Page Options
Up Arrow

Texas Department of Transportation Commission Meeting

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

Thursday, November 19, 2009


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


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


MS. DELISI: Good morning. It is 9:06 a.m. and I call the regular November 2009 meeting of the Texas Transportation Commission to order. Note for the record that public notice of this meeting, containing all items on the agenda, was filed with the Office of the Secretary of State at 4:22 p.m. on November 10, 2009.

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

Just to let everybody in the crowd know, it’s our intention to take up item 7 on today’s agenda relating to the Proposition 12 Revenue Bonds at time certain 10:00 a.m. this morning. If you wish to address the commission on this or any other item, 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’ll take your comments at the end of the meeting during the open comment period. For those comments, please fill out a blue card. Regardless of the color of card, we do ask that you try and keep your comments to about three minutes. My staff helpfully noted in here if you’re a state legislator or member of Congress, you can take as much time as you want to.

(General laughter.)

MS. DELISI: Now, as is custom, we will open with comments from the commissioners and we’ll start with Commissioner Meadows.

MR. MEADOWS: Thank you very much, Madame Chair. With the agenda that we have today and with the large crowd that we have with us today, I have nothing much to add other than to say welcome, and also just to express appreciation to the Greater Houston Partnership who hosted us last night at a reception. It was very nice, had an opportunity to meet a lot of people and learn a lot about some of the challenges that you all have in the Houston area, and I’m sure we’ll hear a little bit more about it today. But thank you all very much for being here.

MR. UNDERWOOD: I associate myself with my colleague’s remarks or whatnot. I see a lot of mayors here. I haven’t see this many suits in the room in a long time. Right now, Madame Chair, I feel like the slogan I saw on a T-shirt: Don’t confuse all these efforts with results. So anyway, thank you for being here and we look forward to a good meeting.

MR. HOLMES: I hate following Fred.

(General laughter.)

MR. HOLMES: Welcome. It’s always nice to see folks from around the state. I know quite a lot of you in the audience from my living and working in Houston. I appreciate your being here and really from all around the state, but I guess when you’re divvying up a couple of billion dollars, it will draw a crowd, won’t it.

We thank you for your participation and interest. The problems that transportation faces in this state are pretty monumental and there’s clearly not enough money to go around, and the staff and commission really need your input and appreciate it in helping make decisions. Thank you.

MR. HOUGHTON: I echo the sentiments of my fellow commissioners and welcome to those who traveled far and wide from around the state, and especially Jeff Mosely, the group welcome from the Greater Houston Partnership, a lot of fun last night and seeing some folks that I’ve met in earlier times from the Houston area. And again, I echo Commissioner Holmes’ remarks about we draw a crowd. Deirdre had just asked me how many billable hours are in this room do you think today.

MS. DELISI: Maybe more than the $2 billion we’re spending.

(General laughter.)

MR. HOUGHTON: Yes, it could be.

So again, welcome to all of you who came here today and we appreciate your support.

MS. DELISI: Good morning, everyone. One thing I’d like to call your attention to are the cards that are placed in the chairs, and also these cards are available at the registration table. They announce the 5th Annual Transportation Forum which will take place at the Austin Hilton January 6 through 8, 2010. I invite you to be part of the conversation about the future of Texas transportation. Please check out the website and consider registering to attend this event, and we’ll understand if attendance is a little bit lower should Texas hit the national championship game, but regardless, we’d like for you to go ahead and register.


(Time Noted: 9:12 a.m.)

MS. DELISI: Our first item of business today is item 1 on the agenda, a public hearing regarding the project selection process, and I’d like to call on Brian Ragland, our director of finance, to conduct this public hearing.

MR. RAGLAND: Thank you. Good morning. For the record, my name is Brian Ragland, I’m director of the Finance Division. The notice for this public hearing was published in the Texas Register on November 6, 2009. The presentation and hearing are held annually to fulfill the requirements of Transportation Code Section 201.602. The highway project selection process being discussed will be used for selections in the 2011 Statewide Preservation and Safety Program and the Statewide Mobility and Supplemental Transportation Program.

At this point we have a 12-minute presentation which is part of the public hearing, and then I’ll come back and make a few closing comments.

(Whereupon, the video was shown.)

MR. RAGLAND: I just wanted to point out that copies of this video are available on DVD out in the foyer, there’s also a brochure that describes the process, and both are also on the TxDOT website.

Comments are due by December 21 and then we will come back to you in January for final approval of the process. And that’s all I have unless you have questions. Thank you.

(Whereupon, at 9:25 a.m., the public hearing was concluded.)

P R O C E E D I N G S (Resumed)

MS. DELISI: Item 2 on today’s agenda is the approval of the minutes for the October 29 meeting of the commission. Members, the minutes have been provided in your briefing materials. Is there a motion to approve?

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

Amadeo, with that, I’ll hand over the rest of the meeting to you.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Madame Chair. Before we get started, I do have two resolutions that I would like to present today, and then I think by that time we’ll be pretty close to ten o’clock where we can then get to item 7.

Our first resolution has been prepared by our Public Transportation Division, and I’d like to call up Mr. Fred Gilliam who served as chair of the Public Transportation Advisory Committee, and also Mr. Eric Gleason who is our Public Transportation Division director. Good morning, gentlemen.

The resolution reads as follows:

Whereas, the Texas Legislature created the Public Transportation Advisory Committee in 1991 to ensure the continued statewide support for public transportation;

And whereas, the Texas Public Transportation Committee is comprised of nine members committed to public transportation in Texas;

And whereas, Fred Gilliam fully served as a member of the Texas Public Transportation Advisory Committee for six years, and for those six years contributed significantly to the Texas Department of Transportation’s public transportation programs;

And whereas, he served as chair of the Texas Public Transportation Advisory Committee from 2003 to 2009 and rendered such service in a manner that has contributed greatly to the betterment of public transportation in Texas;

And whereas, he has contributed his time and his resources to service solely due to his passion for and commitment to public transportation;

And whereas, his term on the Texas Public Transportation Advisory Committee expired on September 30, 2009;

Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Texas Transportation Commission hereby honors and thanks Mr. Fred Gilliam for his service to the department and to the people of Texas. With gratitude and best wishes, presented by the Texas Transportation Commission, this day, Thursday, November 19, 2009.

Thank you, Fred, for your great years of service and your great leadership of the Public Transportation Advisory Committee.

Eric, would you like to add a few comments?

MR. GLEASON: Yes, I would. For the record, I’m Eric Gleason, director of the Public Transportation Division.

I just want to extend my appreciation, Fred, on behalf of the department but in particular on behalf of the Public Transportation Division for all of your time and commitment these past six years. During Fred’s tenure as chair of the committee, the committee tackled a number of critical issues and controversial issues related to our work in the rural and small urban areas of the state, and I will say that Fred has spent most of his career working in the metropolitan area and most of our issues that we deal with are almost exclusively associated with the rural and the small urban areas, and so his commitment of time and interest to those issues was particularly appreciated.

He brought to his position as chair a really unique and wonderful combination of experience and integrity and humor which allowed us to get through a number of difficult issues, and I think more than anything, a sense of grace and graciousness in his role as chair that really facilitated our work. So I thank him very much for that.


MR. SAENZ: Would you like to say a few words?

MR. GILLIAM: Yes, I would, thank you.

Good morning. Thank you, Madame Chair and members of the commission and staff. It’s certainly an honor for me to accept this recognition today. The six years I served obviously was reviewed and many times we had many difficult decisions, but just as you make difficult decisions facing this state, we had to do the same, and hopefully the advice and the decisions we made were beneficial overall to the commission.

I want to thank you publicly for the service you do every day and also the staff. This is one of the most professional staffs I’ve had to deal with in the 50 years I’ve been in public transportation involved in the states, and I commend you for assembling a staff that you have and the professionalism, the ethics also involved with the staff.

Thank you again, it’s certainly been my pleasure, I wish you the best of luck and thank you also for what you do every day. Thanks.

MR. SAENZ: Commissioners, before we go down and present the resolution to Fred, would any of you like to make any comments?

MR. UNDERWOOD: Just being here two years, I appreciate your six years of service, sir.

(General laughter.)

MR. GILLIAM: Thank you.

MR. UNDERWOOD: And also I appreciate your comments, and I agree with you on Eric and his staff. Thank you, sir, it’s well deserved. And your honor is well deserved, sir, and thank you for your service.

MR. HOLMES: Thank you for your service, Fred. I think most people associate TxDOT with highways but it actually has a great many other activities, and yours is a very critical one. We appreciate all you’ve done for public transportation. Thank you.

MR. HOUGHTON: It’s one that gets lost, Fred, in kind of the mix, and because of Eric and yourself, it raised the bar of visibility, and we thank you for your service.

MS. DELISI: Thank you very much. I know it’s not an easy job and requires a lot of personal time and giving of your time, and we tremendously thank you for your participation in what we do in this very critical area of transportation.

MR. GILLIAM: Thank you.

(Pause for presentation of resolution and photos.)

MR. SAENZ: Our next recognition is a little bit of unfinished business that was left over from last month’s short course at Texas A&M. Each year we present five very special awards to various members of the transportation community. It happens that one of our recipients on that day, of all days, was ill and was unable to attend the short course. Of course, she didn’t know that she was going to get an award so I would imagine if she would have known she was getting an award, she probably would have gotten there, but we make it a surprise.

I would like Anita Wilson of the Texas Division of the Federal Highway Administration to please come up. Good morning, Anita.

Anita was announced as the recipient of the Luther DeBerry Award which is granted for outstanding contribution to the State of Texas in the field of transportation. This award is open to any employee of all transportation-related agencies in Texas and all employees are eligible for this award. Luther DeBerry was the engineering director of the Texas Highway Department from 1973 to 1980.

Anita was selected as this year’s recipient because of her untiring efforts in the development of the comprehensive development agreement, or CDA. She played an extremely pivotal role in our ability to deliver two high profile CDA projects worth $7 billion. It has been a two-year process that has involved extensive coordination with local communities, private development firms, state transportation, environmental agencies, and of course, Federal Highway Administration and other federal partners.

In fact, hand-in-hand participation with Federal Highway Administration was crucial to the success of the CDA projects and Anita Wilson singlehandedly coordinated the Federal Highway Administration at every effort of the way and provided immediate responsiveness on federal rules and regulations and requirements. The expertise and oversight helped build a CDA process from the ground up in Texas. She has helped streamline the process by reviewing all CDA documents, technical specifications and contract documents while concurrently working and reviewing the ongoing environmental process.

She has also been directly responsible for bringing supplemental funding to projects with more than $250 million in economic stimulus monies with strict time lines that have been established for that program. Because of these efforts, the North Tarrant Express, the DFW Connector projects have leapt off the drawing board into implementation and will bring improved mobility and cleaner air across all of North Texas.

Anita has been instrumental in helping both the Dallas and Fort Worth districts in moving forward the I-35 LBJ CDA, the State Highway 121 project in Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties. Through all of this, she has been able to sustain the highest level of respect among the North Central Texas Council of Governments and the North Texas Tollway Authority, and of course, the Texas Department of Transportation.

For showing innovation, determination and a classic can-do attitude that will benefit generations of citizens, we selected Anita Wilson, Urban Programs engineer, to be the recipient of this year’s Luther DeBerry Award.

Anita, I’m glad that you were able to make it today and give us the opportunity to present you the award. Congratulations. You’ve always been a great help and really an inspiration since the day that I met you when I was down in the Rio Grande Valley, and thank you. Would you like to say a few words?


MS. WILSON: Thank you very much. For the record, my name is Anita Wilson, Urban Programs engineer with Federal Highway Administration. I am honored to be the recipient of the Luther DeBerry Award, and I wish to thank the selection committee, in addition to TxDOT, in particular the TxDOT Fort Worth District engineer, Maribel Chavez.

I’m proud that someone from Federal Highway Administration was selected and I believe I can speak for many in our office in our Texas Division, that we work our best and work hard with TxDOT districts, the divisions and stakeholders and try to deliver the transportation program. And thank you, again. Thank you, Amadeo.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Anita.

Commissioners, would you like to comment?

MR. MEADOWS: Anita, I just wanted to thank you, along with everybody else, and really respect the recognition because it’s such a good example of partnership and cooperation which we know today, if we’re going to deliver any of these projects, we’ve got to have it. And it’s not just words, when we think that we’ve delivered or are in the process of delivering $7 billion worth of projects in the Metroplex area, directly as a result you being a collaborator in that process, and it really is recognized and appreciated.

MS. WILSON: Thank you very much.

(Pause for presentation of award and photos.)

MR. SAENZ: All right, commissioners. We’re still a little bit before ten o’clock, so I am going to move on to agenda item number 4, Reports, and I’m going to ask the Grand Parkway Association, David Gornet to make his annual report on the Grand Parkway. David, tell me you’ve got a quick report for us. Good to see you.

MR. GORNET: We will keep this brief in light of all the important issues that you have to continue to consider later on today.

For the record, my name is David Gornet, I am the executive director of the Grand Parkway Association in Houston, Texas. I have with me today two of our directors, the president of the board, Mr. Billy Burge, and Mr. Chris Olavson, one of our board members. I’d like them to come up and see if they have a word to speak before I run through the presentation.

MR. BURGE: Madame Chair, commissioners, staff, I know you’ve got a long day so I’m going to make it very, very brief.

I think you’ll find the report fine. What I’d like to say is that Grand Parkway is at a crossroads. I grew up in Houston, Ned Holmes grew up in Houston -- he’s quite a bit older than I am, so his memory might be better on the facts, but in 1955 we built Loop 610, the City of Bellaire blocked it for ten years, that was our albatross. Then we jumped out to Beltway 8 and it floundered and Highway 6 became a hodgepodge of a connector, and Judge Lindsey took it, so at about that time is when the awareness of this outer loop really started to happen, it goes back 18-20 years ago.

And it’s the right thing, we thought we were ahead of the curve, we’re now finding out we weren’t ahead of the curve, a lot of things have happened but it’s still one of those projects that is not all footage and no yardage, this one is yardage. And I want to put it in a closing term. We started out with Ned coming aboard a year ago and he said, Billy, this is my top project. So we’ve now gone from Dancing with the Stars till we got jumped on by the county and everyone else wanting to tell us that we needed some studies, so we went through an Extreme Makeover. We came out of Extreme Makeover and we got these TARP funds, and bogus, right or wrong, they were pulled away, and so now we’re a Desperate Housewife.

(General laughter.)

MR. BURGE: So what I’d like to tell you is -- and I’m not kidding -- we don’t want to end up being the Little House on the Prairie, but if things don’t happen -- and I’m not saying they’re not, but I’m just trying to say don’t lose heart in the Grand Parkway, it is something that will make Houston grow in the right direction, it is the right endorsement, and I just hope that it will continue to be that way. We understand when you’re dealing with multiple counties what happens, but at the end of the day we’re all in the same noodle, and if we do not get this 170 miles completed on this outer loop, we are going to have projects like 290 and other things out there, they’re still going to suffer from the fact that there aren’t connectors on these things.

So I’m not telling you anything you didn’t know, but it’s a pleasure to be here today, pleasure to be part of it. I’ll tell you the last time I spoke was 20 years ago when Lanier was mayor and he came and spoke and I came with him, the partnership paid for a private plane. I spoke first, Lanier got up here, and I told him the only way I would come is I needed to be in Los Angeles and I needed to get to San Antonio to catch a plane. So Lanier kept talking and talking so I went out and I found the pilots and I commandeered the plane, I gave them a little beer money, they flew me to San Antonio, came back, and Lanier’s plane wasn’t there but the next day the Greater Houston Partnership presented me with a bill for $1,800 for fuel and pilots. So they didn’t invite me on this trip, I drove up and stayed in a Holiday Inn Express.

(General laughter.)

MR. OLAVSON: Madame Chair, members of the commission. For the record, I’m Chris Olavson, TxDOT retiree and member of the board of directors of the Grand Parkway Association. It’s always a pleasure to follow Billy, and I can tell you as the chairman of our board of directors, he’s much more brief during those meetings, he’s run them very efficiently.

I’m not born in Houston, like Ned Holmes and Billy Burge and so on, but I came as soon as I could in 1967 just in time to start for planning of the Grand Parkway. Grand Parkway first as officially on a document in 1968, the Houston 1990 Plan, and at the time it was just an undefined circle around Houston covering a wide band around. Not much happened for the next 15 years, but in 1984 -- which is 25 years ago -- the legislature in the special session passed the act for the Texas transportation corporations, and in October of that year, Grand Parkway Association was established. It was one of many associations or transportation corporations, but the only one who survived, so we’re still around after 25 years.

Fifteen years ago, only ten years after Grand Parkway got established, the first segment, Segment D, was open to traffic. Now, it took ten years from the establishment of the association to do all of the planning, the construction and get it open for traffic. That’s not the way it is today. The current environmental studies on the other segments started in 1998 and 1999 and we finally got a couple of records of decision but they still haven’t finished the environmental work. And we were kind of hoping to be going to construction by this time but it seems like it’s getting delayed again.

Now, we’ve got another milestone. Ten years ago in June, David joined the association, and a couple of years later he became the executive director, and on behalf of the board, I can say that we couldn’t have a better person representing us, and he’s been doing a really, really good job and it’s a privilege to serve with him. And Billy Burge, he’s on his third six-year term as a member of the association, so you guys have a little bit to catch up, looking forward to that. Thank you.

MR. GORNET: With that, I’ll run through the presentation quickly, if they can put it on the screen. The overall project status is that the route hasn’t changed since last year, still 184 miles in length. We have 60 miles of completed studies, 28 miles of the route are open to traffic, 14 miles are under design. Harris County, I think the number is about $34 million they’ve been spending this year to do the engineering for Segment E from I-10 to 290, they’re also acquiring rights of way from I-10 to 290. You took action in your February meeting to approve a cooperative agreement between Harris County and TxDOT for reimbursement.

Twelve miles, Segment F-1 has a record of decision and it’s ready to proceed with design and right of way acquisition. The balance of 118 miles, representing Segments B, C, F-2, G and H and I-1 are currently under study. Segment A from 45 over to State Highway 146 is a feasibility study that’s been performed and that study is complete.

We continue to strive toward meeting the goals of TxDOT that were established. The Grand Parkway will provide an opportunity to reduce congestion in the metropolitan area; it will enhance the safety of our traveling public and the delivery of goods in town; it will provide economic opportunity for the metropolitan area, whether it’s land development or bringing in new businesses to the area to give us more resources for employment; it will improve air quality as we reduce congestion, allow vehicles to move more efficiently around the area, we will have improved air quality; and by offering the additional opportunities for choices for how we drive from Point A to Point B, we increase the value of the transportation assets that have been put in place in the region.

This is a long summary. Most importantly, what happened in 2009 is that the records of decisions for E and F-1 were approved and are moving forward, and that the Segment G FEI was approved. Also in 2009, the commission and the surrounding counties waived market valuation studies in March. In September here in fiscal 2010 but officially has already happened, the seven counties asserted primacy per Senate Bill 792. They’ve all indicated that they want to keep local control of this project. I had hoped to be announcing today that we would have a ROD signed on Segment F-2. Federal Highways is very close to doing that, it’s my understanding that we should expect that shortly after the Thanksgiving holidays. Likewise, Segment G, the record of decision for that is mirroring what’s being done on Segment F-2 and should be executed, we anticipate will be executed relatively soon.

In fiscal 2010 we look for toll collection to begin on Segment I-2 -- that will be a Chambers County activity, as Chambers County took position to assert local primacy. We’re looking forward to the FEIS for Segment C being approved, the DEIS for B, the FEIS for H and I-1. We continue to anticipate Harris County will finish right of way acquisition for Segment E, they’ll complete their design plans for Segment E. Likewise, down on Segment D in Fort Bend County, we anticipate that Fort Bend County will advance the design of the bridges that are needed at the various overpass locations, US 90A, FM 1093, West Airport and so on in Fort Bend County.

Where do we go from here? With Senate Bill 792 and the seven counties asserting primacy, as we get records of decision and we complete the environmental studies, they have two years, the counties, per Senate Bill 792, have two years to enter into a contract for construction of those facilities. Segment F-1 has met that goal; Segment D has met that goal; Segment I-2 is in that position; Segment E still has environmental litigation that is pending on that, and hence, the two-year clock has not started on that segment; Segment F-2 and Segment G, when the records of decision are executed on those, then the clock will initiate on those segments.

The Grand Parkway Association, we appreciate the opportunity we’ve had for years to work with TxDOT, we look forward to continue to work with you and to work with the public to move this project forward. Any questions or comments from the commission?

MR. HOLMES: David, I appreciate your work, and Billy and Chris, thank you very much. Don’t lose faith. We’ll work through these problems together, it will be a cooperative effort and we’ll ultimately get there.

MR. GORNET: Thank you, sir.

MR. HOLMES: You’re doing a great job, too, David. Thanks.

MR. GORNET: Thank you, sir.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, David.

Okay, commission, it’s about ten minutes till 10:00. We’ve got a lot of state elected officials that have signed up so I think we could get started with item number 7 which deals with the Proposition 12 Program.

MS. DELISI: It’s my intention now, before the staff presentation, to give members of the legislature and Congress to speak now, if they so choose, so I’m going to start calling you up, and I’d like to start with Representative Doc Anderson. Come on up, you’re first, you’re the warmup act.

MR. ANDERSON: Thank you. Good to see you all here today and appreciate your efforts, and let me say, Madame Chair, we’ve spent a lot of time with TxDOT over the last eight to ten months, and we sure appreciate the professionalism and dedicated people that you have throughout the organization. And I appreciate the task we have of trying to make order out of chaos as far as the funding, federal dollars coming out and federal dollars being rescinded and state dollars and how we’re going about doing that, but I appreciate the long-term commitment to the state and I applaud your efforts and the efforts of your staff.

With the projects that the staff recommended here, those are the results of a thorough and professional analysis and study over a long period of time, and with a finite amount of resources and an infinite amount of projects, it really is a difficult situation.

Last session we had decided to kind of establish a constructive dialogue with TxDOT and work through some of these issues and take advantage of the legislation that was passed in 07, and that legislation, in my opinion, was exactly befitting the projects that the staff is recommending here, particularly on I-35, and that is that getting away from the typical gas tax funded projects to general revenue funded projects, and I-35 certainly fits that criteria.

I-35 is the main commercial conduit of Texas, it’s the backbone of our economy, and ironically, I-35, particularly in the Central Texas area, has had no modification since its initial construction. Additionally, it has an unacceptable high crash rate, particularly from Waco north to the Hillsboro area. And from San Antonio to DFW, the Central Texas area is the only area that has not been expanded to six lanes.

I appreciate the process that staff has gone through. As I said, it’s a very thorough analysis as to how to dedicate the fine resources that we have in the state, and we had established a task force of three counties, Hill County, McLennan County and Bell County, and Chairman Pitts in Hill County and myself in McLennan County, and Representative Ralph Sheffield -- who you’ll hear from -- in Bell County, to get everybody on the same page and to help work in a constructive manner with TxDOT and the commission in trying to make sure we address the critical issues there.

And I want to definitely thank the assistant executive director for Engineering, John Barton, and the director of Government and Public Affairs, Coby Chase, for their dedication and willingness to come out and visit with us, and our Waco District engineer, Richard Skopik. These folks, every time we called them -- we had a meeting in each one of those counties and each time we called them, they were willing to come up and spend hours listening to our comments, answering our questions, and explaining the process, and they’re very, very credible individuals.

We were out to San Angelo and from San Angelo all the way to Temple just two weeks ago when Commissioner Underwood and Director Saenz came up and visited with the Business Roundtable, so TxDOT really has been doing their job. They’ve been out there working and trying to solve this problem, and we appreciate the process.

I’ll keep my remarks short. In respecting the process and the work done by the staff, I would suggest that the commission not reshuffle those recommendations and all those hours of work and profit on the skills of the staff recommendations and keep the priorities as they are. And we have other folks from the general vicinity, Hill County, Bell County and McLennan County that will be visiting with you today, so in that light, I thank you for your time and appreciate the opportunity to visit with you today. Thank you.

MS. DELISI: Thank you.

Next I’d like to call up Congressman Michael McCaul.

MR. McCAUL: Commissioners and Chairwoman Delisi, it’s great to be back in Texas and talk about an issue other than healthcare.

This is perhaps one of the most important issues that we have in the delegation. We work together in a bipartisan way. My district, as you probably know, basically stretches from Austin to Houston and it’s also kind of known as the 290 District, and that’s what I’m here today to talk about is Highway 290 and the expansion of 290, specifically as it relates to Proposition 12, the reconstruction of US 290 and the IH 610 interchange.

Just so you know, the growth in my district, I have the fastest growing district in the State of Texas and number six in the nation, and the reason why is because of the west Harris County piece to my district. I have over a million people already in my district. The Cypress area has exploded and that’s why 290 is so important. I don’t ask for earmarks, I believe that TxDOT should be empowered to prioritize as they see best for the State of Texas, but my job is to advocate for my district and for my constituents when it comes to road improvements.

So anyway, I think 290, again, should be a very heavy focus of the commission. I know that you’re well aware of the needs of Highway 290. I just met with the Greater Houston Partnership and talked to them extensively about Highway 290, we had TxDOT representatives there, and in Cypress we had a mobility transportation Summit as well.

But Highway 290 has become a very congested and dangerous highway. I believe these improvements are necessary for the tens of thousands of Cypress residents and Houstonians who travel on Highway 290. Just to give you some perspective, on a daily basis there have been over 200 accidents per year between this 2.9 mile stretch, and that equates to about one accident every other day on this stretch of Highway 290. I can’t emphasize that enough, one accident every other day. That is why this is so important and that is why I think the Prop 12 funding needs to go towards this improvement.

We’re talking about safety, we’re also talking about, as a member of the Homeland Security Committee, an issue with respect to evacuation. We all saw, after Rita, the evacuation from Houston along Highway 290, and I think it’s a matter of safety, it’s a matter of homeland security that this stretch be expanded. The Governor’s Task Force appointed a study for the entire coastal evacuation effort and recognized parts of US 290 as a priority for improvement.

I think for all these reasons, I know you’re very well aware of the needs for Highway 290, both in terms of safety, congestion and homeland security, how important it is. And I think the long-term vision that we have -- I’ve had a lot of good discussions with Harris County Judge Ed Emmett about what we see as a vision for 290 -- is an expansion all along 290 and also the idea of rail, concept of rail stretching from Houston all the way to Austin, and the idea of the possibility of a high-speed rail so that people could travel more easily between Houston and Austin.

I think there are a lot of great visionary ideas out there and I look forward to working with TxDOT on those ideas. I think in the short-term, the Prop 12 funding for the interchange, I just can’t emphasize how important it is for Houston and my constituents and for the State of Texas. So thank you.

MS. DELISI: Thanks, Congressman.

Next I’d like to call up Senator Eddie Lucio.

MR. LUCIO: Good morning, Madame Chair and members, ladies and gentlemen. I was joined this morning by State Representative Tara Rios who had to leave for another meeting, and also my son, State Representative Eddie Lucio, III who is in route here.

I would be remiss if I didn’t congratulate you, Madame Chair, and members of the commission for the service that you provide our state. To say that this is an important commission would be an understatement, that you deal with billions of dollars for infrastructure for our state. I take pride in taking part in the confirmation of all the appointees to this commission since 1991, and I’ve always cared to work with the members. We also take pride in our chamber, working bi-partisanly. I know Senator Patrick, I was told, just walked in, a good friend of mine from Houston, Texas.

I wanted to make a very short, brief statement that reflects as Congressman McCaul mentioned, actually advocates for my district. I represent a district of five counties in the southern tip of Texas from Brownsville to McAllen north to the city limits of Corpus Christi. The census will obviously reveal tremendous growth in that area and also obviously the lack of infrastructure that we would hope to keep up with that growth.

Madame Chair and members, with competing interests throughout the state, allocation of Proposition 12 funds is undoubtedly a difficult task that requires careful consideration and prioritization. It is my understanding that during the selection process eligible projects were categorized by mobility projects, rehabilitation projects, and corridor projects which are of statewide significance.

In reviewing the proposed staff-recommended list of projects to be funded, I’m concerned that the continued growth of South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley has been overlooked. Of the recommended projects for the Pharr District there are no recommendations for fund allocation towards corridor projects. The Rio Grande Valley serves as an important corridor for the state’s international commerce which continues to grow. By next year the population of the entire region will be approximately 3.5 million people and this number is expected to double by 2040. Proper investment in the infrastructure of our emergent community is necessary to ensure continuity and growth of economic development for our state.

Traffic counts in the Rio Grande Valley continue to rise. By 2028 the state expects to see a 63 percent increase in traffic in Cameron and Hidalgo counties. I ask that you consider revising the fund allocation to include funding for corridor projects in the Pharr District. By upgrading existing highways it will be possible to create an efficient system from Texarkana to Houston and on to the Lower Rio Grande Valley. This will also improve access to the states Gulf Coast seaports.

Governor Perry knows the importance of the development of South Texas corridors. That is why in 2005 he instructed the commission to develop proposals to build an interstate quality highway to connect the Rio Grande Valley to I-37. In 2003, as most of you might remember, I authored Senate Bill 409 to expand the makeup of the Texas Transportation Commission from three members to five to reflect the ethnic and geographic diversity of our state. It disappoints me that South Texas does not have a member on this board to reflect our interests and to ensure that funding is fair and equitable.

I understand the cost of freeway congestion is important -- I’ve been in Dallas and I’ve been in Houston -- but you must also consider the importance of the costs associated by ignoring a region that is growing. Not giving South Texas the adequate resources to grow is bad for our state. I urge you to carefully review the selection of Proposition 12 projects and ask that you consider funding vital corridor projects in the Rio Grande Valley. Sincerely, I look forward to working with you as the interim period of time continues and that we prepare ourselves to come back.

I guess in closing I’d like to say that we really look at three or four issues that are most important to us. One is education, the education of our children, and we do as much as we can to invest so that we won’t have to spend money on incarceration for those that are not educated, for those who get in trouble. We also look at money on a preventive way to address healthcare issues so that we won’t have to spend billions in curative medicine. Same thing holds true for infrastructure, we need to obviously take care of our infrastructure needs today that will reflect the development of our communities in the future and prepare ourselves.

That’s what I see here today and that’s why I’m here to try my best to reflect these issues as my constituents in South Texas would like for me to echo them to you. So I thank you for your kind attention and I would like to turn this in for each one of you. If there are any questions, I’d be happy to address them.

MS. DELISI: Thank you, Senator.

Next I’ll call up Senator Glenn Hegar.

MR. HEGAR: Chair, commissioners, Amadeo, it’s good to see you all this morning, so glad you’re up here working for us, we appreciate it.

As we went through the last legislative session and then handed the torch over to you on the Prop 12 bonds, I know that you have a very difficult task and I know that staff has worked very hard to try to deal with the parameters of which we gave you and also understanding the funding situations that we have for transportation. We understand, you understand that they’re very deep and that we have a lot of roads to build, a lot of roads to repair, a lot of roads to maintain, and a tremendous amount of safety concerns in this state for all 254 counties. We have large rural areas and suburban metropolitan areas that have a tremendous amount of congestion.

And so I want to say thank you for as you looked at how do we deal with these dollars focusing on safety as well as traffic congestion because your needs are much, our needs are much greater than the dollars that we have. And so, in other words, we can always spend more money and I think staff had identified $9 billion worth of projects, yet there’s not $9 billion worth of money, and so how do we condense that to a shorter list.

In the district that I represent, there’s one project, Highway 77, for rebuild in Refugio County which I traveled that just last week, and it obviously needs repairing like others, but how do you cut that list and where do you stop? I think that staff has worked very hard to get there and I hope the commission moves forward in an area that I also represent west of Houston, northwest and west of Houston which I’ve traveled through parts that’s not in my district several times recently, being Highway 290 going into Houston, the interchange there at 610 and also I-10 where you have roughly 250,000 vehicles a day travel that short little span between 290 and I-10. You also have over 200 crashes a year, so when you deal with safety, this is a very major safety issue.

Eight hours every single day of slow stop-and-go traffic. The next major project -- though we have many projects in the Greater Houston area -- is how do we rebuild that interchange on 610 between I-10 and 290, then also taking 290 out and we’re looking at $4 billion plus in projects that are needed. So the money that staff has identified is very critical to save that 210 crashes a year for those 250,000 vehicles that travel that short area, eight hours of congestion every single day, and I would hope that we would move forward with those allocation of dollars for that area because it’s extremely critical for the Greater Houston area and I think also for the entire State of Texas.

There’s also an allocation potential of dollars for Interstate 45 which, amazingly, from just 2008 to 2009 traffic on that one part of the road that staff has identified for dollars for, hopefully, your approval, average speeds have gone from 30 miles per hour all the way down to 20 in one single year. That’s unbelievable. And then if you look at the safety aspects of it, there is roughly over 300 crashes a year, 345 incidents a year, that’s almost one per day, and that really is not acceptable.

And so when we deal with these dollars, I would hope that you would adopt those not only for my district which is the Highway 77 portion, but also the interchange between 290 and also I-10 on the loop on 610, as well as 45, because I think they properly identified the issues in dealing with congestion and safety in combination.

So I look forward to working with you in the upcoming interim, next session, and hopefully we can move forward in trying to solve a lot more of our transportation problems that we have in the State of Texas because we know they’re very great. So thank you all for your time, thank you for your work, and I appreciate you letting me be here today, Madame Chair and commissioners. So thank you.

MS. DELISI: Thank you.

Next I’d like to call up Senator Dan Patrick.

MR. PATRICK: Good morning, Chair, commissioners, thank you. I’ll be brief. I won’t try to dazzle you with the statistics on car counts and accidents because I know you know those and you’ve heard those. And I appreciate Senator Hegar being here representing the need for 290 and I-10, even though that’s not in his Senate district, it impacts his Senate district.

Our state demographers tell us we’re going to grow to 50 million people in 31 years. Now if that seems like a long time in the future, 31 years ago Earl Campbell was a running back for the Houston Oilers -- it was yesterday.

(General laughter.)

MR. PATRICK: Fifty million people, we have to be prepared for the opportunities and problems that that population is going to present, and our urban areas are going to be a significant area where that population increases. We have 1,200 to 1,500 people a day moving here now because the economies in the rest of the country are falling, Texas is strong. And why is Texas strong? Because we’ve done a lot of good things in government. And when I come back in 2011 -- God willing -- I want to help other members of the legislature in both parties find additional dollars so we can take care of the needs of the infrastructure and transportation needs of our state.

I’m a salesman at heart and in sales I learned when I used to go the factory and the factory would argue about a product, I’d say: Look, nothing is made unless it’s sold first. Well, nothing is sold unless it can move. We’re talking about not just traffic count for commuters, we’re talking about moving products, and the Houston area from the port to all over our area is a strong economic center for our state. So the 290 corridor is about quality of life, it’s about bringing down the rate of crash, it’s about the car count that’s going to increase, but it’s really about our economy.

If TxDOT and the State of Texas are going to have the dollars we need in the future, our economy has to be strong. So we need to be sure that Houston is strong and we can move our products, our service people can get to where they need to be, and our commuters can get home at the end of the day.

290 is such a bottleneck -- and I know all of you are aware of it -- it is such a bottleneck that it’s now impacting school district funding because Cy-Fair School District -- which is over 100,000 students, it is the fastest growing school district in the state, the third largest overall, it adds almost a 4-A district every year -- they’re having a problem funding their school district because commercial development has stopped, because housing development has stopped, because people say I’m not going to move out there, I can’t get there to here.

Now, hopefully, when the Grand Parkway is added from 290 to I-10, that will start bleeding off some of the traffic on the far end, but we have to get this solved. I know your dollars are tight, I know you’re going to have to make some smart yes decisions and some tough no decisions, but we need a smart yes on the 290/I-10 interchange. I know this is a long-term project that’s going to involve rail, a toll road and more free lanes, but you can’t finish a project until you start a project. This is the start and we need it.

So I would ask you to consider not just the crash count, not the traffic count, but the future of Texas and how can we best be prepared for 50 million people in 31 years, and that’s to move our people around our large urban areas and this project, I would argue, is the most important project that you have to consider and I hope you will support it. Thank you very much.

MS. DELISI: Thank you, Senator.

Next I’d like to call up Representative John Zerwas.

MR. ZERWAS: Thank you, Madame Chair, commissioners, Director Saenz. I appreciate the opportunity to stand before you here today. Like the previous speaker, I will not stand here for a great deal of time sharing with you some of the statistics that I know that you already know, but I do stand to advocate for the work that’s needed on the 290/610 interchange.

I represent the far west Houston area, including Waller County, of which 290 is an integral part of that county. We see the impact of that, in fact, I just drove it last night going up to the North Cypress Medical Center. I gave myself a significant amount of time just to get out to that area. We know that there are some very, very important needs that are reflected in the 290 corridor; that begins with the interchange that we are here discussing today and the allocation of funding in order to make that a better interchange, and ultimately to the development of the corridor further out 290 and out into the direction that I happen to have the opportunity to represent.

Let me also, though, speak to one issue that sometimes we forget. We talk about crashes, we talk about the number, Congressman McCaul mentioned one every other day results in significant injury, Commissioner Holmes knows very well the resources to handle these devastating accidents are pretty strained in the Greater Houston area right now, and so as you consider your projects going forward, the safety and the strain that it puts on a very, very limited number of Level I trauma centers in the Houston area is appropriate to be considered.

We have two Level I trauma centers, only one of which has a heliport, right next to each other in the Texas Medical Center. The third one which has yet to come back online is on a barrier island called Galveston, Texas, and that is yet to come back online and obviously is a significant distance beyond any of these projects that we’re talking about today. And so I would say as we consider the safety, consider the safety net in terms of the handling of emergent Level I traumas that might occur as a result of these in terms of helping to drive the decisions.

I thank you for the work that you do, it’s a tremendous amount of work, tremendous amount of responsibility, thank you for the time that you put in. Thank you, on behalf of my citizens, for the work that you do with the Texas Department of Transportation.

MS. DELISI: Thank you, Representative.

Next I’d like to call up Representative Bill Callegari.

MR. CALLEGARI: Thank you very much, Madame Chair, for allowing me to speak today.

I want to just make you understand, my district is in west Harris County, starts at Highway 6 and extends westward to Waller County, the west side of the City of Katy, and then from north-south starts just below I-10 at the Fort Bend County line and extends north to 290. So that 290 corridor is extremely important to my constituents.

You’re going to consider allocating $315 million for Proposition 12 funds for the development of the interchange at 610 and 290, and I’m here, of course, to speak in favor of that project. As a member of the House Transportation Committee, I’m certainly well aware of the great needs that we have throughout Texas, but I’m here to tell you that this interchange and this project is extremely important to us.

It’s the first step to the eventual beginning of a 290 expansion project which is greatly needed. Once started, the 290 corridor will have major beneficial benefits for all of our constituents, including economic as well as safety issues. This interchange will solve problems of an already congested, confusing and dangerous section of 610. As you know, this interchange ranks very high on TxDOT’s list of most congested highways, and what exists is a tangled mess of traffic lanes weaving in different directions which is very, very difficult for people to negotiate.

Every time I get on that interchange, I’m anxious as to whether I’ll make the change in time to get where I’m going or do I have to go a little further and make a U-turn and come back. For somebody who doesn’t use it on a regular basis, it’s a very frightening experience, I can tell you. I live, actually, about halfway between 290 and I-10 just north of Katy. When I go into Houston, now I choose I-10 because, thanks to you, we’ve made some expansions that really help. It’s very, very difficult to go 290 because it’s so congested you can’t get where you want to.

Just recently trying to go to the airport which is a lot closer to me if I go out 290, I found that I had to almost double my time to get there just because of the congestion. I had a nine o’clock flight and when I left home at 7:00 I expected to get there in plenty of time and almost missed my flight because it took considerably longer than I expected and that I’d experienced in the past. It’s changing very, very rapidly.

The benefits of this project certainly extend more than just that interchange. Improving those highway sections will help traffic flow to the Galleria area, the Houston central business district, the Port of Houston, and help complete interchange traffic between I-10 and 610. In light of this interchange’s importance to west Harris County, I ask that you approve the necessary allocation of funds for that project.

The commission is also scheduled to make a final decision on another Houston area project which is a $127 million project on I-45 south in Harris County. This also is a much needed project for Harris County. I certainly request and respectfully request that you approve funding for this project. I thank you for your service to the state, for the things that you do. I know you have to make some difficult decisions, but please understand that this project is extremely important to the Houston area.

Again, thank you for allowing me to present my comments, and again, thanks for your work for the state.

MS. DELISI: Thank you.

Next I’d like to call up Representative Ralph Sheffield.

MR. SHEFFIELD: Commissioners, Chair Delisi, thank you very much for the opportunity to be here. You know, we don’t have very many cookies left in that cookie jar, that’s for sure, and a lot of people want their hands in it.

I think Doc Anderson laid out a pretty good example of what we expect coming through our district on I-35 and our needs there. I applaud -- as you recall, a letter I sent all of you -- your work on the I-35 project and the needs that are needed there and the monies that will go there. I feel like I-35, the monies that we have for Prop 12 that we’re going to let out, to benefit the most Texans is the money for I-35, to get this thing finished.

We’ve been waiting a long, long time to finish I-35, and I believe that if you look at the growth in Central Texas -- as you know Temple-Killeen area is number two in growth, as far as that goes -- I think when you come out of the Williamson County line, before you get to the Hill County cutoff, we have a lot of traffic and a lot of accidents and a lot of deaths. I believe we have a lot of commerce that continues to grow in Bell County and throughout the district, in McLennan and Hill.

And we have a lot of folks here from Bell County here, I’d like for them to all stand, if they would, please. We’re very concerned about this project. A big delegation, we’ve got mayors and commissioners court members here as well, and I think some of them may talk. But I’m here in favor of finishing I-35 and just appreciate all you guys do and really want you to consider that money for the most Texans, and the trade that goes from south to north on I-35 is the most critical. Thank you.

MS. DELISI: Thank you.

Next up is Senator Troy Fraser.

MR. FRASER: Madame Chair, commissioners, it’s good to be with you again. It seems like this issue we’re beating to death since I’m in my 13th year in the Senate and we’ve been talking about this one a long time but we’re making progress.

I would like to echo, again, what’s been said from the group up and down 35. We know there’s a process, we appreciate very much, Amadeo, your group and the staff recommendations going forward, and all I’d like to do is endorse that project. I think all of you know that 35, because of the amount of traffic that is on 35, the areas that we’ve completed are wonderful but the congestion points continue to be the places we have not completed. The number of traffic fatalities and/or people seriously hurt is increasing greatly in those areas.

So I think the staff recognizes that, and we are very much in favor of it. We thank you so much for what you’ve done so far but we emphasize, again, the importance of the north-south transportation that goes up and down 35 and the need to go ahead and complete that, and I would ask that you accept the staff recommendations that’s coming forward on that, and we continue to work on it. Hopefully, before I leave the Senate, this project will get completed. Thank you for allowing me to be with you today.

MS. DELISI: Thank you, Senator.

Representative Allen Fletcher.

MR. FLETCHER: Commissioners and Madame Chairman. I want to come in at a little different perspective. I had the honor of serving on the Houston Police Department and retired from there, and I was there in 1977 when the 290 corridor stopped at 34th and it was nothing more than a ramp and when you’d pull up on that ramp and you’d look out in the country, it was nothing but lights and cows.

We’ve had my Congressman McCaul, my Senator Patrick and some of my colleagues that share the corridor, John Zerwas and Bill Callegari, let me say that there’s some issues that I think need to be addressed. I don’t want to go over the stats about all the traffic, and I can, from a personal perspective as a peace officer, speak to the fact that the accidents and the deaths have piled up over the years and I’ve witnessed it over the last 30 years firsthand.

But I want to mention to you that we’ve got one of seven data communication centers in America that has just been built a mile from the 290 corridor out at the 2920 and 290 interchange in my district by Hewlett Packard. It’s going to be an important communications link for our state and for the entire country. This legislative session we passed numerous municipal utility district legislation for development at the Waller Community Center there at 2920 and 290 and back up at the Skinner Road/290 exchange, and those factors speak to the fact that with the congestion we already have -- and I know you know all the stats -- we have a growth that’s taking place out in our district and my District 130 with Cy-Fair School District, as the senator alluded to, the fastest growing school district in the State of Texas with 81 campuses at this time and over 40 percent of their district still undeveloped.

So this 290 and 610 interchange are critical to the infrastructure of the City of Houston and that artery that takes you into the Port of Houston, and I would certainly appreciate your consideration and I know you have a job that is overwhelming, and I appreciate Commissioner Holmes and his help in the past on issues for me personally. So thank you very much.

MS. DELISI: Thank you.

Representative Tara Rios Ybarra, I don’t know, has she returned?

(No response.)

MS. DELISI: At this time are there any other members of the legislature or Congress that I’ve missed?

(No response.)

MS. DELISI: Well, then at this time I’d like, John, for you to go up and do your presentation.

MR. BARTON: Good morning, Madame Chair, commissioners. For the record, my name is John Barton and I have the pleasure of serving you, as well as all of Texas, as the assistant executive director for Engineering Operations at the Texas Department of Transportation, and as you well know, this morning I will be presenting to you a recommendation for the possible use of the available Proposition 12 funding, and clearly, this is a great opportunity for Texas to provide a much-needed incentive or added funding for transportation in Texas.

I’ll turn your attention to the presentation. A brief history of the Proposition 12 Bond Program. As you know, in 2007, the voters here in Texas endorsed and supported Proposition 12, approving the legislature to authorize the department to authorize the department to issue up to $5 billion in general obligation bonds to be spent for transportation projects around the State of Texas, clearly indicating their support for transportation improvements in our great state.

Following that lead, the 81st Legislature, led by the efforts of House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Pitts, authorized the commission, during the 81st Legislature during the called session to obligate up to $1 billion of Proposition 12 Bond proceeds to be used to deliver up to $2 billion worth of projects, and they also authorized the issuance of $1 billion worth of Proposition 12 Bond proceeds to be placed into the State Infrastructure Bank. The recommendation that I’m making to you today, the minute order before you relates only to the $2 billion that was made available for non-tolled projects and not the State Infrastructure Bank portion of this program.

As you’ll see here, following your direction, based on the comments that you shared with us in the September and October commission meetings, staff began working around the state with our district engineers and our MPO partners to develop a plan for the use of these funds. We focused on making sure that we tie the use of these funds to individual specific projects so that we could deliver those in a transparent manner in order for the public and the legislature and all who are interested to know exactly which projects were being funded through the Proposition 12 Bond Program.

We also built upon and utilized the same collaborative process that we did for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act by reaching out to our transportation partners at the MPOs and their implementation groups to determine the criteria that the commission should consider in selecting projects, and I’ll note that several of those metropolitan planning organization partners or their leaders are here today. I noticed in the audience Alan Clark from the HGAC MPO, as well as Joe Cantalupo from here in Austin at CAMPO, and I believe I saw Andrew Cannon from the Valley, the Hidalgo County MPO, and there may be others.

But they worked very diligently with us identifying those criteria, and following on that, we reached out to our district engineers and to our MPOs to identify the projects that might be considered for selection under the Proposition 12 Bond Program. They identified over 850 possible projects to be reviewed -- and that came not only from our district staffs but also our MPO partners -- valuing a little over $9 billion in total project cost, so clearly we had plenty of projects that were available and certainly not enough funding to address all those needs.

Considering the intent of the Legislature as they laid it out in the legislation that enabled this, the priorities that our transportation partners at the MPOs helped us to identify, a review of the top 100 most congested roadways in Texas, as we developed in response to Rider 56 of the Legislature’s last appropriations bill, and the total universe of possible projects that we believe met the requirement to be underway and expend $1 billion worth of bond proceeds by September of 2011, we began to develop a recommendation to deliver projects all across the state that fit within three broad categories of work.

Those being: corridors of state significance which we ranked based on their traffic densities and their crash rates compared to other corridors; rehabilitation and safety projects that we evaluated based on their quality improvements to the pavements they were located on, as well as the safety improvements for those projects; and then mobility projects that were based upon the amount of delay that they would reduce as well as their correlation and association to those top 100 most congested segments of roadway in Texas.

As you know, through this process, we concluded to recommend to you, and are doing so today, to divide these funds amongst those three categories of work in the following order: $1.17 billion, approximately, for corridors of state significance; approximately $325 million for those reconstruction, rehabilitation and safety projects on our existing system; and approximately $574 million for mobility projects or congestion-relieving projects in our metropolitan areas; and then we’re also asking for your consideration to set aside an additional $150 million to be used to pay for consulting engineering services to help us prepare for the next round of funding, whether that’s the additional Proposition 12 Bond proceeds that will be available, hopefully, following the next legislative session, a revenue enhancement at either the state or federal level.

But we certainly recognize that we need to have more projects available to reduce congestion in our metropolitan areas, and we believe it’s appropriate to start hiring consultants to do that engineering work and to get those projects ready to go forward.

We recognize that this is a little over $2.2 billion, or approximately that, which is about 10 percent over the amount that we’re authorized to move forward with under the legislation, and I wanted to bring that out and point that out to you, but we believe it’s prudent to slightly over-program -- if you want to use that term -- this particular budget or targeted budget because we think that as we continue to receive bids on these projects, we have been experiencing underruns on our current projects because of the state of the economy and the competitiveness in the marketplace today, and so we wanted to be able to have projects ready to go in case those bids did come under.

And we believe that if we don’t realize those underruns and we need to reduce the program to fit within those $2 billion constraints, that we’ll be able to revise the scope of some of the projects slightly and bring down those costs enough to be able to fit within the $2 billion program. So I wanted to make sure that I pointed that out to you.

When we look at the corridors of state significance, there were over $4 billion of projects submitted from around the state by our metropolitan organizations and district staffs. Several of these were withdrawn from consideration at first blush because they weren’t going to be able to move forward within the time period that I just mentioned, be under contract and making payments before September 2011.

We did review the remaining projects and evaluated them, as I said, based on their traffic densities and comparing their crash rates to the average crash rates for similar corridors across the state. And based on this evaluation, we are recommending that you fund, again, approximately $1.17 billion worth of corridor projects, Specifically, they are six projects along segments of Interstate 35 in Bell, McLennan and Hill counties. Many of the state representatives and senators and congressmen spoke to those projects earlier today.

These are, indeed, projects on what we call Main Street Texas, through the heart of our state and connecting our metropolitan areas of Dallas-Fort Worth with San Antonio and Austin and the Valley at Laredo, Brownsville and McAllen. And so this is an important corridor for the State of Texas that carries a tremendous amount of traffic and clearly is one of the reasons it rose to the top.

We are also recommending a project on Loop 375 which is a route on the north and west side of El Paso. It connects the Fort Bliss area with Interstate 10 and provides an alternative exit for that strategic military base for the State of Texas and our nation, as well as will provide a loop, if you will, as an alternative route to Interstate 10 through the heart of El Paso as we experience congestion and issues there and we need to be able to provide an alternative route, much like we do with alternative routes here in Central Texas and other large communities across the state.

Specifically focusing a little bit on Interstate 35 because it did receive so much of the recommendation for funding, Interstate 35 carries a little over 114,000 vehicles per day on average through the heart of the Waco area which is also consisting of 27 percent truck traffic, so if you do the math on that -- and even an Aggie depending on a Longhorn to do this for us -- determined that there’s about 41 million vehicles per year traveling through this area, and of that, about 11 million of those are trucks. So it’s obvious from those numbers that I-35 is truly Main Street Texas.

And it also is important to note that it serves as a home, if you will, for over 9.4 million Texans who live within counties that are touched by Interstate 35 as you travel from the Laredo area all the way to the Oklahoma border. This is about 39 percent of the state’s total population, so hence, sometimes Interstate 35 is known as Main Street Texas, other times it’s known as the world’s largest parking lot.

And I relayed to Commissioner Meadows last week when I had the opportunity to visit with him on other matters that my wife was stuck in a lane closure on Interstate 35 as she was coming back to Austin to visit me from being with her family, and she sent me a message that she had been in that traffic for a little over an hour and there was no restrooms in sight, and so she was clearly discouraged about the amount of traffic that covers this area of our state.

And then, sadly, I think it’s important to note that sometimes Interstate 35 through the heart of our state is referred to as our most dangerous interstate and the traffic accident data reveals that we certainly have a higher crash rate on Interstate 35 than we do on similar rural areas of interstate in Texas.

So our recommendation today before you would capitalize on this unique opportunity to take advantage of the Proposition 12 Bond funding to widen and improve the safety of Interstate 35 which serves as the backbone of transportation in our state and to make some significant gains in getting that facility upgraded to a six-lane facility from the Hillsboro area where Interstate 35 East and West split all the way down to the San Antonio area, a commitment that I believe the commission has made and this would give us a great opportunity to move forward on that commitment.

Turning our attention to the congestion-relieving projects momentarily, as you look at our recommendation before you today, it’s important to note that congestion does have a very significant impact on the lives of many Texans, costing us millions of hours of delay each year and certainly negatively affecting our quality of life. We evaluated a large number of segments of roadway to identify which projects would reduce the most delay for the drivers in those areas of the state, and it’s important to remember that the enabling legislation for Proposition 12 specifically prohibited the use of these funds on tolled projects, so many of the projects that were targeted toward congestion relief in our major metropolitan areas are tolled projects or toll-related projects and were not eligible for consideration under Proposition 12 Bond programming funds that we’re talking about today.

We evaluated a little over $3.3 billion of projects that were submitted by our metropolitan planning organization partners and our district staffs, and we evaluated them for their congestion-reducing ability as well as their relationship to the top 100 segments of congested roadways in Texas. We took out several of the projects that were not currently within the metropolitan transportation plans of our MPOs because that was an indication they would not be ready in time to move forward as needed for this particular program. We also took out the tolled projects, as I mentioned, and then we evaluated the remaining projects to come with our recommendation.

Based on that analysis, we are recommending the projects that are shown on this particular slide for two of the metropolitan areas of our state. They are valued at approximately $574 million. One of them is a project on Interstate 45 that’s on the south and east side of the downtown Houston area. It starts near Beltway 8 and it goes south to approximately FM 2351 as you travel south of Houston towards Galveston. The other project is to improve the interchange of Loop 610 and US 290 on the north and west side of downtown Houston. And these two projects developed together would save drivers over 72 million hours of delay annually once they’re completed.

The third is a project through the heart of the north side of San Antonio, it’s the Wurzbach Parkway project which will enable us to address a congestion problem and to help relieve not only traffic that currently cannot travel across US 281 because Wurzbach Parkway is discontinuous in that area, but once it’s completed will open up that corridor so that congestion can be reduced on Loop 1604 north of the Wurzbach Parkway, on Interstate Highway 410 south of Wurzbach Parkway, and actually on US 281 and I-35 both east of the Wurzbach Parkway area, if you will. This is a step towards completing a project that was started many years ago by the community of San Antonio and once it’s completed will save over 7 million hours of delay annually, as staff has calculated it.

So those are the recommendations on congestion.

Now turning our attention to the reconstruction/rehabilitation portion of our recommendation, this is just a graphic to show that pavement quality here in Texas is declining and has been over the last four years. We predict that it will continue to decline even further due to the limited funding that’s available to us. That’s an issue that we’ll discuss more later today on another item on your agenda related to the Unified Transportation Program. But it’s imperative, we feel, that we take advantage of the opportunity to provide supplemental funding for this important responsibility of the department and of our transportation and of our transportation partners.

We evaluated more than 400 projects that were valued at a little over $1.6 billion and each of them were evaluated for its effectiveness in improving the pavement itself, the amount of traffic that that roadway carried, and the condition of the pavements within that area of the state because we wanted to address those areas that had the worst pavement conditions to help increase and improve the safety and condition of those roadways in order to be able to make sure we were doing the best projects for the state. And they’re not just reconstruction projects, they also will provide many safety improvements.

So in doing that, we identified projects that would be valued at approximately $325 million across the state, treating over 300 centerline miles of roadway in 13 of our districts across the state and 35 counties of Texas. This is something that we think is important as funding for pavements continues to be in jeopardy and our pavement quality continues to decline, so we felt like this was an important recommendation and are making it for you today.

As we evaluated the projects around the state that were ready to implement quickly, again, as I mentioned earlier, it became apparent to us that not enough of our congestion-relieving projects were in a stage that could be moved forward quickly, and therefore, we are recommending that you carve out $150 million in addition to the $60 million that was in the legislation itself to develop projects to be environmentally cleared and have detailed designs prepared on them so that we can move forward with addressing the congestion on some of the top 100 congested roadway segments in Texas whenever a new source of funding becomes available, whether that be the next round of Proposition 12 funding or some other source, as I mentioned.

And if approved, we will work with our metropolitan planning organizations to help identify a way to strategize on the selection of those projects to be forwarded with the use of this engineering funding, again, I think a very important part of our recommendation and one that I would encourage you to consider seriously.

I wanted to recap briefly the responses that we’ve received since sharing this initial draft of our recommendation with you at last month’s commission meeting. as you can imagine and as was expected, the staff recommendation to use these funds has drawn the attention of a lot of our transportation partners, and supporters from all across the state. They’re clearly committed to improve transportation and take these issues very seriously and have provided meaningful and beneficial comments that we have been able to reflect upon.

Their comments and suggestions were as broad and varied as the landscape of Texas itself. Some of them suggested that the commission consider supporting the staff recommendation in its entirety while others recommended that you reject the suggested recommendation entirely. Several suggested that the state’s MPOs could use these funds better and that the funds should be driven to the MPOs based on our formulas that we have for our mobility program.

MR. HOUGHTON: John, I want to stop you right there.

MR. BARTON: Yes, sir.

MR. HOUGHTON: Based on that comment, would I-35 Main Street be funded under that formula, by using formula allocation?

MR. BARTON: No, sir, not to the degree that it would. The Waco and Killeen-Temple MPOs would have been given some money under that analysis, it would have been a very limited amount, and they probably would have been able to do a very small portion but not anywhere close to the amount that we’re talking about.

MR. HOUGHTON: So in other words, we run it through the formula, we still have the problem on I-35 Main Street Texas.

MR. BARTON: Yes, sir, between Hillsboro and the Salado area.

Continuing on -- and if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to interrupt me at any time -- but one common theme to all of the comments that we received was a recognition that Proposition 12 Bond proceeds are very beneficial and are much needed for transportation here in Texas, and all of the people that commented certainly understood that there aren’t sufficient enough funds to address all the transportation needs of our state. And if you will indulge me, I’d like to kind of deviate from my kind of prepared script of remarks to comment a little bit about the comments that are reflected on this slide. As I thought about this last night and this morning, I felt like I needed to expound upon some things to provide a full picture of the reality of the recommendation.

In evaluating the availability of Proposition 12 Bond proceeds and how to make the best recommendation for your consideration, we certainly took into consideration the criteria and the priorities recommended and supported by our metropolitan planning organizations, but I also believe that it’s important to reflect upon the backdrop of our current state of transportation funding in Texas, as will be addressed, as I said, in another item later today in terms of our Unified Transportation Program.

As you know, as Mr. Bass presented to you last month, his forecast for funding for a ten-year period of time that he presented to you in April of 2008 was about $28 billion over that eleven-year period. Today he will be showing you a recommendation, as he did last month, that his forecast now reflects that only $23 billion will be available over that same eleven-year period of time, a reduction of $5 billion, and that’s because of the fact that the economy has changed since April of 2008, and in fact, I think if you looked at the numbers of the amount of revenues that were received from the federal and state motor fuels taxes between 2009 and what was predicted for that same period in 2008 showed a decrease of 3.5 percent which is a significant amount of money.

So overall, this $5 billion shortfall is going to have to be addressed somehow. Our recommendation to you later today -- and I’m tipping our hand a bit -- will suggest that we need to maintain the funding for our metropolitan planning organizations for them to address congestion and mobility issues while we will be recommending that we zero out funding for corridor improvements across the state, as well as reduce funding for maintenance because we feel like that’s the appropriate thing to do. So in essence, we are proposing in this recommendation to use Proposition 12 Bond Program funding in a way as a backfill for the recommendation of the Unified Transportation Program we will be making to you later today.

I think it’s appropriate that the Unified Transportation Program funding in Categories 2 and 3 be maintained at the levels that the MPOs were expecting, they are great partners to us, they have worked very diligently, as elected leaders and leaders in their communities to identify projects and have worked to develop them over the past several years, bringing to bear a lot of good funding. Many of them have leveraged them many times over with local bond proceeds or the implementation of toll roads or other funding options and I think it’s appropriate that the Unified Transportation Program acknowledge that and maintain the funding for congestion at those levels. At the same time, recognizing that as it reduces funding for maintenance and connectivity, we have an opportunity today with Proposition 12 to help offset that detrimental recommendation.

And lastly, as some of the comments that talked about specific projects were mentioned, I just wanted to point out a few things. The projects that were mentioned earlier today by some of the elected leaders that addressed the commission as well as the comments we received in writing from others all over the state, suggested that we look at projects such as Interstate 35 East in the Dallas and Denton area, Interstate 35 West in the Fort Worth area, US 77 serving the Valley and the border area, and these projects are obviously on our radar screen, we do consider them very important, and we understand the need for those communities to have these projects funded.

As we look at these and other projects that were recommended, I wanted to point out a few things. We are committed to these communities to continue to evaluate all the tools available to us to deliver these projects, and just using the three examples I mentioned, on Interstate 35 East, at your last commission meeting you provided the staff direction to move forward with considering options for delivering that project with Dallas and Denton counties and others through the use of possibly a pass-through toll funding option. That’s one we’re working on and we believe may be a successful way to deliver that project.

For the Interstate 35 West project, as many of you know, it’s associated with the comprehensive development agreement referred to as the North Tarrant Express project that is currently underway, and our metropolitan planning organization leaders and the members are working with the developer that was successfully selected for that project to fully vet the master development plan for that particular corridor, and we believe that, based on the information that we’ve seen and the conversations we’ve had with them, that they will be able to bring forward a concept and idea that will deliver many of the improvements that had been requested for funding under Proposition 12 through the use of that comprehensive development agreement and the master development plan and we think we have opportunities to deliver that project in its entirety through the use of that tool.

And then lastly, on US 77, as the senator pointed out, Interstate 69 is an important corridor to our state and we have been working for quite some time to execute the comprehensive development agreement for that particular corridor as well, and the counties along that route, US 77 -- which perhaps will someday be Interstate 69 -- have been working very well with the developer and with our TxDOT staff to envision opportunities to deliver that project as well through the comprehensive development agreement that’s available to us for Interstate 69.

So I just wanted to stop for a minute and share with you that I believe we can deliver those projects using all the tools that are available to us, I believe that this commission and the department are committed to that, and I felt that I would be remiss in my responsibilities as your assistant executive director for Engineering Operations if I didn’t point out that with that as a backdrop, the recommendation being presented to you today will allow us to maximize the value of the limited resources available to us while building on the strengths and abilities of those other tools that are available to us to deliver other projects. So I wanted to pause briefly to share that information with you.

The last issue that I really wanted to talk about before I close and try to address any questions that you may have and make a recommendation on the use of the Proposition 12 Bond Program is that there has been a lot of discussion based on the concern that perhaps the recommendation before you was slightly tainted by its question of legality. The decision on how to distribute and utilize these funds is obviously a difficult one because of the great needs of transportation in our state and it’s important that as we move forward in delivering these types of programs that we not punish those regions that have been diligently pursuing the use of our innovative financing tools and project delivery methods such as toll roads and comprehensive development agreements, and those tools, in turn, generate additional revenues for those communities.

And so the staff recommendation that’s before you today was questioned by some in terms of its relationship to Chapter 228 of the Transportation Code. It’s my firm belief that the use of these Proposition 12 Bond proceeds, as recommended, does not punish any such region who has delivered toll projects or embraced comprehensive development agreements to provide additional revenues for projects in their region, and rather was based on an objective criteria that was used to evaluate all the projects that were identified from one of those three main activities or categories that I mentioned, corridors of state significance, mobility projects, and reconstruction projects, and staff did not give any consideration to whether these projects were located inside or out of an area that uses toll roads by the region for projects that were located within that region.

So more specifically, the protections that are required under Chapter 228 of the Transportation Code, as are enumerated on the screen, were not violated either by letter or by spirit, in my opinion, because they do not pertain to the use of Proposition 12 Bond proceeds primarily. The various sections of Transportation Code that I’ve referred to there provide protection against altering the formulas that are used to allocate funds from the department’s Unified Transportation Program to any region or area of the state because of their decision to use toll roads or CDAs, and these protections are obviously very important and safeguard against revisions to allocation of mobility funding for regions or districts through which TxDOT distributes Unified Transportation Program funds.

The point here that I’m trying to make is that the Proposition 12 Bond proceeds are not part of TxDOT’s Unified Transportation Program funding and are not required to be allocated by formula, but rather, may be allocated based on the criteria selected by the commission. Our recommendation has attempted to follow your direction, we believe, that we received from you and the leadership of our legislature to utilize these non-traditional sources of funds to address our state’s most pressing needs in connecting our state’s urban centers with one another to improve commerce and freight movement, to relieve congestion on our most congested roadways and to rebuild our most deteriorated roadways in the State of Texas.

So in conclusion, we are recommending seven corridor projects for your consideration, three mobility projects, and 64 rehabilitation and safety projects from across the state, as well as the consideration of funding additional engineering work to advance many much-needed congestion-relieving projects on our top 100 congested segments of roadway in Texas. I’ll be happy to try to address any questions you may have for me at this time, and if none, I’ll be happy to make a recommendation for your consideration regarding this minute order that’s before you.

MR. HOUGHTON: Well, first of all, John, I want to thank you very, very much for the hard work you and your staff have done on behalf of the State of Texas in vetting all of these projects, outstanding work, thankless to some. You glossed over regarding the Unified Transportation Program as to what is going to happen specifically to the connectors, to the corridors, like 35, 45, 10, 20, 30 around the state that they will get no funding in the new plan. Is that an accurate description?

MR. BARTON: That is an accurate statement, sir. Our staff recommendation, again later in the agenda today, for the Unified Transportation Program for 2010 will recommend that zero dollars be available in Category 4 for connectivity projects over the next eleven years.

MR. HOUGHTON: 290 and others.

MR. BARTON: 290, Interstate 10, Interstate 45, US 77, any of those Ports-to-Plains type projects, there’s just not going to be enough funding available under the UTP, our traditional revenue streams without future revenue enhancements to address our mobility needs, all those federally required programs for bridges, safety, congestion mitigation, air quality, metropolitan mobility, and enhancements and to have money left over to do those statewide connectivity projects.

MR. HOUGHTON: A couple of weeks ago, the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee met in El Paso, Senator Carona and Shapleigh and others showed a letter that Chairman Delisi wrote that said that we would be out of money for mobility projects in 2012. Is that an accurate statement?

MR. BARTON: It is an accurate statement if you reflect on the needs for those federally required programs that I talked about and maintenance, so the decision before the commission is you’re going to make money available for mobility, for congestion relief, you’re going to have to take it out of maintenance, and when we do that, the consequences of that decision will be pretty significant in terms of the quality of pavements and bridges here in the State of Texas.

MR. HOUGHTON: Again, I want to thank you for your hard work in this.

MR. BARTON: Thank you, sir. And certainly the credit goes to our district staffs under the leadership of Mr. Casteel, and our division staffs. I just get to be the person that stands before you and delivers the message.

MR. HOLMES: I know these decisions are tough and I appreciate all the work that you’ve done on it, John.

MR. BARTON: Thank you, Commissioner Holmes.

MR. HOLMES: Thank you to you and your staff.

MS. DELISI: Commissioners Underwood or Meadows, do you have anything?

MR. MEADOWS: I don’t have anything.

MS. DELISI: I just want to reiterate one point that you made that I thought was important and I want to clarify. For those three projects that we’ve heard a lot about, I-35 East, I-35 West and the 77/I-69 corridor, you believe that we have the tools necessary to deliver those projects without necessarily using Prop 12 proceeds?

MR. BARTON: Yes, ma’am, and let me just reiterate one last time, Madame Chair, for Interstate 35 East, I believe that by considering revisions to our Pass-Through Program rules that we currently have in place -- which is certainly a commission decision -- we can utilize and have been working with Michael Morris and the North Central Texas Council of Governments MPO, with Judge Horn and others to look at that option, and we certainly believe that by using a private partnership through the pass-through toll funded program, we will be able to deliver that project without the use of Proposition 12 Bond proceeds.

On Interstate 35W, specifically the interchange of 820 and Interstate 35W and continued improvements along north and south of Interstate 820 on Interstate 35, we’ve looked at the opportunities there. The North Tarrant Mobility Partners, who are the developer for that project, are currently developing a master development plan, we expect to get that from them, I believe, in January of this coming year, and based on the conversations they’ve had with the community’s leadership, again with the MPO and with our TxDOT staff locally and here in Austin, we’re confident that they’re going to bring forward a master development plan that will allow them to deliver those other improvements in addition to the ones they currently have the authority to proceed with.

And then lastly, on US 77, as you mentioned, Interstate 69 has been approved, we have a comprehensive development agreement in place, we don’t have it actually under contract yet, the contract hasn’t been executed, but the successful developer for that particular project has been working on that for some time with the counties, community leaders like Senator Lucio and others and with our district staff and they believe they have a plan to develop that corridor from Corpus Christi down to Brownsville to an interstate type facility through the use of that comprehensive development agreement.

MS. DELISI: So long story short, using the tools we have available, we can deliver more projects than just the projects that are being presented in the Prop 12.

MR. BARTON: Absolutely.

MS. DELISI: Great. Thank you.

If there’s no other questions from the commission, I’m going to start calling people up, and we’ve got quite a few cards. So first I’d like to call up Commissioner Tim Brown.

MR. BROWN: Good morning, Madame Chairman, commissioners. Happy to see you again.

I’m, for the record, Tim Brown, Bell County commissioner, I am also the chairman of our MPO, but I am actually wearing a different hat this morning. As you all know, I’ve had the occasion three different advisory committees for you, spanning the course of the last four years, starting first with the Statewide Trans-Texas Corridor Advisory Committee, and then two follow-up committees that focused on Interstate 35.

Our committees were given free rein to look at any and all potential solutions for transportation needs for the state and for the corridor, and one point that came to the top consistently over and over and over again is that we finish out our existing interstate first, and your staff recommendation does that. I’m very pleased to endorse that recommendation and encourage you to give that very serious consideration. Thank you.

MS. DELISI: Thank you. I’d next like to call up Jungus Jordan.

MR. JORDAN: Good morning, commissioners, Chair Delisi, Director Saenz. It’s been a long distinguished list of speakers this morning so I’ll be brief.

As we rolled out last month, you’ve seen our plan, our vision for North Texas on a continual basis and we appreciate your hard work. Chair Delisi, you mentioned earlier one of your visions of the University of Texas playing for the national championship, our vision in Fort Worth is that they’ll be playing Texas Christian University and we’ll keep it in Texas.

MR. MEADOWS: Like your tie.

MS. DELISI: So attendance will be even lower at our Transportation Forum

(General laughter.)

MR. JORDAN: In driving down today from south Fort Worth, there were two things that I noticed driving down. One was that it’s a great place to be in Texas when the sun comes up and a great place to live and work. The other, I was reminded of the hard work that Director Saenz and the commission are doing and the amount of construction between here and Fort Worth on that Main Street of Texas, and we believe that wholeheartedly.

I’m very encouraged by representing today the RTC, representing the City of Fort Worth. You’ve already received our comments, as indicated by Mr. Barton, very encouraged by his words that we will be able to push forward I-35W and I-35E. Those are important and critical for us and we appreciate it. We’re here to say, as public servants, we understand the critical resources that you’re given to work with and we appreciate the systematic way in which you’ve gone about tackling the major issues in Texas, and we look forward to working and standing with you as partners as we move forward.

MS. DELISI: Richard Perez.

MR. PEREZ: Good morning, Madame Chairman and members of the commission. My name is Richard Perez, I’m the president and CEO of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, and I am here today representing almost 2,000 businesses that together employ half a million people in the San Antonio region to thank you for including the Wurzbach Parkway in your recommendations for projects to get funded by Prop 12.

As you know, San Antonio, like many regions of the state, continues to grow and mobility is a challenge for us, and the ability to fund this project will allow for movement of goods, services and people and allow the mobility to happen, but it also gets folks to the critical centers of traffic and employment like the Health Science Center, like moving troops from Fort Sam Houston to Camp Bullis, and a variety of other things.

So we want to thank you for the opportunity to be here and to listen and appreciate you including the project. And we also want to thank you for the district engineer, Mario Medina, and his staff. He’s done a wonderful job since he took over and things are running very, very well in San Antonio and we want to thank you.

MS. DELISI: Thank you. Next up, Commissioner David Garza.

MR. GARZA: Madame Chairwoman and commissioners, it’s a pleasure to be here today. Amadeo, good to see you again.

Judge Cascos, our county judge, sent a letter to you which I think you all are in the possession of, that expresses what his thoughts were on Proposition 12 distribution of funds. He wanted me to read it into the record, but at the risk of saying things I shouldn’t, I will not. I'd rather just tell you a little bit about Proposition 12 and what we thought we were going to get out of Proposition 12 when we were asked to support that endeavor in our area: we thought we were going to have connectivity.

We thought that in supporting this, both when it was being put on the ballot for vote, we were adamant about supporting it at the local level where the rubber meets the road, as far as I’m concerned. Also, legislatively when it needed to be funded, we were asked to help to make sure that it was funded, and we trampled into our representatives; and senators’ office making sure that they would support this. In troubled times for the agency when it was not popular sometimes to support TxDOT, Cameron County put together an RMA, developed the RMA, has done every single thing we’ve been asked to from TxDOT to be able to be connected, just to be connected to the rest of Texas.

We have had help from you but we feel that instead of spending $150 million in engineering for the top 100 congested areas, spend it on our corridor. The people in Texas, when they supported Proposition 12, wanted connectivity and relief of congestion, not more paperwork to sit on shelves waiting to figure out how the next dollar that might not ever come will be spent. So to raise that line, that those $150 million, put them into construction projects that will make a difference today for the people of Texas, more specifically for the folks in South Texas which are not even being considered.

We submitted some projects in conjunction and cooperation with our local engineer, we put money into those projects that we didn’t have that we now, hopefully through vehicle registration fees -- which was another legislative tool that we were using to fund some of our projects we committed -- and that still was not good enough.

So I ask you to reconsider where you’re spending some of those dollars and hopefully, hopefully a county that has four international bridges, three seaports, three airports and is in dire need of economic development through connectivity to the rest of the United States being the front door to it from Mexico. So the international significance of where we are located strategically is very important and we hope that you would take into consideration some of those things.

And Commissioner Houghton, all due respect, you told us in Weslaco not too long ago that there was no Tooth Fairy -- I mean Road Fairy -- well, we know there’s no Tooth Fairy.

MR. HOUGHTON: I know there’s a Tooth Fairy.

(General laughter.)

MR. GARZA: But being here today, there is a Road Fairy and that fairy is distributing funds where they are sorely needed and we ask that you just include us in that distribution formula. I thank you for your time and hopefully you would consider some of our comments.

MR. HOUGHTON: David, you and I have been good friends and you’ve all stepped up every time, and I applaud you for that. I think John Barton talked about 77 and what we can do, and I believe we’re on our way, knowing what I know to make that Interstate 69 in very short order, so the Road Fairy still is out there, and I believe it’s coming. The Chair talked about 77 and a couple of other significant projects, but I do want to take this opportunity to thank Cameron County for leading the way. You have, you’ve led the way, that is a true statement, and we appreciate that very much. There’s still $2 billion left in Prop 12 that hasn’t been appropriated, so hang in there.

MR. GARZA: Thank you.

MS. DELISI: Next up Jeff Mosely.

JUDGE MOSELY: Good morning, Madame Chair, members. What a delight to be with you today on behalf of our Houston delegation. I’m representing the Greater Houston Partnership and the Gulf Coast Regional Mobility Partners. Both Chair Dannenbaum and Walt Mischer have asked me to speak on their behalf.

First of all, the Greater Houston Partnership certainly appreciates the challenges that have been raised today about finding sufficient funding to satisfy the state’s infrastructure needs, and Madame Chair and members, I want to state for the record that we openly support these tough choices to create new revenue streams for building highways and providing better mobility for Texas.

We are on record supporting increasing and indexing motor fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees, and we’re also on record giving Texas communities local options for funding regionally significant transportation projects, and we would ask all of our colleagues in this room to join with us, both North Central Texas and Central and throughout the state to stand tall with the Houston delegation on finding new revenues so you can do your jobs, and we appreciate the fact that you’re doing such a tremendous job with limited resources.

We also know that a strong new Texas works only with a strong TxDOT, and we commit to stand with you through the Sunset process, and again, we appreciate so much what you’re doing here.

Specifically, I’ve been asked to talk about two priorities related to Proposition 12 funding. We were very pleased to hear the staff recommendations. By way of putting our request into the proper context, you’ve heard some of the numbers, but the Houston region is expected to grow by 3 million over the next 30 years. Madame Chair and members, I’ve been married 27 years, may I tell you that 27 years goes by pretty fast, and in the next 27 to 30 years, we’re going to be adding the population of Los Angeles to the Houston area.

Already we’re producing 34 percent of the state’s gross area product, and we represent a fourth of the state’s population, so what we’re doing is indeed foundational as we continue to build and enhance the infrastructure that provides mobility for our area.

One of the projects that we’re particularly interested in is the US Highway 290/IH 610 interchange and we also are very much needing improvements on the I-45 corridor. The US 290 corridor continues, as you’ve heard already, to grow dramatically, and even according to your own congestion index studies, 2.2 million hours of delay already are costing us about $47 billion annually. Without improvements to the existing infrastructure, the projected delay costs grow to 6.5 million hours and a $135 billion cost to the state. So we would just suggest that an investment into our regional infrastructure at this 290/610 is going to give a dramatic return on investment to the state’s income.

We also are very focused on I-45. Again, according to TxDOT studies, four of the top ten most congested roadway segments, well, they’re on I-45. No big surprise, again, for the demand for capacity in this strategic corridor. So we appreciate the staff recommendation to use funds from Proposition 12 to fund both of these projects.

Madame Chair and members, I’d like to at this time invite our delegation, if it would be okay, for them to stand and be recognized. We’re very pleased that so many of our business and civic leaders could be with us today on behalf of this request for Prop 12 funding. Madame Chair and members, that concludes my presentation.

MS. DELISI: Thanks, Judge. Now I’d like to call up Judge Jon Burrows, and Judge, if you’d like to bring up anybody else in your delegation with you at the same time, please feel free.

JUDGE BURROWS: Madame Chair, members of the commission. I’m Jon Burrows, Bell County judge, and I bring you greetings from Bell County, home to Fort Hood, and we have several cities on I-35 from Salado to Belton to Temple to Troy. And I used to tell former Representative Delisi that coming up I-35 when I would get into Williamson County, it was like going from East Germany into West Germany.

(General laughter.)

JUDGE BURROWS: Many of us have driven in what I call the box, where you’ve got an 18-wheeler in front of you, an 18-wheeler to the left of you and an 18-wheeler behind you. And certainly what we’ve heard today indicates the difficult decision that you have but also showed the importance of having good staff because, amazingly, each elected official, me included, are telling you that our project is the one that needs to be done, and that’s why having professional staff who can look objectively and give you the proper perspective on this on how the dollars can best be used gives you the better grounds to make your decision.

Certainly I-35 is Main Street America, it goes right through Bell County, but it’s not just Bell County people that go through there, it’s from all over the state, it’s the lifeblood of Texas, and I encourage you to follow the recommendations of staff. Thank you very much.

MS. DELISI: Thanks, Judge. Mr. Mayor.

MAYOR JONES: Good morning, Madame Chair, commissioners, good to see all of you this morning. Thank you for the opportunity to speak. Let me just say thanks to Commissioner Underwood and Executive Director Amadeo Saenz for coming to Central Texas and Temple earlier this month. It was a great opportunity to dialogue.

Besides thanking each one of you, and we have a great district engineer, we have a great district team, and I know they are representative of the 14,000 staff of the Texas Department of Transportation that work hard every single day for the State of Texas, and you are very fortunate and lucky to have such a great team working with you, and so we applaud them as well.

We have many people, as Judge Burrows has alluded to, from city councils, from the MPOs, from our counties in Central Texas coming here unified in our message to you of the significance of I-35 which we really echo comments made earlier and certainly the things that you know about the importance of I-35 that you call it Main Street for Texas, but I add, as you well know, it is Main Street USA, it is the NAFTA corridor. Even in this economy, it is still the NAFTA corridor, it exists today, there are obviously additional needs for infrastructure in the State of Texas that will carry goods north and south in our state, but I-35 exists and its service level decreases every single day because of the increase in traffic as a result of the growth of this state. And when our economy returns to a more normal businesslike condition, that will become even worse once again.

We appreciate the staff’s recommendation for Interstate 35 improvements, using the Prop 12 funds. We certainly hope that you will consider those staff recommendations favorably and to build those rural portions of I-35 through Central Texas and the Waco District from the Williamson Bell County line north to the split in Hillsboro.

But I do have to remind you that while we are doing those rural portions, there will be two segments of I-35 still left undone, that’s the 5.2 miles through the City of Temple, Texas which will remain four lanes, and that portion of about probably ten to twelve miles going through Waco which also needs that expansion, that improvement of the frontage roads as well as the interstate capacity through those communities.

We will still have choke points, but we are here unified to say to you it is still critical for the State of Texas to move forward to utilize those funds that are available to help the progress on I-35. It will make a difference, it will move us forward, and at some point in time when those funds are available, whether it’s from Prop 12 funds still yet to be authorized or other tools that are available or might be made available from the federal or state government that is still yet to be done. Thank you for your consideration. We appreciate the opportunity and thank you for your service.

MS. DELISI: Thank you.

MAYOR STALCUP: Good morning. My name is Merle Stalcup and I’m the mayor of the Village of Salado.

I’m not sure how I-35 is actually going to help us since we don’t even have a stoplight, but I know for sure that it will help the economy of Texas, that it will help the economy of the United States simply by eliminating the degree of collisions, the degree of congestion that is on that highway. My board of councilmen have recommended that we endorse this program wholeheartedly, so please follow the recommendations of your staff. Thank you.

MS. DELISI: Thank you.

MAYOR COSPER: Good morning, Chairman and commissioners. I am Scott Cosper, mayor pro tem of the City of Killeen, also serving as vice-chair of the Killeen-Temple MPO.

I’d like to say that we come as a unified area on behalf of the greater Killeen-Fort Hood area. We believe that the I-35 improvements are necessary, we support staff’s recommendation and we ask that you support staff’s recommendation. Fort Hood has a fully funded billion dollar regional medical center that is fully funded at this time; Texas A&M University has also opened its doors for its Central Texas campus. We are going to have increased needs and we ask that you support the recommendation. Thank you.

MS. DELISI: Thank you. At this time I’d like to call up Commissioner Joe Jaynes.

MR. JAYNES: Thank you, Madame Chair, commissioners. Good morning. My name is Joe Jaynes, I’m a Collin County commissioner, and I have to tell you that sometimes we sit up there in commissioners court for hours and hours and listen to people from all over the county come and talk, and after sitting through several of your meetings, I’ll always respect what you have to do, I’ll never complain about what we have to do again -- you have them coming from all over the state.

I find in my remarks I’m quickly becoming the minority report here, but I would like to bring out three points on Proposition 12. One, I think it’s very important we do continue the funding formula that’s been in place since 2003, it’s been applied to Categories 2, 3 and 4, and I think it’s good for the region and it’s good for the state, and it ensures equity.

Second, I’m glad Mr. Barton brought it up, Chapter 228 of the Texas Transportation Code which was brought about by Senate Bill 792 does prohibit a reduction in funding allocations. I know we have differing views of that but I will say, since he did use the P word, punishment, there is a perception among some elected leaders up in the DFW area of a perception of punishment. If anybody would love to come to our RTC meetings to address that issue and clear the air, I’d be happy to get you on the agenda for that.

And too, the funding that we are receiving, we are thankful for but all that funding is for rehab, we would like to have some funding for new capacity. I have a section -- I know you hear of roads and examples all the time -- but I have a section of US 380, six miles that my constituents call the Ho Chi Minh Trail because of the condition that it’s in. The engineering is done, the environmental is done, the right of way is purchased, it’s ready to go, there’s just no funding there for it and it’s very frustrating for them.

So again, I just wanted to thank you for your work, for your dedication to Texas and we ask that you follow the formula precedent. Thank you.

MS. DELISI: Commissioner Kevin Wolff.

MR. WOLFF: Madame Chair, commissioners, director, thank you so much for the time that you spend here. I just have to start off as an elected official obviously we deal with transportation issues and I always kind of cringe a little bit when those come up because they’re difficult, they’re always the most contentious or seem to be the most contentious issue that we have to deal with. Well, bless you folks because that’s what you deal with all the time. I don’t know how you do it, it would drive me absolutely crazy if I couldn’t focus on something else every now and then, but thank you for your service in that, especially during these times.

We all know across the state that while we’re continuing to grow, we’re also suffering how we manage our infrastructure. You folks have to deal with that and you have to make the very tough decisions. You’ve done that this time and so I stand here in support of staff’s recommendation, not just within the City of San Antonio and Bexar County but throughout the state, because I believe that they have gone through a very tough process, a very fair, a very justified process, in trying to figure out on a project basis what are the most important things that we can do right now today.

I can tell you locally that Wurzbach Parkway, we have been working on this since the 1980s. This the last section and one of the things that you may not know of, I’ve heard it said that it’s on the north side of San Antonio, on the north side of the county, but when you look at the center of the population within the county, this parkway runs right through the center of it. It will connect us from east to west, it will connect us to one of the most important areas within Bexar County and that’s our medical center, at the same time that we are becoming the training ground for the entire nation for medical military personnel for all services.

So I can’t thank you enough for your vision here, I can’t express my support any more forcefully for the process that you’ve gone through, I congratulate you and I thank you very much.

MS. DELISI: Thank you. Javier Mendez.

MR. MENDEZ: Good morning. For the record, my name is Javier Mendez, I’m the city administrator for the City of Primera in Cameron County, Texas.

I’d like to reiterate what Commissioner Garza and Senator Lucio stated: in South Texas we may have been neglected. We would like the commission to consider any allocation formula that would send some money down there. In particular, I’d like to discuss a project that we have that’s called Primera Road. It’s a 2.1-mile project that we’ve been working on in conjunction with TxDOT, Cameron County for the last -- I’ve been working on it for 3-1/2 years, the city has been working on it for 20 years, I believe. The project is a $5.5 million cost, and I’d like to hand out, if possible, some pictures of the deteriorated state and the condition of this roadway.

Those pictures show you the roadway. The roadway is, I believe -- and I’m not an engineer -- concrete-based roadway that was constructed back in the 1930s. About some 25 years ago the county and the city did an overlay on it. The city currently has an advanced funding agreement with TxDOT to construct the project; every time we’ve tried to go to letting, there’s not enough money.

We were asked to contribute X number of dollars, we have gone out there, issued bonds, and we’ve got the money in the bank, we just need for funding to come available so we can take care of this project. It only has safety, there’s a school there, buses are driving on there constantly. And I just ask on behalf of the citizens of Primera - which is a small town, 4,000 Texans - that you consider maybe reallocating some of this money to South Texas and particularly the City of Primera. I’ll be glad to take any questions.

MS. DELISI: Thank you, sir. Alan Clark.

MR. CLARK: Thank you, Madame Chair, commission members and TxDOT staff. My name is Alan Clark and I’m the director of the metropolitan planning organization for the Houston-Galveston Area Council. We serve the eight-county Houston-Galveston transportation management area. Today I’m here on behalf of Commissioner James Patterson from Fort Bend County who chairs our Transportation Policy Council.

You heard today from many of our region’s state and federal elected officials, from the business community, and I’m here to affirm the strong support from cities and counties in our region for the two mobility projects that you are considering in our area for Proposition 12 funding, the US 290 interchange and the improvements of I-45 right at Beltway 8 coming out of Galveston County into Harris County.

You’ve heard eloquently stated the needs for congestion relief in these two locations, the very high crash rates that we experience in these locations, and the critical mobility needs that are served by these facilities. I’m not going to go through any more additional comments on that, I will provide a letter for your record and we are taking action to support your two projects at tomorrow’s Policy Council meeting.

I do want to mention a fourth aspect of these two projects that I did not hear brought forward to you today. Both of these locations are critical bottlenecks in the process of evacuation from our region should we have the need to evacuate for an event like a hurricane. We have been working with TxDOT to improve I-45 in Galveston County. We have coming online soon significant improvements from the Clear Lake area going north, but this stretch on I-45 will be a remaining bottleneck to providing the access we need to Beltway 8. And then, of course, one of our other primary evacuation routes, in addition to I-45 from the region, is the 290 corridor, and the interchange is the gateway for that entire corridor for the evacuation process.

Lastly, I would say that your investment in these projects is enabling for other local investments in our region. Without your investment in the 290 interchange location, I believe that we would lose the ability to afford the right of way needed for potential improvements like the Hempstead corridor toll road.

So I want to thank you again for your decisions in this area, I do support the work of your staff and would be pleased to respond to any questions you have but wanted to express the strong support of our local governments for your project decision-making. Thank you.

MS. DELISI: Thank you. I’ve got three folks from the Waco area all signed up to testify, if you want to come down together: Randy Riggs, Jim Bush, and Jim Reed.

MR. RIGGS: Good morning. Randy Riggs, I have the privilege of serving the citizens of Waco on the city council, and I also have the opportunity to serve as the chairman of the metropolitan planning organization for Waco. And based on staff’s presentation, it’s just hard to improve on that, but I want to go ahead and give you a little bit of input what we’re dealing with.

As an elected official, the main issue the citizens want that they expressed to me is safety, they want public safety, not necessarily from violent crime but also from vehicular situations that they may be involved with. There’s a possibility of losing property, being injured or losing their life from vehicular issues in addition to violent crime. So you take that one step further and I’m sure that the citizens of Texas want the same thing, and what is being proposed here from a safety standpoint really is going to be very beneficial for all the citizens of Texas.

Some of the stats that you already know is one person is either seriously injured or killed two out of every three days on I-35. That area has not any significant improvement from a design standpoint since the late 50s or early 60s. We’re just extremely excited about the recommendations. And it is the Main Street of Texas. It is, from an economic standpoint, going to be very beneficial for all citizens of Texas, and like it was mentioned earlier, if it doesn’t happen now with your approval of this recommendation, chances are it’s not going to happen for quite some time.

So I appreciate your consideration, appreciate your service to our great state, and thank you for the opportunity to address you.

MR. HOUGHTON: Let me ask you a question. You’re chair of the MPO?

MR. RIGGS: Yes, I am.

MR. HOUGHTON: What would your allocation have been if we had gone through the allocation formula, or do you know?

MR. RIGGS: I don’t know but I have my -- you know, staff is great, aren’t they.

MS. DELISI: Yes, they are.

(General laughter.)

MR. RIGGS: I do have my staff person here. Not enough.

MR. HOUGHTON: Good answer.

MR. RIGGS: Thank you all.

MR. HOUGHTON: And thank you for coming.

MR. BUSH: Good morning, Madame Chair and commissioners. I think I’m suffering from the same thing you are, Madame Chair. My name is Jim Bush, I’m a city councilman for Waco, and our mayor, I’ve got a few comments from her and I would like to read them to you. She is heading up our second annual education summit this morning and she’s kind of the main force behind that so she asked me to come here and express her opinions to you.

As mayor of Waco, I wish to express my deep regret that I cannot be here and could not address you in person. I do, however, want to state my great appreciation for the administration’s recommendations to fund several improvements to Interstate 35 within our region as well as similar I-35 improvements in Bell, Hill and Falls counties. I also wanted to thank you personally for your serious consideration of funding these improvements through Proposition 12 Bonds that are at your discretion.

The widening and reconstruction of I-35 between Hillsboro and Williamson County, to include a minimum of six lanes and continuous one-way frontage roads, has consistently been the top priority for the Waco, Killeen, Temple, Central Texas and Heart of Texas regions for more than a decade.

Approximately every 20 years traffic volumes double on this facility as a direct result of the tremendous growth in our state’s largest cities. Our concern is that the design of I-35 is essentially the same as it was 50 years ago. I-35 was never intended to carry the current volume of traffic, much less more than 15,000 trucks that pass through our community every day. These factors significantly contribute to the crashes that result in nearly 300 people killed or seriously injured on Central Texas sections of I-35 every year.

Unfortunately, regions such as Waco have very limited ability to fund projects of this magnitude. Without state or federal help, the cost to each citizen would be over $2,000. This does not include additional work within Waco’s urban core and the center of the City of Temple and other cities in our region. Quite simply, without help from sources such as Prop 12, our respective regions cannot accomplish the goal of completing the six lanes of I-35. I believe that Central Texas’ situation is one of the primary reasons that Chair Delisi stated at a commission meeting earlier this year that I-35 should be a priority for Proposition 12 Bonds.

I appreciate the difficult decisions you face as a statewide need for mobility funds is very large, however, the funds available to address this is relatively insignificant. I also share and appreciate the concern of the leaders throughout the state with important priorities unlikely to move forward in the near future with the funds from Proposition 12. Programs such as Prop 12 are economic stimulus, while providing some limited funding for important short-term priorities, unfortunately, also represent the only opportunities in the near term for these mobility needs.

Ultimately, longer range, more significant funding options must be considered so that you are not placed in a position of taking money from one region to assist another. Our region and our MPO both pledge to assist the commission, TxDOT and our legislative leaders to identify appropriate long-term funding options that we can all support.

And I appreciate your service to our state and I apologize for just reading to you, but this was short notice for the mayor and I do appreciate your consideration of the staff’s recommendation. Thank you.

MS. DELISI: Thank you.

MR. REED: For the record, my name is Jim Reed and I’m the executive director of the Central Texas Council of Governments located in Belton, Texas, right on I-35, so although I’m not from Waco, I proudly stand with my partners to the north. You’ve heard from our urban delegation. I represent the 33 cities and seven counties that make up the Central Texas Region and I bring you greetings from them and their unanimous support for the staff recommendation.

Not to beat the dead horse that we’ve been talking about, but to directly answer your question, Commissioner, we did a calculation and I’m going to have to, without Proposition 12 funding, exercise much better health practices because I’ll be 87 if we do not receive Proposition 12 funding before our MPO funding would fund the improvements on I-35 in the Central Texas Region, greater than 40 years if we allocated every single dollar of our formulated funding. So we unanimously support that. Although I hope to reach 87, I hope to be cutting a ribbon on I-35 before then. So we unanimously support your recommendation and thank you for your service.

MR. HOUGHTON: Maybe Commissioner Meadows can join you on that ribbon-cutting.

(General laughter.)

MS. DELISI: Mike Sims.

MR. SIMS: My name is Mike Sims, I’m with the City of Terrell and I’d like to thank you on behalf of the mayor, Hal Richards, and city council of the city of Terrell for all the hard work that you do. I also want to thank your staff, in particular Darwin Meyers who is our area engineer, does an excellent job for us.

And the reason I’m here talking to you today is not because of our growth and not because of what’s happening in the future. I could talk to you about how Kaufman County is projected to double in population in just the next 15 years, I could talk to you about the City of Terrell has the largest rural TIF in the State of Texas, I could talk to you about the fact that the City of Terrell has the largest number of state-created special districts in our ETJ. We’re going to grow a lot in the future, however, our big problem is a 45-year-old project, State Highway 34 which is the intersection of State Highway 34 and US 80 in Terrell, it’s been on the books since the mid 70s with commission minute orders identifying it as a high priority project, and we’d like to bring your attention to that.

State Highway 34 is a north-south connection between Interstate 30 and Interstate 20 in Kaufman County, just to the east of Dallas. The north-south connection receives a very high level of truck traffic. Right now those trucks drive down a residential street and the old-timers in town can sit on that street and they can tell when Dallas County is congested because we get more truck traffic through our residential streets when Dallas County has a high level of congestion going.

Again, I want to thank Bill Hale. Primarily his hard work and leadership on this has got us to the point where we are ready or on a schedule with our engineering and our environmental work to make this project ready to let in 2010, so your staff has done a wonderful job on that.

The State Highway 34 project has a portion that was actually completed by TxDOT in 2008 and one portion of that staged construction project was opened up, however, that left a dead-end in the City of Terrell where the new State Highway 34 location at US 80 essentially the project was built that leaves the north side landing of the bridge built but no bridge built, and that’s created a safety issue where we just have way too many trucks making a variety of detour movements through downtown Terrell that’s really just not an acceptable safety situation. So we’d ask your attention to that.

The Regional Transportation Council -- which we’ve just become part of the metropolitan area in the Dallas-Fort Worth region -- the Regional Transportation Council, under the leadership of Michael Morris, has a staff recommendation out at this time to put $13 million on to this project with the addition of $2 million which we’ve already programmed to the project. That’s about 60 percent of the money we need to build it; we need an additional $10 million to fix this safety issue, and we’d like your consideration for Prop 12 funds to close that gap. With $10 million of Prop 12 funds to two different CSJs - and I’m sure that Amadeo has those so I won’t read those into the record right now - we can build that project, we can get that project constructed and we feel like we can do that well within the time frame of the Proposition 12 bond requirements.

In summary, this is an opportunity to partner with the Regional Transportation Council to immediately fix a major safety concern, to reduce liability due to a strange construction problem that we have in Kaufman County, and frankly, just to clear up a project that’s been on the books for over 45 years. So I thank you for your attention to the City of Terrell and to the State Highway 34 project, and I’d be happy to answer any questions if you have any.

MS. DELISI: Thank you very much. Pat Dossey.

MR. DOSSEY: (Speaking from audience.) I’m going to pass.

MS. DELISI: Okay. Don Dixon.

MR. DIXON: (Speaking from audience.) I yield.

MS. DELISI: Okay. Judge Owen Ralston.

JUDGE RALSTON: Good morning -- and it is still morning -- Madame Chair and commissioners. My name is Owen Ralston and I’m the Waller County judge. I’m here today to speak in support of Proposition 12 funding for the interchange at 610 and 290.

Many of our residents travel to and from work along 290. Their commute times are being severely impacted by congestion on 290 which only seems to get worse. This congestion adversely affects growth and development of our county. We know that a new interchange on 290 will not alleviate all of our traffic delays on 290 but we also know that it will help, and the old engineer in me tells me that that’s a logical first step to a 290 corridor project.

In closing, I ask for your support of Proposition 12 funding for the 290 and 610 interchange and we support the staff’s recommendation. Thank you for allowing me to speak.

MS. DELISI: Thank you. Mary Evans.

MS. EVANS: Good morning, Chair Delisi, commissioners. My name is Mary Evans, president of the Cy-Fair Houston Chamber of Commerce which encompasses 183 square miles in the Cy-Fair region.

On behalf of a membership base of 700 companies and a population of 735,000, we strongly support the interchange at 290 and Loop 610 as a crucial step in the expansion of 290. We have a great working relationship with TxDOT, Mr. Delvin Dennis, we appreciate all that you do. Thanks for letting me speak today. Thank you.

MS. DELISI: Thank you. Chip Carlisle.

MR. CARLISLE: (Speaking from audience.) I yield.

MS. DELISI: Roger Hord.

MR. HORD: Thank you, Madame Chairman, commissioners. My name is Roger Horde, H-O-R-D unless there’s a Herd in the audience.

MS. DELISI: Oh, I’m sorry, I haven’t been on my A game today, I think that’s been painfully obvious.

(General laughter.)

MR. HORD: That’s fine. I’m with the West Houston Association and I am here, on behalf of our members who are major employers and developers and landowners in what we call Greater West Houston, to support the process that you just went through to allocate funds from Proposition 12, and specifically speak in support of US 290 and 610 interchange.

One thing I’d like to do -- and this is the first time I’ve formally been here since I-10 was done -- is thank you very much to this commission and to previous commissions that you did, the hard work you did, in conjunction with the staff, to build Interstate 10. It’s a marvelous project and it shows what TxDOT can do when it has the resources.

We know the resources are not available to replicate that probably in any form on US 290, but this project that you’re considering from Prop 12 funding for the intersection at 610 is, as Judge Ralston just said, a critical first step, we know that. It’s critical to Houston mobility, it’s critical to the mobility of Texas, and the reason that we support the project is that it has to start somewhere, US 290 has to begin at some point, this is the critical place, as I indicated. Three freeways come together, and I think I’m right in saying that each of those three are in the top 25 of the 100 most congested freeways, and I include Interstate 10 in that which actually next year should drop out, hopefully, because it’s so well done.

Finally, we know that resources are very limited, obviously, and we commit and pledge to work with members of the legislature to achieve greater funding fore transportation in the State of Texas. That’s the only way we see that we can get projects in Harris done that we need done and the State of Texas. And I want to thank you for your time. Thank you.

MS. DELISI: Thank you. Manny Salazar.

MR. SALAZAR: I’m Manny Salazar, Representative Bohac’s chief of staff. He wanted me to apologize for not being here today but he had a park opening in the district. He asked me to bring a letter outlining his support for US 290, but in the interest of time, I’m not going to read that, I will just, however, reiterate his support for that project. Thank you.

MS. DELISI: Thank you. The last two cards I have are from Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Congressman John Culberson and we have a video, so let’s go ahead and show the video.

MR. CULBERSON: (Via video.) Thank you for allowing me to speak today by video because Congress is in session and I couldn’t join you personally, but I do join with my colleagues, Michael McCaul and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee in asking you to make the Highway 290 expansion your top priority for the Houston area. I don’t believe there’s any more urgent congestion problem in Harris County than 290; there is no alternative route for people to take.

My family and I live up in the Copperfield area and I use 290 a lot and I know firsthand that you can’t get off on some alternative road. Before I-10 was expanded, you could at least escape to Memorial or Westheimer or Clay Road, there is no escape on 290.

For the economic vitality of northwest Houston, for the peace of mind and well-being of the people of Houston who rely on 290, we’ve got to make the expansion of that freeway our highest priority in the Harris County area. We need to approach it as we did I-10: in a team effort from the county, the state and the federal government, all of us working together arm-in-arm, focused on this critically important and very expensive project, we can get this done.

I have asked for $267 million in the Highway Reauthorization bill that is working its way through Congress, $227 million for the expansion of, I believe, two or three segments of 290, and then $40 million for a commuter rail line managed by Harris County Commissioners Court to go out to the suburbs of Houston along 290.

This is such a vitally important project, you’ve got the support of the Houston area, representatives for that area. We’re all of us going to be doing everything in our power to support your efforts at the state at a time of limited resources to be sure we get you the help that you need from the federal government to support this vitally important project.

I hope that you’ll take a look at our request and that you’ll agree that of all the transportation projects in Harris County, Highway 290 has to be ranked as our highest priority at the state level, at the federal level and the county level, and you can count on my support to give you every ounce of energy and enthusiasm that I can devote to this project -- as I did with I-10 -- to make sure that we get 290 built as quickly as humanly possible.

Thank you very much for allowing me to speak to you today and I hope that you will approve our request to put 290 at the top of the priority list of transportation projects in Harris County. Thank you very much.

MS. JACKSON LEE: Greetings from Washington, D.C. and the United States House of Representatives. I’m Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and I represent the 18th Congressional District in Houston, Texas and I chair the Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection Committee for the Homeland Security Committee of the House of Representatives.

I would first like to thank and commend the Texas Transportation Commission for your great work and on conducting this meeting regarding the improvements to US 290. As a member of Congress, I clearly recognize that safe, efficient transportation systems are essential to America’s continued economic vitality, our ability to compete in a global economy, and most importantly, to the quality of life of all Americans and especially Texans. I believe it’s important to create jobs and this is certainly one of the real ways of improving our mobility and creating jobs.

Today our vital transportation infrastructure is showing signs of aging. We’re experiencing increasing congestion on our highways, railways, airports and seaports. We’re robbing our economy of productivity and our citizens of quality time with their families. In some cases, this is the result of systems and structures that are more suited to a bygone era than to the 21st Century.

In the past 25 years the US 290 corridor has seen remarkable growth. The population in the area has increased by 57 percent, and road usage has skyrocketed by 95 percent. State road capacity, however, has only grown by 8 percent. Over the next 25 years the population in this corridor is expected to increase by 64 percent and road usage is expected to increase by 214 percent. Wow. The chronically congested 290 corridor is facing serious problems, and we need to work on these problems together.

Given these numbers, I requested $267 million, along with my colleagues, for the US 290 corridor to relieve congestion and improve the quality of life for the people who live and work along the corridor. With 227 million designated for the US 290 corridor expansion project and $40 million for the Hempstead commuter rail, Texans can look forward to a more comfortable way of life, a better quality of life and more time at home with their families and less time on the road, more time for recreation, more time for being in their community, more time for service.

In addition to reduced travel time, these funds will create over 50,000 jobs, attract new businesses to Houston and the surrounding area and make the air we breathe cleaner and expand a critical hurricane evacuation route. This is very important to our community.

As your representative in Congress, I will always strive to make sure that the transportation investments for the Greater Houston area will have far-reaching effects on our area and the nation’s economy. I’ll also make sure that we remain competitive in the world marketplace and the quality of life in our communities will be improved. Each day every Houstonian and every Houston business will benefit for the improvements to US 290 by experiencing shortened travel times, increased productivity and improved safety.

It is important that you know that we work together as a congressional delegation to improve the lives of Texans and we work for the improvement of the lives of Americans. I can assure you with this funding and the cooperation with the Texas Transportation Commission and all of our transit stakeholders in the State of Texas, we can create more jobs, we can help small businesses, minority- and women-owned businesses and we can create a better way of life for all of those who travel our highways.

We’re depending on working with you, depending on our collaborative effort. I thank you so very much for your service and we look forward to this expanded opportunity for better mobility in our community. Thank you so very much and have a wonderful day.

MS. DELISI: That concludes everyone who signed up to testify, so John, there you are.

MR. BARTON: Madame Chair, I think that all that can be said has been said, so I will just recommend your approval of the minute order that’s before you.

MR. HOUGHTON: I want to ask you something, John.

MR. BARTON: Yes, sir.

MR. HOLMES: You were wrong about that, you were absolutely wrong.

MR. BARTON: I stand corrected.

(General laughter.)

MR. HOUGHTON: Oh, no, no, no. John, while the testimony was being received, I noticed you working the room, shaking hands in the back and standing next to folks. Are you running for some office?

MR. BARTON: No, sir. Someone else asked me that, and to be quite honest with you, with the hard work that was put in by so many people with so many different priorities for projects, the value of those projects to their communities, I just wanted to share my appreciation to all of them, those that are supportive of this recommendation and those whose projects are not a part of this recommendation, they’re all important.

I shared with them that I appreciate the passion that they have for their projects, and that the direction we received from the commission and from Director Saenz and from Deputy Director Simmons was to reach out to everyone, whether their projects were part of this recommendation or not, to continue to explore ways to develop those projects and deliver them. And I just wanted them to know from the commission and TxDOT’s administrative staff we sincerely appreciated them being here.

MR. HOUGHTON: And congratulations to you, John.

MR. BARTON: Thank you.

MR. MEADOWS: Madame Chair, I have a couple of observations and comments.

MS. DELISI: Fire away.

MR. MEADOWS: Beginning with echoing what Commissioner Houghton just said and that’s to express my personal appreciation to you for overseeing a process that, frankly, was a very good process, a very difficult process. I think the most important thing for me today is to recognize all of the people that came up and spoke, and particularly our elected officials that are in the room and those that were here earlier, because this exercise, this process is perhaps the clearest and most impactful lesson yet on the extreme limited nature of the resources that we have available to meet these huge transportation needs that we must meet in Texas.

These resources are this limited and we have got to find a way to bring more resources to the table to address the needs that we clearly have. We will fail in Texas if we don’t do so, and this is just a good lesson, it’s such a good lesson here today to just realize $9 billion worth of really, truly imperative projects for the future success of this state -- actually for our success today -- and $2 billion to allocate, I mean, it’s painful, it’s a painful process, but I think it’s been a fair process and it’s a compliment to you and your staff for doing so.

Let me say I absolutely favor the staff recommendation, I think the process has yielded a good result. But again, I don’t want to be repetitive, but the fact is there are three critical projects, truly critical projects that were surfaced today that we have got to address, and those projects are the 77 project that was talked about, Interstate 35/820 in Tarrant County, and the Dallas and Denton County 35E projects.

All three of those are critical projects, and I would like for us to go on record today as requesting staff to come back with funding strategies by a reasonable date, and I would think by January we should be able to have a funding strategy, not necessarily the specific component parts guaranteed. But we need to hear, as a commission, that those strategies are in place that will enable us to meet those transportation needs because they truly are critical. If we can do that, I am perfectly ready to move on, and again, thank you very much for your good work.

MR. BARTON: Thank you, Commissioner. I think it’s duly noted and Director Saenz has certainly indicated he would like for us to do that, so we’ll prepare a report for your January commission meeting.

MS. DELISI: All right. So on that note, can I get a motion?

MR. MEADOWS: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. BARTON: Thank you.

MS. DELISI: Thanks, John.

I’m going to go ahead and take a five-minute break right now so the room can clear, unless you all want to stay for the rest of the agenda, you’re more than welcome.

(Whereupon, a brief recess was taken.)

MS. DELISI: Amadeo, let’s get back to the agenda, please.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Madame Chair.

We’re going to move on to item number 8 that deals with our Proposition 14 Bond Program, and I’m asking Carol Rawson to please come up and make a presentation on a proposed minute order.

MS. RAWSON: Good afternoon. I’m Carol Rawson, the interim director of the Traffic Operations Division.

The minute order before you proposes funding of four additional projects under the Proposition 14 Bond Program. As Mr. Barton has discussed with you over the last year, the commission is authorized to issue up to $6 billion in bond proceeds to the program payable from the revenues of the State Highway Fund. Due to the continuing national economic conditions and the accompanying effects on construction contracts and materials supplies, the projects that have gone to letting continue to experience underruns of the originally obligated bond amount. These underruns allow additional projects to be brought forward for funding under the bond program.

Exhibit A, as attached to the minute order before you today, proposes those cost underruns to fund four additional projects. Three of these projects are designed to improve mobility in Bowie, Grayson and Tarrant counties, and have an estimated cost of $26.9 million. The fourth project is a safety project in Walker County to widen a segment of existing highway at an estimated cost of $15 million.

Staff recommends approval of this minute order.

MS. DELISI: Are there any questions for Carol?

(No response.)

MS. DELISI: Okay, in that case I’d like to call up Representative Lois Kolkhorst.

MS. KOLKHORST: Madame Chair, commissioners, I just am here today to support the funds for Highway 19 in Walker County. It would be an expansion to go from two lanes to four lanes, it’s a connector to I-45, and I’m here to humbly say thank you, and also to pass out a couple of compliments. We have a new district engineer in that area, Catherine Hejl, and she has hit the ground running and has been a pleasure to work with, very responsive, and I know her area engineer, Mr. Stevens, is a great man too, he’s been in that area for a long time, and I want to compliment you on the civil servants that you have.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with great DEs, Lonnie Gregorcyk in Yoakum, Bryan Wood in Bryan, and now Catherine Hejl, and I want to thank you for that great hire. When we met, we’ve met on this project many, many times -- Amadeo knows that -- but this summer we had another accident there of a three-year-old child, a police officer’s child, and it kind of was one of those, as you know, Madame Chair, one of those that really stirred my soul, and we met and Catherine was more than ready to hit the ground and come up with solutions in stages, and so I think that’s what we have before us.

I also want to compliment the city and the county because they’ve worked together. Thirty years ago, Commissioner Meadows, they bought the real estate for this expansion, so it think it’s very complimentary of this commission, 30 years later to use that real estate that we bought some 30 years ago through the city and the county and expand for this highway.

So with that, I think it’s a great use of safety money out in the rural areas and I know that you have made a lot of people happy today, Amadeo and I were talking, maybe some disappointed people who didn’t get the other bond money, but in looking at safety bonds, I think this will improve that highway greatly and save lives for the future and be a great connector to I-45 and a relief route even during those hurricane seasons that we have.

MR. MEADOWS: Did you want to say anything about TCU?

MS. KOLKHORST: Go Frogs! Very quietly. You always hate with you face an 0 and 10 football team, as we do this Saturday, so I will quietly say, Go Frogs, don’t let them slip up on you.

MR. HOUGHTON: Who do they face?

MS. KOLKHORST: The Lobos this weekend.

MR. MEADOWS: Wyoming.

MS. KOLKHORST: Is it Wyoming this weekend? Well, Wyoming has won four games, and then I guess our last game is UNM which is 0 and 10, and so thank you for clarifying that, it is Wyoming. I was getting ahead of myself. We like those BCS Bowl bids. That’s right. The Kolkhorsts are planning to forget the ski trip. We’re going to a BCS Bowl game; we can’t afford both, so even the kids voted for the BCS.

MR. HOUGHTON: So you’ve been sitting here all this time listening.

MS. KOLKHORST: Commissioner, may I admit something to you? And you know I never mince words with you.

MR. HOUGHTON: No, you haven’t.

MS. KOLKHORST: As I listened on the computer with great interest and thought it was very interesting. You’ve seen a lot of state senators and a lot of state reps and you’ve been blessed with congressmen and women today. So I am certainly the lesser of all those appearing before us today, and I just say that our little $15 million, you cannot imagine how much that means to our area, and I really do mean that. You know, Commissioner Holmes is out in that area often and you know what that means to us. $15 million is the same as $300 million in Houston, and so we are very pleased with it.

And the other thing is, Commissioner, I loved meeting with the district engineer from Lubbock and he was getting all these new ideas and they’re going to do the engineering for the project if you approve it, and he was talking about how to stretch the dollar, maybe we can get more out of that $15 million. There’s a county judge in Walker County, Frank Robinson, he’s 94 years old, and he was a part of the group that over 30 years bought the right or way, and all he had to tell me a couple of weeks ago was: It’s about time.

So I thank you very much for acting on something that they did what we ask cities to do is buy land, we’re going to expand this highway one day, and it just has not been able to fit in any bucket of money we have, and the ingenuity of Catherine and I might say a couple of your staffers here in Austin -- that will remain anonymous but you can guess who they are -- they got very creative and said, We think we can make this work and it will save lives. So thank you very much.

MS. DELISI: Thank you.

MS. KOLKHORST: Madame Chair, thank you very much.

MS. DELISI: I’d like to call up Mayor Turner.

MAYOR TURNER: Good afternoon. I’d like to just real briefly reiterate a couple of things that our representative said. For the record, I’m Mayor J. Turner of Huntsville, and I want to wish to thank you and I want to wish to thank the volunteer public servants that came with me from Walker County today, and if you could please stand up. Our county judge, commissioner, city council members. We’re volunteers but this means a lot to us and that’s why we’re here today.

State Highway 19 between Interstate 45 and Highway 30 is a project that has been on our horizon a very long time, and we want to take this opportunity to thank the TxDOT officials on this, specifically our new district engineer, Catherine, and our local engineer, David Stephens, for coming up with a plan to solve a problem that’s been on the table a long, long time.

So our community would be very appreciative for a favorable outcome today, and I just want to thank you very much for taking the time to hear our plea.

MS. DELISI: Thank you. Charles Forbus.

MR. FORBUS: Lady Chair, commissioners. My name is Charles Forbus. You’re one of the few people that got it right, they usually call me Forbes, but thank you.

I just want to reiterate what Lois and the mayor said, that we’re very appreciative of any positive decision you can make on this project. The people in Huntsville have been worried about this safety issue for many, many years, and as Lois said, recently we had a small child who died in an accident and those accidents continue. With your approval of this funding, I think that we can reduce that safety hazard and help a lot of people in Huntsville.

So my thanks to all of you and the citizens of Huntsville thank you very much for your positive thoughts on this.

MS. DELISI: Thank you. We’ve heard the recommendation. 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. HOUGHTON: Gosh, this whole delegation for this. You didn’t tell them to stand up.

MS. KOLKHORST: We told you that $15 million means a lot.

MR. SAENZ: Commission, going back to the agenda, we’re going to go back to agenda item 4(b), and Brian is going to come present his annual report on the derivative transactions.

MR. RAGLAND: Thank you. For the record, I’m Brian Ragland, director of the Finance Division. I guess I’m learning all those people weren’t here for this particular item.

(General laughter.)

MR. RAGLAND: This is the annual derivative report. What this does is it communicates information regarding the outstanding derivative transactions of the commission, and it’s dated as of August 31. As of that date, there was one outstanding transaction with three counter parties. I’m happy to report that as of the end of October that we are $9.1 million to the good on this particular transaction.

So you have the report there and that’s all I have unless you have some questions on that. Thank you.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Brian.

Agenda item 4(c), Steve Simmons, deputy executive director, will present an update on our department’s Internal Compliance Program.

MR. SIMMONS: Good afternoon, Chair Delisi, commissioners, Mr. Saenz. For the record, I’m Steve Simmons, deputy executive director of the department.

I’m here to talk about the Internal Compliance Program status. In November of 2007, the commission directed the department to develop an Internal Compliance Program with a mission to prevent and detect criminal conduct and otherwise promote an organizational culture that encourages ethical behavior and a commitment to the compliance with the law. The minute order requires semiannual reports to the commission and our last report was in May of 2009.

Since that report, just a few items to note what we’ve been doing. We’ve placed an emphasis on our website by doing some animation when people logged on to our internet site that would direct them to our Internal Compliance Program that talked about standards, our ethical policies, our standard of conduct, information on the TxDOT Watch Program, as well as the State Auditor’s Office hotline.

We’ve also been going through the risk assessment where we’ve been looking at all of the laws and policies that each and every one of our offices deals with, and we’ve asked them to catalogue those and then go back and rank the risk as low-medium-high and then the probability that something would happen in those areas, and we’re in the process of going through those and prioritizing those and having our work groups review and continue to see how we can better improve the processes we have to make sure that our rules are followed and everything works well.

Rules were passed in January of 2009 to require transportation corporations and toll facility organizations which receive funds from the department to adopt and enforce an internal compliance program within twelve months. To assist those organizations, we sent them documents related to creation of an ethics and compliance program.

We have met with the Public Transportation Advisory Committee and are sending letters to the regional mobility authorities regarding proposed rules requiring an entity to adopt the internal ethics and compliance program in order to be eligible to receive state or federal public transportation funds.

And some of you have been going through the annual training for the commission and administration that was required through this Internal Compliance Program.

Other ongoing projects is we are requiring all of our employees to be trained annually in the Internal Compliance Program and we’re preparing next year’s training. As I mentioned, the work groups are working on the risk assessments and the TxDOT Watch ICP is reviewing options for capturing the data and generation of specific types of reports so we can better utilize that.

I might add that the Department of Public Safety has contacted us in regards to our TxDOT Watch because their commission has asked them to develop a similar reporting or hotline for people to do it. Since my update to you in May, we’ve received 156 reports so for a total of 370 since October of last year. We are working on additional rules for different agencies that will receive funds.

And that’s my report at this time. I’d be happy to answer any questions.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Steve.

Moving on, commission, agenda item number 5 deals with our promulgation of administrative rules. Agenda item 5(a)(1), presented by Bob Jackson, will be final adoption on some rules dealing with Management.

MR. JACKSON: Bob Jackson, general counsel.

State law requires the commission to adopt rules governing the structure of organization and operations of the department. We review those rules after every legislative session to see if we need to update anything. We found two items. One is to recognize the creation of regional support centers, the other is that legislation was enacted that removed the requirement that the department’s executive director would be a licensed professional engineer. A few months ago we proposed rules to make those two changes, no public comments were received. We would recommend adoption of this minute order that will provide for final adoption of these rule amendments.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you. Agenda item 5(a)(2) is also a final adoption of some rules dealing with Advisory Committee Operations.

MR. JACKSON: State law requires the commission to adopt rules providing for the creation and operation of advisory committees. State law also requires that we sunset these committees at least once every four years. The commission has chosen to sunset its committees every two years, again, to coincide with the end of a legislative session. The commission recommended recreating all advisory committees for an additional two years. No public comments were received. These changes also make some technical changes to operations of advisory committees.

We recommend adoption of this minute order which will provide for final adoption of these amendments.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Bob.

Agenda item 5(a)(3) deals with the final adoption for some administrative rules on Right of Way dealing with gas pipelines in our right of ways.

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

I’d like to present for your consideration item 5(a)(3) which provides for the final adoption of amendments to various sections of Title 43, Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 21 pertaining to Right of Way.

The minute order adopts changes regarding the authority of gas pipeline facilities to occupy state rights of way. House Bill 2572 from the 81st Legislative Session was passed and effective June 19 of 2009 to amend the Utilities Code, Chapter 181.005, and authorize gas corporations to lay and maintain gas pipelines along public roads. Implementation of this amendment requires a change in the concept and definition of public and private utilities and it focuses now on the nature of the gas utilities business rather than the actual function of the pipeline facility itself.

The rules also amend and expand the appeal process that’s available by creating a board of variance for reconsideration of exceptions to the permitting operations to put these facilities on state rights of way.

Comments were accepted until 5:00 p.m. on October 12 and there was comment received from the Texas Pipeline Association and the board of variance was a feature that was incorporated into these final rules in recognition of those comments made by the Pipeline Association. Staff recommends your approval of the minute order.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, John.

Agenda item 5(b) deals with proposed adoption of administrative rules. 5(b)(1) and 5(b)(2) deal with the Corridor Planning Committees and the Trans-Texas Corridor, and Mark Tomlinson will present those two minute orders.

MR. TOMLINSON: Good afternoon. My name is Mark Tomlinson, director of the Turnpike Authority Division of TxDOT.

This is for the withdrawal of the proposed amendments to Section 24.13, Corridor Planning and Development. This rule was proposed back in the August commission meeting to establish sunset dates for the Trans-Texas Corridor segment advisory committees. As a result of the proposal in October that provides changes to Section 15.9 and 15.10, this Section 24.13 is unnecessary and the proposed amendments are withdrawn. If it’s approved by the commission, withdrawal of this section will be effective immediately upon filing with the Office of the Secretary of State. Staff would recommend your acceptance of the minute order.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. MEADOWS: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Go ahead and do the next one.

MR. TOMLINSON: The next one is repeal of 24.13 as it relates to corridor planning and development. As a result of the rule, again, proposed in October that provides those changes I mentioned previously, this section is unnecessary again and this minute order would propose repeal of that section. Comments on the proposed repeal will be accepted until five o’clock, if you approve it today, on January 4, 2010, and staff would recommend your approval of the minute order.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.


MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Mark.

Agenda item 5(b)(3) deals with Traffic Operations, in particular dealing with medical examiners report requirements, and Carol Rawson, interim director of the Traffic Operations Division, will present the minute order.

MS. RAWSON: Good afternoon. I’m Carol Rawson, interim director of the Traffic Operations Division.

Medical examiners and justices of the peace are required under state law to report certain information regarding traffic fatalities to the department. Senate Bill 1218 from the 81st Legislature requires these reports to note if a fatality occurred due to a bridge collapse, and if so, the county in which the bridge was located. The proposed amendment will implement the requirements of this legislation. We recommend approval of this minute order.

MS. DELISI: Is there a motion?

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.


MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. HOLMES: May I ask a quick question?

MS. DELISI: Oh, sorry.


MR. HOLMES: When is the last time that we had a fatality from a bridge collapse?

MS. RAWSON: It would be the bridge that was going to South Padre Island.

MR. HOLMES: South Padre.

MS. RAWSON: And then there was also one on I-35 that we had a high truck tractor that went through and it hit the bridge and it knocked a beam down that hit a car that was coming up behind.

MR. HOLMES: These are not issues about the bridge, they’re issues about the driver of the tugboat and the truck.

MS. RAWSON: Exactly. But it was something that I guess the legislature believed that they wanted to be able to collect maybe in response to the bridge that did fail that was up in Minnesota, and it’s just say to make sure that we’re collecting all of it.

MR. HOLMES: In your recollection, when would be the last time that a bridge collapsed due to disrepair, obsolescence, et cetera and there was a fatality.

MS. RAWSON: None that I know of, sir; not anything that’s been reported through the crash records system.

MS. DELISI: I just want to redo the vote because I kind of rushed through it. There was a motion, there was a second. All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes. Thank you.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Carol.

Agenda item number 6 deals with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act projects, the economic stimulus projects. John will present an update and a minute order.

MR. BARTON: Thank you, Director Saenz. I just wanted to briefly provide a report on our efforts to implement the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act here in Texas. Interestingly enough, today I think we just initiated the Texas Recovery Act through your actions on Proposition 12, so quite an interesting duo of programs we have underway.

If you’ll look at the slide that’s up on the screen at this point in time, I’m proud to tell you that we have currently obligated $1.85 billion of the $2.25 billion allocated to Texas, so we’re clearly well on our way to meeting the deadline of having it all obligated by March 1 of 2010. Of that, we’ve actually taken bids on and executed contracts valued at $1.35 billion and have spent just over $225 million on contract expenses thus far. Those are for 398 construction projects, 46 of which have been completed, and most notably for those that are interested, we believe we’ve created 6,677 jobs thus far through our highway and bridge program, or 2,684 full-time equivalent positions.

On the transit side, we have obligated all of the transit funding and we’ve spent just over $6.8 million on those projects thus far on 68 different grants and creating about 27,000 person hours of job activities through October 31.

And then finally, on the aviation portion of the program, we have obligated all of it, we’ve received grants of $17.5 million, those have all been awarded, and we’ve had contract expenses that we paid just over $1.2 million, creating 191 jobs thus far on those particular projects.

This slide shows the status of our large mobility projects left to be obligated. There’s something of note that I wanted to point out today. First and foremost, as you can see, out of the 28 projects that you originally authorized, we’re down to just a handful that are yet to be obligated. I don’t anticipate any problems on the remaining projects.

The two in Houston that are shown towards the bottom of the slide highlighted in a light green color are actually substitute projects for one of your original approved projects, that being the Grand Parkway or State Highway 99. As you know, Harris County took action recently to request that you remove funding from that project from the Recovery Act and place it on other projects. These are the two projects that have been selected, they are moving forward.

One is on Interstate 10 in Harris County, downtown Houston that starts at Washington Street and goes to Taylor, that’s along Interstate 10 through the heart of the community and will provide new frontage roads where that section currently does not have frontage roads. And then the other is a section of Interstate 45 in Montgomery County in the Conroe area. And those are the two projects that will be replacing the State Highway 99 project that has been taken off of the list.

That concludes the information on the status report. Again, just a reminder of the time line. We still have just a few weeks left to make final decisions about projects and their readiness to move forward. As this time line shows, I do believe it’s important that if we have to make decisions to replace projects that those decisions need to be made by January 1, so we’re in the last few weeks of getting projects to a point where we’re 100 percent confident they’ll move forward and be obligated before the March 1, 2010 deadline.

The minute order before you today is associated with one of those last remaining mobility projects, it’s the Interstate 10/Loop 375 project in the El Paso community. In the development of that project, we determined that because of some of the federal restrictions on Recovery Act funds, we could not commingle them on the same project with advanced construction dollars which are Pass-Through Toll funded project dollars in this particular case.

And so the minute order before you would allow us to move those Recovery Act dollars from one portion of the project to another portion of the project. It’s really a technical amendment, but in the sake of transparency, we wanted to make sure that we brought it before the commission. So you’re not assigning any new projects and you’re not assigning any new dollars, you’re just placing more of the Recovery Act money on one particular part of that project and placing the Pass-Through Toll funding dollars on the other part of that project.

So I would recommend your approval of the minute order and would be happy to answer any questions you might have about our Recovery Act and where we stand today.

MS. DELISI: Any questions?

MR. SAENZ: John, could you give the commission just a brief update on the projects that were selected by the MPOs across the state based on their allocation, what coordination you have been working on?

MR. BARTON: Yes, sir. Thank you, Director Saenz.

As you know, a certain portion of the Recovery Act, approximately $500 million, was directly sub-allocated to our metropolitan planning organizations, and they have selected about 100 projects to do with that money. About 40 of those projects have been obligated, we have 60, obviously, that are still yet to be obligated. We have prepared a report that we ask the MPOs and districts to update for us on a biweekly basis. The MPOs are working very diligently to get the remainder of those projects obligated, and but for a handful, it appears that they all will clearly be obligated before the March 1, 2010 deadline.

We’ve had conference calls with the MPOs where we’ve had concern about a handful of projects, and the MPOs have been working with our local district staffs to prepare substitute projects to be ready to move forward just in case an issue does come about, and we continue to have our biweekly conference calls with those who are interested in listening in, we talk about these issues, and I anticipate having a meeting with the MPOs in mid December to go through the status of all of our projects, both the department-selected projects and the MPO-selected projects, just to make sure before that January 1 deadline that we know where we’re at, that we’re confident of our decisions, and that we’ll be able to make sure that every dollar intended to be spent here in Texas stays here in Texas.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, John.

And I guess, commission, the reason I asked him is one of the projects that was requested by the mayor of Primera that talked about Primera Road is one of those kind of standby projects that’s ready to use some ARRA money, according to the district.

MR. BARTON: Thank you. And those MPO projects, as they take bids, are coming in under as well, and so the MPOs will have the opportunity to fund projects at the underruns from their previously selected projects.

MS. DELISI: Is there a motion?

MR. UNDERWOOD: So moved.

MR. MEADOWS: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, John. Don’t leave. Moving on to agenda item number 9 deals with a Pass-Through project for El Paso.

MR. BARTON: Yes. The minute order before you, commissioners, is for the Pass-Through Toll funding of a particular project, the one I just mentioned on Interstate 10 and Loop 375, known locally as the Americas Project. It’s one of our Recovery Act funded projects that the Camino Real RMA is developing for us. They are implementing and funding a significant portion of this project through a Pass-Through Toll funded program and by doing so will be able to activate a transportation reinvestment zone there that the City of El Paso has put in place.

The City of El Paso has authorized the transfer of the proceeds from their transportation reinvestment zone to the RMA, the RMA has voted to accept those funds, and this Pass-Through Toll agreement is necessary in order for us to enter into the agreement in order to activate the transportation reinvestment zone because of the statutory requirement under current law that a TRZ, or transportation reinvestment zone, can only be used for projects where there is a Pass-Through Toll funding component.

The minute order before you today would give Director Saenz or his designee the authority to enter into a formal agreement with the Camino Real RMA, and I believe that they’re represented here today. Staff has negotiated with them on the terms of the deal, it was a very favorable consideration for both parties, we feel confident that it’s an agreement that will help us successfully deliver this American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funded project, and to implement the first transportation reinvestment zone in Texas.

I don’t know if it would be appropriate to offer the RMA an opportunity to speak before you on the matter, but the minute order before you would allow us to enter into the formal agreement, and staff would recommend your approval of the minute order.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, John.

MR. BARTON: Thank you. You get to rest for a little bit.

Moving on to agenda item number 10 dealing with Transportation Planning, 10(a), Jim Randall will present a minute order to you all to consider some modifications to some of the Colonia Bond Program in Starr County.

MR. RANDALL: Good afternoon, commissioners. I’m Jim Randall with the Planning and Programming Division.

In 2001 the legislature established $175 million program to provide financial assistance for Border Colonia Access roadway projects. The department distributed the funds to the eligible counties in three program calls. This minute order approves the reallocation of funds from the third program call within Starr County.

Title 43 TAC, Section 15.105 provides that a county may use unexpended funds from a project on any other commission-selected county Colonia project. Starr County has requested approval to use underrun population allocated funds resulting from lower than expected construction prices to fund work on the projects shown in Exhibit A. Staff recommends approval of this minute order.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Agenda item 10(b), Brian Ragland will present a minute order to authorize projects in the current UTP with CONSTRUCT authority.

MR. RAGLAND: Thank you. Again for the record, I’m Brian Ragland, director of the Finance Division.

This proposed minute order authorizes one new project which is FM 407 from Briarhill to Chin Chapel. It authorizes the project under the State Highway 121 RTR work program. The estimate on the project is $8.35 million and staff recommends your approval.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Brian.

Agenda items 10(c) and 10(d) deal with Transportation Planning and the funding levels for the next UTP and long-range plan, and I’m going to ask John and James to present those two together, and then we’ll vote on each one, but I think we need to kind of see how they all tie in.

MR. BASS: For the record, I’m James Bass, chief financial officer at TxDOT. The first part of this presentation in agenda item 10(c) deals with the Unified Transportation Program and is really a follow up on our discussion last month in Fort Worth.

If we look at this first slide on there, looking at the revenue, one thing I would point out, this shows the total revenue and what we’re speaking of here is total revenue to the State Highway Fund. So revenues that might be going into the Texas Mobility Fund that are available to the department under Proposition 12, that are available through stimulus, are not included in here, this focuses on the State Highway Fund.

On the left side of this page you see what would go into the revenue forecast that would back up what would go into the UTP for the period of 2010 through 2020, and then on the right side you see for the longer range plan of 2021 to 2035.

Some of the major assumptions are the same that we talked about last month. On the motor fuel tax growth we’ve assumed in the forecast a half a percent growth in 2010, and then a 1 percent growth annually for the period of 2011 through 2020. The vehicle registration fee growth is projected at 4-1/2 percent per year which is based upon the average of the prior three years’ experience, and then the other miscellaneous revenues to the State Highway Fund are projected to grow in the neighborhood of 1 percent.

This leaves the funding targets remaining to be selected by the commission, and what we have here is two potential scenarios. If you recall from our discussions, there are certain categories because of the federal requirements and/or riders in the Appropriation Act that have a minimum required amount that will go in them, and that’s, generally speaking, Categories 5 through 11.

In Scenario A, we have Categories 5 through 11 listed at what we believe to be their minimum required amounts, and the reason I say we believe to be is because as we discuss this today, there is no long-term transportation bill, and so we don’t know that the transportation bill will allocate funding in these same categories that we’ve dealt with for the last six years or if they may change the allocation within a state to the different categories.

So this is what we currently believe to be the minimum amounts. Category 11 has a minimum amount by rider in the Appropriations Act and then the Strategic Priority category is the amount remaining for projects that have already been selected by the commission.

We then move to the top of the page under Scenario A for Categories 2, 3 and 4. The funding there represents the same level of funding that we had for 2009 through 19, less whatever funding was actually utilized in 2009. So the level of funding in Categories 2, 3 and 4 remain the same as they were 18 months ago, however, it’s been reduced by the amount that was actually utilized during 2009. That leaves the remainder to go to Category 1, Preservation.

Comparing that to the staff recommendation under Scenario B, the differences would be in Category 6, the Bridge category, in Category 8, Safety. Under Scenario B, both Category 6 and Category 8 are recommended to be maintained and to continue at their current levels which we believe will be higher than the minimum requirement in whatever federal law passes. Obviously if there’s more money being directed towards Category 6 and Category 8, it has to come from somewhere as the bottom line number continues to be that $23.05 billion, and in Scenario B, the mobility categories of 2, 3 and 4 remain the same as I just described, and so the reduction would be taken from Category 1, the Preservation category.

So agenda item 10(c) before you today asks the commission to allocate funds to the twelve categories in the UTP, here are two scenarios -- obviously the commission, there’s some discretion as to how you can allocate those funds to the various categories but here are two options that staff has presented with Scenario B being the recommendation.

And Mr. Saenz, at this point I don’t know if you want to stop to see if there’s any questions before I turn it over to Mr. Barton.

MR. HOUGHTON: I’ve got a question. Out of the FY 2010 total revenue of $6.23 billion, that’s gross.

MR. BASS: Correct.

MR. HOUGHTON: Out of that, what is Prop 14 repayment?

MR. BASS: Prop 14 repayment in 2010 on the $3.1- I believe is in the neighborhood of $250 million.

MR. HOUGHTON: So then net-net would be less than $6-, about $5-?

MR. BASS: Correct. And then you have the operations of some other agencies in the state, Department of Public Safety, Department of Motor Vehicles, some Attorney General’s Office that comes out of there.

MR. HOUGHTON: So if a layman were to look at this, they’re saying: Wait a minute, you’ve got $74 billion and your expenditures are $23 billion.

MR. BASS: Right. And I didn’t, and perhaps I should have repeated some of the slides we discussed about in Fort Worth that started with the gross and then went through and shrunk it down to what was available for contractor payments. I can certainly do that, put that back up.

MR. HOUGHTON: No, I don’t need to back up, I just wanted to highlight that point that it’s hard to say wait a minute, there’s a disconnect here, but highlight the point that that’s gross before all the deducts of the DPS and others.

MR. BASS: Correct, and other activities even within TxDOT that don’t go directly to the payment.

MR. HOUGHTON: Absolutely, okay. Do you want a motion? Oh, John is doing his.

MR. SAENZ: Let me let John present, that way we can present both the scenarios and then we’ll come back.


MR. BARTON: Thank you, Director Saenz. And Madame Chair and commissioners, again for the record, my name is John Barton, your assistant executive director for Engineering Operations.

The next step of the process that’s important to us as a transportation industry is the development of long-range plans, and of course, the first eleven years of that will be the Unified Transportation Program, as Mr. Bass has just laid out, and I think you can see from the information he shared with you that the forecast of available funding is not sufficient to continue to do all the things that we need to do, much the same can be held true for the work that we did in preparing a forecast for the remaining years of a 25-year forecast which is necessary for TxDOT to develop a Statewide Transportation Plan and for our MPO partners to develop their metropolitan transportation plans.

In preparing for a forecast, we reached out to academia through the Texas Transportation Institute as well as our MPO partners, and Dr. Tim Lomax from the Texas Transportation Institute is here today and can answer any questions that you might have about the TRENDS model that was put together to develop a forecast of available revenues from the years 11 and on through the 25-year forecast. He also will be able to talk about the impact of some of the anticipated decisions on the future conditions of pavement in Texas.

But this TRENDS model that was put together allowed us to develop a forecast of available revenues and it is predicated, basically, on three different things. One, what we anticipate the population growth to be here in Texas, and working with our metropolitan planning organization partners, we put together a work group and they recommended that we use the 0.5 migration scenario that’s available from the State Data Center. It’s an aggressive population growth but not as aggressive as we’ve seen in the last several years, but it most closely mirrors the population growth forecast that the major metropolitan areas have developed within their own councils of government and metropolitan planning organizations for their traffic analysis and planning models, and so they recommended that we use the 0.5 migration scenario.

For fuel efficiency, again, as Mr. Bass pointed out, we’re in a state of affairs now where the only revenue available to us at the state or federal level will be dependent upon the amount of revenue brought in from our state and federal motor fuels taxes, there is no surplus in the Highway Trust Fund that’s been built over time left to spend, it’s all been spent, and so it’s almost a dollar in, dollar out scenario, or for Texas on the federal side, a dollar in, 70 cents out for highway construction purposes here in Texas.

And as fuel efficiency of the fleet continues to increase, the amount of revenue generated, obviously, will decrease. And so we had Cambridge Systematics do an analysis for us, we’ve shared that with you before. We talked to, again, our metropolitan planning organization partners that were party to this workshop and team work group and we agreed that a 34-mile-per-gallon fleet fuel efficiency in the year 2030 was a reasonable assumption, and so that’s what we used in the forecasting of this particular forecast.

And then we tried to look at our future growth of the agency, staff and operations costs, and we chose to try to maintain those increases at a reasonably low level, understanding that absent some tremendous revenue enhancements, our program will be sustained at the levels it is today, at best, and so we won’t see a huge increase in the amount of costs associated with maintaining our own employees, acquiring new right of way, those sorts of things. So we used a 1/10 of 1 percent increase per year, and then for our activities, like maintaining the system, ferry operations, doing our Gulf Intracoastal Waterway activities and so forth, we anticipated about a 3 percent per year forecasted increase.

When you put those together, the forecast analysis would yield that between the years 2021 and 2035 there would be a total of $25 billion, roughly, available for new contract payments, as James has talked about in the development of his cash forecast as the CFO for the United Transportation Program. So this would be the companion forecast to accompany Mr. Bass’s chief financial officer’s forecast for the outlying years.

And using the same analogies and decision-making process that Mr. Bass described for the Unified Transportation Program, we went in and populated the necessary funding in those federal and state categories that are required by law: the congestion mitigation and air quality, our bridge program, the STPMM for the metropolitan planning organizations and so forth, subtracted those from the total available and that left $11.63 billion in those future years to be made available for maintaining our system through Category 1 and doing additional capacity improvements to address congestion in our metropolitan areas through Categories 2 and 3, as well as statewide connectivity in Category 4.

The staff recommendation for the division of those funds and are asking the commission to consider is to put all of that into maintenance, and the reason for that is because of the fact that as we continue to divert funding from maintenance into those other important categories of congestion relief and safety, we’re going to continue to pay the price for that.

We put all that together and combining the UTP, the Unified Transportation program that Mr. Bass has forecasted and the long-range plan forecasts that our MPO partners and we work together to come up with some reasonable assumptions to do, and had the Texas Transportation Institute prepare for us using their TRENDS model, the numbers that you see on the slide before you are the result.

Overall, for the 25-year period of time, there would be $48 billion available for new contracts, $22 billion of that would be going into the maintenance program, just enough to cover the commitments that we’ve already made -- if you want to use that term -- or at least perceived commitments to the mobility issues in our metropolitan areas through Categories 2 and 3, zeroing out funding for statewide connectivity except for projects that are scheduled to take bids this year, I believe, and then putting in the minimum required federal and state amounts in the remaining categories yields the distribution that’s reflected there.

We feel like in the development of these long-range forecasts that, though, that what we have shown will not be sufficient for our metropolitan planning organizations to do an adequate job of preparing their long-range forecasts and metropolitan transportation plans, and so in discussions with them, and as Mr. Morris from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, North Central Texas Council of Governments MPO presented to you last month in Fort Worth, we believe it’s appropriate and reasonable to allow our metropolitan planning organizations to consider additional revenue enhancements above the baseline forecast we’re presenting to you today in this minute order, but that in doing so, they need to have that as a discussion item and vote at their MPO policy board level, and then include in their plans delineation of which projects are being delivered based on those anticipated revenue enhancements and which of those are being delivered based on the forecast that we’re presenting.

So that the real picture is presented that you get these projects based on current conditions and reasonable assumptions for increases in the future, you can get these additional projects if there are revenue enhancements at the state or federal level or at the local level. So no longer will we have just one set of projects and one plan and unintentionally mislead the public into thinking that all of those are financially reasonable at this point in time. So we would ask that you agree with us in allowing them to do that.

This is perhaps the most important slide of this entire presentation. Based on staff’s recommendation for the Unified Transportation Program funding levels for Category 1 and what we believe would be available without revenue enhancements into the future for the outlying years through the year 2035, we asked the Texas Transportation Institute and the Center for Transportation Research to run an analysis for us. They worked on this very diligently, and I guess in the year 2035 -- and again, that’s assuming that we put the already anticipated amount of funding into mobility for the next eleven years as part of the UTP and that in the future years we only put any additional revenues available above the federal limitations for programming into our maintenance or Category 1 program -- the pavement condition scores in Texas will drop to an abysmal 6.8 percent good or better, or thereabouts, in the year 2035.

That decline is pretty rapid, as you can see from this graphic. In the year 2012 they’ll be at about 80 percent good or better and then sharply deteriorate over the next ten years so that in the year 2022 they’ll be below 30 percent good or better. And again, I think Dr. Lomax or myself would be happy to answer any questions you may have about this, but I guess the point being that it’s important that we make good decisions and staff’s recommendation is based on those, but it’s important that we understand the magnitude of the issue we’re facing as a state as we move forward with the current forecast of revenues from the existing state and federal fuel taxes, registration fees, and other resources of revenue.

And that concludes our presentation. I think Mr. Bass and myself will both be willing to make recommendations that you approve the minute orders that are before you to: one, establish the Unified Transportation Program for 2010; and two, to approve the long-range forecast for the years beyond the Unified Transportation Program out to the year 2035.

MR. HOUGHTON: And John and James, we’re required by law to do this?

MR. BARTON: The Unified Transportation Program is not a requirement of state or federal law, it’s just a business practice that we’ve implemented in the department and have had since the early 90s, I believe.

MR. HOUGHTON: Do we have a companion piece that would tell us what revenue we would need to maintain the current system at those levels or better?

MR. BARTON: We do have the efforts that were conducted by the commission that Chair Delisi commissioned earlier, the 2030 Committee report. Again, Dr. Lomax may be available to answer some questions if you have them, but that report for pavements indicated that we needed to be funding at a little over, I believe, $3 billion per year, and when you took pavements and bridges and combined them, it was, I believe, $4.2 billion per year needed just for the preservation of our existing system, bridges and roadways combined.

MR. HOLMES: John, this graph assumes after, what was it, 2021 that we would put all of the money available into preservation?

MR. BARTON: That’s correct. This graph was built upon the funding levels that were taking James’s recommendation for the Unified Transportation Program and my recommendation for the long-range forecast which is putting every dollar that we can into maintenance and zero dollars into mobility.

MR. HOUGHTON: At what year?

MR. BARTON: Starting at year 2021. In between 2021 and today, we would be putting roughly $2.2 billion into mobility, I believe -- I could back up the slides -- but it’s a very minimal amount.

MR. HOLMES: It’s a very powerful point that if you take 100 percent of the available dollars and put them into preservation, you still end up in this situation.

MR. BARTON: That’s correct.

MR. HOLMES: I think people need to understand this.

MS. DELISI: I think we should have done this before we did the Prop 12 discussion.

MR. HOUGHTON: Well, I think that’s what we tried to illustrate that by 2012, by the letter that was sent to the legislature and various transportation committees was we’re out of money.

MR. BARTON: And I think as you looked at the 2030 Committee report and our previous analysis, the comment that we’ve made that by the year 2012 we’re out of funding for mobility, if we fund maintenance at the minimum acceptable levels -- and that’s not to improve pavement condition scores, that’s just to try to sustain them at an acceptable level -- we would not be putting additional money into congestion relief.

MR. HOLMES: But in the 2010 to 2020 numbers, you have allocation to congestion mitigation, et cetera.

MR. BARTON: That’s correct, and as I tried to point out in my presentation on Proposition 12, part of the reason that staff can stand before you and make this recommendation today, even with the backdrop of this graph, is that your approval of our recommendation for Proposition 12, allows us to put $325 million extra dollars into preservation and $1.17 billion into corridor improvements which will clearly improve the condition of that long stretch of Interstate 35, and so in a way, it’s helping to offset some of this but not a lot.

And we felt, as staff, it was important that those projects that the MPOs have been planning on based on those mobility dollars we told them may be available in previous Unified Transportation Programs needed to move forward because they’re leveraging those dollars not just to deliver the $2.-some-odd billion of mobility projects that it would fund, they’ve got local bond sales they’re bringing to the table, they’ve got other funding sources they’re bringing to the table, so they’re actually leveraging those to bring a lot more funding to the table, and I think James might want to talk about the numbers a little bit.

MR. BASS: One thing I was going to point out before we get to a motion is on agenda item 10(c) there’s an exhibit attached to it but it has these two different scenarios, so the commission will need to in the motion say which scenario the commission wants staff to move forward with. But this gets back to -- and this is the period of 2010 to 2020 -- as you can see, the mobility categories 2, 3 and 4, there’s roughly $2.5 billion in there. What that is, again, is just continuing what the areas of the state had committed to them for 2009 to 19, less whatever they’ve used in 2009, so it’s keeping that mobility commitment.

One other thing I want to high light for the commission, as you see there on Category 1 there’s a difference, there’s scenario A and scenario B, and the , and that difference can be found in Categories 6 and 8. Category 6, bridges, if you will, in a lot of cases is rehabilitation of bridges, it just falls into a different category, so it, as well, is maintaining the existing system, in large part, I won’t say 100 percent but in large part.

Category 8, of course, is safety, and so the unfortunate position that you find yourself in is: Well, do I want more money for safety or more money for maintenance because there’s not really enough to do either, much less both. And so I did want to highlight that on 10(c) we’re asking for either one of these scenarios or a third one that you may come up with, and again, the difference is, in my mind, at least, really Categories 1, 6 and 8 that show up with differences on there.

MR. HOLMES: Do you feel like that the commitments that were made around the state are strong enough to where we would be prohibited from moving the Categories 2, 3 and 4 into Category 1 and 8?

MR. BASS: In my mind, the way I’d answer that is that’s the decision the commission made in April of 2008. If you recall, in April of 2008, we had, I think, three different scenarios and we had one that was maintenance is job one so there was no money in Categories 2, 3 and 4, but the concern was because of over-programming and misunderstanding of what the UTP meant, a lot of the regions in the state felt like these dollars had been committed, not fully realizing it was a plan.

But they felt like the mobility dollars had been committed, and what happened -- if memory serves me right -- the original plan was that mobility money was going to carry through 2014, but in order to keep those commitments and be financially constrained, it was going to take us to 2019 to fully fund all those. And so now what we’re saying is it’s really going to take to 2020 to get them, we’ve added another year.

I know I haven’t directly answered your question, but I think it’s within the discretion of the commission to move money out of Categories 2, 3 and 4 into Category 1. Do I believe that in the opinion of the various regions of the state they would think that was pulling back previous commitment, I believe that’s certainly what the commission would hear.

MR. HOLMES: What impact would it have on the forecasted air quality in some of the non-attainment areas?

MR. BARTON: I’ll try to address that, and we do have three of our finest MPO executive directors here and all three of them have air quality issues, one more dramatic than the others. It would be very difficult, in my opinion, for metropolitan planning organizations, absent these dollars, to do two things. One is continue to show conformity, those that are in air quality non-attainment areas to continue show any close ability to demonstrate conformity because of the fact that they would have to move projects that they had planned to be doing in the near term way out into the future or find other ways to fund them which it’s going to be extremely difficult in the short term because of the state of our economy.

Secondly -- and the reason the staff recommendation before you today is what it is -- is that whether they were commitments that we should not try to get out of or just good anticipations of available revenues, those communities have done a lot of development work, they’ve bought right of way, they’ve spent engineering resources to get those projects ready, and they’ve also sold bonds at the local level in many cases, brought other local funds available to the table, and I think that they’ve been good partners in doing that over the years, and I personally believe and am recommending as your staff that we need to honor those perceived commitments, if nothing else.

You clearly have the authority and the ability to make a different decision, but my recommendation as your staff would be to fund the scenario B recommendation that’s before you.

MR. HOUGHTON: I want to address the revenue side again, James. Is the deposit to Fund 6 net of the available school fund?

MR. BASS: Yes, and our projections that 25 percent of the gas tax never makes its way to the Highway Fund.

MR. HOUGHTON: My next question is -- yes, it’s a question -- there’s been numbers batted around or mentioned that a 10-cent gas tax increase, what is that number to us net on a 10-cent gas tax increase?

MR. BASS: It would be roughly $1.1 billion, assuming that that extra dime created no large change in consumption. A penny is $110 million, again roughly, so 10 cents would be $1.1 billion.


MR. BASS: Yes, net. A penny to the state is closer to $140- total with some going to education, but the net to the Highway Fund off of one penny is around $110-, so 10 cents would be about $1.1 billion per year.

MR. HOUGHTON: I don’t think it would hurt to send to the Senate Transportation chair and the committee what that 10 cents does relative to this, to the expenditure side, to that expenditure side. If they’re talking about those numbers and 10 cents is a pretty nice hike, that’s about a what, third increase, 33 percent?

MR. BASS: It would be half currently. Currently it’s 20 cents.

MR. HOUGHTON: It’s 20 cents. So we’re going to increase it by that much, what’s the bang for the buck and how does it relate to the other side of the equation on your Unified Transportation Plan projections on what we can do -- not what we can’t do but what we can do from that point forward. On your curve on the pavement quality, what does it do to that curve if we apply a proportionate amount of those dollars? Because I think once people hear 10 cents, perception and reality, it all of a sudden becomes the benchmark number, I think.

MR. BARTON: Yes, sir. We’ll be happy to prepare that analysis and provide it to the chair for her to send over. I might just ask if we’re doing that exercise, would it be prudent to also reflect what a $10 per vehicle registration increase would be?

MR. HOUGHTON: Sure, absolutely.

MR. BARTON: Because that’s been the kind of activity that’s been accepted in other counties through previous legislation, and quite frankly, the number of vehicles in the State of Texas is a little bit more stable than the number of gallons consumed. I think I can say that with all honesty, James. Correct me if I’m wrong.

MR. HOUGHTON: I think that would be appropriate.

MR. HOLMES: If I recall the math, vehicle registration is about a billion dollars a year, maybe a little bit more.

MR. BARTON: I believe that’s correct, a little north of that.

MR. HOLMES: We average about $47 a registration and so $10 is going to be, what, $200 million.

MR. BASS: I think there’s 20-21 million registered vehicles in the state, round numbers, so $10, $210- per year.

MR. HOUGHTON: and I wouldn’t stop at $10, I’d say here’s $10, here’s $20, here’s $30, and what that does.

MR. HOLMES: It would be nice to show what some other states have as well.

MR. BASS: As you may know, there’s three tiers currently in the vehicle registration fee structure for the State of Texas, based upon the age of the vehicle: zero to two, three to five, six and over, $58 for the newest, $50 for the middle group, and then $40 for the oldest group of vehicles. So there’s a number of different scenarios we can run and we’ve been asked to run in the past of perhaps moving all vehicles to the same level, whichever one of those three, hopefully the highest or the mid one or else you lose money, or just increase all of them by $10. There’s a number of different scenarios that we can run that would obviously generate different amounts of revenue.

But I would agree with Mr. Barton, the population growth, more growth, population growth, because of fuel efficiency, does not necessarily equate higher fuel consumption.

MR. HOUGHTON: And then my companion piece of this is another thing that’s been mentioned by members of the legislature is indexing, so if you have the one pot of 10 cents and then if you index to that number, what does that do for you?

MR. BARTON: And I think the good news for us is that if I’m not mistaken, I believe the Senate and House transportation committees have engaged TTI and the Center for Transportation Research and are asking them to do these types of analysis for them, so I know that Chairman Pickett and Chairman Carona have shared with Chair Delisi and Director Saenz they’re interested in talking about potential revenue changes in the future this next summer, and we’ll be happy to support them in evaluating this information in any way possible.

MR. HOUGHTON: Well, I think we got in front of it too, and for our own edification, we ought to understand it.

MR. BARTON: Yes, sir. And Dr. Lomax just shared with me, and I thought I remembered this and James or Director Saenz may know as well, but you asked about the registration fees in comparison to other states, I believe that if we doubled ours, we still would be at the average or maybe below average compared to other states.

MR. HOLMES: Well, I know that in first-year registration in some states they are 10X where we are. It would also be interesting to see if you took that 10 cents and dedicated it completely to maintenance and preservation, what it would do to this line, because, quite frankly, if you don’t put any of it in congestion and you put it all here, it’s going to help it but it isn’t going to flatten it.

MR. BARTON: That’s correct.

MR. SAENZ: We had a recommendation, there are two minute orders.

MS. DELISI: Well, as I understood you, the motion needs to be specific about which scenario.

MR. BASS: Yes, ma’am.

MR. HOUGHTON: Move to approve staff recommendation of scenario B.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes. And do you have anything else on yours?


MS. DELISI: On 10(d).

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, James and John.

Moving on to agenda item number 11, Brian Ragland will return and provide us a minute order on final approval of State Infrastructure Bank loan for the City of El Paso.

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

This proposed minute order provides for final approval of a SIB application submitted by the City of El Paso. It’s for $6.356 million to pay for improvements on the Paso del Norte International Bridge. It’s my recollection that that’s a pedestrian toll bridge, and so the loan is secured by the toll revenues on that bridge. Staff recommends your approval.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. MEADOWS: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Brian.

Agenda item number 12 is our Obligation Limit Report to be presented by James Bass.

MR. BASS: Thank you, Mr. Saenz. Again for the record, I’m James Bass, chief financial officer at TxDOT.

This is our monthly report to the commission on our obligation limit. You may recall earlier the commission adopted an obligation limit for fiscal year 2010 from the traditional State Highway Fund dollars of $2.185 billion, with $585 million of that already dedicated to some CDA projects in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, leaving $1.6 billion for change orders and the monthly letting as we go forward. Through the first three months, September through November, the districts have utilized just under $275 million of that with over another billion scheduled for the remaining of the fiscal year.

If you see the report before you, there are, I believe, five districts that it looks like if you take the actual utilization plus those that are scheduled for the rest of the year, it would put them over their cap to various degrees. And so Finance staff will be working with those five districts to see if it’s possible that all those projects can remain on schedule, thinking that the bids may come in under, as they have been, or if there needs to be some shifting within the schedule for the remainder of the year. And you can notice those, if you look just to the far right, on the remaining percent, you can see some of them have a negative sign in front of them.

Another thing that I generally speak of, speaking of motor fuel tax in projections, is the deposits to the State Highway Fund, and again, we have the actuals from September, October and November. If we compare those first three months of this year to the first three months of last year, we are .53 percent higher than we were for 2009. Don’t draw too much conclusion that our forecast was .5 for the entire year, we’re just a quarter into it and we’re .53 percent.

The good news is three out of the last four months, if we reach back to August of last fiscal year, August, October and November were higher than their counterpart twelve months higher, and September was lower. So perhaps, hopefully, we’re beginning to see a reversal of that trend and getting back to deposits growing compared to where they had been twelve months prior.

That’s the prepared remarks I had. Again, there’s no action required by the commission on this item. I wanted to submit the report and be available for any questions that you have.

MR. HOLMES: James, you said .53 percent higher.

MR. BASS: Yes.

MR. HOLMES: And the projections that you had were what percent?

MR. BASS: Well, for 2010 it’s .5, followed by 1 percent each year thereafter, but the first year of our projection is .5.

MR. HOLMES: So we’re running on schedule on the first year.

MR. BASS: Three months in.

MR. HOUGHTON: Adjusted for inflation?


(General laughter.)

MR. BASS: Thank you.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, James, and appreciate the report. This report allows us to look at how the districts are performing and whether they’re ahead or behind and to be able to make some decisions as we get all our information.

Moving on, agenda item number 13 deals with our contracts, the award or rejection of highway improvement contracts, and Ken Barnett will present two minute orders. Ken, go ahead and present the first one and then the second one.

MR. BARNETT: Good afternoon. For the record, Ken Barnett, director of the Construction Section of the Construction Division.

Agenda item 13(a)(1) is consideration of award or rejection of Highway Maintenance and Department Building Construction contracts let on November 5 and 6 of this year. We had eleven maintenance projects, averaged 6.36 bidders per project, and we had an 11.49 percent underrun this month. Staff recommends award of all maintenance and building construction projects. I’ll take any questions if you’ve got any.

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

MR. UNDERWOOD: So moved.

MR. HOLMES: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Go ahead.

MR. HOUGHTON: So you’re underneath your yellow-red mark again.

MR. BARNETT: We’re getting close.

MR. HOUGHTON: Keep going down.

MR. BARNETT: Absolutely, sir.

Agenda item 13(a)(2) is consideration of award or rejection of Highway Transportation Enhancement Building Construction contracts let on November 5 and 6 of this year. We had 57 projects, we averaged 6.6 bidders per project, and we had an overall underrun of 12.14 percent. Staff is recommending award of all contracts with one exception, we do have a bid error this month. We are recommending acceptance of this bid error for a project in Eastland County.

Let me give you a little bit of explanation of what happened. With our proposals, in the proposal the contractor is allowed to write in what he anticipates his bid amount to be, however, by our rules, their actual bid is tabulated using the bid prices that they write in. This particular contractor omitted thousands from one of his items, so he intended to bid $435,000 for an item and he bid $435. So we can find no other error, it appears to meet the criteria for a bid error, so we’re recommending to the commission that you accept this as a bid error and we will reject the contract and re-let it as soon as possible. I’ll take any questions if you have any.

MS. DELISI: Are there any questions? I’d like to call up Shane Barrington.

MR. BARRINGTON: Good afternoon. I am Shane Barrington, Northeastern Pavers, we’re a little paving company out of Granbury. November 6 we bid three big projects for you. I have three sons that are working for me now and one on the way, they’re third generation; I have 45 employees. TxDOT work we’ve been doing since 93, we started in 79 doing this.

When you mentioned the bid error of $435, you hear a chuckle in the back and I can remember chuckling before at someone else but now I stand in that position, and I’m responsible for that. But what I wanted to bring to the commission, it’s not just negligence. I’d like to just briefly explain to you the situation.

When you’re in a seal coat project, liquid asphalt is a word determined in winning a bid, that’s evident. Liquid asphalts are competing against themselves and they’re slashing prices right down to the very bitter end. We did not bid electronically this month because we were having electronic problems last month, we actually come down. At 12:30 we got our last cut, what we were told was our last cut, we filled out our paperwork. At 12:45 on the way to drop the bid letting in, I got a significant cut on my liquid asphalt content.

I whited out the mobilization. In all the rush, the adrenalin, the stress of the moment of trying to get this filled back in and turned in, my mobilization prices was turned to $435,000, and I swear to you I wrote it, in my head I wrote it -- I did not write thousand, you have seen the proof. The white-out is on the original document, that much did happen, it did happen in the spur of the moment. But I ask you to consider the one thing, I was $400,000 cheaper than the second bid. And I understand the rules, I’m not asking for exceptions, I’m just saying that we put a lot of effort to get that bid where it was at, there was no mistake that that bid was at $6.6 million. We tried our best to get that.

And our size company, that is half of our year, that project and one other project that we’re looking for next month is what will make up our year. This is a significant thing to my 45 employees, and that’s my case. I hope you understand. Again, I don’t really know what else to say other than it was a very, very costly mistake, and I made it.

MS. DELISI: Thank you, sir. Just so I’m clear, the recommendation is to reject this bid?

MR. BARNETT: Yes, ma’am, the recommendation is to accept this as a bid error and reject this contract and re-let it.

MS. DELISI: All right.

MR. UNDERWOOD: Quick question, though, when you re-let it, does this gentleman have the ability to bid again, though?

MR. BARNETT: No, sir, he does not.

MR. UNDERWOOD: So I just wanted to make sure the commission understands that. Thank you.

MS. DELISI: Is there a motion, or do you have a question?

MR. HOLMES: I do. Is there an alternative or not?

MR. BARNETT: Commissioner Holmes, no, sir, there is not. I guess Mr. Jackson would correct me, but you do not have the latitude to do what Northeastern Pavers is asking you to do, this is the only option we have, or he can take the contract as he bid it.

MR. HOLMES: And he would rather us reject the bid than to take it as it is.

MR. BARRINGTON: Yes, sir, I regret the $400,000 was all we could do, we could not give $800,000 underneath the contract, there was no way.

MS. DELISI: And you understand you won’t be able to bid when it gets re-let?

MR. BARRINGTON: Yes, ma’am I do understand, that’s why I’m here.


MR. HOLMES: So moved.

MS. DELISI: Is there a second?

MR. MEADOWS: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

MR. SAENZ: Thank you, Ken.

Agenda item 14 is all our Routine Minute Orders that we adopt every month. Staff would be glad to present each minute order individually if there’s any questions. If not, we recommend the approval of all minute orders under item 14, Routine Minute Orders.

MR. MEADOWS: So moved.

MS. DELISI: Can I get a second, Routine Minute Orders?


MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes.

This completes al the action items on the posted agenda. We’ll now enter into the open comment period of the meeting. Are there any speakers signed up for open comment?

MR. SAENZ: No, ma’am.

MS. DELISI: At this time we will recess for the commission to meet in Executive Session under Government Code Section 551.074, Evaluate the performance of the executive director.

(Whereupon, at 1:38 p.m., the meeting was recessed, to reconvene this same day, Thursday, November 19, 2009, following conclusion of the Executive Session.)

MS. DELISI: The meeting of the Texas Transportation Commission is reconvened. For the record, the time is 1:48 p.m. The commission has concluded its Executive Session during which no action was taken on any matter.

Is there any other business to come before the commission? There being none, I will entertain a motion to adjourn.

MR. HOUGHTON: So moved.

MR. MEADOWS: Second.

MS. DELISI: All in favor?

(A chorus of ayes.)

MS. DELISI: The motion passes. Please note for the record that it is 1:49 p.m. and this meeting stands adjourned.

(Whereupon, at 1:49 p.m., the meeting was concluded.)


MEETING OF: Texas Transportation Commission Workshop

LOCATION: Austin, Texas

DATE: November 19, 2009

I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 186, inclusive, are the true, accurate, and complete transcript prepared from the verbal recording made by electronic recording by Nancy King before the Texas Department of Transportation.





(Transcriber) (Date)

On the Record Reporting

3307 Northland, Suite 315

Austin, Texas 78731

Contact Us