A number of “disruptions” are likely to affect Texas highway funding in the coming years, Jerry Haddican told AGC of Texas members at the July members’ luncheon. Haddican is director of Government Affairs for TxDOT.
Before Prop 1 and Prop 7, 97 percent of the state’s highway funding came from the state fuels tax and from the vehicle registration fees.
“Automated vehicles will increasingly become a part of our lives - and automated vehicles are more than likely to be electric vehicles. That is a recurring theme that we keep hearing,” Haddican said.
TxDOT has not yet adjusted its 10-year United Transportation Program to reflected expected changes in the industry, although a study will be conducted.
Haddican also mentioned the possibility of “robots” delivering packages from autonomous vehicles.
“Big money is betting that, in the not-too-distant future, trucks can arrive in your street and robots will come out of the back of it and deliver all the packages that we’re all getting from Amazon,” he said. “That’s how packages will be coming to you. If that takes trucks off the road, will that impact vehicle registration fees?
“I’m not saying the sky is falling but it’s an issue that we need to be aware of as we move to the electric vehicles. There's going to be some sort of impact. I don't know what that is. But the ground could be shifting under our feet a little bit,” he told AGC members.
Joshua Gibbs (director of operations for JJG Development) briefs the AGC of Texas Workforce Development Committee about his organization’s efforts to train people to operate heavy equipment and to provide the basics of highway construction.
Gibbs is third-generation highway construction. He branched out from his father’s business in New York to start up Texas operations, citing the year-long construction season and healthy work program. But he quickly ran into problems finding skilled operators and laborers.
“I couldn’t find a paver; I couldn’t find a milling operator. We were flying people down from New York to operate equipment. It was pretty expensive,” he recalled.
TxDOT hired JJG Development to administer its Texas Construction Career Academy with federal funding reserved for OJT supportive services. Interest has been overwhelming: he had 193 applicants for 20 slots in July for the Dallas course. His interview process helps determine which applicants belong in the business from those who don’t, he said. About 90 percent of the students enter the highway construction industry.
“Texas has the highest demand for equipment operators in the country,” Gibbs told AGC committee members. The program is designed to increase interest and enthusiasm for the industry. While two weeks is a brief duration, committee members were impressed by JJG’s efforts so far.
“We need every opportunity to bring people into the industry. You are getting folks into the industry, which is effort No. 1,” Workforce Development Committee Chairman Seth Schulgen (Williams Brothers) told Gibbs.
TxDOT’s Buddy Williams speaks to the crowd at the Beaumont Area quarterly meeting. Buddy, appointed to head the newly formed Materials and Tests Division in February of this year, gave an engaging presentation on the development of the division, which will include highway materials, testing procedures, and quality monitoring and quality assurance programs.
Buddy has been with TxDOT since 1987 where he began as a summer intern.
Tucker Ferguson gives a final talk at the Beaumont Area Quarterly Luncheon.
Tucker was recently appointed to serve as Austin District Engineer. He is serving as interim DE until a Beaumont district engineer is named.
Tucker served as Beaumont Area Engineer from 2011-2019, during which time he led the response and recovery efforts in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Harvey in 2017.
Prior to joining TxDOT, Ferguson served in a variety of engineering roles over a 22-year career at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. He is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh-Jonestown, is a registered P.E. in Pennsylvania and Texas and has served on numerous AASHTO technical committees and task forces.
Please help welcome Tucker to his new role in Austin.
Austin District Engineer Terry McCoy officially retired from the department May 31, 2019, after 31 years of service. Austin Area Chairman Aaron Cabaza presents him with a plaque in observation of his outstanding partnership with highway construction industry.
Terry began his career with TxDOT working summers in the Burnet Resident Engineer’s Office. In 1992, he was selected to participate in the Department’s Masters Program and graduated from the University of Texas with an MS in Civil Engineering in 1993. He worked in various engineering roles in the San Antonio and Austin Districts before retiring as Deputy District Engineer for the Austin District in 2015. He returned to state service as Austin District Engineer in 2016.
Terry was recognized with the Luther DeBerry Award in 2013 and the Heart of Texas WTS Chapter Man of the Year Award in 2018.
Happy second retirement, Terry!
Kal Kincaid of Texas Materials Group welcomes attendees to the Beaumont Area luncheon. Kal is the Chair of the Beaumont Area.