any research into that, but I have heard anecdotally that that should be possible. If you'd like us to look into it, we can, but we haven't done any research into that.
MR. HOLMES: Thank you.
MS. DAVIO: Thank you very much.
MR. HOUGHTON: How is the specialty plates going these days?
MS. DAVIO: I may have the opportunity to come and visit with you again about specialty license plate marketing.
MR. HOUGHTON: The ones we market, the State of Texas, our specialty plates.
MS. DAVIO: Our specialty plates.
MR. HOUGHTON: How are sales?
MS. DAVIO: You know, there was a little bit of a drop a couple of months ago, and I just heard today we're averaging between 175 and 200 personalized plates a day.
MR. HOLMES: And is that an average?
MS. DAVIO: That's actually up just a little bit so if that's indicative of the other plates that are being ordered, in general, we've received good response to the ability to order the specialty plates online. It makes it easier for the customers, there's a central place that they can go and they can complete their ordering transaction easily, and so we've received good response to that.
MR. HOUGHTON: Thank you, Rebecca.
MS. DAVIO: Thank you very much. I appreciate the opportunity to come and visit with you today.
MR. HOUGHTON: Bob, I seem to notice that the Chair has vacated. Is there anything we can do?
MR. JACKSON: No, you're helpless.
MR. HOUGHTON: I'm helpless?
MR. MEADOWS: We already knew that.
MR. HOUGHTON: That was a low blow. Amadeo, what are we doing next?
MR. SAENZ: Moving along, we're going to come back to the next item we have is item 2(a). Phil Russell is going to present a discussion item dealing with our pass-through toll program, and the path forward that we are trying to develop.
MR. RUSSELL: Thanks, Amadeo, and good afternoon.
MR. HOUGHTON: Phil, is the church still standing that you went to this morning?
MR. RUSSELL: It is, and Commissioner, you'll be happy to know that I even said a Hail Mary for you today. I figured you might need it. Actually, I said an entire rosary but I didn't want to make you feel bad.
MR. RUSSELL: Actually, that's a pretty good starting point. I keep getting these flash e-mail messages from everybody looking on the web, and no, my hair is not hanging down; no, I haven't been in a car wreck. It's just Ash Wednesday. We figured we needed all the help we could get.
With that, let me move quickly into the exciting area of pass-through tolls. Commissioners, as I briefed you before, the pass-through program has been very successful. Unfortunately, due to some cash flow issues, it had to be suspended about 15 months ago. But in the subsequent months, we've received a lot of interest, a lot of communities have come in wanting to know when we were going to reinitiate the program. And so we've begun those discussions, and before we jumped back into it, we felt like we needed to adjust the rules, we proposed those rules last fall. Of course, you all approved them last month, and what I think it's indicative of is the program itself is maturing. We started out with a pretty small footprint, pretty small program, kind of first come-first served, but the new rules, I think, provide for probably a bit more of a level playing field. They envision the possibility of a program call and some criteria that, again, kind of levels the playing field.
The other thing to kind of keep in mind, there's some statutory language out there that requires TxDOT to execute a certain amount of these agreements per year. The language is a bit imprecise, at least in my view, as to what that minimum amount might be, but in a discussion with OGC and Finance, we calculated it to be somewhere around about $280 million per year. Again, when you look at it, here are some provisions in there -- yes, sir?
MR. SAENZ: Just for this year, and that sunsets after this year.
MR. RUSSELL: Absolutely, and it sunsets September 1. And so, again, that's the reason. Of course, we've got this discussion on it today and we've got a minute order tomorrow. I would have preferred to have that minute order a month later to give us a chance to dialogue, but that's kind of our need for speed. I've included and I'll be happy to discuss the schedule. It's a very aggressive schedule, but we think it's doable.
And again, relative to the discussion we've had over the past several months, I'll be happy to address any questions you might have, but what I think is I'd like some discussion, and tomorrow I would like some direction on three main topics. There are several areas that we can discuss but three main issues. First off, just the notion of a program call. Again, previously it was kind of a first come-first served. The new rules provide that you can continue to do that on a first come-first served basis, or you could go ahead and institute a program call. I think from a staff perspective, we like that. We think that that provides a little bit of a level playing field, we'll have criteria, those criteria are in our rules, we provide 60 days for proposers to come in with their ideas, and they would be rated fairly among all the other proposals that would come in across the state.
The second issue is how much do we fund this program. If you look at the white paper -- and hopefully you have a white paper. I see Commissioner Meadows looking around, and I don't want to do the James Bass maneuver. It's either in your briefing packet for tonight or it will be in your commission booklet tomorrow, but we've put together a three- or four-page little white paper on the pass-through program. Where's James Bass when I need him? He ought to go run and make copies for me and bring them back down.
And as you can see, we have some blank spots on there as to what the programming amount should be. The minute order tomorrow is suggesting a $300 million amount to put into this program call.
MR. HOUGHTON: Please note the Chair has returned.
MR. RUSSELL: And Chair, you did miss Commissioner Houghton's concern about why you and I had black smudges on our heads.
MR. SAENZ: The next service is at five o'clock.
(General talking and laughter.)
MR. RUSSELL: So what we suggested is a $300 million amount, and again, that could be over a number of years, five, six, seven, eight, ten, twelve, fifteen years.
MR. HOUGHTON: Let me ask you a quick question though. General terms -- I know it's kind of hard -- what does that leverage? What's our experience on the leverage as of to date?
MR. RUSSELL: To date, Commissioner, we've done 15 projects, a little south of $1.5 billion. Mark, do you remember what the payout is?
MR. MAREK: (from the audience.) The total is about $1.7- and the payout is $1.4-.
MR. RUSSELL: Yes, $1.4-, so it's been probably 80 percent, a multiplier of 80 percent. We're putting back about 80 percent of the total project cost. But that brings up the third issue, Commissioner. Number one, should we have a program call; number two, is $300 million out of your very limited Category 12m Commission Discretionary, the appropriate amount; and number three -- a critical issue -- you have the ability in that program call to define what would be reimbursed in any program. It could be 100 percent of the project cost which would be design, environmental and construction, or you could limit to a certain aspect of that. One of the things that's come up is you could limit it to just construction. Generally that's 70-80 percent of the total project cost.
Number one, it would probably provide a little more clarity, it's a little easier to audit, it's a little easier to figure out what the numbers are, but number two, because it would be 70 or 80 percent of the total project cost, it would provide the locals a little more incentive, a little more skin in the game, and it would allow you to spread that program out over a larger number of projects.
And Commissioner, I guess if I had any concern at all with this program call, it is that we're going to send this out, hopefully, we'll send it out all across the state, here's an opportunity for a program call, and if we're not careful, we could really oversell and under-deliver because $300 million sounds like a lot of money but it could be a couple of projects and that's it. And so that's tough when in June or July we start bringing the --
MS. DELISI: I think people are learning that lesson with $1.2 billion.
MR. RUSSELL: That's right. And so again, the schedule, we've got a schedule in there, I'll be happy to try to address it. There will be the normal two-stage process if you choose to go forward with the program call. We would go out in March, the proposers would have 60 days to respond. Mark Marek and others would have a whopping 25 days to try to review all the proposals -- not a big deal if we get four or five proposals, a big deal if we got 30 or 40 proposals. We would bring it back to you in June for the first step, commission approval of which projects we would move forward with to negotiate, and in July we would come back with the individual business terms for each one of those pass-through applications, and we would have all of them executed, hopefully, by August 31. A very quick rundown.
MR. HOUGHTON: Well, I will weigh in with my personal opinion is I don't believe 100 percent is proper, I believe there needs to be skin in the game by the other entities that will be proposing or submitting projects -- just to start the conversation.
MR. HOLMES: I absolutely agree, and it seems to me that part of the ranking might be how much skin in the game they're willing to put in it. I mean, if they put all of it in right of way, engineering and half of construction it might be more attractive. And would this be 75 percent of what we have in Category 12?
MR. RUSSELL: Yes, sir.
MR. HOLMES: For the next ten years?
MR. RUSSELL: Or longer. It could be stretched out over more than ten years. But you're right, that Category 12 is not just for pass-through, it's for any other commission priorities that might come up, so you're exactly right.
MR. HOUGHTON: We can always extend the program.
MR. RUSSELL: But Commissioner, the reason I think staff kind of focuses on construction, that's pretty easy to estimate, it's pretty easy to audit. When you get into some of the engineering, it becomes a bit more nebulous, we begin to argue over what overhead rates are and your indirect costs, and construction is about as finite as any element of a project that we could estimate, and you could say it's just construction or you could say it's a percentage of the construction cost. So any which way you all tomorrow would like to slice and dice that, we have a lot of flexibility in that, but we would need to define that tomorrow if we went forward with a program call.
MR. HOUGHTON: I think we need to be pretty specific and clear as to how we want it done.
MR. RUSSELL: And again, just for discussion sake, the minute order tomorrow will say all of those costs. We had a lot of internal discussions, and I felt like maybe the starting position needs to be right now it's for design, preliminary development, right of way acquisition and construction, and if you all think there needs to be more skin in the game and confine it just to construction, we can adjust that minute order.
MR. HOUGHTON: Right, and their skin could be their Category 2 money if it's in that kind of scenario, or Category 4 or 5 or whatever that number might be, for the engineering or design.
MR. RUSSELL: And the selection criteria, there's eight or ten elements that are in those rules, and a couple of them will be weighted accordingly. Number one is their ability to kind of feather out those reimbursement payments over hopefully more than just six, eight, ten years. We could pay back over a number of years and they'll be rewarded in that criteria as well, and then if they want some additional skin in the game, as you mentioned, Category 2 or 3 or 4 dollars or their own local tax dollars, they would be rewarded for that as well.
MR. HOUGHTON: How many projects do we have under pass-through right now?
MR. RUSSELL: Fifteen that are underway.
MR. HOUGHTON: Fifteen, and the program has been around for how long?
MR. RUSSELL: Five years.
MR. SAENZ: We've had it on hold for over a year.
MR. RUSSELL: Yes, fifteen months we've had it on hold.
MR. HOUGHTON: So we've had five years, three a year average.
MR. RUSSELL: Well, I think those first three or four years we had several of them. There are probably a billion dollars worth or more of applications that have come in that were either caught when we suspended the program, they got one level of commission approval, or they were just sitting there and they're ready to resubmit, or in a lot of cases, for whatever reason, they decided to rescind those proposals. There's probably a billion dollars or more of folks that have communicated with us about interest in the program, actually to the point of putting together a proposal.
MR. UNDERWOOD: A follow-up, Ted, on this too, I agree with you that we need to have them put something into it but I'd hate to get into a deal where they pay for what are the different functions and whatnot.
MR. RUSSELL: Yes, sir, design or environmental.
MR. UNDERWOOD: I don't want to pay part of the design so we could end up arguing over what the actual value of the design is. In other words, they would pay for that design. Does that make sense? We wouldn't pay for part of it, we would the construction and whatever. Because I don't want to sit there and say okay, you said you'd pay 40 percent of this and we'd go you spent way too much for that, we could have done it cheaper over here.
MR. RUSSELL: I think Commissioner Underwood is exactly right, it's much more clean for us if we just say construction.
MR. SAENZ: Commissioner, one thing that we could do -- and it's been done in the past -- is they'll say we'll pay for the design and we'll say we'll provide the right of way and then you could still leave an opening if they want to contribute to some of the construction, and that could be your floater.
MR. UNDERWOOD: Right. But I'm just saying let's don't get to the point of arguing over you spent too much -- I've got to be careful what I say -- it may not be the best way to do it on the best use of the dollars from our standpoint and they may think it's just wonderful because they're happy where they are.
MR. HOLMES: I think I agree with Commissioner Underwood, I would like to contain it to the construction part, and whether it's 100 percent of construction cost or some portion of construction costs. I mean, I'd like for us to leverage our limited dollars we have as much as we can.
MR. RUSSELL: Anything else, Chair?
MS. DELISI: Nothing from me.
MR. RUSSELL: Very well. I will see you in the morning on this exact issue.
MR. SAENZ: Moving on the, last item that we have today is agenda item 2(c). Brian Ragland will give us an update on the implementation of the State Auditor's Cash Financial Forecasting and Fund Allocation Audit.
MR. RAGLAND: Thank you, Amadeo. For the record, my name is Brian Ragland, director of the Finance Division. I'm here today to provide my monthly update on the implementation of the recommendations of the State Auditor on cash forecasting and fund allocation. I will point out that this audit did get some attention yesterday in the House Appropriations Subcommittee. They asked the State Auditor to come in and present the report. Subsequent to that meeting, we provided them a copy of what you have in front of you today, so they all should be aware of where we stand on our progress towards these recommendations.
The Auditor made 18 recommendations of which we have completed 12 of those. Many of the items were quick fixes and some of the items are going to take a little bit longer because they involve either our relying on external parties or some computer programming. And I'm telling you that because the rate of completion is not increasing from month to month because we're kind of in the middle of the ones that were real easy to fix in the beginning and the ones that are taking a lot longer. We're probably looking at September before the entire thing is completed. I do have four issues that I wanted to update you on today that have changed just very slightly since last month.
Number one is the recommendation that we brief the commission on developments that occur and have a significant statewide impact during open commission meetings. As you know, the response to that particular recommendation was to set up these monthly workshops on the Wednesdays prior to the regular meetings. My only change to this particular status is that we are going to not have these workshops when there are regularly scheduled legislative meetings that will conflict which is the case the next three months with Senate Transportation.
MR. SAENZ: And I think on those, what we'll do is just cover it as part of our regular meeting on Thursday.
MR. RAGLAND: Right. Recommendation number 4(a) dealt with Rider 20-B that says that we should prepare reports that include a revenue report, a variance report for Fund 6, describing reasons for the fluctuation, and expenditure information, all at the same level as the appropriation levels. The Legislative Budget Board has asked us to continue to use our cash forecast as the source of information to comply with this rider. Our cash forecast system is currently being rewritten and we'll continue to address the requirements in Rider 20-B.
Our status is that we have converted everything into the appropriation level format for FY 2009 through 2019, however, we have not yet updated the past information, we're having to rely on the Comptroller to provide some ad hoc data to us because it's not available anymore with the access we have to their system. We anticipate completing this recommendation as soon as we get that ad hoc information from the Comptroller.
Recommendation number 4(b) is Rider 39 which is the rider that requires us to reconcile all of our department expenditures and encumbrances with the twelve categories. You've heard me say this several times, but there is an understanding that all of our expenditures and encumbrances don't fit in with those twelve categories, those twelve categories only cover the maintenance and the construction strategies. So we've been working with the LBB and we've come up with a report and an executive summary that the LBB analyst has given us his opinion that we've done everything we can to comply with the spirit of that rider, given the difficulty we have in fitting all of our staff into those twelve categories.
And finally, Rider Number 6 asked us to develop and implement policies and procedures for our cash forecasting process and to consider comparing the cash forecasting system that the Texas Transportation Institute had prepared in a manual form. As I said, the current cash forecasting system is in the process of being rewritten right now and the new system will have a significant impact on our procedure and policy documents. So the bottom line is we're still waiting for that particular system to be completely developed and provided to us, and as soon as we have that and as soon as testing is complete, then we will prepare the documentation that goes along with that cash forecasting system.
And that's all I have unless you have any questions.
MR. SAENZ: Is that system being developed by TTI?
MR. RAGLAND: No. That system is being developed in house by Finance Automation.
MR. SAENZ: Have they given you an estimate of time when they could have it?
MR. RAGLAND: Yes. I think they're looking at April or May right now.
MR. SAENZ: We might want to add that to this thing here because what I would like to do is I would like to take this action plan that we had and the status reports and provide it to the State Auditor so that he can see that we've been accomplishing what the findings and recommendations were, and also to both Appropriations and Senate Finance so that they know that we have been working on this thing.
MR. RAGLAND: And actually, their recommendation number 7 deals with the cash forecasting system, and within that recommendation I point out it should be completed by May.
MS. DELISI: Thanks, Brian.
MR. RAGLAND: Thank you.
MS. DELISI: Is there any other business to come before the commission? There being none, I will entertain a motion to adjourn.
MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.
MR. HOLMES: Second.
MS. DELISI: All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
MS. DELISI: Please note for the record that it is 4:45 p.m. and this meeting stands adjourned.
(Whereupon, at 4:45 p.m., the meeting was concluded.)
C E R T I F I C A T E
MEETING OF: Texas Transportation Commission
LOCATION: Austin, Texas
DATE: February 25, 2009
I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 137, inclusive, are the true, accurate, and complete transcript prepared from the verbal recording made by electronic recording by Nancy King before the Texas Department of Transportation.
On the Record Reporting, Inc.
3307 Northland, Suite 315
Austin, Texas 78731