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Texas Department of Transportation Commission Meeting


Ric Williamson Hearing Room
Dewitt Greer Building
1125 East 11th Street
Austin, Texas

Thursday, May 27, 2010


COMMISSION MEMBERS:

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

STAFF:

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

PROCEEDINGS

MS. DELISI: Good morning. It is 9:02 a.m. and I call the regular May 2010 meeting of the Texas Transportation Commission to order. Note for the record that public notice of this meeting, containing all items on the agenda, was filed with the Office of the Secretary of State at 2:42 p.m. on May 19, 2010.

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

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

MR. MEADOWS: Thank you, Madame Chair. I'm sure you'll explain to those that are here why Amadeo is not present, and I'll allow you to do that.

I just would like to take a moment to, first of all, welcome everybody. Appreciate you being here and your interest in transportation in the State of Texas.

I'd like to single out, just for some acknowledgment and appreciation, some of our staff, David Casteel, Maribel Chavez, Bob Brown and others that through their leadership and effort have advanced this Interstate 35 project that we discussed yesterday. They worked hard on this, they've advanced this project working closely with a private sector proposal to advance this project in a truly expeditious fashion, trying to move ahead and meet transportation needs of the citizens of North Texas, and they've done so in a professional way and I know we're all looking forward to having the opportunity to make some decisions with regard to that, but I just wanted to acknowledge their good work.

Thank you very much.

Right on time, Commissioner Underwood.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Good morning, everybody. My name is Peter Punctual.

(General laughter.)

MR. UNDERWOOD: Welcome everybody. I see we have a nice full house. I'm glad you put all the pretty ladies on the front row. I know that gets me in trouble, sorry.

I just want to make a comment this morning. I found the Grant Thornton report to be sobering, and for those with preconceived ideas, or even worse, an agenda, I just want you to know don't get your hopes up. This report is going to be studied carefully by the commission and then with the help of management, with the legislature and our stakeholders, the appropriate changes will be made that are logical and necessary to improve this organization.

The report stated we have excellent employees but also as it shows, we can work smarter and be better organized, so before there are any jobs lost or whatnot or any layoffs, there's going to be thorough discussion about what we need to do and how to make this organization better. So for our employees, step back, don't get nervous, we'll look at this thing and analyze it in a logical manner, and we'll go forward. Thank you for your time.

MR. HOUGHTON: Good morning. We are attracting some attention today. I see some friends out and former commission member, now Senator Nichols, welcome, nice seeing you here today. And Harris County Judge is out in the audience; nice seeing you, Judge Emmett. And some from Fort Bend County, we've got a smattering from all over the state I can see out there, and I'm missing some people, I know, but again, welcome and we look forward to the testimony and discussion items. And drive safely this holiday weekend out there, there will be a whole lot of folks on the road, my understanding.

MS. DELISI: I just want to make sure everybody understands why Amadeo is not here today. He had a death in the family, his mother-in-law passed away late last week, and so I hope and I'm sure everybody will extend their deepest sympathies to Amadeo and his family and keep them in your thoughts and prayers. We look forward to his return.

Actually, on the vein of what Commissioner Meadows said, I want to acknowledge two employees for work that they've done that's come to my attention over the last couple of months that I thought went beyond the call of duty. Both of these are actually personal anecdotes. The first one was a friend of mine was in a minivan with five other women, got a flat tire along State Highway 37, no one stopped to help them until a TxDOT employee came by, a guy named Steve Cordell out of our San Antonio office stopped and changed their tire. So I thought that said a lot about the quality of our employees.

And then the second employee I'd like to recognize is actually a commission aide, Lauren Francis, who is single-handedly responsible for the beautification of the Greer Building, having turned that ugly post in the back a beautiful shade of deep blue in honor of the Duke Blue Devils national championship. So Lauren, thank you very much. I know you took a lot of personal grief for doing that and I look forward to that post remaining blue until Thanksgiving weekend of this year.

MR. HOUGHTON: Is that a directive?

MS. DELISI: Well, that's when the game is played, so I get it until November, unless one of your schools can win a national championship between now and then.

So with that, I turn it over to Steve.

MR. SIMMONS: Thank you, Madame Chair. And I guess before we get started, I had the pleasure this morning of meeting with a group of college students from the University of North Texas to talk to them about the department and our function, and I think they're here with us today, and I don't know if they're in the back room, but if you could just stand and let us recognize you. Thank you for all being here.

(Applause.)

MS. DELISI: I've got one more piece of business to do. If you wish to address the commission during today's meeting, please complete a speaker's card at the registration table in the lobby. To comment on an agenda item, please complete a yellow card and identify the agenda item. If it's not an agenda item, we will take your comments at the open comment period at the end of the meeting, and for those comments, please fill out the blue card. Regardless of the color of card, we ask that you please try and limit your comments to three minutes.

Our first item of business today is approval of the minutes for the April 29 meeting. Members, the draft minutes have been placed in your briefing materials. Is there a motion?

MR. UNDERWOOD: So moved.

MR. HOUGHTON: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

With that, Steve, it's all yours.

MR. SIMMONS: Thank you.

Our first agenda items today are some recognitions and resolutions, and first of all, I'd like to call up Helen Havelka who recently retired from TxDOT and I'd also like to invite Senator Robert Nichols to come forward. We have two resolutions to present, and Senator Nichols, if you'd allow me, I'll go ahead and present ours first, if that's okay.

So Helen, let me read the resolution. It says:

"Whereas, the Texas Transportation Commission takes great pride in recognizing Helen Havelka for her dedicated service to the Texas Department of Transportation after a distinguished career of more than 23 years with the agency;

"And whereas, Helen began her career with TxDOT in 1987 as the Waco District's first full-time public information officer. Her determination to succeed became evident as she worked her way up to serve as the executive assistant to the deputy executive director. A year later she was appointed to the position of executive assistant for Texas Transportation Commissioner Robert Nichols;

"And whereas, Helen surpassed expectations and demonstrated an innate ability to communicate with both high level business and political leaders along with the general public during her time as Commissioner Nichols' aide;

"And whereas, her excellent communication skills made her an essential component in assisting program managers, division directors and department administrators with the often complex and challenging issues that came before the commission;

"And whereas, Helen successfully conveyed department-wide information to employees and citizens in a clear and meaningful. While she embraced technology, Helen also understood the impact of a simple phone call, handwritten note or personal visit could have on an individual.

"Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Texas Transportation Commission does hereby extend the sincerest best wishes to Helen Havelka in recognition of her professional achievements and a career of loyal service on behalf of the State of Texas and its citizens.

"Presented this day, Thursday, the 27th of May 2010."

And it's signed by all of our commissioners and our executive director.

Senator, if you'd like to come up.

SENATOR NICHOLS: Chairman Delisi you made a comment a while ago about the importance of quality employees and the action of the TxDOT employee who stopped to help somebody, and machines, buildings, equipment, materials by themselves do nothing, we all recognize and I've heard many of you say in the past it is the people who make things happen. And so I'm real pleased to be here and appreciate the opportunity to take some time to bring a proclamation from the Senate.

I will pass part of it, some of the whereases, because it is pretty long, many are things that you mentioned, but I'll just go to some of my favorite parts.

"Whereas, the Senate of the State of Texas is pleased to recognize Helen Havelka on the occasion of her retirement after many years of service to the State," and a long list of whereases.

"Whereas, in 2001 she became executive assistant to the deputy, a year later she was appointed to the position of executive assistant to me, who recognized her dedication to the citizens of Texas and held her in high esteem;

"And whereas, her dedication, innovation and commitment to the citizens of Texas are a testament of her desire to develop new ways to make state government more effective, proclaim that the Senate of the State of Texas hereby honor Helen Havelka for more than two decades of exceptional service to the State of Texas."

Thank you for everything that you've done.

MR. SIMMONS: Thank you, Senator.

(Applause.)

MR. SIMMONS: And if we could take a moment to do a photo op.

(Pause for photos.)

MR. SIMMONS: Helen, you have the microphone.

MS. HAVELKA: Madame Chair, commissioners, Steve, thank you very much, and Senator, thank you very much for those kind words.

I have truly been blessed on many fronts. First of all, the blessings of an unbelievable family, their love and support throughout the years. I wouldn't be here today had it not been for my family and a lot of good, close friends who I thank every day for having.

Secondly, like you, the people of this department, unbelievable group of people, and yes, I am very biased, I believe that we have the most professional, loyal and certainly most unselfish group of folks across the state. It goes without saying.

And finally, I've been very fortunate to work with an outstanding cast of folks outside TxDOT, other entities, state agencies, federal, local, just a lot of good people to work with over the years, and that's just been tremendous. And overall, it's just been an honor and a privilege to be an employee and a family member of the Texas Department of Transportation. I will continue to pray for your success and well-being. God bless you. Thank you.

MR. SIMMONS: Thank you, Helen.

(Applause.)

MR. SIMMONS: Next, I'd like to call director of Environmental Affairs, Dianna Noble, and I think also from the Federal Highway Administration, Al Alonzi, the deputy division administrator for our Texas Division.

MS. NOBLE: Good morning, commissioners, Steve. All I'm going to do is just to introduce Al Alonzi. He's the Federal Highway Texas Division assistant administrator, and he is here to recognize a project that was done with several parties and partnerships, and it's focused on a project in the Wichita Falls District. With that, Al, if you wouldn't mind coming up.

MR. ALONZI: Good morning. For the record, my name is Al Alonzi. I am the assistant division administrator for FHWA here in Texas. It's my pleasure to be here this morning to recognize the outstanding commitment to environmental stewardship with the Exemplary Ecosystem Initiative Award, and also to recognize a few people from two organizations whose leadership made this project the success that it is.

These EEI awards were initiated in 2002 by FHWA to identify some exemplary projects that are unique in that they help sustain or restore natural systems and their functions and values, they are developed within the landscape context, use partnering and collaborative approaches to advance common goals, provide clear examples of innovative environmental solutions by transportation agencies, achieve high quality results, and are recognized by environmental interests as being particularly valuable or noteworthy.

The Seymour Park Mitigation Site was developed in 2007 as mitigation for upgrades to US 277 near Seymour, Texas. In this project, TxDOT and the city, in consultation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, restored a critical link of the Seymour Creek in Seymour Park. The restored link reconnected a divided ecosystem creating a valuable ecological and educational asset that stimulated new public involvement in an already well-utilized city park.

Due to a stone check dam placed in Seymour Creek for aesthetic purposes, it was retaining extremely high sediment loads and became overgrown with vegetation, resulting in lost stream visibility. Herbicide was used on the stream banks to counteract that overgrowth and preserve visibility; however, that led to structural bank failures, poor water quality, and reduced aquatic life. While the stream was stable both up and downstream of the park, the native woody and herbaceous habitat, the effective migratory path, and the contiguousness of the riparian corridor were broken within that park.

So when TxDOT decided to repair that linkage in the park as a mitigation project, it sets its goals to improve the hydrology, restore the native vegetation, and enhance aquatic ecosystem functions. Following that project, aquatic and upland wildlife have flourished in this newly reestablished corridor, various species of mammals, turtles, snakes, fish and birds have returned to the park, and in addition, wildlife have resumed their migratory travel within the creek riparian corridor. New wildlife viewing opportunities and improved aesthetics increased regular park visitation numbers. Residents now visit the park for picnicking, fishing and plant identification outings by local schools. And due to this renewed level of interest in the park, TxDOT will soon offer outdoor education amenities within the park setting.

For 2009, only twelve projects in the country were selected in the nine states, something to truly be proud of. So now it is my pleasure to recognize Larry Tegtmeyer from the Wichita Falls District, and I know he's got several folks here as well that played a big role, and Mr. John Studer, director of the Seymour Department of Economic Development.

MR. SIMMONS: And Larry, you've got some staff with you too, that did the work?

(Pause for presentation of awards and photos.)

MR. SIMMONS: Thank you, Al, for that presentation. And Larry, to you and your staff, congratulations on a job well done.

MR. TEGTMEYER: I guess there's just a few comments. I, as the district engineer, really can't take all the credit for this recognition, it takes great staff, and my staff went about being good stewards of the environment, doing the right thing, and I think what's really rewarding knowing we're going out there doing our job and what's good about this recognition is that now we know what high level we are doing our job at, and I really have to compliment my staff for the planning, going out and getting the right project, the design work and the construction and actually helping maintain this park. I'm really impressed by this recognition and hopefully look forward to being back here in the future receiving another award. So thank you.

MR. SIMMONS: Do you want to quickly introduce them just real quick?

MR. TEGTMEYER: Sure. Here on the left is Scot Reaves, he was the project engineer on the project. Chris Henry, he was involved in designing this environmental project, and actually he went out on construction and inspected it as well, he's also helped maintain it after the fact. Jill Holmes, our environmental coordinator, she was instrumental in working with the City of Seymour in developing this project. Mike Beaver, our district design engineer; Danny Brown, TP&D; and Allan Moore, my current director of construction who at the time was the area engineer responsible for that project. Thank you very much for all your work.

(Applause.)

MR. TEGTMEYER: I think John Studer from the City of Seymour wants to make a few remarks.

MR. STUDER: Commissioners, appreciate it. I want to let you know and I recognize the foresight of the Wichita Falls District in working with Mr. Tegtmeyer, and I appreciate their endurance on this because it's really helped us out and for our small community it's highly visible and it's a lot of traffic area, there's a walking trail and a lot of activities that take place down there. Anyway, appreciate being a part of that. Thank you.

MR. SIMMONS: Thank you.

(Applause.)

MR. SIMMONS: Finally, I'll ask Doris Howdeshell, the director of our Travel Information Division, to some up and acknowledge a certificate received from the Governor's Office.

MS. HOWDESHELL: Thank you, Steve. As Steve said, my name is Doris Howdeshell and I am the director of the Travel Information Division here at TxDOT. I'm here today to present a recognition from the governor of our great state, and if you'll bear with me, I will read that.

"The State of Texas. To all to whom these presents shall come, greetings. Know you that this official recognition is presented to the Texas Department of Transportation's Adopt-a-Highway Program on the occasion of it's 25th anniversary. It is my pleasure to join the entire State of Texas in celebrating a quarter century of the Texas Department of Transportation's Adopt-a-Highway Program.

"On March 9, 1985, TxDOT implemented the program to help keep Texas highways and surrounding areas clean and beautiful. In the years since, businesses, volunteer organizations, government entities, and individual Texans have joined together to display their trademark Texas pride and work to make our state litter free. It is an effort that has spread across the country and abroad, and I'm proud to know it was born out of Lone Star State ingenuity and thoughtfulness."

"First Lady Anita Perry joins me in thanking all the individual dedicated Texans who have contributed to the success of this program. Rick Perry, Governor of Texas."

Excuse me, I'm about to lose my voice. So with that recognition, I would like to present this certificate to the commission. This commission actually had the foresight to adopt administrative code for this program in 1985 and it has continued since.

(Applause; pause for photos.)

MS. HOWDESHELL: I'd like to add one thing. The certificate did not actually say that we have about 4,600 Adopt-a-Highway groups which have about 9,000 miles adopted which is about 10 percent of the system, and we estimate that that saves about $5 million in litter pickup costs. And the program has spread to every state in the Union except Vermont, and across the world, Great Britain, Australia, Japan, South Africa, and those folks have come to visit us to learn about the program. Thank you.

MR. SIMMONS: Thank you, Doris.

Commissioners, that concludes the special recognitions for this morning, so we'll move on to the next agenda item, and I ask Dave Fulton, the director of our Aviation Division, to come forward at this time.

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

This minute order contains a request for grant funding approval for one airport improvement project. The total estimated cost of this project, as shown in Exhibit A, is approximately $6.9 million, approximately $6.2 million federal, and $700,000 in local funding. A public hearing was held on April 22, no comments were received.

We would recommend approval of this minute order.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. FULTON: Thank you.

MR. SIMMONS: Thank you, Dave.

Next is Eric Gleason, director of our Public Transportation Division who has four minute orders regarding Federal Transit funding.

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

Agenda item 4(a) awards approximately $36,000 of Federal Section 5304 State Planning and Research Program funds and state to Nortex Regional Planning Commission and to South Texas Development Council in support of regional public transportation coordination planning. Regional coordinated public transportation planning is a requirement under state statute as well as for several federal transit programs. This award today completes funding for 23 of 24 regional planning areas. We are continuing to work with the last region to establish a scope and budget for the effort.

We recommend your approval of this minute order.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. MEADOWS: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. GLEASON: Thank you. Agenda item 4(b) awards approximately $15,746,000 in federal funds under a number of FTA grant programs, and just over 390,000 transportation development credits for selected public transportation projects shown in Exhibit A.

Each year in July the department publishes a single call for projects seeking funding under multiple federal programs. The purpose of this coordinated call is to promote comprehensive system development proposals, consolidate work and grant application processes in a consistent and predictable manner for grant applicants, and to facilitate and encourage coordination efforts among service providers to make the most of available funding.

This round the RFP was published in July of 2009 with proposals due in December of 2009. The department conducted workshops around the state following release of the RFP to assist potential proposers, clarifying RFP requirements, providing additional program descriptions and answering questions from potential applicants. Eighty-one individuals representing 41 agencies attended these workshops for this program call.

We've received 40 proposals. The proposals were reviewed and scored by department staff, clarifying conversations with proposers occurred as needed, and available funding sources based on requests and project descriptions were matched to the proposals. We have communicated the results of our evaluation and the recommendations you have before you today to each proposer in the process.

We recommend your approval of this minute order.

MS. DELISI: Any questions?

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. GLEASON: Thank you. Agenda item 4(c) awards approximately $4,900,000 of federal funds under the FTA Elderly Individuals and Individuals with Disabilities Program, Section 5310, and approximately 583,000 transportation development credits for various public transportation capital projects as described in Exhibit A. This amount represents the remaining balance of federal 2010 apportionment for this program for Texas.

The department is responsible for public involvement and completion of a transit planning process to establish a network of transit services for elderly individuals and individuals with disabilities in each of the TxDOT district areas. Projects are selected based on need for service, available funding, and coordination with area stakeholders. Over 120 providers operate services for elderly individuals and individuals with disabilities in Texas; 70 of those providers are included in this award.

We recommend your approval of this minute order.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. GLEASON: Agenda item 4(d) awards approximately $7,484,000 of Federal Transit Administration Fiscal Year 2010 Non-Urbanized Program funds to rural transit districts to assist with rural program operating capital expenses. These funds are used, along with state and local match to operate and maintain an infrastructure of services, fleet and facilities connecting primarily transit-dependent individuals in rural areas of Texas to jobs, healthcare, shopping, educational and recreational opportunities. Last year these services provided almost 5 million trips.

In accordance with the formula established in Title 43, Section 31.36 of the Texas Administrative Code, the commission may award these funds under the 5311 Program on a pro rata basis, competitively, or a combination of both. In this case, funds will be awarded on a pro rata distribution to each of the 38 rural transit districts in Texas, as described in Exhibit A, using reported system revenue miles during Fiscal Year 2009 as a surrogate for system needs. With the exception of $200,000 set aside for use in the case of an emergency such as hurricane relief, the amount recommended for award with this agenda item is the remaining balance of funds in this program.

We recommend your approval of this minute order.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. GLEASON: Thank you.

MS. DELISI: Thanks, Eric.

MR. SIMMONS: Thank you, Eric.

MR. UNDERWOOD: One quick comment, Eric. I want to thank you for your professionalism and how well you work with communities and your hospitality last month. I really appreciate what you do, sir. Thank you.

MR. GLEASON: Thank you.

MR. SIMMONS: Commissioners, the next item is 5(a) dealing with final adoption of rules, and this is a rule that I presented so I'll re-present it to you for final adoption.

The grant sanction rules were proposed for adoption at the February 2010 commission meeting. The purpose of these proposed rules is to allow the department to impose sanctions on a sub-grantee if the department determines that the sub-grantee has failed to comply with law, grant conditions and contractual agreements of the award. Amendments to Chapter 31 simply remove sanction provisions in that chapter and refer to the new grant sanction provisions in proposed Subchapter H.

The department presented the rules to the Public Transportation Advisory Committee at its May 14 meeting and the committee recommended the rules for final adoption. In response to a comment made by the committee, the department clarified in the rules that notice of appeal must be delivered to the department by mail or by hand delivery.

The department also received a public comment on the rules from Jeff Heckler, executive director of the Texas Transit Association, stating concern about the sanction process and the amount of discretion allowed to the department's executive director. Taking into consideration the Transit Association's concerns, the proposed rules have been changed to allow for more process before a final sanction is imposed. In the previous version, a sub-grantee could present only written evidence in support of an appeal, now a sub-grantee is allowed to actually meet in person with the executive director and present oral testimony in support of its appeal.

Additionally, the department recognized that the sanction of granting a sub-grantee either temporarily or permanently ineligible for future sub-grant awards can have severe consequences on a sub-grantee, therefore, the proposed rules have been changed to allow the sub-grantee at its option to appeal to the State Office of Administrative Hearings after a decision of the executive director imposed a temporary or permanent declaration of ineligibility.

The department believes these two changes adequately address TTA's concerns and are an overall improvement to the proposed rules and staff recommends approval of this minute order and I'll be happy to answer any questions.

MS. DELISI: Any questions?

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SIMMONS: The next item is 5(b)(1) proposed adoption of rules. The first item is dealing with our corridor advisory committees, and I'd ask Bob Jackson to make the presentation.

MR. JACKSON: Bob Jackson, general counsel.

Largely due to the new Planning and Programming rules coming up later in the agenda, we are restructuring a number of our rules and first up we have two advisory committee rules in Chapter 15 under Planning and Programming. We have corridor advisory committees and corridor segment advisory committees, we need to move them out of Chapter 15 into Chapter 1, Management, where we have our other rules on advisory committees so they will all now be in one location.

This minute order proposes this change, repeal and new rules for adoption and recommend adoption of the minute order.

MR. HOUGHTON: So we're just moving it from one to the other.

MR. JACKSON: Yes.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

I apologize, we missed someone who wished to speak on the previous agenda item 5(a), so at this point I'd like to ask Jeff Heckler to come up.

MR. HOUGHTON: Do you want me to withdraw?

MS. DELISI: Well, let's hear from Jeff first.

MR. HECKLER: Good morning, Madame Chair, commissioners, really appreciate the time to speak to you today.

Mainly, I just want to let you know that I am the new executive director for the Texas Transit Association, so for some of you this is a new face. I did have the pleasure of meeting Commissioner Underwood at our conference in Corpus. And as a brief introduction, I've run my own governmental affairs company for the last 17 years and prior to that I worked up at the capitol, Commissioner Underwood, when dinosaurs ruled the roost, worked for Senator Chet Brooks for many years.

I also want to commend Eric and his team, they've been great to work with, and we really appreciate the effort you put in on this rule. So that's all I've got today. Thank you very much.

MR. SIMMONS: Thank you, Mr. Heckler.

MS. DELISI: Thank you.

MR. SIMMONS: The next item will be presented by John Barton dealing with our new product evaluation.

MR. BARTON: Good morning, Madame Chair, commissioners, Mr. Saenz, Mr. Polson. For the record, my name is John Barton.

MR. SIMMONS: Who?

MR. BARTON: Mr. Polson. Oh, I'm sorry, Mr. Simmons. I was thinking about what I was going to say and not what I should be saying. I apologize for that, Mr. Simmons, and as you do my performance evaluation, I hope you do not hold that against me.

(General laughter.)

MR. BARTON: For the record, my name is David Casteel, just kidding. For the record, my name is John Barton and I have the pleasure of serving the state as assistant executive director for Engineering Operations.

The minute order before you this morning proposes to repeal Section 15.13 of the Texas Administrative Code which describes the procedures that the department uses to evaluate new products that companies bring forward for our consideration and use on our projects for maintenance and construction activities. It also proposes that the contents of that section be moved to Chapter 13 which relates to the quality of materials and we believe is a more appropriate place for these rules to be housed.

If you approve, the new Section 13.7 will be established and the repeal of Section 15.13 would be considered. Both of those considerations would be published in the Texas Register in order for us to receive comments from the public, and we recommend your approval of this minute order, and I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have.

MS. DELISI: Are there any questions?

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

John, hold on one second. Commissioners, at this time I'm going to hit the pause button on the regular agenda and I'm going to ask Senator Glenn Hegar to come up, he'd like to speak on agenda item 11. We're not bringing up agenda item 11 at this time, but I want to recognize him to speak.

SENATOR HEGAR: Thank you, Madame Chair and members, I appreciate that. That helps me out a lot to get back to a committee hearing that I've got here shortly, so you know how that is in this building and around here.

On item 11, Fort Bend County which is one of the 19 counties I represent, and you have worked very hard and John has worked very hard trying to deal with the pass-through issue, and I know that's something you've been focused on the last several days, and I guess I've talked to John several different times over the course of the last probably six months or so to kind of get an update on how that is going, and I think and I appreciate very much the commission's desire, as well as the administration's desire, to make sure that we spend those dollars as wisely as we can. Unfortunately, you know where we're at in transportation funding, and so therefore, trying to tighten up and make sure that in no shape, form or fashion do we spend the state's resources in that program in a manner that we shouldn't

With that being said, Fort Bend County, I'm not familiar on all the different selections in that program, however, with Fort Bend we have this initial phase of extension of the Westpark Toll Road and that first phase is roughly $60 million, well, the next phase is $80 million, and the county looks at this as that they're committing tremendous acquisition costs, which the costs of that area are going up astronomically and the acquisition costs are just fundamental. And so anyway, the bottom line is with changing the minute order, I just really would ask for your thought and trying to be mindful, and I've talked to John several times, trying to make sure that the commitment of the state and the commitment of the counties is really fair.

And the plus or minus 10 percent is a very good idea, I do know that now in the revisions we take the bottom 10 out, it's only the up 10, and so the issue becomes what are those construction costs, we don't know, and should the state pay more? No. But at the end of the day, if the state benefits from potential downside, you would think that that partnership, there can be some agreement we can come to where everybody can move forward, especially when we're putting in not just a $60 million project but a $140 million project. Because I think the state investment, getting a bang for a $140- is good for us, and we can leverage that.

So with that, thank you for your time. I just appreciate your consideration. This is something very important for this county, I know it's very important for the other counties, and I want to just see us be able to move forward in a very fair and quick manner. So thank you very much, and thank you for bringing me up, I appreciate that very much.

MS. DELISI: Thank you. No problem.

MR. SIMMONS: Thank you, Senator.

John, let's move on to 5(b)(3).

MR. BARTON: Thank you, Mr. Simmons. And if it's acceptable to the commissioners, item 5(b)(3) and 5(b)(4) are interrelated and so I'd like to talk about both of those as we go through this. We'll make, obviously, recommendations separately to the commission, but if you would allow me that privilege, I would appreciate it. Again, for the record, my name is John Barton.

Item 5(b)(3) and 5(b)(4) relate to the department's rules concerning Transportation Planning and Programming activities. Currently our rules regarding Transportation Planning and Programming are found in Title 43 of our administrative code in Chapter 15, Subchapter A under Transportation Planning, and Subchapter D, the Texas Highway Trunk System. The current rules focus primarily on the federal planning and programming requirements that are applicable to our metropolitan planning organizations and the processes that they must go through in terms of developing their transportation plans.

As you well know, the Sunset Advisory Commission made recommendations that would have required the department to develop a better transportation planning and programming process for all modes of transportation that involved all transportation stakeholders. Obviously, as you also know, that Sunset recommendation was not adopted in the last legislative session.

On July 30 of 2009, you created a Transportation Planning and Project Development Rulemaking Advisory Committee that is comprised of eleven members that represent a wide variety of our stakeholders from the large metropolitan planning organizations to the smaller ones, counties, transit organizations, tolling authorities, small communities and councils of government, as well as our partners from the Federal Highway Administration. This committee has met several times over the last several months with department staff to give us advice, counsel and input in the development of draft proposed rules for your consideration and to make a specific recommendation to you today.

The department also solicited public comment on this matter. On May 4 of 2010, an eight-member group representing the rulemaking advisory committee met to make a final decision on that, and the chairman of that particular group will be here in a minute to share with you their recommendation.

The new rules are fully discussed in the commission agenda items that are covering Chapter 16 which is item 5(b)(4) and the recommendation of the Sunset Advisory Commission and the conference report that they put out, House Bill 300, serves as the basis for much of the deliberation that took place by this committee over the last several months.

The development of rules for a comprehensive approach to transportation planning, programming, funding and performance reporting requirements is a significant expansion of our existing rules in Chapter 15, Subchapters A and D, and therefore, in order to consolidate and expand those provisions, we believe it is necessary to repeal the current provisions for Planning and Programming in Chapter 15, and for clarity's sake, simultaneously propose a new chapter, Chapter 16, related to these matters.

So at this time I would like to bring forward and ask for you to hear from Judge Emmett, Harris County judge, who also graciously served as the chairman of the rulemaking advisory committee that assisted us with this matter.

JUDGE EMMETT: Chairman Delisi, commissioners, first let me say the commission is to be commended for taking this step during the interim between the legislative sessions. I think it was a very positive step.

I was, I think honored is the right word to say, to be chosen to chair this rulemaking advisory committee. The other members, the vice chairman who worked very hard on this, Michael Morris from the North Central Texas Council of Governments, I believe is here today, and he did yeoman's work on this. The other members were: Senator Kirk Watson from Austin representing the Capital Area MPO; Representative Joe Pickett from El Paso representing the El Paso MPO; County Judge Eloy Vera, Starr County; Barbara Mehle from FHWA; Alan Clark representing Houston-Galveston Area Council; Walter Diggles, Sr. from the Deep East Texas Council of Governments; Dr. Jerry Marshall from the Texas Association of Regional Councils; Jesse Baez, San Antonio VIA Metropolitan Transit Board; and Ross Jones, Abilene MPO and representing West Texas.

We held a total of five meetings throughout the year, basically. The initial meeting was on August 27 where we discussed the scope and outline of the new rules and then we had subsequent meetings getting into the weeds, if you will, of what is arcane but it's necessary and the public needs to know how this process is set out. Again, you're to be commended for taking the step to appoint an advisory committee to work with the staff.

And mentioning the staff, I would be remiss if I didn't compliment them tremendously. The work that Mr. Barton and J.D. Ewald and others put into this were countless, countless hours, and it's not always the most rewarding work in the world, as you can imagine, and then you try and explain it to people and they want to know this and that, but they put in tremendous hours and it was, I think, well received by the committee.

On March 19, 2010, the Texas Register posted a notice that provided a website link to the draft rules, requested the general public to provide comments, we received 42 comments, and then eight of us gathered on the final meeting, May 4, 2010, went through all of the public comments, went through page by page these rules, and at the end of the day, adopted them unanimously as a committee and recommended them to you for your approval.

So again, I was privileged to chair this committee but it was a lot of work by a lot of committee members, and your staff did a tremendous job.

MR. HOUGHTON: Judge, when you say eight of you, eight committee members?

JUDGE EMMETT: Eight committee members, eight of the eleven.

MR. HOUGHTON: Eight of the eleven.

JUDGE EMMETT: Right, there were three absent that day. I might add, both Senator Watson and Representative Pickett were among the eight.

MR. HOLMES: Thank you for your work, Judge.

MR. BARTON: Thank you, Judge Emmett. And let me just also take this opportunity to share my sincere appreciation and to express to you my belief that we are indebted to several people on the TxDOT staff that worked very hard with members of this committee. The committee members, obviously in a voluntary capacity, worked very hard, spent many hours reviewing these rules diligently; they offered a lot of great comments, insight and wisdom in the developing of these rules.

J.D. Ewald, one of our attorneys in our Office of General Counsel, was the lead on this particular effort and did just an unbelievable job, and the credit for the value that he extracted from the comments and the ability to put those into rules in a way that are understandable and I think will provide clarity for our process was just remarkable. He was assisted by Angie Parker, another one of our attorneys, as well as Robin from their staff that helped to make sure all the processes were in place and the meetings ran well, and then Bob Jackson, of course, as the overseer of all those activities. And then our friendly court reporter was always there to help us when needed, so it was certainly a team effort. But I would appreciate and commend to you that they should be recognized and commended for their hard work and effort.

MR. SIMMONS: John. J.D. and Angie, would you stand up and be recognized.

(Applause.)

MR. BARTON: They did a great job and were extremely patient with me which is a remarkable feat in and of itself.

So item 5(b)(3) that is before you would recommend and offer for public comment the repeal of Section 15.1 through 15.8, Subchapter A and Subchapter C and D of the current rules, and staff would recommend your approval of this minute order.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. BARTON: And continuing on, item 5(b)(4), if you approve this minute order, would place forward for public comment proposed rules for the creation of a new Chapter 16 that deal with the topic that we've already discussed today, and we would place these both in the Texas Register for a public comment period and bring them back for your final consideration at a later date. Staff would recommend your approval of the minute order for item 5(b)(4) as well.

MS. DELISI: Is there a motion?

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. BARTON: Thank you.

MR. SIMMONS: Our next item is proposed rules regarding our right of way utility accommodation, and John Campbell will make that presentation.

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

I'd like to present for your consideration this morning item 5(b)(5) which provides for the proposed amendment to Section 21.37 Design in regard to TxDOT Utility Accommodation policy to be included under Title 43, Texas Administrative Code, Part 1.

The current rules provide for exclusive responsibility by a utility company for the design, installation, adjustment or relocation of utility facilities which occupy public rights of way impacted by transportation improvement projects. Amendments to Section 21.37, as proposed, provide that the department and the utility company may agree to have the department procure the design of a utility adjustment or relocation. A public hearing will be held July 7 at 10:00 a.m. here at the Greer Building in order to receive oral comments from the public and written public comments will be accepted until 5:00 p.m. on July 12.

Staff recommends your approval of the proposed rules and I'm pleased to answer any questions.

MS. DELISI: Are there any questions?

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SIMMONS: Thanks, John.

The next item is 5(b)(6) dealing with our toll operations, and a presentation by Mark Tomlinson.

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

This minute order proposes the adoption of amendments to Section 2782 concerning establishing electronic toll collection customer account fees. Currently the fee amounts are set in rule; this amendment would provide that the commission will set the customer account fees by minute order. The amendment does provide for two new categories of fees: an account maintenance fee and an account reactivation fee. It does not designate what those fees would b. We would come back to you in the future for minute order approval. And it doesn't change any of the existing fees that we currently have, it just changes them from being set by rule to being set by minute order.

Comments on the proposed amendments will be accepted until five o'clock on July 12, 2010. Staff would recommend your approval of the minute order.

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

MR. HOLMES: So moved.

MR. HOUGHTON: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SIMMONS: Madame Chair, if we could move to item number 12, Safe Routes to School.

MS. DELISI: Yes.

MR. SIMMONS: I'll ask Carol Rawson to come forward to make a presentation on the Safe Routes to School project selection.

MS. RAWSON: Good morning, commissioners. My name is Carol Rawson, I'm the director of the Traffic Operations Division, and I have a good minute order today because any time we talk about children and their safety and anything that we can do to make them healthier and safer to get to school is great.

The minute order before you authorizes a federal Safe Routes to School Program of approximately $54.1 million. The program seeks to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety of school-age children and also to encourage healthy and active lifestyle choices. $45.7 million of this total is proposed for infrastructure projects, and $8.4 million for non-infrastructure projects.

A request for candidate projects was published in the August 17, 2009 issue of the Texas Register with a deadline for submission of November 30 of 2009. Two hundred and eighty-four total applications were evaluated by TxDOT staff and the department's Bicycle Advisory Committee; 200 of these projects were ranked highly by both the TxDOT review team and the Bicycle Advisory Committee and have been presented to you for your consideration. And I think there are some people that may have some comments, but we do recommend approval of this.

MS. DELISI: At this time I'd like to call up Representative Tim Kleinschmidt.

MR. KLEINSCHMIDT: Good morning, commissioners. Thank you for your time. I am Tim Kleinschmidt from District 17 which, of course, is everything east of you here in the Austin area.

This project is very important, it's vital in areas across the state but in particular I can personally testify to the need in my district in the Elgin School District which is in one of the most growth areas in the State of Texas, perhaps the United States, today in Bastrop County. We, in particular along FM 1100, have an instance where new schools have been built in the area and we simply don't have safe access to the school system. The farm to market road, of course, was never designed with shoulders initially, lane width to provide safety for the children that are going there.

There's a project that's in the process that could use this funding to provide pedestrian access along the side of this road, perhaps a shoulder. We have a policeman that's risking his life daily directing traffic, getting brushed out there, trying to help with the traffic problems that we have. And so we have both a traffic congestion problem off the 290 area there in Elgin, Texas off of Highway 95, as well as a pedestrian problem. It's just one of those things that's an accident waiting to happen until we have one of those foggy days when a child is going to be hit along FM 1100 trying to walk to school in the Elgin area.

It's an economically depressed area, a poor area of the state, one of the poorest areas in my district, and the folks need help there through this project, they've been asking for help. I have nothing but praise for the TxDOT team that's been working, the engineer team that's been working on developing solutions to the problem that we have there in Elgin Texas, and I believe it's a program that's ready to go and could use the funding.

Thank you very much for your time here today and all that you do for transportation in Texas. Thank you.

MS. DELISI: Thank you.

Next is Marty Janczak.

MR. JANCZAK: Good morning. I'm Marty Janczak and I'm a councilman for the City of Temple. I'm also on the MPO and a member of the I-35 Corridor segment committee. I'm here today representing our mayor, Bill Jones, and our city manager, David Blackburn, regarding this line item.

The City of Temple has two line items on this minute order and we certainly appreciate your consideration and urge our approval for the entire minute order. In both cases, these are on major routes to school or in major school areas. One concerns the Belton Independent School District and it is adjacent to a major road construction project. The second is in the Temple Independent School District, and of course, we're fortunate in Temple that we have five independent school districts within our contiguous city boundaries, but the second one is on a major arterial route to one of our middle schools and it is also very sorely needed, so we would appreciate your consideration on all this.

And separately, I would also report to you the wonderful relationship that we have with our local folks, particular Richard Skopik and his staff, as well as the great relationship with the senior staff here in Austin, and we appreciate all that you do. Thank you very much.

MR. HOUGHTON: Marty, can I ask you a question?

MR. JANCZAK: Yes, sir.

MR. HOUGHTON: Tell me about Segment 2 committee, how's it going?

MR. JANCZAK: It's going great, sir. The Segment 2 committee has continued to meet on a regular basis and then there was a combined Segment 1 and Segment 2 committee that I did not attend, a combined meeting between the two that Mayor Jones did attend, but it's a difficult process, obviously, of looking forward that far out, but we are making progress.

MR. HOUGHTON: Thank you for your service, appreciate it.

MS. DELISI: Lastly, I'd like to call up Robin Stallings.

MR. STALLINGS: Madame Chair and commissioners, thank you for giving me a chance to speak today. My name is Robin Stallings. I'm the executive director of Bike Texas. We've had a longstanding interest in Safe Routes to School since we worked with Senator Mike Moncrief, now mayor of Fort Worth, and former Representative Robert Gutierrez to pass it as part of the Matthew Brown Act. That bill went to Washington and became half of the National Safe Routes to School Bill, so Texas has long roots in this program.

We're very excited about progress that's being made under the leadership of, I know she's taken on a lot and is doing a great job, director of the Traffic Operations Division, Carol Rawson, and the Safe Routes to School coordinator, Carol Campa is doing a great job, and whatever comes out of this minute order, we do have three line items, we look forward to working with TxDOT in the future on Safe Routes to School. If we can ever be a resource for you, let us know. Thank you.

MS. DELISI: Thank you.

MR. SIMMONS: Thank you, Robin.

MS. DELISI: Are there any questions? Carol, do you have anything else?

MS. RAWSON: Unless you have some questions.

MS. DELISI: Is there a motion?

MR. UNDERWOOD: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SIMMONS: We'll move back to our regular agenda and go to item 6 which is a contested case involving an outdoor sign, and Rich O'Connell from our General Counsel's Office will make the presentation.

MR. O'CONNELL: Good morning. Item number 6 is about a contested case, it's a case that concerns Outdoor Advertising Permit Number 013510 for an outdoor advertising sign in Chambers County, six-tenths of a mile east of SH 146 near Mont Belvieu.

The permitee's sign was knocked down by Hurricane Ike in September 2008. TxDOT staff inspected the site of the sign on September 17, 2008 and November 13, 2008. The Right of Way Division issued a letter on December 5, 2008 that canceled the permit. The permitee asked for a hearing.

After the hearing, the judge at the State Office of Administrative Hearings found there were two reasons that the permit may be canceled but they were not supported by the facts. The poles did not need to be replaced as the poles were all intact, they merely just needed to be put back into the ground. The second reason was whether or not the sign had been removed within the definition of our rules, and there the permitee had not removed the sign but had taken the sign off the ground and propped it up just ten feet away so that the public could continue to see it which within the definition of our rule is not removed.

The ALJ recommends that the permit be reinstated, the department staff did not file exceptions. OJC recommends you adopt the judge's findings and conclusions which would reinstate the sign permit. Thank you.

MR. SIMMONS: Recommend approval.

MS. DELISI: Is there a motion?

MR. UNDERWOOD: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SIMMONS: Thank you, Rich.

The next item will be presented by Mark Tomlinson which is the annual inspection report of our Central Texas Turnpike Project.

MR. TOMLINSON: Again, my name is Mark Tomlinson, director of the Turnpike Authority Division.

Item 7 accepts the Fiscal Year 2010 Central Texas Turnpike Project annual inspection report, as required by the indenture of trust. This is an inspection of all elements of the Central Texas Turnpike Project and it is shown to be very good. The system's primary feature, 65 miles of roadway, is in like new condition, only minor deficiencies noted. The roadway achieved an overall score of 95 out of 100; bridges are also in very good condition, as are the buildings.

So staff would recommend your approval of the minute order.

MS. DELISI: Is there a motion?

MR. HOLMES: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. TOMLINSON: Thank you.

MR. SIMMONS: Mark, do you have the next item for designating an additional member to the I-35 Segment Advisory Committee?

MR. TOMLINSON: Yes, sir. Item 8(a) orders that the City of New Braunfels may appoint a member of the I-35 Corridor Segment 3 Advisory Committee created under Minute Order 112113 on January 28, 2010. As you'll recall, the commission designated entities, not individuals; this would just add the City of New Braunfels as an entity. The City of New Braunfels requested that their mayor be named a representative. Of course, the minute order will just designate the City of New Braunfels as an entity to be added.

This segment committee, if you make this addition, will have 22 of its allowable 24 members, so we still have some space available if we need it in the future. Staff would recommend your approval of the minute order.

MS. DELISI: Is there a motion?

MR. HOLMES: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. TOMLINSON: Thank you.

MR. SIMMONS: Thank you, Mark.

The next three items will be presented by Brian Ragland, director of our Finance Division.

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

The first item I have is a proposed minute order which authorizes 22 projects under the Federal Demonstration and Discretionary Program. These projects are valued at about $14.9 million. They include projects for surface transportation, interstate maintenance, and transportation community and system preservation categories of the program.

Staff recommends your adoption.

MS. DELISI: Any questions?

MR. HOLMES: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. RAGLAND: The next item I have is a proposed minute order which authorizes several new projects under the 121 RTR work program. These new projects total about $20 million. It also provides for some modifications to previously approved projects, including updating some estimates.

Staff has verified that the program is financially constrained which includes the interest earnings to date, and staff recommends your adoption.

MS. DELISI: Is there a motion?

MR. HOLMES: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. RAGLAND: Finally, the next proposed minute order is toll equity request by the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority. They've requested assistance in the amount of $80,250,000 in the form of a grant to pay for costs of preliminary development of Loop 375 (Cesar Chavez) Border Highway project. This proposed minute order grants preliminary approval of the request from Prop 14 Bond proceeds, and authorizes the executive director to enter into a project development agreement with CRRMA.

Staff recommends your adoption.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. RAGLAND: Thank you.

MR. SIMMONS: The next item I'll ask John Barton to come forward to discuss Proposition 14 Bonds

MR. BARTON: Good morning, commissioners. Again, for the record, my name is John Barton.

This item before you is some proposed revisions under our Proposition 14 Bond Program. This minute order would revise the funding allocations that you've previously approved to add funding for one additional project. As we move forward with the implementation of projects you had previously approved, we saw some cost underruns, specifically in the Safety Program category, and this particular minute order would authorize $19 million of Proposition 14 Bond Program funds to be placed on a project in the San Antonio District in Bexar County, it's on State Loop 1604 of Marbach Road to provide a grade separation. This intersection has experienced a significant number of crashes in the past and this project would allow us to construct an overpass to separate those traffic movements and improve the safety of that particular facility.

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

MR. HOUGHTON: This was on the list and it just rose up on the list?

MR. BARTON: Yes, sir. This project was actually submitted under our call for safety projects from around the state under our normal Safety Program, and as these underruns, we looked over to that list of available projects that were being developed and ready to implement. This is one of six grade separations that we've identified in that program; you've previously approved funding for the other five and this is the last grade separation.

MR. HOUGHTON: This is the last one?

MR. BARTON: Yes, sir.

MR. HOUGHTON: Does Judge Wolff know that we're doing this?

MR. BARTON: I'm not sure, but our district engineer, Mario Medina, from San Antonio is here with us and I think he could probably speak to that, if I can grab him from the back real quickly.

MR. HOUGHTON: Yes, why don't you do that.

MR. BARTON: Here he is.

MR. HOUGHTON: Did you come just for this, Mario, just to make sure we pass this deal? Must be important.

(General laughter.)

MR. MEDINA: Judge Wolff is not aware of it, I've not informed him. I have gone and had heavy discussions with the commissioner for that precinct.

MR. HOUGHTON: Who is that?

MR. MEDINA: Chico Rodriguez, and he's very much aware of it. We've also explained it or discussed with Senator Van de Putte's office, along with Representative Leibowitz's office.

MR. HOUGHTON: And the MPO is aware of this?

MR. MEDINA: And the MPO is aware of this, yes, sir.

MR. HOUGHTON: Don't you think we ought to let the judge know before we do this?

MR. MEDINA: I think he'll be very pleasantly happy if he goes ahead and hears that it's been passed, at least I'd like to think so.

MR. HOUGHTON: I just want to make sure he is okay with it. Thank you.

MS. DELISI: Any other questions?

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SIMMONS: The next item is item 10 regarding our American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

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

If you'll open the screen, I have a very brief power point presentation to show you the actions that we're proposing today.

As you know, we've been moving forward with the implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act here in Texas and have done a lot of good projects from around the state. The minute order before you today would allow us to add a few additional projects that would be funded from the underruns that we've experienced on previous selected projects.

There are three additional mobility projects being funded or recommended for funding today. One of those is in Houston in Fort Bend County. This would provide funding for an overpass on US 59 at its intersection with FM 360, a very important mobility as well as safety-related project for that particular area.

MR. HOUGHTON: John, where is that?

MR. BARTON: It's southwest of Houston, sir, and it's down in the south and even west of the Sugar Land area. The US 59 facility has expanded to this particular area, this is on the very south end of our expansion and the FM 360 intersection near the ending of the expanded facility and this would create an overpass there.

Another project is in the Fort Worth District in Tarrant County, it's a section of State Highway 26 in the Grapevine community, it is actually a connection to the DFW Connector project that is currently under construction, and this project would provide for some significant expansion improvements of State Highway 26 running from Grapevine toward Colleyville.

And then the third project is in the Paris District in Grayson County and this is to do some ramp reversals along US 75 in the Sherman-Denison area to help improve the safety of the mainlanes of that particular highway and to provide some congestion relief on the frontage roads at the signalized intersections along that route.

As well, we also have some additional preservation projects that we would recommend your approval to fund. One is in the Tyler District on a section of Interstate 20 to do some surface repairs and resurfacing on that particular project, I believe. The other is in the San Antonio District, again in Bexar County on Loop 1604. These are some super street type of improvements, I believe, on the west side of the community to help improve the safety of that area and we are looking to use our preservation and safety funds to help increase safety and improve mobility in that particular part of the greater San Antonio community.

And then the last one is in the Amarillo District and Ochiltree County and this is a small piece of a larger project to do significant improvements along US 83, in particular for this particular piece of funding, in the Wolf Creek Bridge area, and again, this is a roadway resurfacing and repair project.

It's exciting that we continue to be able to add projects with every dollar that is saved through low bids or otherwise in the department. I commend our staff for working diligently to have projects ready to move forward and take advantage of these economic conditions, and so I proudly recommend your approval of this minute order and will be happy to answer any questions you have.

MR. HOUGHTON: John, how do we let people know and the leadership in these counties and municipalities know that we're doing these things?

MR. BARTON: It's very evident to me, Commissioner Houghton, that the local communities are interested in this issue and our district engineers and their area office staff is doing a great job of letting them know when these projects are approved for funding by the commission. Again, it's an opportunity that without the current economic conditions and the bid prices we're seeing, they would not have been afforded the opportunity to benefit from.

MS. DELISI: But they know that these projects are on the list because they selected them. Correct?

MR. HOUGHTON: Right. They've risen up.

MR. BARTON: Yes, sir, and yes, ma'am, specifically on the mobility side. As you know, we had a very long list of projects originally, about $2.4 billion and we had about $1.2 billion available to provide to projects. You did a great job in selecting those original mobility projects, and as we've seen underruns in the mobility category, we've just simply gone down that list of previously identified high priority projects and moved them forward, and we're getting close to the end of that list, quite frankly, either through the use of Recovery Act funding that became available due to underruns or through the use of some of the Proposition 14 Bond Programs as well as some other program funds that you've made available for us to do those projects.

MR. HOLMES: In addition, we have two commissioners from Fort Bend County here today so they'll know about that one, Commissioner Meyers and Commissioner Morrison.

MR. HOUGHTON: The point is not only the locals but to my question of Mario of the local elected leaders that may not be aware of some of these things, and state reps and senators that need to be notified that, in fact, we are doing these kind of projects through our crack communication department that we have.

MR. BARTON: I am confident that if Mr. Chase has not already done a great job of doing so, that he has taken due note of your comment and will make sure we do so from this point forward.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SIMMONS: Thank you, John.

Next item is the item 11 dealing with the Pass-Through Toll Program, and John.

MR. BARTON: Yes, sir. Mr. Simmons, before I present this, I would just like to note for the record that I was pleased to hear earlier this morning in the commission meeting that there is no litter in Vermont, so having noted that, I'll present this particular minute order to you.

The minute order before you today would authorize the department, if passed by the commission, to add an actual cost provision, if you will, into all of the pass-through agreements that we are in the current process of negotiating but have not yet executed under the February 26, 2009 program call. As you will recall, from that call we reached preliminary negotiations with ten entities to deliver much needed projects in their communities from across the state.

The provisions of this minute order would limit the pass-through toll reimbursements to the actual costs that are incurred by the selected public entity for the construction of their project with some conditions. Just a brief background on the situation that is before us today. As you will recall, on February 26 you approved a call for submission of projects under the Pass-Through Toll Program, staff initiated that call, and on September 24, you authorized us to move forward with negotiations with each of these public entities whose proposals had been selected for that. And then in October and December in your commission meetings you authorized us to move forward with formal execution of those agreements.

Pass-through toll agreements for most of these projects have not yet been executed and those are the projects that we're specifically talking about today. The department recommends that for the remaining pass-through toll agreements that have not yet been executed that this provision which limits the pass-through toll reimbursement obligation of the department to its proportional share of the actual labor and material construction costs for a project with a cap of a maximum of 110 percent above the estimated and agreed-upon amount to be added to these contracts. All other financial terms associated with them in terms of reimbursement rate, the minimum/maximum rates per year would remain unchanged.

To give you some specificity, under 43 of our Administrative Code, Chapter 5.58(b)(3)(A), specifically, the commission may authorize the department to include a provision in our pass-through toll agreements that allows the parties to increase or decrease the department's associated liability under those agreements in the event of cost overruns or underruns on projects. And the primary purpose of the Pass-Through Toll Program, as you well know, is to provide an opportunity to reimburse local communities who step forward and voluntarily develop and construct a specific facility on the state highway system, and by doing so advancing projects that might take otherwise years to develop, if the local government is able to select and therefore is able to advance a project that otherwise might not be moving forward.

A failure to make allowances under the current situation for some cost overruns does increase the risk to the local community, and therefore, this minute order would allow and require the department's participation to go up from the agreed- upon amount to a maximum of 110 percent of that agreed-upon amount if the bids at the time the contracts are taken come in over the estimated and agreed-upon construction costs. Likewise, to protect the interest of the state, if those costs at the actual time of bidding come in under the agreed-upon amount, then the department's participation would be limited to the actual cost of the low bid amount at the time of bidding.

That is the intent of the minute order before you. It is certainly, I think, specifically what it requires and states, and I would be happy to answer any questions you may have as you deliberate this minute order, and staff would recommend your approval.

MS. DELISI: Are there any questions for John? We have four people signed up.

MR. HOLMES: I want to wait.

MS. DELISI: Thank you, John.

I'd like to first call up Mayor Tommy Kuykendall.

MAYOR KUYKENDALL: Chair Delisi, commissioners, Mr. Simmons, my name is Mayor Tommy Kuykendall. Sounds kind of funny, I was just recently elected as mayor of the City of Fulshear, and I realized when I embarked on this journey we would have many issues that would face our community. We have a tremendous amount of growth, mobility and infrastructure being the major things that we're facing today.

I'm here today just to reiterate that I believe the Pass-Through Toll Program is a good program, everyone's dollars are tight, we need to work together in some form or fashion, and I just want to reiterate from our perspective as a small city at the end of this project that we want this project to move forward and we don't want it to be jeopardized.

Just to reiterate, the issues that we have on FM 1093 which was the number one project back in October when you selected those, this is just within the City of Fulshear and we have a lot of things happening around us, we have three subdivisions that comprise about 5300 acres that are currently selling homes on the ground today. We have another two subdivisions of 1400 acres that have filed general plans and have negotiated development agreements with the city, so I'm confident that as soon as the economy picks up a little bit more that those subdivisions would begin development. Our local school district, Lamar Consolidated, has purchased a 125-acre site on this particular project, FM 1093 and plan to develop a transportation facility and 6th grade through 12th grade campus. We have other development occurring such as commercial development on this particular project.

This development trend is continuing east of Fulshear, all the way to the Grand Parkway. I'm sure the commissioners behind me will speak to that development in their particular areas.

FM 1093 is the major east-west route through our area. The traffic doesn't 100 percent take FM 1093 but the majority of it looks to FM 1093 for their daily commutes into Houston. Safety and congestion are some of my number one concerns for the area, and in the campaigning that I did for the election as mayor, in talking with people, the expansion of FM 1093 is one of the biggest concerns that they have because they commute into Houston day in and day out.

I look back at some of the goals that TxDOT has set out for themselves and that is to reduce congestion, enhance safety, expand economic opportunity, improve air quality, and preserve the value of the transportation assets and facilities that they have, and a project like FM 1093 is so important and I believe it hits the ball out of the park on all of the goals that the department has. And I'm here to ask you to consider very carefully the changes that we make, funds are tight on both sides, on all sides, as we're aware, and I thank you for listening to me today.

MR. SIMMONS: I might add that it does sound funny to call you Mayor, but Tommy used to work for the department.

MR. HOLMES: Mayor, we appreciate your being here and understand the growth that is occurring in the Fort Bend County area, particularly around your city. Sorry for the distraction, but I was helping our friends from other parts of the state find Fulshear on the map.

(General laughter.)

MAYOR KUYKENDALL: We're small in number if you look at the census figures but in land mass we have ten square miles of city limits and 37 square miles of ETJ, we're the largest land mass of any general law city in the State of Texas, it has blessings and curses. And so we're kind of at the end of the chain that's being wagged around here, and we hope to be a good participant and partner and supporter in this process to get this project through to the end. Thank you.

MR. SIMMONS: Thanks, Tommy, Mayor.

MS. DELISI: Next up is Commissioner Richard Morrison.

MR. MORRISON: Madame Chair, commissioners, I'm here to support my fellow commissioner, Commissioner Meyers, on the pass-through agreement. I'm here to ask TxDOT to honor their commitments that was negotiated on this 1093 project and I'm here to suggest that if TxDOT changed this minute order, they may be violating the Texas Constitution.

Fort Bend County certainly supports the Pass-Through Program, we've been a very good partner with TxDOT, we understand the money situation, and I'm on the minority of the court and I realize that it's a new day in Texas. I'm trying to convince the court to spend more money on TxDOT roads because those roads are really Fort Bend County roads, that's the way the voters look at them.

But this is a deal that Fort Bend County submitted an application, we looked at the rules that TxDOT had, we submitted the application on behalf of those rules, we negotiated the deal under those rules, we passed a resolution in support of the project at the request of TxDOT, and we passed that resolution in accordance with the rules that TxDOT told us to follow.

Commissioner Meyers worked very hard with Mr. Barton and we certainly appreciate staff's help and they've done a great job, but we came to an oral agreement with TxDOT based upon the rules that everyone understood and played by, and then after we did that, we actually hired an environmental consultant to begin the environmental process and we've paid that environmental consultant some money to get this process going, and that's all under the current rules of what we thought we were playing under.

And then with the minute order that has come out, we feel that TxDOT has changed the rules and just the small change of rules that they have done really puts this project in jeopardy.

I think the constitution is clear and it's kind of strange the Texas Constitution gives more protection than the Federal Constitution, and it's Article 1, Section 16, I brought a copy of it here, it's the ex post facto law which we all understand really means, at least from a federal level, has to do with criminal law, but Texas says no bill of attainder, ex post facto law, retroactive law or any law impairing the obligation of contracts shall be made. And we say we've played by the law, we've played under your rules and we have all these obligations in our contracts and now you guys have gone back and changed the rules on us, and that's really put this project in jeopardy.

It was a three-two vote for Commissioner Meyers to get this thing approved by commissioners court, and so that's slim, that's a very slim margin. We ask today that TxDOT honor its obligations, that they commit the full $40 million to us; even if we can save some money on that, we still ask that you guys honor that. And I'm going to end my comments on that and thank you for your time.

Before I leave, I would like to say thank you for the 360 overpass, and I want to commend Jim Hunt, you talked about people calling at the local level, I think Jim Hunt has called me about five times in three days telling me it's off, it's on, it's off, it's on, and so I'm very glad that it's on and my constituents will be too. Thank you very much.

MR. HOUGHTON: Wait a minute, Commissioner, before you leave.

John, does this put this project in jeopardy, in your opinion, this minute order?

MR. BARTON: If you're asking me if this minute order will put this project in jeopardy, from a financial perspective my answer is no, from a political perspective I would have to bow to the wisdom of the county's commissioners.

MR. HOUGHTON: So our obligation is still the same dollar-wise, we just cap our obligation.

MR. BARTON: Without this minute order, our obligation would be capped as a finite amount, with this minute order, our obligation would go up if the bids come in over by up to 10 percent more than we agreed to, and they would be capped at actual cost if the bids came in less than 10 percent over or under.

MR. HOUGHTON: So we know that what that number is.

MR. BARTON: We know what our agreed-upon amount is, we know what our upper limit is, and again, the intent of the minute order is to provide the state the protection that we only reimburse those actual costs but to provide the county the protection that if the costs come in higher, they can get more money from us up to a maximum of 110 percent of what we agreed upon.

MR. HOUGHTON: Commissioner, do you feel that is putting your project in jeopardy by John's comments?

MR. MORRISON: The issue is not the overage, Commissioner, and we feel that the 10 percent over part --

MR. HOUGHTON: That's for cost overruns.

MR. MORRISON:  -- for cost overruns, right, and then if it's over 10 percent then the county bears the cost on that. We feel like on the underrun, because we feel like now, and I've seen evidence of it here today, the reason why we're building 360 bridge is because there's been cost underruns and you guys can take that money and put it in other projects. We feel like if we do a good job on this project and we ride herd on our construction contractors and this project comes in not at $40 million but comes in at $33 million or $35 million --

MR. HOUGHTON: That you deserve the $7 million?

MR. MORRISON: Well, that we deserve at least the 10 percent.

MR. HOUGHTON: Where would you put that, Commissioner?

MR. MORRISON: We would probably either invest it back into this project to make our dollars go farther, or we would invest it in another mobility project in the county.

MR. HOUGHTON: Where is Bob Jackson? That's the key is where the money underrun would go.

MR. MORRISON: I promise we're not going to spend it on whiskey.

(General laughter.)

MR. HOUGHTON: Bob, based on that scenario, are we violating any rules or any law, based on what you heard from the commissioner?

MR. JACKSON: No, we are not, and the contract has not yet been executed.

MR. HOUGHTON: If, in fact, on the underruns are we violating any laws or rules on how the underruns would get spent?

MR. JACKSON: No.

MR. HOUGHTON: None? So they could put the money anywhere they want?

MR. JACKSON: It depends on who you're talking about under the current situation, the minute order as proposed, or the alternative?

MR. HOUGHTON: The alternative.

MR. JACKSON: If you wanted instead to say any underruns must go into other projects, that's another alternative you can select.

MR. HOUGHTON: If they wanted to put it on a county road, could they put it on a county road? Would we be violating any rules?

MR. JACKSON: You might be.

MR. HOUGHTON: We might be. Do you understand, Commissioner, we're trying to narrow the scope here on where that money would go? It's called a state highway.

MR. MORRISON: Commissioner, I understand your reasoning, I may disagree -- can I get Commissioner Meyers up here, it's his project, I hate to be speaking over him.

MS. DELISI: Then I'd like to call up Commissioner Andy Meyers.

MR. MEYERS: Thank you, Madame Chairman, commissioners. And I want to thank my fellow commissioner, Commissioner Morrison, who obviously is here supporting a project that's in my precinct. We also have a number of other people here who have appeared in support of us. We've got a member of the county engineer from Brazoria County and he'll speak in a moment.

But to address your specific issue, Commissioner, on where we put the money, in this particular project, Fort Bend County committed almost $100 million of our money, of our expenditures on the FM 1093 project; TxDOT is committing $39.6 million. Now, our $100 million is going to obviously pay for more than just the four lanes that we're talking about building, we're talking about the feeder lanes as well as the extension of another four lanes out to Fulshear. So the county has committed a significant amount of its funds, we hope that we will recover those funds through toll fees, that's the only source of revenue that counties have for major capital programs of this nature.

However, depending on what the actual costs are, and in my discussions with our engineering consultants, they indicated to me that it really kind of depends to some extent on what the environmental assessment which is now ongoing is going to provide. We may have an opportunity to build the eastbound feeder lanes on the south side of Metro's right of way. Metro has a right of way from all the way downtown through Fulshear and out to Eagle Lake.

The county has had a very good relationship with TxDOT and with the state and we want to continue that relationship, and we actually had a joint effort between the state and the county in building the feeder lanes and the mainlanes of the Westpark Toll Road from our county line to 99, it was about 6-1/2 miles.

What we're looking at is continuing that same program out through Fulshear, anther 8-plus miles.

And so the way we look at it is that the county has committed almost $100 million and the state has committed almost $40 million for an approximately $140 million project. We're going to spend all that money on this particular project, and it may cost us more than $140 million because the county has taken the risk with regard to increases in right of way costs, increases in utility relocation costs and it turns out we had rather substantial and we keep finding out that we have a lot of underground high pressure gas lines out there that nobody could figure out that we had before we started, as well as the increase in interest rates that the county is going to have to carry the debt on not only the construction costs but also the costs that we incur in it.

So the county has taken a lot of risk on the front-end, and we're looking at the state obviously paying the $39.6 million, and to the extent that there is, quote, a savings, the county is not going to put it in our bank account, we're going to spend it on this road. And if we don't have it, if we have less than $39.6 million, that means that the money has to come out of the local government's pocket for a state road, and there's a lot of debate on the court, Commissioner Morrison was correct, there was a split on the court as to whether or not the county should be funding improvements to state roads, that the state should fund their own roads.

However, as I said, we've had a very good working relationship with them in joint venturing the improvements to state roads, would like to continue that relationship and we'd like to continue it on this project. If we have any savings at all on the feeder roads of 1093, we're going to spend that on the rest of the project, and right now the project tentatively ends right in Fulshear. With the new mayor we may be extending that road even further out because the county goes another 8 miles, 9 miles further west.

And Simonton is west of Fulshear, there's a large developer who's bought 39,000 acres out there, he's already talking to us about developing that acreage. We have all of these subdivisions that are being developed; in addition to the 6,000 acres that Tommy spoke to, we've got another 3,000 acres under development that we're selling homes on now. This particular area is the only area in all of the Houston area that has an increase in sales of homes year over year from '98-99, 2010.

Those subdivisions front on a two-lane road. That development is not going to continue if we only have a two-lane road out there, one of the reasons we're planning on having more than a four-lane road, we're planning on having an eight-lane road. We'd like to have the commitment that TxDOT has made to us and we believe it has been commitment, that's the reason we passed a resolution in support of it.

So that's kind of where we're at.

MR. HOUGHTON: I think the commitment is here to do what we said we would do, we would provide $39 million, the issue to me is now the underrun.

MR. MEYERS: Right.

MR. HOUGHTON: It's the underrun that's the question, so that's where the rub is right now, and I'll defer to my fellow commissioner.

MR. HOLMES: Commissioners Meyers and Morrison, we appreciate your being here, Mayor, thank you.

One of the issues that I have is more philosophical, it's not specifically about your project but it's the concept of heads we win, tails you lose. If we do not incentivize our partners to achieve the lowest possible costs, I think that's a mistake, and so I don't like the notion that we limit our contribution to the originally stated amount. It seems to me that it would be more appropriate to incentivize our partners to be as efficient as they can possibly be and then receive the benefit of that.

The issue is how much, and we've had some of these in this day and time with prices that are significantly lower than they had been two or three years ago, had some really substantial underruns, and so my general sense is that while we're going in the right direction, maybe we need to tinker with it just a little bit, John and Bob, and so that if we share in the overruns up to 10 percent and we allow our partners to benefit from their efficiencies up to some percentage, 5 or 10 percent, somewhere in that range, that that would be an appropriate way around it.

Now, I recognize that, Commissioner Morrison, it doesn't specifically address your concern that we're changing the rules in the middle of the game, but it seems to me that it might be, as we change those rules which I think we probably will, it seems to me that it might serve your purpose as well and also create an environment that allows projects to go forward with with some certainty that if you are more efficient that you benefit from that.

And so as we hear the rest of the testimony, I think there are two other people, one other.

MR. HOUGHTON: Can I ask James Bass that has a burning desire to speak on this issue, I hear,

MR. HOLMES: Where is James?

MR. HOUGHTON: Bass is in the back. Our chief financial officer, I was told, just can't wait to talk about this.

MR. BASS: For the record, I'm James Bass, CFO at TxDOT, and not sure I would describe it as a burning desire.

You may be already fully aware of this and the challenges or implications, I understand concern on underruns and overruns. I just saw the minute order a few minutes ago. The thing as far as the financing from a local perspective that you may have already heard, forget about the different percentages but just for simplicity of discussion, local entity build a $50 million project and if you spend $50 million over the next 10-15 years we'll give you $50 million with the time-value of money offset by the local benefits from the road being in place years sooner than it otherwise would be.

Historically, most of the financings for the pass-through projects locally have been done by a pledge of our contract with a backstop of the local GO. Well, as you know, if you sell $50 million in bonds, you can't pledge a $50 million contract because you'll be short the debt service over that period of time. So from the local perspective, it can still get done, I'm not saying it wouldn't get done, it would just be done differently than it has been to date. Locals could obviously just do it solely as a front pledge of their GO, take the payments from us, run it through their GO pledge and make the difference on it coming from other taxes and fees from the local perspective.

Another option would be a $50 million contract, again, just for simplicity, we'll issue $35- or $40 million in bonds, whatever the math works out to, with a pledge of this contract and then come up with another $10- or $15 million initially to fund the project from some other local source.

And again, I apologize, this may be something you've all thought of and were fully aware of before, but I see it differently as one of the concerns I'm aware of is kind of a risk transfer and possible profit and loss to a developer involved in the pass-through program. I think limiting to actual construction costs has potential implications on the financing of these projects from a local perspective and what security they're providing on their debt. So I just wanted to offer that.

MR. HOUGHTON: And that's what, J.D. and Bob, that I was looking at, and Commissioners and Mayor, is that any kind of savings that would be had, an underrun would go to concrete and asphalt, not to consulting fees but actual stuff that you're putting on the ground. Commissioner Holmes, if you wanted to cap that at a percentage, but I think Bobby and I talked about that.

MR. BASS: One of the principles of the program to date --

MR. HOUGHTON: On a state highway system or unapproved?

MR. BASS: -- was looking at the department's estimated cost of when the department would get to the project, and oftentimes it was here's today's costs, but in our current program we wouldn't be building that project today, it might be eight years, might be five years, might be ten years from now, so today's costs to the department would likely experience inflation over that time period.

From the department's perspective or the state's perspective, it was okay, this project was going to be built eight years from now so cash flow we would pay out in year eight, year nine and year ten for this project. Conversely, through a pass-through agreement, once it's completed, we would start making payments so we might start making payments in year four and stretch those payments out through year 19 or year 24. Well, the present value of those two payment streams, eight, nine and ten, compared to four through 24, there is a present value savings to the state by stretching those payments from year four to year 24 as compared to just eight, nine and ten. That was part of the analysis, part of the underlying philosophy.

MR. HOUGHTON: Reason for the Pass-Through Program.

MR. BASS: Right, and I'm not saying I agree or disagree, that was just one of the underlying concepts of the program.

If the repayment is limited to actual construction costs today --

MR. HOUGHTON: No. I'm talking about the underrun.

MR. BASS: Correct, but I think in the minute order as well -- and I apologize, I'm the newbie speaking out of turn, I'm not fully informed, my apologies if that turns out to be what I'm doing -- I think in addition the minute order says the amount of reimbursement from the department would be limited to actual costs.

MR. HOUGHTON: Construction costs, right. Costs or construction costs?

MR. BASS: Construction costs. And I don't believe that includes financing and that may be very well fine and that may be your intent. But again, forgetting that we may only be doing 80 percent of a project or 60 percent, just for simplicity, you spend $50 million today, we will reimburse you no more than $50 million over the next 10, 15 or 20 years, how is that financed from a local perspective. To date, many of the locals have been able to finance that by an initial pledge of our contract with them, that's been the primary security, and in most cases they've provided a backstop of their city or county debt.

Again, from the local perspective, the beauty of that, and I'm guessing here that backstop of the GO does not count against their GO cap, if you reverse it and say I'm going to do it first pledge is going to be my GO, then it starts hitting the local's general obligation full faith and credit cap that they may be operating under.

So that limit to actual expenditures today has an impact, I believe, on how the locals will be able to move forward in financing the projects. And again, I apologize if you've already considered this fully, but it's a somewhat separate and distinct issue from the other one on the developer issue, or at least from my perspective or the overall underrun from the contract agreement amount.

MR. HOLMES: James, on a general basis, what do you consider the percentage of total costs relative to construction costs? If construction costs, are they 80 percent of total costs, is that about right?

MR. BASS: Right. It's going to depend upon the type of project, obviously, that you're doing, but on a mobility one, yes, it would be the development costs, right of way and engineering would be one-fourth of the construction costs, so 80-20 gets you the total costs.

MR. HOLMES: And so in the Pass-Through Program, it's nearly impossible for money to go outside of that particular project if it is capped at 10-over, 10-under. Would that be basically the math?

MR. BASS: Correct.

MR. HOLMES: Or if we restricted it to that project, where is Bob, would that qualify? Because these are on the state highway system. Right?

MR. JACKSON: You could restrict it to that project. Your legal options are many. In response to Commissioner Houghton's concern, if you have a huge underrun like we've seen, there could be some legal issues with how that money is spent. If you're capping the underrun at say 10 percent, legally your option is they can spend it however they want to, you can say they've got to spend it on transportation, you can say they've got to spend it on the state highway system, or you can say they've got to spend it on that project or an extension of that project.

MR. BASS: Another key from a finance perspective is, and I don't think anyone would have been able to finance the projects you're talking about this applying to without an executed agreement, but that would obviously be a question, has anybody, and again, my initial thought would be no, they wouldn't be able to without a fully executed agreement, they would not have been able to use a selection by the commission as security to go out and issue debt. So I don't think there's any outstanding debt that would be involved in any of the projects you're talking about here.

MR. HOLMES: There's always risk of changing a minute order from the dais in the middle of a meeting, and I'm not sure, Bob, if you have time to change it, but what I would like to see is 10-over, 10-under and it's used on a state highway project, presumably it would be the one that we're working on.

MS. DELISI: Do you want to specify that it would have to be on that project?

MR. HOLMES: I think a state highway project.

MR. HOUGHTON: And/or.

MR. HOLMES: I think it's nearly always going to be used on the project in question because the other costs associated with it are going to be well over 10 percent.

MR. BARTON: If the commission would allow me, I might just offer a couple of observations. Understanding the intent of the commission and the direction you would like us to move in, certainly we'll follow whatever directions you give us, and in fact, that's what we were attempting to do as we prepared a minute order for last month and then again for this month.

It's important to note that Fort Bend County is just one example of many projects and there are other projects where all the right of way exists, all the engineering has been performed, all the utilities have been adjusted, and the only costs we're talking about is construction costs. So if underruns occur there then if you put them back on that project, you are going to be extending one of two things: you would either be extending the scope of that project by adding more work; or you would need to put it on other state highway projects within that county, I guess, presumably at the approval of the commission; or you would be reducing the amount of contribution the community has to bring to the table to get the project delivered which was one of the reasons that it was selected in the first place.

Other projects also have right of way and engineering in place and the department, in addition to the reimbursement of some of the actual costs, is contributing other normal funds to offset some of the costs. So taking Fort Bend County as an example and modifying it, if the right of way already existed, it had been bought by the department for the extension of FM 1093 at some point in the past, if Jim Hunt and his staff had already designed the project and gotten environmental clearance and Fort Bend County and the City of Fulshear was coming forward to help pay for part of the costs and for the $40 million of construction they were asking us to pass through $20 million that they would make available today and we were putting in $20 million of our own funds up front, all these issues that you've talked about complicate the scenario by which you are contemplating changing these rules now.

And so just information I felt like you needed to have before you provided direction to us.

MR. HOUGHTON: So John, you're saying one size doesn't fit all, does it.

MR. BARTON: No, sir. It's difficult in this situation based on the intent of what you're trying to do which is preserve the interests of the state and protect the interests of the locals. It seems, based on the example that's been very passionately portrayed to you today by Fort Bend County, that there is a solution at hand. I just want to point out that there's a myriad of project scenarios under which the pending agreements exist.

MR. JACKSON: If you allow them to spend an underrun on other state highway projects, they would have to come back for another minute order for that approval.

MR. HOLMES: I don't have a problem with that either. I mean, that seems to make sense. Commissioner Meyers?

MR. MEYERS: Can I finish my testimony?

MR. HOUGHTON: Oh, you weren't finished yet.

MR. HOLMES: You really hadn't even started.

MR. MEYERS: Or did you cut me off and I didn't know it.

MR. HOUGHTON: I apologize.

(General laughter.)

MR. MEYERS: That's okay. You were asking questions and you wanted another gentleman to speak.

Again, we believe that you could provide guidelines to TxDOT with regard to negotiating agreements between the locals and TxDOT to take care of a lot of these issues. I understand in certain situations, one size doesn't fit all. In our particular situation I don't think that there's another county, I may be wrong, who is committing 70 percent of a project cost and looking for only 30 percent from the state, and that's what we're doing in this particular project. Now, if there's one that you have that fits that category or exceeds that, I'm not aware of it.

All we're trying to do, as the state is trying to do, is limit our risk. We have the additional risk since our construction costs are further out, and I'm talking about the mainlanes of 1093 are further out than the four lanes that we're talking about here, our risks increase from the standpoint that costs, which have come down rather dramatically, construction costs have come down dramatically over the last two years, very well could go up over the next four or five years back to the same level they were. So the county is taking those risks as opposed to a much lesser risk from the state's standpoint.

And again, we're still talking about funding a state road, not a county road and we still have an issue on my court as to whether or not that is something that the county really thinks is a good idea to do, and that is for the county to use local taxpayers' money, local property taxes to fund a state road.

So with that, I'll ask again, we would like to have the state fulfill its commitment that we believe it's made to the county of spending $39.6 million on a $140 million project. Thank you.

MS. DELISI: I've got one more person who needs to testify before you make any comments. Gerald Roberts.

MR. ROBERTS: Madame Chairman, I think a lot of my thunder has already been stolen here. Director Barton did a good job of giving a little history and they gave some of the same points that I was going to make in my speech so I'm not going to waste your time other than to say that we kind of agree from a local perspective. We feel like we've been working on this for a year and been negotiating in good faith with TxDOT staff which has been excellent to work with, Wes Newman is a great guy in the district office in Houston, been real responsive to questions and things that we've done.

We've passed the resolution and actually authorized the judge to sign the contract and we've returned that back to you for you to execute it so that we can get started. We were originally planning on starting in May and now these things are really creating a delay for us in getting going. Probably the best we can do, if you reopen terms and conditions, even if our court agrees to continue, we're probably looking at July-August at getting started. So we were ready to and so we were excited, and so obviously we're disappointed that you are changing the game. And from our perspective, we really feel like negotiating in good faith that you are changing the rules at the last minute, and I don't know how my court is going to address that if you decide to reopen terms and conditions, we'll just have to see.

But other than that, I would just encourage you to think about that. Maybe if it was an oversight for the '09 program, maybe you ought to let the '09 program stay where it is and if you want to change the rules for the 2010 program, maybe that's the right thing to do. I understand your concerns about the cost of underruns because some contracts are coming in underruns.

This State Highway 36 is a very important corridor to us. Obviously we've been working for many years trying to find a way to develop this 36 corridor. We had a developer, H.B. Zachry, and we were trying to build it from Rosenberg to Freeport and obviously nobody has the money to do that kind of project on this corridor. It's extremely important to us for safety reasons, for hurricane evacuation, as well as commerce. Our port at Freeport is doing an expansion and building a container terminal right now, we're expecting a lot more trucks to hit the roads since they're kind of limited on what they can get in and out of there by rail. We would just encourage you to think about some of those things.

We've really just been trying to find a way with TxDOT, we even agreed to go buy the right of way if we can get reimbursed, but we didn't have the money to do that either. But anyway, we saw this Pass-Through Toll Program as an opportunity that we could go build some critical segments like the overpass at 35 and 36 where people can have choices if they're evacuating. The overpass to the port is to help them with some of their logistical problems with their expansions. The upgrade through Brazoria is really a TxDOT priority that we agreed to do as part of our project.

Our main thoroughfare is State Highway 288 into the south part of the county and it's already congested and if you're going from 1,000 trucks a day out of your port to a potential of 5,000 trucks a day, they're going to have to go up 288 if we can't make it easier for them to go up Highway 36 to I-10. So the concept is still good and still worthy, and we're just trying to support TxDOT in finding a way to build critical segments of this corridor, and so we'd encourage you let's move forward and get some stuff going, get some concrete on the ground.

MR. HOLMES: Gerald, before you sit down, what is the value of your project? These are two different projects.

MR. ROBERTS: There's three segments: the overpass in West Columbia, the upgrade to four lanes through the City of Brazoria for five miles, and the overpass at FM 1495 and State Highway 36 to the port. The port has property to expand but with the two state highways dead-ending right into the port, we need to get this intersection up so they can have mobility under the overpass, and they're dealing with the railroad getting trains together.

But basically the total project is about a $47 million project and TxDOT has agreed to pay $29.4 million of that. Obviously, we're taking the risk and we twisted the port's arm and they've agreed to pick up 50 percent of the risk of overruns for the project at the port. The port is supplying the local share for the overpass at the port, about $14 million. We're putting about $6 million of our mobility funds into the rest of the work. If you include the cost of financing, we're looking at $64 million that Brazoria County is going to commit to this project for $29.4 million.

MR. HOLMES: I was just going to give a little background for the commission. The port at Freeport has a wonderful growth opportunity in front of it because it is so close to deepwater, it's much closer than the Port of Houston to deepwater, and so as vessels increase in size and the requirements for draft increases, the Port of Freeport has some really wonderful opportunities over the next few decades, and so improving the land conveyance portion of that is clearly important.

MR. ROBERTS: Right. We're looking for something else to put trucks on other than Highway 288.

MR. HOUGHTON: Gerald and commissioners, you're very welcome to come engage, if you so choose, but I think at a minimum if there are underruns, the department should have a say with the counties on how those underruns are spent.

MR. ROBERTS: And we don't have any objection to that and we don't have any objection to applying them to other state highways in the county, because our state highways, like Commissioner Morrison said, really are major thoroughfares in our county, so we don't have a problem with that.

MR. MORRISON: We’re trying to figure out a way to say this diplomatically.

MR. HOUGHTON: What's in question are eleven projects in this call, and each one is different.

MR. MORRISON: Yes, sir.

MR. HOUGHTON: And that's the one size doesn't fit all.

MR. MORRISON: I think, from Fort Bend County's standpoint, we'd like to be free to use those underruns however we want. I think in this situation it's going to be poured back into this project, but again, I'm here today, I think, to get the best deal possible.

MR. HOUGHTON: And so am I.

MR. MORRISON: And I think it was Commissioner Holmes that said maybe an either/or where either you put it on this project or you put it on another state highway project.

MR. HOUGHTON: But that's my point, we have a say as how the underruns would get spent, it doesn't end up in the general fund. I'm not saying it will.

MR. MORRISON: Like I said, we're not going to spend it on whiskey, I promise.

MR. HOUGHTON: I understand that, but my point is if there's an agreement amongst these eleven that we have a seat at the table on how the underruns get spent. This is just eleven projects and they're all different and that's why cookie cuttering it may not work here.

MR. MORRISON: I'd like to get the best deal as possible, so if that's what the best deal is.

MR. HOUGHTON: I'm not going to negotiate the best deal here from the dais.

MR. MORRISON: No, I'm just telling you from my standpoint, you're asking me whether I agree with that and I don't necessarily agree, but I just want to tell you that whatever the best deal is, I think we'd try to get that.

MR. HOUGHTON: Again, if there's an agreement in principle that we have a seat at the table, Bob, I don't know how we do that, by some addendum that we sit at the table on the underruns on who they would get spent. John or Bob or Gerald?

MR. ROBERTS: We've got an application in for the 2010 program as well for two more segments of State Highway 36, that's how important it is.

MR. HOUGHTON: Is that a promotion, an advertisement?

MR. ROBERTS: That's a promotion.

(General laughter.)

MR. BARTON: Commissioner Houghton, if it's the will of the commission, my recommendation would be that you allow the staff to revise the minute order, as long as we have clear intent from the commission of what it is, we can do that, and it appears that the language would be simply to say that any underruns on the project must be spent on other state highway projects or activities on state highway projects approved by the commission.

And I think for clarity's sake, taking again the example that's been articulated before us today, the Fort Bend County example, no question it's a larger project than the amount of reimbursement that's contemplated under the agreement we've reached so far, if the county wanted to use those to pay their engineering firm an additional fee for them to then go purchase whiskey, as the commissioner talked about, I think that would be of concern to us. If it was to pay for right of way, to move utilities, to pay for change orders that may be contemplated because of the unknown certainty of construction activities, that's one thing, if it's just to pump the money into the project to do something else, it may be completely different.

So I think if you direct staff clearly on what your intent is, we can craft a revision to the minute order, and I'll ask legal counsel.

MR. HOUGHTON: Do we need a minute order on eleven projects, because they're different, or do we go back to Fort Bend County and we go to Brazoria County and say this is what the intent of the commission is, if we can all agree there's an intent, but do we need this minute order, Bob?

MR. JACKSON: Absolutely. The rules provide that the underruns and overruns are the responsibility of the local government unless the commission says otherwise by minute order.

MR. HOUGHTON: All right.

MR. BARTON: And as has been pointed out by those that have spoken before you today, and I will confirm that I agree completely, these projects were poised to move forward as quickly as possible back in November and December when we were given the authority to execute these full agreements with them. Many of them have been pending since late February final execution, and so every day that we delay obviously provides cost risks.

We could bring this back before you on June 8 or we could have you take action today based on clear direction of what you would like and we can revise the minute order accordingly.

MS. DELISI: I don't feel like there's clear direction at this point. To me, I would rather do it right on June 8, because if we don't get this right, this program may go away, someone across the street may decide we're not managing this program right, so I would rather do it right than to sort of guess because I don't think it was all that clear.

MR. HOUGHTON: I agree.

MS. DELISI: So I think a delay of ten days, less than two weeks.

MR. BARTON: We will certainly work on it. And I would just ask if you could give us an indication of whether or not -- well, I suppose whichever you prefer, Commissioner. This is the second time we've brought this before you; hopefully, the third time will be the charm.

MR. HOLMES: You need some direction because this is the second time.

MR. BARTON: Hopefully a third time would be the charm.

MR. HOUGHTON: I can articulate mine is that it gets put back into the current project or other state highway projects within that region/county, however you want to define the boundaries, mutually agreed by the department.

MR. HOLMES: And I agree with that. My sense is there should be some over/under percentage that is imbedded in it, 10-over, 10-under, so we don't have a gigantic underrun. I think that that is really the genesis of the problem.

MR. BARTON: So as I understand it correctly, the counties came before us saying that they have taken on the risk and they would like to be able to use those underruns at their discretion but would take whatever deal, you are now asking us to increase our willingness to participate at a higher level if costs come in over which is taking the risk back on us, and to allow the underruns to be used without a limit on projects that we agree to?

MR. HOLMES: No, not without a limit, a 10 percent limit, and if it's more than 10 percent, that we reduce our commitment.

MR. BARTON: And we will work on that. I think that's what the minute order that was proposed in April would have done, so we will revisit that and make sure that we've addressed your issues.

MR. HOLMES: Commissioner Meyers doesn't think that that's what that minute order would have done.

MS. DELISI: Please step up to the microphone.

MR. MORRISON: If you go back to the very first minute order when it came out, when was that, in April, I guess, I actually wrote an amendment to the Section 5 there that would do the 10 percent over and above and I'd be happy to give that to him to have him look at that. So for what that's worth, I thought I'd get that out there.

MR. HOLMES: We're always happy to have input, Commissioner Morrison. Thank you.

MR. BARTON: I believe we have direction, and we will, with Mr. Simmons' approval, place it on the agenda for the June 8 meeting and bring forward to you at that time a revised minute order.

MS. DELISI: Thanks, John.

MR. SIMMONS: Thank you, John.

We're moving on to item number 13 which is the Obligation Report presented by Brian Ragland.

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

This is our monthly report on the Obligation Limit for the traditional program and also an update on our motor fuel tax receipts. Through our May letting cycle, we've let $755 million which counts against the $1.6 billion cap. That cap excludes our CDA activity. We've got $529 million scheduled to be let in the last three months and then staff is working diligently to schedule the remaining gap of the $1.6 billion, of course, taking into account limits by district and by category.

And then on our motor fuel taxes, we actually had a small up-tick in our May receipts over last May. They were up 2.68 percent and so that's the first time we've seen an increase since November. Year-to-date we are down 1.45 percent when we compare it to the same nine-month period in FY '09. Hopefully that will continue, and that's all I have, unless you have any questions on this. Thank you.

MR. SIMMONS: Thank you, Brian.

Next item is the award or rejection of highway improvement contracts to be presented by our director of Construction Division, Russel Lenz.

MR. LENZ: Good morning. For the record, I am Russel Lenz, the director of the Construction Division.

Before you this morning we would like to bring a minute order for the consideration of the award or rejection of highway and maintenance and building construction contracts that were let on May 11 and May 12 of 2010. This is item 14(a) number (1). We had 30 projects with an average bidder of 4.8 and we had an underrun of 5.64 percent.

After review, staff recommends the award of all maintenance and building projects. Any questions?

MS. DELISI: Is there a motion?

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. LENZ: As a tidbit of information on the maintenance contracts this month, we did have a tie bid for a maintenance facility, and for your information, we flip a coin to determine the actual bid winner. The procedure is described in the Administrative Code so it's kind of unique. The last high bid that we had at the local level was in 2004 in Dallas where we had the same issue occur, but the last statewide issue was back in 1999 and that was stretching some people's memory for that to occur. But the Code specifically tells you how to do it and who gets to make the call and how it's awarded. So I thought I would pass that along, it doesn't happen very often.

MR. SIMMONS: I might add that it's pretty detailed, it has to be a coin a quarter or bigger, there has to be so many witnesses, if it hits a table, I mean, it's pretty detailed.

MR. LENZ: And it tells if it's a quarter it's the George Washington side that's the actual heads, so it's a pretty detailed process.

MS. DELISI: Who gets to call heads or tails?

MR. SIMMONS: That was a question we had. We thought rock/paper/scissors would be better because they get to pick what they want.

MR. LENZ: They have to agree. It's kind of funny, but there's no remedy if they both say I want to call, so what we ended up doing was having a cup with each contractor's name on a piece of paper and we were going to have one of the witnesses pull a name out of the hat.

MR. HOUGHTON: What was the value of the contract?

MR. LENZ: $2.012 million. It was for the maintenance facility.

MR. HOUGHTON: Where?

MR. LENZ: In Edcouch in Hidalgo County. Just an interesting piece of information that doesn't happen every day.

Item 14(a)(2) is for the consideration of the award or rejection of highway and transportation enhancement building projects that were also let on May 11 and May 12 of 2010. We present 61 projects today at an average of 6.11 bidders per project and an overall underrun of 9.64 percent. Staff recommends the award of all of these projects with the exception of the Fort Bend County project number CM 2010(844), and we recommend that that project be deferred until the June 2010 commission meeting. The reason for the deferral would be to take advantage of the opportunity to make the changes to convert to the ARRA funding for the previously approved commission minute order earlier in this meeting. That will allow us the time to make the conversion and make sure it's done properly. We've discussed with the contractor, they are happy to do that and willing to participate in making that change. Any questions?

MR. HOLMES: Deferring it doesn't require a rebid?

MR. LENZ: No, sir, it does not, and that's one thing staff and administration worked very, very hard to make sure that we would not have to do that, a lot of extra effort went into making sure that that was able to occur. Any questions?

MR. HOLMES: Move it.

MR. HOUGHTON: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SIMMONS: Madame Chair, the next item is our routine minute orders -- I'm sorry, item 14(b) was approving an award of a contract for scientific services to Michael Baker which employs a former 3executive director of this department, a gentleman by the name of Michael Behrens. This, in accordance with Government Code, requires the commission to approve it and we recommend approval.

MS. DELISI: Questions?

MR. HOLMES: So moved.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SIMMONS: Now we're into the routine minute orders. We have two issues: one we have somebody signed up to speak on item 15(e)(3) which deals with right of way dispositions and donations in El Paso County; and the other is we have a donation from one of our commissioners considered in the routine minute orders, so we'll have to take them in two separate votes.

MS. DELISI: First I'd like to call up Cygne Nemir.

MS. NEMIR: How do you do. I'm Cygne Nemir from El Paso County; I'm an assistant county attorney.

We are in the middle of building an international port of entry and this particular piece of property that we are trying to get today runs right through the center of the parcel that we would be conveying to the General Services Administration for the inspection facility. We are scheduled to close on that transaction next Wednesday, and so our critical concern here is the timing and that we get it done, and I'm just here to answer any questions that you may have and to make sure nothing goes wrong. Thank you.

MR. SIMMONS: And we have everything in place if you approve this to make it happen, to get the deed signed and everything to make that deadline. We've been working with the Attorney General's Office.

MS. NEMIR: I do want to thank in particular Randy Ward. I called him last Friday in the brinks of hysterics saying my entire deal is falling apart because this minute order is not written correctly, GSA won't close, the title company won't insure, and they have just been fantastic in straightening out the problems. So thank you.

MR. SIMMONS: Thank you.

MS. DELISI: So at this time then I'd like to get a motion for all of the routine minute orders except 15(a)(2), we'll handle that one separately.

MR. HOLMES: So moved.

MR. HOUGHTON: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

So now I need a motion on item 15(a) -- I'm sorry, did I handle this wrong?

MR. JACKSON: The commissioner needs to state that he has an interest in this minute order and that he is recusing himself.

MS. DELISI: Okay.

MR. SIMMONS: We voted on all of them but that one, so now we're going to that one, Bob.

MR. UNDERWOOD: At this point in time, Commissioner Fred Underwood has an interest in this and I recuse myself from the vote.

MS. DELISI: So can I get a motion on item number 15(a)(2)?

MR. HOLMES: So moved.

MR. HOUGHTON: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes, 4-0 with Commissioner Underwood recusing himself from the vote.

MR. SIMMONS: Madame Chair, those are all our items for the commission meeting today.

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

Sorry, we have someone signed up on the open comment session, so at this point I'd like the Honorable Rene Ramirez, county judge of Hidalgo County. I apologize for almost skipping right over you.

JUDGE RAMIREZ: That's okay.

MS. DELISI: We're happy to have you here.

JUDGE RAMIREZ: The pleasure is mine, Madame Chair and members of the commission. I really appreciate the opportunity to briefly make some comments to you.

We have an outstanding team of leaders from Hidalgo County that have traveled up with us to go ahead and have some time with the staff that you have here in Austin who does an outstanding job. We really appreciate the communication that you have extended to our leaders. Mario Jorge in the local district does an outstanding job, and I know a lot of times we don't do enough to go ahead and just tell you we appreciate what you do for Texas and specifically for Hidalgo County.

In the next coming months we're going to be coming before you to extend and foster our partnerships that we are moving forward to go ahead and move our constituency through the county safely and also commerce. We've got some projects that we are visiting with you about that we want to go ahead and continue to spur economic development in our county which is probably the fastest growing county in this great State of Texas.

And with your permission, I'd just like to briefly just recognize the people that are here with me today. I've got the chairman of the RMA, Dennis Burleson; Chairman of the MPO, Noe Garza; RMA board member, Juan Maldonado; RMA board member, Michael Cano; and then we have Beh, who was a former TxDOT employee that's one of the lead engineers for the RMA, with Mr. Jacinto Garza; also Godfrey Garza who is the director of the RMA; and then also Andrew Cannon who is the director of the MPO.

So we really appreciate you giving us some time and look forward to continuing the partnership with you. Thank you.

MS. DELISI: I just want to say I've had a lot of working experience with Judge Ramirez and all these folks in Hidalgo County, you've been a tremendous partner to work with, so thank you for working with us to get these badly needed projects ongoing and we look forward to working with you.

JUDGE RAMIREZ: Yes, ma'am. Thank you for your time.

MR. SIMMONS: That's all we have.

MS. DELISI: If there is no other business to come before the commission, I will entertain a motion to adjourn.

MR. UNDERWOOD: So moved

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

Please note for the record that it is 11:26 a.m. and this meeting stands adjourned.

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

C E R T I F I C A T E

MEETING OF: Texas Transportation Commission Workshop
LOCATION: Austin, Texas
DATE: May 27, 2010
I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 116, inclusive, are the true, accurate, and complete transcript prepared from the verbal recording made by electronic recording by Nancy King before the Texas Transportation Commission.





6/1/2010
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