Jennifer Woodard helps congratulate Trey Pebley as he accepts the nomination of President-Elect.
I have served as Executive Vice President for almost four months since the Board elected me to succeed Tom Johnson on September 6 of 2017. Somehow it only seems like four weeks. As I am writing this article, we are closing out another successful year for the chapter. 2017 saw historic change in the life of AGC of Texas. 2018 will prove more challenging no doubt but the chapter staff and leadership are committed to ensuring that we will adapt, and not only survive but thrive in the new year.
The focus of our work at the chapter during the late fall was to partner with the Texas Department of Transportation to execute the work plan established by the voters of Texas to build more roads. Increased connectivity and safety in the rural areas of the state and congestion relief in the urban areas of Texas were the goals. Proposition 1 and Proposition 7, along with an end to diversions from the state highway fund provided the record funding needed to reach these goals.
It is time to get to work and deliver. While the August letting reached the $1 billion mark, the months that followed have not been as healthy. Critical meetings between TxDOT leadership and AGC of Texas representatives have occurred over the last four months and will continue. These discussions have been serious but productive and we are hopeful as we enter January that the lettings will begin to increase, and projects will continue to progress.
On November 16, the Texas Transportation Commission heard testimony on a discussion item on their agenda regarding updates to the Unified Transportation Program (UTP) that were expected to be completed in December. On behalf of the chapter, I testified before the Commission in support of the arduous work that TxDOT Executive Director James Bass and his staff including Bill Hale, Randy Hopmann, Lauren Garduno, and Michael Lee were doing to address Texas’ transportation needs through the UTP process. I also stated our support for the continued use of managed lanes and toll lanes as sources of funding where appropriate and in areas where there was solid local support.
The issue of toll roads and managed lanes has always been controversial and remains so today. Ultimately, Governor Abbott and Lt. Governor Patrick weighed in and the Commission made the decision on December 15 to update the UTP excluding several major projects that included toll and managed lane elements. The Governor and Lt. Governor are both dedicated supporters of transportation and AGC and have pledged to continue their work to keep our transportation system as a top priority. Policy issues aside, our pledge is to continue our work to build and maintain the state’s transportation system and help the state’s leadership address critical funding needs.
In 2018 we will also look internally to determine how our staff can be organized to address the needs of our membership. We will build a team that is professional, hard-working, knowledgeable, and energized. I look forward to the new year and the opportunity to work with you all to accomplish remarkable things.
By Jennifer Woodard