In our little corner of East Texas, the Lufkin Area continues to work well with our local and state TxDOT partners, although like in most other areas, we do need more work. TxDOT’s Lufkin District has proven record of keeping plans on the shelf in order to stay level with whatever money ends up budgeted throughout the year. At the time of this writing, we have yet to go into details about if and where the $2 billion will land out here, but we know our local district employees will be ready for whatever comes our way.
Aside from the anticipation of unidentified projects, we’ve got a couple of big projects coming up ahead: a $45 million railroad bridge and interchange in Angelina County that has a lot of people interested, as well as a nice job in Shelby County extending the loop around Center. In the first part of FY 2013, we should see some nice bridgework over the Sabine River, as well.
The Lufkin District characteristically puts good jobs together and keeps us well informed and prepared. With longtime DE Dennis Cooley and Director of Construction Tom Hunter, Lufkin contractors were fortunate to avoid the effects of the mass migration of district engineers in the past year. We still have the same great TxDOT personnel we’ve come to rely on, as well as the longevity of participation from some great East Texas contractors. This provides the foundation we need to move forward while maintaining the right context and stability.
With that in mind, Lufkin operations maintain the same sense of efficacy they always have, though this doesn’t exist on inertia alone. We have to constantly work to maintain our relationships, both with the folks at TxDOT and in keeping our own members active.
In doing so, we are trying to change our sense of “typical” a little bit by focusing more on inviting political speakers to our meetings. Whether they are running for their first election or running for reelection, getting them into our meetings is an effective means to educate them on their way up the political ladder. We can look them in the eye and tell them what is important to us and how it can help their community as a whole.
We also rely on the patronage of a very well attended PAC in our area. We send out letters every year to contractors and associates reminding them of the importance of the PAC and how to participate. And there is a lot of participation. We have one golf tournament each year followed by a fish fry and annual forecast meeting at the ranch of the Moore Bros. in Angelina County. You can’t beat it.
In general, we are very fortunate to have the TxDOT personnel we do, and we are privileged to have the opportunity to meet with them one-on-one. This is the local value of standing up behind a podium that says “AGC of Texas” on it. By having a well-respected and trustworthy group to stand with, we preserve the ability to meet regularly with our TxDOT and local partners one-on-one. If you don’t do that, you cannot achieve the working relationship you need to produce the best results possible. This goes the same for TxDOT, not just the contractors. Both sides are very receptive as projects are being put out for bid. As contractors go through the bid process and identify problems, TxDOT is quick to address any pre-bid problems in order to get a better end-product.
This environment of trust and mutual benefit has been cultivated over decades, and every meeting we have in Lufkin is a testament to its success. I look forward to spending the rest of my term as area chairman maintaining this excellent opportunity for contractors and associates to come together with our state and local governmental partners.