The publication of this article will likely coincide with the one-year anniversary of my appointment by the Board of Directors to serve as Executive Vice President. What an exciting, challenging, and busy year it has been. We have successfully closed out another fiscal year for the Texas Department of Transportation with record-setting monthly highway lettings in excess of $1 billion for the past three months. At fiscal year-end, the department has awarded approximately 1,900 projects totaling close to $8 billion. The outlook for fiscal year 2019 is extremely healthy as well with a predicted $6.1 billion in statewide lettings. We have seen promising growth in the water and wastewater markets with dedicated state revenues and an active grant program from the Texas Water Development Board. Our markets are tremendous, and the forecast continues to be robust.
Executive Vice President Jennifer Woodard and daughter Ava Rose head out to the dance floor to particpate in some country line dancing. An instructor was on hand at the Administrative Conference's kickoff party to take everyone through the steps.
The chapter has made important and critical progress in addressing several key regulatory and policy issues over the last twelve months. A highlight is the important work of our AGC DBE Committee chaired by Tracey Aping with Williams Brothers Construction Company and assisted by chapter staff representative Kristen Smith. The members of the DBE Committee have developed and launched the innovative, contractor-led “Prime Time” outreach program for DBE firms which has attracted positive attention from industry leaders, legislators, and regulators. In addition, the AGC/TxDOT Joint Committee tackled some complicated and delicate issues over the past year with careful consideration. As is always the case, the Joint Committee accomplished its goals in full partnership between the department and the industry. A new Contractor Performance Evaluation program will be effective with the September 2018 letting. This initiative was directed by the TxDOT Sunset legislation. A joint task force was appointed late last year, and that group worked diligently throughout the winter and early spring to achieve its goal of a fair and compliant program. AGC is gearing up to assist in a new wage rate survey to be conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor in spring of 2019. The Chapter’s Wage Rate Task Force has already facilitated meetings with U.S. DOL and hosted representatives from the agency at the annual Administrative Conference in July. There are many more areas where our Chapter staff and member leaders continue to work on behalf of the entire industry. This is a key to our success as an association. AGC of Texas remains a strong voice for highway, heavy construction that is a model for the nation.
We have an eye toward the next session of the Texas legislature which will convene on January 8, 2019. In the interim, our members across the state have not only been working to raise PAC funds but have been actively meeting with candidates and state elected officials to raise awareness for transportation issues. As we move into fall and closer to the general election in November the chapter Legislative Drafting & Review Committee will begin its work preparing for next session. Pre-filing of legislation will begin in mid-November and there will be plenty of work ahead. The Highway Funding Task Force has also been discussing the need for coordinated outreach to the legislature and statewide leaders on transportation funding. We will remain closely aligned with the Texas Transportation Commission and the department administration on legislative issues that will impact us both.
When I reflect on my first year and the previous thirty-one years on staff at AGC of Texas, I continue to be honored to serve this tremendous organization. The members I have had the privilege to work with have taught me so much. One of the perks of the job is that every day seems to present a new opportunity to learn, so things are never dull. I have learned that there is no real reward without risk. Risk must be examined, calculated, but ultimately accepted in order to achieve success. Decisiveness is critical and the key to progress. I have heard so often around the Board table that “no decision is a killer”. We can live with a good or a bad decision and take appropriate action, but the lack of a decision means we are stagnant. Lastly, and most importantly is that all good things come through cultivated relationships. It is not enough to declare ourselves “partners” with each other, with TxDOT, with legislators or with regulators. We must constantly invest in and work on those relationships. It has been a fantastic year and I look forward to many more!