My last article detailed the Chapter’s Priority One to increase the lettings for fiscal year 2018, and just one month later, I am happy to report real progress.
The Highway Funding Task Force, under the leadership of Chairman Johnny Weisman, met with TxDOT Administration to examine a way to accelerate projects.
The task force asked TxDOT Administration and the Texas Transportation Commission to consider accelerating projects in advance of Prop. 7 deposits. Because of the department’s cash balance, they had the available funds to do so. And due to the way the amendment was written, the department has a guaranteed minimum transfer from Prop. 7, even in a worst-case scenario.
You can see the results of these discussions on the list of accelerated projects, which the Chapter distributed in late February: 305 additional projects, in the amount of $1.3 billion added to the letting schedule for FY2018.
The work is TxDOT’s, and they are due a huge show of appreciation for accelerating these projects. But it is also testament to the extraordinary working relationship that we contractors in Texas have with our DOT. And for that, everyone deserves a round of applause.
This partnership will enable us to meet the needs of the traveling public sooner and with better efficiency. It was the overwhelming show of public support that was responsible for securing this funding, and they did so because they are looking for immediate relief.
The sooner we get to work, the more progress we can show before the next legislative session rolls around. And that means the highway industry and TxDOT will be in better standing when the legislature has the option to reconsider the balance transfer.
While I consider this a victory for all of us—TxDOT, the highway industry, and Texans everywhere--the work is not over. Attendance at area meetings will be critical in the coming months as these projects are scheduled. It was communication that initiated these projects, and it will be the continued communication with our district engineers that will see them through.
I am intensely proud of this association and the work it accomplishes as a united front. We must continue this momentum into the PAC season, beginning now. Please support your area PAC initiatives. I cannot stress enough the important role you play, and how important this component of our advocacy is to our continued funding.
PAC golf tournaments kick off in late March with Austin on the 20th and Houston and San Antonio on the 26th. They need your support and your participation.
In April, we continue with Beaumont, Corpus Christi, and Bryan on the 5th, 12th, and 16th, respectively. And in May, we will have Waco on the 7th, Wichita Falls on the 10th, Fort Worth on the 21st and Paris/Atlanta on the 22nd. Each one of these are opportunities to promote our mission.
The San Antonio Area will host another Summer Slam Fishing Tournament May 17-19 in Port Aransas. This is another event that continues to exceed past numbers. It is open to everyone, and I can personally guarantee a good time.
Come June, I also hope to see a strong show of support at our Management Conference. The past few years have shown a dramatic upgrade in the quality of the business sessions and member activities, and this has translated to a record number of participants every year. I hope that trend continues. I know that my wife and family have made lifelong friends at these events, and that strengthens our community as much as anything else we do at our Chapter and area meetings.
The Management Conference also shows our state representatives, senators, and statewide leaders who attend the conference how many members of our industry are active in the legislative process. As in all things association-related, a united industry is a powerful industry.
For any of you wanting to know more about our signature conferences, our PAC events, or the accelerated letting schedule, please contact me or Jennifer. We’d love to see you more involved.