Good Workers, Working Together

Written by  Casey Johnson, Longview Bridge & Road

Atlanta’s first PAC skeet event

It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that Tyler’s primary focus right about now is funding for more projects. The fewer the jobs, the cheaper the bidding. Right now, there’s a lot of cheap work being done. Our recent forecast shows some decent jobs ahead for us in 2013, but nowhere close to the district’s capacity. We expect there to be some pretty stiff competition for the larger projects coming up.

Because of this, the East Texas districts are making a dedicated, concerted effort towards building our PAC. I would say it is the cornerstone of our local endeavors. The area is fortunate to boast some excellent legislators: Senator Nichols is now Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, Senator Eltife is a smart and capable friend of the industry. Even the disappointing loss of our good friend Representative Hopson has (fortunately) gained us an ally with Representative Clardy. And freshman Representative Chris Paddie has proven to be open and accessible to industry concerns.

With such a conscientious group, the bar is set high for us to make sure we engage them. The area contractors have met with each in turn and handed over our Cost of Doing Nothing materials, and they have explained to them the effects that last-minute funding has on our workforce.

Tyler PAC Golf Tournament

Atlanta ran their first PAC event earlier in the year. Atlanta Area Chairman Reece Sterling put together a skeet shoot out at my place; we were joined by Rep. Paddie and had a great talk with him about industry needs. The event turned out great—so great, we are making it an annual event. We maintain a golf tournament in Tyler, Lufkin Area Chairman Robert Adamson continued the area’s golf tournament this year, and in Paris, Chairman Dustin Lennon had both a golf and skeet PAC event. Together, our East Texas districts are really running PAC initiatives at full throttle. We hope this camaraderie with our legislators will really help out in the upcoming session. That, coupled with the motivation of the contractors and suppliers we have out here, will ensure us a seat at the table come January.

Despite the less-than-stellar letting figures, the Tyler District does have a good degree of stability due to the presence of Randy Hopmann as district engineer. We have a great relationship with him, but perhaps more importantly, he has confidence and a great relationship with his district personnel. We rarely feel the need to escalate our issues beyond the area engineers, which expedites projects and makes our area meetings run smoothly. Recently, we were joined by Phil Wilson who talked about how to cut spending through TxDOT in order to preserve that money for more maintenance and construction. He also stressed the importance of safety in our work zones.

At the end of the day, Tyler is a great place to work. With the contractors, TxDOT personnel, and suppliers we have an area working together. If we could just get a little (or a lot) more of that work this district would be pretty close to perfect.

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