A Look Back at 2013

Written by  John Obr, TxDOT Construction Division Director

As I look back on 2013, I am proud of the many accomplishments that TxDOT and AGC have achieved together, and I am encouraged by the way we addressed challenges that we faced. In 2014, I look forward to a continued effort to improve the highway construction industry and the Texas transportation system.

Our two organizations are collaborating more than ever, sharpening our focus on issues that are crucial to our success. Through several new and continuing task forces, AGC and TxDOT are addressing important topics such as safety, innovative contracting, lab testing and specification revisions.

As the department continues to look at innovative ways to bring highway improvement projects to the public faster, on-time and on-budget, the Design-Build Task Force gives both the construction industry and TxDOT the opportunity to work through issues related to design-build and other innovative contracting means.

In December 2013, we launched the Safety Reporting Task Force. We had a great meeting to open up dialogue between AGC and TxDOT with the common goals of improving safety in our Work Zones and within our own organizations.

The Computer Task Force brings together TxDOT and AGC members to discuss items such as electronic payroll reporting systems, proposals, website changes and our move to a web-based electronic bidding system.

The AGC area meetings and our joint committee meetings offer the opportunity for TxDOT and AGC to discuss the highway construction industry and issues that arise. We work together to bring fresh ideas to the table and build strong relationships well in advance of the tough discussions and decisions that we face that impact our traveling public. AGC area meetings at the local level provide an opportunity to bring our district engineers, area engineers and district staff together to discuss project-level issues. In the upcoming year, we will continue to refine and improve safety in the field, at the office and in our family lives as well.

In 2014, we will complete the Spec Book re-write. We will be working with AGC to bring regional meetings to the field to discuss Spec Book changes and work through any issues the revisions may bring. We anticipate transitioning to a web-based bidding system in 2014, which would eliminate digital certificates, manual software updates and other challenges that we have been experiencing with our previous processes.

The new Contractor-Option Commercial Lab Testing Program should ramp up and provide even more benefit to you during 2014. In the past, backlogs in district laboratory testing resulted in longer-than-expected waits for test results that impacted project schedules.

In 2013, TxDOT developed and launched the new program under which contractors can use commercial labs to expedite testing. The responsibilities that we shoulder for the people of Texas are great: developing a safe system, demanding structural integrity and providing the finest results possible with the resources we are given. Working together is the key to efficient operations and greater achievements moving forward. 2013 was a great year and 2014 has the potential to be even better.

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