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Dewitt Greer Building
125 East 11th Street
Austin, Texas

7:30 a.m. Thursday, May 25, 2000 Staff Briefing

9:00 a.m. Thursday, May 25, 2000 Regular Meeting





CHARLES W. HEALD, Executive Director
HELEN HAVELKA, Executive Assistant, Engineering Operations


MR. JOHNSON: Good morning. It is 9:02 a.m., and I would like to call the meeting of the Texas Transportation Commission to order. I want to welcome you to our May 25 meeting. It's a pleasure to have you here today.

For the record, public notice of this meeting, containing all items of the agenda, was filed with the Office of the Secretary of State at 10:41 a.m. on May 17 in the year 2000.

Before we get started, I would like to ask my colleagues if they would have any comments to make. Robert?

MR. NICHOLS: I'd like to thank everybody who is here from a delegation for taking the time and effort to be here today. We know a lot of you have come a long number of miles and put in a lot of hours, took away from your work, your family, whatever. You're volunteers for your community, and we do appreciate the effort that you take. Thank you very much.


MR. LANEY: I'm not going to let Robert off the hook that easy. Robert, I wish you'd pick it up a little and just say something about the Bridge Program that you had such a hand in and announced just two days ago. That was a pretty valuable program. You're not going to do it?

MR. NICHOLS: Oh, you're serious?

MR. LANEY: I'm serious.

(General laughter.)

MR. LANEY: It's pretty special.

MR. NICHOLS: Well, okay. We did make a major announcement on a Bridge Program two days ago -- Johnny was in Texarkana and David was up in there -- and it is a very significant thing as far as the traveling public. I'm not going to go into the details of the program, but basically for the county bridges and city bridges, the state's efforts in this is going from what was an average of 70 to 90 bridges a year, two or three years ago -- which are going to take over 100 years to go through these 7,000 or so bridges that were deficient -- and through a combination of things that the staff has put together that the commission is going to do, that the counties and cities will be doing, we're going up to over 300 bridges a year, probably pretty quick.

Some people give me credit. We all know that nothing like that occurs unless the full commission supports it, and we'll talk more about it later, but I think the real winners for that program are the traveling public.


MR. LANEY: I'll add a little bit to that. Robert is modest. It wouldn't have happened without his initiative on this thing, and it is a different way of doing business for TxDOT in connection with the Bridge Program, and we can't renovate our ways of doing business across the board all at once but in bits and pieces in the most important parts, I think you're seeing it done, and the Bridge Program is representative of it. It's a phenomenal step forward on that front.

On a different note -- and I'll cut it very short -- I'm sorry I missed the opportunity to be with you all last night. I understand it was a terrific gathering, and needless to say, I know a lot of faces in the crowd and I would have known a lot last night, and that's probably all the more reason for me not to be there. I've heard it all already.

(General laughter.)

MR. LANEY: But we are glad to have you back down. And I know I have not heard it all; I look forward to hearing from you this morning. Thanks.

MR. JOHNSON: Thank you.

We do have two delegations this morning, and that's the way we will commence our meeting.


(Mayor Kenneth Barr, Mayor Pro Tem Mary Poss, Judge Kirk Wilson, Commissioner Ron Harmon, Judge Ron Harris, Commissioner Marti VanRavenswaay, Commissioner Glen Whitley, Judge Lee Jackson, Mike Morris)

MR. JOHNSON: The first delegation is the Partners in Mobility from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. I understand the master of ceremonies is going to be Mayor Barr from Fort Worth. I would like to caution you as to the time element. A lot of people need to get back to commerce and industry, including the three up here. Also, I've noticed that anyone who has a red button on could be excused at most any time. This is the invasion of the "red button brigade" and welcome.

(General laughter.)

MR. JOHNSON: Mayor Kenneth Barr, Fort Worth.

MAYOR BARR: Thank you. Mr. Laney may have heard it all, but we're going to tell it to him one more time.

MR. LANEY: Mayor Barr, if you'd like -- just so you'll know -- there's a little adjustment on the right side of the dais; you can raise it or lower it if you need to.

MAYOR BARR: Thank you.

Good morning. I am Kenneth Barr and it's my privilege to be the mayor of Fort Worth, and as you know, we are the Dallas-Fort Worth Area Partners in Mobility, a coalition of private and public sector leaders who believe that investment in our surface transportation infrastructure is important to economic vitality and quality of life.

We come today as a large regional delegation. At this time, I'd like to ask the members of our delegation to stand. There are some 155 mayors, city council members, county judges, commissioners, city managers, chamber of commerce presidents and board members, and other leaders from nearly every community in the North Central Texas region. Thank you very much.

I want to thank all of them, as you have, for taking the time to come and be a part of this delegation today. We make this trip to Austin each year, and it requires a substantial commitment from each member of this delegation to come. And I know you recognize this commitment from the leaders of our region as indicative of the importance North Texas places on mobility and on investing in our surface transportation infrastructure.

This is the sixth consecutive year that our Partners in Mobility Coalition has appeared before you to provide an annual update on our mobility needs. Our coalition represents public and private sector interests from throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. Participating in our coalition are nine counties, 111 cities, 18 chambers of commerce, a regional tollway authority, two transit agencies, two TxDOT districts, and our highly respected metropolitan planning organization. The graphics on your monitors illustrate the broad representation of our coalition.

Our goal is to achieve consensus and present a unified and cohesive message, whether we're presenting our annual needs update to you or whether we are across the street urging the legislature to provide more resources for transportation investment on a statewide basis. We believe this kind of collaboration facilitates more strategic and effective action. We hope your job is made a little easier when a broad-based coalition like ours addresses you on behalf of a large and diverse region such as the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area.

We appreciate all of your support, the support you've given the Dallas-Fort Worth area over the recent years. I could cite the numerous ways in which this commission has been helpful in addressing our mobility needs, but in the interest of time, I'll mention just three.

First, the commitment shown to the Regional Transportation Council-Texas Transportation Commission partnership program; second, the $300 million supplemental 4-C allocation you approved last July to our region; and third, the transportation code amendment you're considering for approval to permit lower speed limits for air quality purposes.

We recognize that you are working within severe financial constraints and that you're faced with large and competing needs from all of Texas' regions, so we are grateful for the resources that you've allocated to our region and we appreciate your dedicated service to Texas and to mobility.

And now I'd like to introduce Mary Poss, mayor pro tem of Dallas, and ask her to come forward and continue our presentation. Thank you.

MS. POSS: Good morning. I am Mary Poss from Dallas, and I wanted to let you all know that Mayor Kirk sends his regrets for not being with us today, but he also especially told me to send greetings to all of you. And I appreciate very much the opportunity to be here this morning with all of my colleagues and friends from throughout the North Central Texas area to visit with each of you briefly about the continued growth that we are experiencing, as well as the importance of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area to the entire economy of Texas.

1999 marked our region's fourth consecutive year of adding more than 100,000 people to the region, and in fact, our North Central Texas Council of Governments' numbers show that potentially as many as 160,000 people came to the region just last year which far surpasses the growth of any prior year. January 1, 2000, was also a benchmark for the area as we are now a region of over 5 million people, and astonishingly, our region grew 20 percent in the last decade which is the equivalent of adding an entire city of Dallas to the entire region.

The Dallas-Fort Worth area also makes up about one-third of Texas' economy. It is the single largest economic region in the state, and it is consistently one of the top regions in the nation in terms of new job production. Maintaining a reasonable level of mobility in this region is critical to the economic health of Texas, and if traffic congestion reduces mobility much more than it is today, travel times will become intolerable and Dallas-Fort Worth will no longer be able to supply nearly four out of ten new jobs that are created in Texas, and I think a reduction in job growth in Texas is something that none of us wants to see.

Unfortunately, our level of roadway congestion is continuing to rise and this jeopardizes the economic growth of Texas. As illustrated by TTI's annual mobility report, the roadway congestion index in the Dallas-Fort Worth area increased by nearly 30 percent between 1982 and 1997, and nearly half of the freeway system had reached congested levels in the peak travel periods, and with the enormous growth that we have seen in just the last four years, there is no question that the roadway congestion has grown even more since this data was reported last to us by TTI.

In January of 2000, the Regional Transportation Council adopted Mobility 2025 which is our region's metropolitan transportation plan and this is a $45 billion plan that focuses on the implementation of technology-based, multi-modal rail, HOV, freeway, toll road, thoroughfare and ITS investments to help address the mobility and air quality needs that we have throughout our region. And we have provided a lot of background information to each of you as part of your briefing binders.

As one of the key performances that has been documented in our plan is the amount of congestion that is expected to occur on our roadway system and the associated costs, and this slide illustrates the location and the amount of congestion that was occurring in our region in 1995.

The area in blue has 30 percent or more of its roadways highly congested during the peak hours, and the area in red has over 60 percent of its roadways highly congested during the peak hours, and we have estimated that the annual cost associated with this congestion is nearly $4 billion.

By the year 2025, as shown in this slide, even if we fully implement all of the improvements of our plan, we anticipate that the congestion will continue to increase, and we hope to be able to slow the rate of the increase in roadway congestion, and even if we do, the annual cost of our congestion is still going to nearly double to $7.4 billion. And then to make our challenge even greater, we have to find an additional $3.4 billion for freeway system improvements, because the current level of resources are not sufficient to fund all of the improvements as identified in our $45 billion plan.

To address this situation, we're going to have to all work together to convince our legislature to provide more resources for transportation investment. We did extremely well working together to convince Congress to increase our transportation investment during the last rewrite of the Federal Surface Transportation Program, and if we can have this kind of success with -- at the state level with our friends across the street, the economic health and the quality of life for all of Texas would be well served.

It's something that we from the North Central Texas region believe that we all have to do, and if we collaborate and we all remain persistent, then we'll prevail. And thank you very much for your attention, and Judge Kirk Wilson will now continue our presentation.

JUDGE WILSON: Thank you, Mary.

Good morning. I am Kirk Wilson, county judge of Denton County. It's a pleasure to be with you here this morning.

For each of the last five years, we have provided you, in cooperation with the Dallas and Fort Worth districts, an update of our backlogged mobility projects. These are projects that have proceeded significantly far in the development process and can be ready for letting within four years. Shown on the graphic and on page 4 of our executive summary brochures, is an up-to-date map of previous TxDOT backlogged projects in our area which, through your support, have been moved forward into Priority 1 status in the UTP.

Since our first request, more than $800 million of critical projects have moved off the backlog list; many of them are now under construction. On behalf of the Partners in Mobility, I want to thank you and the TxDOT staff, both in Austin and at home in Dallas and Fort Worth district offices, for being proactive and responsive to our needs.

For the year 2000, we are again providing you a list of those projects that are ready to move forward if and when funding is made available. As you can see from this slide and in the detailed list provided you in your briefing binders, 27 projects, totaling $527 million in the Dallas District and $345 million in the Fort Worth District, have been identified for your funding consideration in fiscal years 2001 through 2004.

Over the next several months, as you go about the process of selecting projects for the 2001 UTP, we will appreciate your consideration of funding for these critical mobility projects.

With your help, we have made considerable progress in reducing the number of projects in our backlog list; however, on the horizon is an unprecedented group of additional needs. The tan-colored projects in this graphic highlight the impending financial crisis facing our region. These are projects ready to be environmentally cleared and soon to become backlogged. We often use this inventory of projects when visiting with our legislators about the need for additional investment in our transportation system.

The projects on this map are of regional significance: major freeway corridors with high levels of congestion. No one familiar with highway travel in DFW will deny the traffic volume in any of these corridors is well beyond the design capacity of the current facility, yet the total unfunded amount in these projects is $7 billion which exceeds by tenfold the entire original UTP allocation for both the Dallas and Fort Worth districts.

We show you this map not requesting or expecting it to be instantly funded but just to put in perspective the magnitude of the infrastructure investment needs the state's largest economic region is facing. We find this information to be useful in discussing transportation funding with our legislators, because they are familiar with these corridors and can relate to the real and urgent need for additional capacity in each.

Let me now call upon Commissioner Ron Harmon to present you our recommended partnership program between the Regional Transportation Council and the commission. Commissioner Harmon.

MR. HARMON: Thank you, Judge.

Good morning, commissioners, Mr. Executive Director. I'm Ron Harmon, Johnson County commissioner and chairman of the Regional Transportation Council, our metropolitan planning organization.

I'm pleased to present to you our proposed year 2000 Regional Transportation Council-Texas Transportation Commission partnership program, approved by our Regional Transportation Council May 11 and submitted to you for your consideration.

First, let me thank you for your participation in previous commission-RTC partnership programs. Over the last five years, the RTC-commission partnership program has resulted in an additional $690 million in transportation improvements to our region. On behalf of the Regional Transportation Council and the Partners in Mobility, I want to thank you for your participation in this program of which we are so very proud.

The slide on your monitors -- which is also shown on page 5 in your brochure -- illustrates in maroon color the location of previous partnership program projects. A detailed listing of these projects is also provided in your binders.

As you're already aware, and reiterated by Judge Wilson in his remarks, our transportation funding accomplishments are significant. This kind of collaboration between the commission and the MPO is an excellent means of leveraging our limited resources in a most productive manner, and we hope it will continue for many years to come.

We are here today in part to present you our year 2000 partnership program proposal. In fact, we now have two programs for your consideration: first, putting local funds towards National Highway System projects; and second, our traditional partnership program request for commission Strategic Priority funds.

This year we're bringing forth to the commission an opportunity to move forward an additional $933 million in mobility improvements for our region. We are proposing to use $150 million of local funds to be combined with $350 million in National Highway System dollars, and $287 million of local funds to be combined with $146 million in Strategic Priority funds to implement this program.

As shown in blue on the map, and detailed in your binders, this project includes a wide variety of transportation improvements including: interstates, state and US highways, toll roads, service roads, freeway interchange, thoroughfares, and rail, as well as several innovative programs to highway-rail grade crossings.

This proposal, which has been developed in consultation with the TxDOT Fort Worth and Dallas districts, your Planning and Program Division here in Austin, the North Texas Tollway Authority, and local governments, represents a commitment on behalf of a region of $437 million local dollars, or nearly 50 percent of the partnership program.

In return, we are asking for your consideration when allocating commission Strategic Priority funds and in your selection of 2004 National Highway System projects. This is a dollar for bought dollar partnership forecast.

We believe our proposal represents an optimal leveraging of resources and addresses some of our region's top mobility needs most productively. We would greatly appreciate your approval of this partnership program when you do your annual UTP update in the coming months.

I thank you for your consideration and now I call upon Judge Ron Harris to continue our presentation.

JUDGE HARRIS: This is great; I've always wanted to be in front of Denton County.

(General laughter.)

JUDGE HARRIS: Good morning. I am County Judge Ron Harris. I want to address three subjects that we view as highly important to transportation in Texas.

The first is air quality, and particularly, the very serious efforts we are undertaking in North Texas to address this issue. The slide on your monitors illustrates how this issue impacts the majority of Texas. More than two-thirds of the state's population, nearly three-fourths of its employment centers reside in the areas that will be severely impacted if compliance is not achieved.

I know some of you are familiar with the Texas Clean Air Working Group, a coalition that was initiated last year by leaders in North Texas and Houston to bring together the Texas nonattainment and near nonattainment areas to meet monthly with TNRCC and the EPA officials in a collaborative effort to improve Texas' air quality and achieve clean air compliance.

We have also been closely following the two state legislative committees addressing interim charges dealing with this subject and providing testimony at their hearings. We want to applaud your effort in the air quality issue. Your meeting with the TNRCC to coordinate the efforts of your respective agencies is very helpful, as is the proposed Transportation Code amendment to permit speed limit reductions for air quality purposes.

We also appreciate your staff's participation in our Texas Clean Air Working Group and in our effort to generate congressional support for HR 1876 and S 1053 to codify the EPA rules overturned by the federal courts that are so important in allowing newly designated nonattainment areas a reasonable period of time to demonstrate conformity.

During this critical period in the air quality improvement effort, we seek your help in expediting projects to implementation. Our focus needs to be on streamlining the implementation process with an emphasis on a greater sense of urgency in implementing capacity improvements to relieve congestion that contributes to air quality pollution.

The second subject that I would like to address is the importance of investing in intelligent transportation systems as a means of optimizing the performance of our transportation system. We see accelerated investment in ITS as a significant part of the solution to our growing roadway congestion problem, and we think it has particular applicability to the NAFTA corridors in helping to move more efficiently the growing international trade.

We have structured our application for discretionary funding under the International Trade Corridors Program to focus on ITS installations, and we ask for your support in this effort.

The last topic I want to briefly mention is the need for a comprehensive statewide freeway bottleneck plan. In this era of limited resources, oftentimes we have found that a relatively small investment at a congested location is all that is needed to facilitate traffic flow along a much larger corridor. Whether it be redesigning an on/off ramp or providing adequate pavement for merging traffic, these types of improvements can be very cost effective, particularly in addressing immediate needs in a corridor for which major traffic reconstruction funding is years away.

Our North Central Texas Council of Governments' staff recently completed a comprehensive low level aerial photography inventory of our entire freeway system. We believe that this will be an excellent tool for use by our districts and MPO staff to identify potential bottleneck improvements. We would encourage the commission to consider creating a funding category to address freeway bottleneck improvements as a mechanism to expedite traffic flow in an urbanized area to include the entire state.

At this time, I would like to recognize County Commissioner Marti VanRavenswaay to continue. Thank you.

MS. VANRAVENSWAAY: Good morning. And I know that your book says that it's Tom Vandergriff, judge of Tarrant County, but obviously I'm not. I'm commissioner of Precinct 2 which is the Arlington-Mansfield area, and our area has increased about 20 percent in just the past year, so we are very familiar with the congestion and the growth, and I want to talk with you about the need to increase the resources available for investment in Texas' transportation infrastructure and the need for equity relative to the toll road investments.

I think you know that our Partners in Mobility coalition has long been on record in support of increased resources for transportation investment, and I hope you recognize the lead role that we play in the statewide coalitions that are focusing on this issue. In fact, I think it was at the suggestion, as Judge Vandergriff tells me, of one of you who led to our 1997 initiative with the Texas Transportation Funding Coalition which brings together MPOs, chambers of commerce, and others interested in mobility from around the state to develop and advocate common policy positions in support of increased resources for transportation.

You may also know of our active participation and support of the TEX-21 coalition that is doing such a good job of raising the level of interest statewide in transportation needs of funding. We are committed for the long haul in promoting the issue of investment in transportation infrastructure and securing the resources necessary to maintain mobility, because we believe that it is essential to the economic vitality and the quality of life for Texas.

Last legislative session, we worked hard, alongside of you, in urging the legislature to discontinue appropriations from State Highway Fund 006 for non-transportation issues and to modernize the state motor fuels tax collection system to eliminate tax avoidance. And I can assure you we'll be up right along beside you again in the efforts to generate more resources for transportation during this next legislative session.

We are working now with our counterparts throughout the state to develop consensus on a statewide comprehensive legislative strategy to improve mobility and air quality which includes Commissioner Nichols' five specific proposals to the 77th Texas Legislature to increase funding for transportation.

And you will note that it takes two of us from commissioners court to fill Judge Tom Vandergriff's shoes, even for this presentation before the transportation commission, so I will ask Commissioner Glen Whitley to come forward and continue with the presentation.

MR. WHITLEY: Good morning. I'm Glen Whitley and I represent the northeast part of Tarrant County. Marti and I collectively have probably the fastest growing area in Tarrant County and maybe within the Metroplex.

We've in the past addressed the subject of equity to those TxDOT districts whose citizens are voluntarily taking on additional financial burden of supporting toll road development and operations. Districts whose highest ranking NHS projects are developed as toll roads ought not to lose the traditional highway funding for taking the initiative to bring additional financial resources to the table.

In Dallas-Fort Worth, 55 percent of the resources invested in transportation come from local sources. This is a considerably higher proportion than any other region of the state, except for Houston, which is comparable with DFW. As you can see from this graphic, we have a substantial amount of toll road construction pending in our region.

We believe that now is the time to develop and adopt a policy position ensuring funding equity for those districts that develop toll roads. Accordingly, we urge that you appoint a blue ribbon task force to produce such a policy. This task force should include representatives from TxDOT and its TTA division, from toll road agencies serving Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston, and public and private sector leaders from DFW, Houston, and other areas of Texas who have an interest in and some knowledge of toll roads.

We ask that this task force be appointed within 60 days and charged with submitting a recommended policy to you for adoption within six months.

Again, I would like to thank you for allowing us to come to you this morning, and at this time, I would like to introduce Judge Lee Jackson who will conclude our presentation.

JUDGE JACKSON: Thank you, Glen. I am Lee Jackson, Dallas County judge, and we appreciate, commissioners and Director Heald, your hearing us again.

This is our sixth annual presentation of what we look on as a double partnership. First, you'll remember, we had to put together a partnership in North Texas that had not previously existed to approach regional issues in a truly regional way, and we did that six years ago.

Secondly, we then have the challenge of building with you a partnership that was more than just in name only, that was actually an ongoing, working relationship, month after month, on projects where, instead of just looking to come once a year and ask for more money, we actually look for more creative ways to make a difference in what's happening in our area.

We've enjoyed working with the entire staff of TxDOT. Director Heald, we thank you for the district staff and directors you've given us to work with and for your support here in Austin. Commissioner Nichols, we thank you for your great energy and fresh ideas and creativity; we've enjoyed working with you. We look forward to working more with new Chairman Johnny Johnson who has already been to north Texas several times and gotten intensely interested and involved in our projects.

And of course, former Chairman Laney, it may be the case that you've heard it all, David, but we appreciate the fact that you did more than just hear what the issues were in transportation, you brought an incredible vision and a new way of working with us on our issues, and we've appreciated the partnership. And if by any chance we come next year and you're not in that chair, we want you to know that we've appreciated it very, very much; it's made a big difference.

I want to reiterate, then, the things that we've asked for today. They fall in several different categories. Of course, we need more resources, and we've pointed out how well over the last five years we've managed to bring backlogged projects into action, some $900 million worth of projects. We have another $900 million in these two districts next year, but something like $7 billion worth of projects in the pipelines, so we really need your help in addressing backlogged mobility projects in Priority 1 in every possible way.

But secondly, we realize your resources are limited and so we've built on the partnership program. Each year you ask us to raise the bar a little bit higher, and we have. We've proposed what is basically a 50-50 match program and included, for the first time, National Highway System matching dollars locally. So we're proposing to put up $437 million of local matching funds for both strategic priority projects of yours and National Highway System projects.

Third, in order to help the system work more efficiently, we know that there's going to be, at the end of the day, a limit on resources, but we've got hundreds of thousands of passenger trips every day in our region that are affected by congestion. One thing we can do is to make the projects happen faster that are already in the pipeline, and so we want to work with you in looking at expediting implementation in every way possible with our resources that we can provide, whether in right of way acquisition, engineering, staff support. Anything that we could do as your partner to make these projects move faster would help on air quality and on congestion and quality of life.

Fourth, we particularly noted that in the area of international trade corridors and other major initiatives in our region, we've put a focus on intelligent transportation systems, another opportunity for us to work smarter with the existing resources and the resources that are planned in the future. We think that's a smart investment and we hope to continue to be your partner.

Judge Harris mentioned the bottleneck program. We think that's a real opportunity for TxDOT to create sort of a new priority and a focus in our metropolitan areas to look at perhaps unorthodox design choices where we don't create intersections in every case if we don't have the resources that make every possible new directional connection, but we look at ways in which adding individual lanes and turn directional improvements can have a disproportionate impact with a focused bottleneck program.

And then lastly, we have mentioned in previous years that we'd like to achieve a little greater clarity of our partnership in toll roads. It's not that you haven't been fair to us. In fact, you've been more than fair so far in the projects, but the more we propose toll roads as a partial solution to our regional congestion, the more questions are asked by our constituents about just how that helps us in the long run and what assurances there are. We think it's both in your interest and ours to get that on paper and have it be clear as possible so we can help continue to build support for toll road projects.

In all these areas we've made progress; we're looking forward to making more progress. We thank you for hearing us and we'll try to get the people up here who can answer questions if you have any specific questions about what's going on in our region. Thank you very much.

MR. JOHNSON: Thank you. Any questions or comments?

MR. NICHOLS: I think you've done a great job of putting your presentation and facts together. I particularly like the -- I call it the "growing blob congestion" display. That graphically really shows what we all know. I think we were talking last night about the volume of traffic hitting the roadway at a rate of 16 times what we have the resources to add capacity for that growth. It's been going on a long time. And some of the ideas you have come up with in working to help get the resources together for the entire state are greatly appreciated. They not only will help your area immensely, they will help the entire state move forward, and we appreciate what you've done. That's about all I want to say.


MR. LANEY: Yes, I've got a couple of comments. First of all, for any of you who misread it, my comments about I've heard it all was facetious.

(General laughter.)

MR. LANEY: I always hear something new when you all make these presentations, and I did today. I would like to ask -- and I don't know who the right person is; maybe it's one of the presenters, maybe it's Michael Morris -- I would like someone to just spend a minute or two again on the match program in detail. We often tend to sort of drift into a project-by-project focus and I think you were talking in aggregate terms. I'd like to hear a summary, again, of the aggregate match that you've got and the sources of the funds you're bringing to the table and so forth, but not a lengthy exposition on it.

(General laughter.)

MR. MORRIS: Mr. Laney, you've heard me speak before.

MR. LANEY: Hold it, Mike, while we reset the clock.

(General laughter.)

MR. MORRIS: The first thing that happens, Mr. Laney, is the Regional Transportation Council takes Surface Transportation Program funds and Congestion Mitigation Air Quality funds and offers those up in a competitive sense to our own region to encourage match. The Regional Transportation Council has a criteria that if you want your project approved, you get more points if you bring local match to the table, so we have an incentive program by our local governments.

Cities then offer local bond program funds or revenue from property taxes as part of that particular match. You have one project which has the first project in our region with a SIB loan component. We then work with your district engineers, of which they have discretionary funds, and they'll offer interstate maintenance funds, for example, or district discretionary funds to help pool additional funds.

Wes Heald has challenged us. I think he came to our region as a district engineer and his eyes opened up when he saw the partnership program that we had with regard to your Strategic Priority Fund. We raised the bar this year in purchasing down the cost of National Highway System projects so they would compete more favorably statewide. And it is from those half a dozen funding sources that we use to help leverage what are limited funds within the state.

MR. LANEY: And dollars brought to the table in terms of this year's proposals?

MR. MORRIS: In this particular case, as Commissioner Harmon shared with you, and you have that in your text, we're bringing 50 percent through those sources to the projects that you have in front of you. For example, on a National Highway System project that may be $250 million, we may have $125 million from Regional Transportation Council, local and district funds to help leverage the National Highway System program.

In the case of the Strategic Priority Program, we have on the average 35 or 40 percent of the particular funds available. So when you take the National Highway System, combined with our Strategic Discretionary funds, it comes to a dollar for dollar match in what it is we're asking for. So we're leveraging and developing incentives within our region which has created the same incentive you have now within the state where people who come in front of you at this podium are bringing funds to the table to try to leverage those limited funds.

MR. LANEY: Thank you, Michael.

MR. MORRIS: Thank you.

MR. JOHNSON: I had three observations. One is a repeat of what I said last night. It's particularly gratifying to see such a large and important area of the state working together to achieve common goals. I salute you in that effort. It's a rare occurrence, it appears to me, where so many people covering such a large area that is so meaningful to this great state can join together and prioritize their needs, recognize and then prioritize their needs, and then work together for common solutions. And as I said last night -- at least I meant to say -- working together we will get these challenges met.

Secondly, throughout the presentation, there was mention of support of the legislative agenda, and we cannot thank you enough, both on the department's legislative agenda across the street but also the one in Washington. Support from major areas like the Dallas-Fort Worth area is vital for any success.

Those are two of the things I wanted to mention, and then one of your requests was quite specific, and that was to develop a policy recommendation for adoption to ensure funding equity to districts where there is support for toll roads, and as you, I believe, are aware, one of our primary challenges this year before the legislature is to give the department flexibility and leverage and equity participation in toll projects. I personally place that very high on our legislative list.

We have hard and soft issues, hard issues being those that are funding issues, and soft issues being the ones that enable us to do our job better, and I personally place that number one on the soft side of the ledger. And I think this sort of melds in with your request, and we will get back to you specifically on that request. I think it's a vital part of what we're trying to do and how we go about that is going to be a challenge, but we will get back with you on that.

MR. MORRIS: We appreciate it.

MR. JOHNSON: Lastly, I think everyone is aware that we don't make decisions on presentations immediately, but you've provided a lot of food for thought, and as usual, it's quite an impressive presentation, and I want to thank you for all the hard work that everyone has done and for everybody's effort to come here today.

I would, at this time, Judge, if you want to close.

JUDGE JOHNSON: Thanks for letting us go first on the agenda, by the way. It helps everyone in their aviation plans, so we appreciate it. Thank you.

MR. JOHNSON: I would like to ask Al Luedecke to come forward and take us to Agenda Item 8(b) and then we'll have a recess.

MR. LUEDECKE: Good morning, commissioners. I'm Al Luedecke, director of the Transportation Planning and Programming Division.

Item 8(b) concerns the proposed extension of State Highway 121, locally referred to as the Southwest Parkway, from Interstate 30 in Fort Worth to US 67 in Cleburne. It's considered a crucial element in the development of the cities of Fort Worth and Cleburne, Tarrant and Johnson counties and the surrounding region. Development of this project is necessary to alleviate the present and future congestion and ameliorate air quality.

The completion of the Southwest Parkway may be expedited by financing a portion of that project's design and construction cost through the use of turnpike financing. The City of Fort Worth and Tarrant County have requested the North Texas Tollway Authority to take such actions or conduct such studies as may be necessary to determine the viability of jointly developing and financing the Southwest Parkway.

Preliminary evaluations prepared by the North Texas Tollway Authority indicate a portion of the parkway from the interchange at Interstate 30 to the intersection of Alta Mesa Boulevard has the potential as a turnpike project. Title 43 of the Texas Administrative Code, Section 27.44(d), authorizes the department and the regional tollway authority to enter into an agreement concerning improvements that are necessary to determine whether it's feasible to develop a segment of the designated state highway system as a turnpike project including preliminary plans and surveys.

Pursuant to that subsection, agreement between the department, the North Texas Tollway Authority, and the City of Fort Worth has been proposed concerning the development of the Southwest Parkway including determining the feasibility of developing a portion of the parkway as a turnpike project.

As the need for transportation improvements continue to exceed available funding, the benefits of this proposed partnership and innovative financing method are an effective means of maximizing the use of the limited resources available.

The minute order presented for your consideration authorizes the executive director to enter into the proposed agreement with the North Texas Tollway Authority and the City of Fort Worth concerning the development of the Southwest Parkway. This action does not commit construction fundings for the project at this time. And we recommend approval of this minute order.

MR. JOHNSON: Are there any questions or comments about the minute order?

MR. NICHOLS: So move.

MR. LANEY: Second it.

MR. JOHNSON: There's a motion and a second. All in favor, signify by saying aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. JOHNSON: And those opposed, no.

(No response.)

MR. JOHNSON: Motion carries. Thank you, Al.

We will take a short recess of approximately five minutes to allow our friends from the Dallas-Fort Worth area to evacuate -- or vacate.

(Whereupon, a brief recess was taken.)


(Don Wall, Mayor D.H. Abernathy, Rep. Mark Homer)

MR. JOHNSON: This meeting of the Texas Transportation Commission is hereby reconvened.

Our next delegation is no stranger to the commission, having come to Austin for 30-plus years. We would like to welcome the members of the East Texas Gulf Highway Association to discuss the Green Carpet Memorial Route. They've been nice enough to give us a copy of the Paris News and it's gratifying to see that there's still someplace that the Sunday paper only costs a dollar and a quarter.

(General laughter.)

MR. JOHNSON: If Don Wall, who is president of the association, would come forward, I assume you're going to be the master of ceremonies. Don, welcome.

MR. WALL: Thank you, chairman. Commissioners, good to see you all again this year.

MR. LANEY: Don, you don't mind if we read the paper, do you?

MR. WALL: No, not at all.

(General laughter.)

MR. WALL: Providing that's the one that's got my name in it; I like for you to read about me when we're talking about roads.

It's a real pleasure, again, to come before you and continue our request for the completion of the Green Carpet Memorial Route. We brought a large delegation with us again this year; we're real thrilled that the people make this long journey, sacrifice their time. We have many of our county judges with us, our commissioners along with our group. I'd like for our group to just kind of stand up and give you a salute of appreciation.

MR. LANEY: Great. Thanks.

MR. WALL: Thank you very much, folks. They came from all the way up and down the East Texas corridor and you are familiar with many of them.

The East Texas Gulf Highway Association has now been making continuous appearances before the commission for the past 36 years. Most of the Green Carpet Memorial Route is now a four-lane, good quality, high-traveled highway. Each year for the past five years that I've been president of the East Texas Gulf Highway Association, we have asked for exactly the same thing: to close the remaining 51 miles gap in the 328-mile corridor.

We have come to realize that the Green Carpet Memorial Route is never going to get to $100 million-plus to have this request completed on this route in a one lump sum amount. Our own Senator Bill Ratliff constantly reminds us of the shortage of dollars to maintain and expand Texas' highways; therefore, this year we are trying a different approach. We have broken the remaining gap into eight sections.

We looked at such things as: existing narrow shoulder deficiencies which are a safety problem; environmental concerns across existing flood plains; and availability of right of way; and the schedules of our local TxDOT personnel to perform the required design and construction inspection work. We are here today to request that three of our eight sections be funded in the near future.

Priority 1 is US 271 bridge replacements. The first section is smack-dab in the middle of the gap between Paris and Mount Pleasant. Now, this may not sound like a logical place to start, but it is the area that holds our greatest concern. If you will look at the picture in your book or the one behind you on the screen there, one of our concerns about the bridges, just within the last month one of our ex-commissioners lost his son to an accident on this bridge. He hit the right-hand guardrail, flipped over the left side, and if you look close on the left-hand side, you'll see down below the guardrail the emergency vehicles extracting his remains after he was burned to death before they could get him from the vehicle.

There are ten fairly large bridges, a consolidated school district, and the city of Talco in this section. The bridges which were constructed during the depression have no shoulders. Crossing one of these bridges at the same time as an oncoming truck, especially at night, is a hair-raising experience.

Current design standards call for a minimum of 44 foot for this facility with the current traffic count. We would like these bridges to be replaced as soon as possible and we further request that they be replaced to the ultimate section all at once, because all of these structures cross environmentally sensitive areas. A one-time ultimate project would minimize the impact to the environment in these areas. We also feel that the roadway between these bridges should be widened in conjunction with replacing the bridges

Priority 2, US 271, roadway widening. Our second section is also on US 271. By TxDOT's own count, the average daily traffic on US 271 has increased by 25 percent from 1996 to 1998, between Paris and Pattonville; 20.2 percent of this is truck traffic. Our own US Congressman Max Sandlin specifically cited the need for this project in TEA-21.

We request that this segment be constructed soon, because it is also a growth corridor to the City of Paris and it would require minimum right of way and a minimal environmental impact. Our request to you today is to move this eight-mile section to Priority 1 status so that this congressional high priority project can become a near-term reality.

Priority 3 remains as last year: State Highway 135 roadway widening. Our third priority is to improve State Highway 135 from Kilgore to Gladewater in Gregg County -- that's District 10, Tyler -- to a four-lane divided highway on ten-foot shoulders. Currently, this 6.9-mile stretch of highway is two lane without shoulders and it is the weakest link in the Green Carpet Memorial Highway. There's a lot of activity by the Tyler District to upgrade this highway, and we appreciate the work done there by Ms. Mary May and her staff.

Having stated our request, let me also state that we recognize that our traffic volumes cannot possibly compete with the tremendous number of major metropolitan areas, such as Dallas and Houston. However, one of our contentions has always been that improving the Green Carpet Memorial Route can accomplish more economically in the rural areas and that some of the traffic, particularly trucks would intentionally choose to go around the congested major metropolitan markets once our route is finally completed.

On a local note, industry in the Paris area is currently significantly penalized in transportation costs because we do not have direct access through a four-lane facility to access the interstate system. It is becoming more and more critical for the operation of industry along the Green Carpet Memorial Route to have direct four-lane facility access. The primary issue for the communities along the Green Carpet Memorial Route is one of economic development.

Without four-lane highway access, our economic development efforts are thwarted, and in some instances we are even losing what we already have to existing access communities. But as industry congregates along interstate access sites, it promulgates the problem of congestion and clean air. The obvious solution is transportation access to more rural areas that can support industry, like the Green Carpet Memorial Route communities.

Rather than trying to swallow this all in one bite, we have changed our priority list from recent past appearances. First of all, instead of a complete four-lane divided highway, we would like authorization for a five-lane flush median with shoulders in areas where additional right of way impacts and/or environmental impacts would be detrimental to the timely development of this project. And secondly, we would like TxDOT to develop and then let projects in a prioritized order that addresses our safety and environmental concerns as quickly as possible.

Just last week, Lamar County Chamber of Commerce traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with Senator Gramm, Senator Hutchison, and Congressman Sandlin. We adamantly expressed our number one priority in regard to federal legislation is transportation, with federal highway dollars coming back to Texas to build highways and only highways.

The East Texas Gulf Highway Association has always actively lobbied for additional transportation construction dollars. Bit by bit, together we can bring the Green Carpet Memorial Route to fruition. We look forward to working with you in the coming days to begin this process. Thank you.

In closing, I would like to make a personal note, just a comment that the Paris District is working very closely with us and we really appreciate Mr. Jim Freeman, district engineer, and his staff, the open door they've maintained. We've tried to put these things together and they've been very much assisting, and I just felt like they need a public acknowledgment of what we think of them. Thank you. Have a good day.

Mayor Abernathy -- which I do not need to introduce -- from Pittsburg is going to follow me in our presentation. Mayor.

MAYOR ABERNATHY: Chairman Johnson, Commissioners Laney and Nichols, and Engineer-Director Mr. Heald. As Don has just said, my name is D.H. Abernathy. I'm serving my 51st year as a city elected official, my 47th year as mayor of Pittsburg. I've been a Road Hand since 1984 and received the Russell Perry Award in 1996, and I've been active in the Texas Good Road Transportation Association for 15 years, and I'm vice president of the East Texas Gulf Highway Association.

I endorse everything that President Wall has said and request the commission to approve recommendations from the Paris, Atlanta, and Tyler districts.

This is my 36th presentation before the commission on the Green Carpet Memorial Route. This project, a four-lane highway from Houston to the Oklahoma border, is overdue for completion. From the NAFTA standpoint, the Green Carpet Route is a direct route from Laredo and Mexico to the middle of Winnipeg, Canada. We sincerely appreciate the work that has been done on this route since 1965.

If you have any questions, I'll try to answer them. Thank you for permitting me to make this presentation. I now call on Representative Mark Homer of the Paris area.

MR. HOMER: If you heard the crying in the back, that was my child, and I wanted to let you know the reason she was crying was when I told her the fact that we haven't got this last 51 miles done and --

(General laughter.)

MR. LANEY: Give her some sausage; she'll be okay.

MR. HOMER: This is only the second time that I've been before you, and it is an honor to stand here before you. I wouldn't begin to try to elaborate on anything that President Wall had presented to you, and act like I knew anything even a bit more than they do, because the two men preceding me, is my understanding, have 66 years between them coming before this commission.

I just wanted to reiterate the fact of the importance of the completion of this road to Northeast Texas with the potential economic development, the reduced trucking costs for our existing facilities in that part of the state, and just the thought that in the greater Northeast Texas area we have but the one four-lane route, I-30 that comes through. We've been patient over the years and I believe it's our time to step forward and be recognized.

I understand that you have a limited supply of funds to do that, but we would certainly appreciate your serious consideration, and I want you to know of my undying support for this project. And, I'll be back every year as long a I'm allowed to be a part of this in support of it also. So thank you very much.

MR. WALL: Thank you very much. And that, I believe, concludes our speakers. We wanted to hold it within our time allotted, because we know you are very busy and have a large agenda. Any comments or any questions you'd like to ask any of us before we sit down?

MR. NICHOLS: Yes, I've got several comments and actually a question. I wanted to first say you came a long ways, I know, because you drive through my area of the state to get here, and it's a long ways for me to get here, so you have gone to a lot of effort to show the importance, and I appreciate the reception last night.

MR. WALL: Thank you.

MR. NICHOLS: If I'm not mistaken, you have done something a little different this year, two things. One is on these gaps you, as an association, are actually setting some priorities. Is that correct?

MR. WALL: That's correct.

MR. NICHOLS: And that's different, isn't it?

MR. WALL: That's correct. In the past, we've been asking for the whole project and not making any priorities, but this time we broke it down and are asking for priorities. Of course, the part we consider the most dangerous is the bridge section in the middle.

MR. NICHOLS: I want to commend you for doing that. It is an extremely difficult thing. If you can imagine how hard that is for the different entities who are interested in their projects for you to pull together and establish these priorities. I think it's helpful to us and I realize the difficulty that may have been for you, and it is very helpful.

The second thing is, whereas always you have talked about a four-lane divided, you're talking now about using a five-lane with shoulders?

MR. WALL: There are sections in there that we recommend a five-lane level median. The City of Paris has annexed about 3.5 miles southeast on 271 that's going to be a growth corridor, so instead of going four lane with the existing right of way, we can pull that in and we won't have to worry about all the crossovers; we will be much receptive to a lower cost facility that would serve the purpose.

MR. NICHOLS: In our trunk system, over the next several months I know we're going to be doing different things on the trunk system. Some of you are very familiar with it and some are not, but it has to do with a four lane connectivity system through the state. I know one of the things we'll be voting on later today has to do with changing the criteria about closing gaps in the system which is pretty much what you're showing, but this fall we will be holding hearings around the state -- sometime, I think, in the late fall is the rough schedule -- on the next phase of primary corridors to complete.

We don't know what all is going to come out of those hearings, but I know with the rule change we're considering a little later in the morning, closing gaps in systems and stuff is one of the criteria. And, I would encourage you to follow that program and those hearings in the fall when they occur, because it looks like it might be very applicable here.

The last thing really is a question. On the name Memorial, when you get into the Green Carpet Memorial Route, the Memorial was in the name -- I asked somebody this last night and I'm not so sure they really could answer it -- why is that in there? I mean, is it really --

MR. WALL: Well, we figured it would be a memorial because by the time we get it built, Mayor Abernathy might not live to see it.

MR. NICHOLS: All right. I'll end my question on that. Thank you very much.

(General laughter.)

MR. JOHNSON: David, do you have anything?

MR. LANEY: I just wanted to echo a little of what Robert just said. The prioritization and the breaking this down into priorities with smaller price tags and much more conceptually contained segments is a giant step forward. For the very first time, at least over the last five years, I see a way of, with your guidance on this prioritization issue, beginning to take some steps forward.

And you've broken them down, I believe, into relatively manageable bites from a financial standpoint. I think it's roughly $20 million per priority, a little less than that on the bridge piece. So my compliments to you. It's not an easy job, but I think it's a major step in the right direction in helping us move forward on something. So thank you, I appreciate it.

MR. JOHNSON: Without sounding too much like an echo chamber, I had that same observation, and that is, it's wonderful to see a different tact and one where a group can get together and agree on priorities. It makes our job so much easier.

And the Northeast Texas area has been such a wonderful partner in transportation issues for this commission. I just want to salute you for that innovative approach, as I think David has recognized and I know Robert believes. By doing that, I think that we can see our way clear to maybe getting some of these things done in a more quickly fashion, and before Mayor Abernathy leaves office, we'll hopefully have this project complete.

Any other questions or comments?



MR. JOHNSON: Mayor, did you want to say anything? Paris isn't going to annex Pittsburg, is it?

MAYOR ABERNATHY: Well, I hope not. Anyway, I was just commenting with Don that it's my understanding the recommendation from the Paris District originally was to have a divided highway from Paris to Mount Pleasant. Now it's proposed that the four lanes be put side by side rather than separate them, and of course, we are concerned about the two bridges across Red River.

I've been across that road several times when it was flooded in that area, so we need to get the US to put two new bridges across Red River up there on this route, and by consolidating or moving to four lanes apparent to each other, this reduces the cost of construction rather than have a divided highway. And the Paris District, it's my understanding, is recommending that it be four lanes together as it is in a lot of this route from Houston to the Oklahoma border, so that cuts the cost on it. Thank you.

MR. JOHNSON: Thank you. Anything else on this presentation? Thank you so much. As you are aware, we don't make decisions on the spot, but it's been a very impressive presentation and we're grateful for it.

We will take a small recess so that our good friends and neighbors from northeast Texas can, if they so desire, get back on the road.

(Whereupon, a brief recess was taken.)

P R O C E E D I N G S (Resumed)

MR. JOHNSON: This meeting of the Texas Transportation Commission is hereby reconvened. We will now proceed with the regular part of our agenda.

Let me remind anyone here who wants to address the commission to please fill out a card at the registration table. If you want to comment on an agenda item, please fill out a yellow card; and should you want to discuss an item which is not an agenda item, we'll take your comments during the open comment period at the end of the meeting, and for that we would ask that you fill out a blue card. And, please keep in mind that each speaker will be allowed three minutes.

We will now proceed with the approval of the minutes of our commission meeting held in Houston on April 27.

MR. NICHOLS: So move.

MR. LANEY: Second.

MR. JOHNSON: All in favor, signify by saying aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. JOHNSON: Motion is approved.

The next item on the agenda is a resolution that we'd like to present to the relatives of Mr. Clyde Pitman, and I would like to read it to you.

"Whereas, Clyde A. Pitman was fatally injured while performing his duties as an employee of the Texas Department of Transportation;

"And whereas, Mr. Pitman had served the Texas Department of Transportation in a loyal and efficient manner and had earned the respect and friendship of his fellow employees;

"And whereas, it is the desire of the Texas Department of Transportation to honor his memory;

"Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Texas Transportation Commission does hereby extend its sincerest sympathy to the relatives of Clyde A. Pitman and that this resolution be sent to his family."

Signed by the Texas Transportation Commission on this 25th day of May in the year 2000.

Before we get to a motion, I would like to take a moment to remind everyone of how important it is to take work zone safety very seriously. The men and women of this department and on our construction crews deserve and expect nothing less. I know that we stress the safety message to our employees, but we cannot do the job alone; we need every Texan to remember that our workers literally depend on them for their safety and we're asking that everyone please help keep this kind of tragedy from happening again.

Having said that, may I have a motion?

MR. NICHOLS: So move.

MR. LANEY: Second.

MR. JOHNSON: In favor, signify by saying aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

MR. JOHNSON: Motion carries. Thank you very much.

Wes, I'd like to turn over the rest of the agenda to you, please, sir.

MR. HEALD: Okay. I would remind you that this is the first fatality we've had this year and I believe last year we were fatality free; we didn't have any last year. So we are taking this very serious.

MR. LANEY: Wes, can I ask before we leave that, do we monitor, do we have any reports on the number of tickets issued in work zones? Any information about that? Does the DPS keep track of that? Ever since we started the work zone double fine program, I haven't heard anything more of it.

MR. HEALD: Well, I'll try to respond. I'm going to say no to that question, and in addition to that, we even have difficulty with the DPS working work zones, and Carlos, would you come to the front and maybe add to that.

MR. LOPEZ: Carlos Lopez, director of Traffic Operations. The DPS has previously provided some numbers on the number of double fine tickets they have issued. It hasn't been a very high number simply because of the workers' presence provision and things like that.

MR. LANEY: Because of the what?

MR. LOPEZ: Because of the workers being present is one of the provisions in the law to issue that type of citation, but they don't issue it in maintenance work zones.

MR. HEALD: Thank you, Carlos.

Agenda item number 4 under Reports, and Margot is going to give us a report regarding public transportation activities.

MS. MASSEY: Good morning. I am Margot Massey, director of the Public Transportation Division, and pleased to be making this report to you today. Before we go forward, I wanted to introduce the technical brains of the operation, John Cauley, who is going to make me look good with the slides, I hope.

What I wanted to share with you, in this our first report, was the true history of transit finance without any bull other than that one.

Transit has a long and distinguished history in our country. Abram Brauler, a stable owner in New York City started the first recorded public transportation service in the United States in 1829 -- I think this is actually London, but same premise. The omnibuses seated 20 people and operated on fixed schedules and routes but picked up people who flagged them down. The fare was usually four or five bits -- and a bit, of course, is 12-1/2 cents -- unless there was a price war going on. And of course, the fares went up if an extra horse was needed due to hills, heavy ridership -- no pun intended -- or poor pavements.

Daily riders were profitable short haul businesses for the railroads, and as you can see, this is actually where the term commuter comes from; it's an expression of commuting the fare; the railroads offered a price break. Massachusetts actually required the railroads to give commuters a rebate as a social welfare measure to relieve urban housing congestion. And one of the earliest commuters was a surprising one, Thoreau, who built his hut at Walden Pond. It was less than 200 yards from the railroad so that he could have easy access to Boston's amenities.

Municipalities who were frequently under pressure from suburban land developers rapidly franchised these new street railway companies. As was common with infrastructure planning in the 19th Century, control was left almost entirely with the private sector. Because the cities owned the streets, their consent was necessary to operate the horse cars, and usually a franchise was awarded to suburban realtors who wanted to develop their property. The fare was five cents which was half of what the omnibuses charged, and it didn't vary with the distance traveled.

At the same time, the railway company had to pave the area within the rails and generally two to three feet outside them, which was, of course, a good deal for the cities. The tracks also had to be laid to accommodate ordinary wagons and private carriages, and they were a great investment with their exclusive rights of way which is one reason they spread throughout the country.

The El experiment, the elevateds, began in the late 1860s, again financed by private investors, usually with real estate to develop, and you'll hear that theme again and again. But residents of streets with El lines tried to block their construction as they were noisy and the steam engines created an air quality problem, as well as the occasional boiler explosion. Later, els were electric and much better accepted by all.

Now, this is a very interesting story of an entrepreneur, Alfred Beach, who went on to edit the magazine Scientific American for almost 50 years. He constructed the first American subway beginning in 1868 but he told the state legislature that he was only going to use it to transmit letters and packages. The reason he told them that was they were closely tied to the horse railways who obviously would be opposed to his plans.

In the heart of this system was a huge rotary blower that produced 100 thousand cubic feet of air per minute to drive the car through the tunnel at 10 miles per hour. When it reached the end, which was about a block down the street, the engineer would signal to reverse the air current and the ventilator sucked the car back to its starting point.

The Beach Pneumatic Railway was a hit with over 400,000 riders that first year, but Beach discovered quickly that the pneumatic propulsion was not the best way to go, and he couldn't raise capital for a steam system as the financiers were concerned about the high cost of tunneling. This tunnel was abandoned shortly thereafter and it was actually rediscovered -- this is when I think this picture was taken -- in 1912 when workers were digging a new subway for the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company.

The first trolley was installed by Frank Julian Sprague in Richmond, Virginia, in 1887, and it was an immediate success. Trolleys were the first commercially and legally feasible solution to the limits that slow horse car speeds imposed on residential sprawl.

Henry Whitney, a Boston land speculator, and Charles Francis Adams, Jr. of the Adams family built a trolley line to connect their large suburban land holdings in Brookline with downtown Boston. Whitney told folks after the first five years of trolley services, his land holdings had appreciated in value 17 to 20 million dollars which attracted lots of investors to trolley systems.

Trolleys were also controlled by municipal franchises. The only restriction was they forfeited their route if they didn't finish their construction within a short period of time. Another clause that wound up being very onerous was the requirement to retain the five-cent fare which meant that a suburban commuter got a better deal with their longer trips than inner-city residents.

Indiana Congressman Charles Henry promoted the interurbans that are closed passenger trains that were heavier and faster than the rickety open-sided trolleys used in cities.

A personal aside, my grandmother told me about taking an interurban from Sherman to Dallas on her wedding day in the early 1900s. They literally spanned almost the entire state of Texas.

The electrically powered interurbans ran four to six times more frequently and were relatively cheap to build at only $10,000 a mile, but they were not as good an investment, so what happened was the owners sold bonds instead and they intended to give away their securities as an inducement to investors or a reward to the promoters which watered the stock. The interurbans were also considered railroad companies so they were regulated by state and local government, unlike the motorized transportation which was not regulated until 1935.

Open bidding for streetcar franchises was pretty common. The cities got a percentage of the fare box receipts or an annual flat fee, or they got the paving or they got snow removal from the streetcar company. And as I said earlier, the perpetual nickel fare got to be a financial disaster as competition reduced each company's market share. And to give you a sense of that, in Chicago as late as 1897, there were 15 streetcar companies, all competing for the same market.

This is actually a shot of El Paso, so as I said before, trolleys and transit were very much a part of our early Texas transportation history. But the private trolley companies got to the point where they couldn't raise money to replace their equipment which caused ridership to fall. It's that vicious cycle. The public subsidies were not an option; they were actually rejected by voters, although Boston and New York did finance their subway systems publicly.

The cities wouldn't let the companies raise the fares, which led the passengers being fed up with the trolley companies and they welcomed the newest technological advancement, the automobile.

Now, this is one of the ironies of transportation history. On September 13, 1899, a wealthy New York City realtor, H.H. Bliss, stepped off a trolley car at the corner of Central Park West and 74th Street. Cabbie Arthur Smith, driving a new electric vehicle, tried to pass the trolley on his right side rather than follow a slow wagon on the left, and the trolley passenger Bliss was killed. Some years later, Cabbie Smith might have operated a jitney -- which is a slang expression for a nickel.

In 1914, an enterprising individual in Los Angeles picked up a passenger at a trolley stop in his Ford Model T and dropped him off several blocks later, charging him a nickel. The jitney services spread rapidly but were quickly regulated out of business because of lobbying of taxi firms and transit owners.

The first real American subway, after Beach's pneumatic one, was financed by tycoon August Belmont, the same Belmont of the Belmont Stakes of horse racing. He hoped to make a lot of money and be hailed as a benefactor of New York City. When the Inter-Borough Rapid Transit Company opened in October 1904, almost one million people wanted to go for a ride on that first Sunday. Unfortunately, the IRT could only handle 350,000 passengers a day, so that left about 650,000 who had to wait for a ride.

Also, New Yorkers were upset because the IRT began to put up advertising in the stations and they'd hoped to earn revenue, about half a million dollars a year, from this concession. Many of the people thought these unsightly billboards detracted from the subway's stature as a noble civic monument, and the city sued the IRT. Ultimately, the IRT won.

But it's interesting the opinion -- I think you will appreciate this -- Belmont's expression 12 days after service began, and it was obvious that people really liked the subway and people were pressing him to expand. He said, "Crowding during rush hour is inevitable. If a day ever comes when transportation during rush hours is done without crowding, the companies doing it will fail financially." And his premise was -- it's consistent with an old transit maxim -- the profits are in the straps, the strap hangers. You get heavy ridership for the same capital and operating investment. That means more profits for the investors.

One of the things, too, if you'll notice the sign, the crowding on the left of the screen, the crowding on the subways led some companies to set aside women only cars -- and this is one -- to protect female passengers from unwanted advances.

In 1907, the first urban buses were put in service in New York, and this is obviously Austin, Texas and not New York. The bus service was marketed on elite streets such as Fifth Avenue from which trolleys were banned and they were trying to attract the preferred rider. They doubled the fare, they charged ten cents, and they didn't allow people to stand. But only when larger buses became available in the 1920s did they really begin to replace trolleys in American cities.

This slide is actually a vehicle from Kerrville Bus Company in front of the Texas capitol around 1930, and I'm pleased to know in the audience today is Jerry Prestridge who is head of the Texas Bus Association, and he'll also appreciate this slide. Intercity bus service, the first intercity trip in Texas, occurred in October 1907 when W.B. Chenoweth drove a few daring souls from Colorado City to Snyder. The trip took all day because of mechanical breakdowns and the lack of any definable roads.

Now, this slide shows a later operation. It was actually the first one permitted by the Texas Railroad Commission, owned by Walter E. Nunnally and operated between Tyler and Marshall starting in 1922.

As previously noted, privately owned transit companies -- this is not our real safety program, trust me -- were plagued by artificially low fares, stock watering schemes, government regulation, and increasing competition from the private automobile. A Texan had, also, something to do with their decline, the passage of the Wheeler-Rayburn Act in 1935 which forced utility conglomerates to sell off their unrelated businesses which included trolley lines.

Waiting in the wings was a consortium of buyers, all who had a financial stake in the automotive field, namely GM, Firestone, Phillips Petroleum, Mack Trucks who sold buses, and Standard Oil. They collectively bought up the majority of the city transit companies, as well as the interurbans, pulled up the tracks, and began selling motor buses.

A federal court convicted these companies of criminal conspiracy in 1949 but the damage had been done, they'd already earned an estimated 30 to 50 million dollars in profits, and transit was in a significant decline.

This is kind of indicative of how transit was viewed in the post World War II era: people were ashamed to be seen waiting for a bus.

After the depression and the rationing during World War II, Americans were ready to buy cars and houses during the post-war economic boom. During this era, transit's image began to be associated with lower economic status as the middle class discovered suburbia. Many cities lost their transit service altogether, while others were forced to take over the struggling private companies. By the early 1970s in Texas, transit systems were all publicly owned, which was an amazing change in just over 35 years.

As you'll see, another Texan, President Johnson, was instrumental in establishing the Federal Transit Program in 1964 with capital grants, and in 1966 the Urban Mass Transportation Administration -- which is the forerunner of Federal Transit Administration -- was created, and then the Operating Assistance Program began in 1974, which is within my working lifetime, so it's relatively recent, because I'm young -- yes.

Closer to home, public transportation responsibilities were added to our agency's charge in 1975 and some of us were happy. Some other benchmarks from the federal side: in 1982 when the Mass Transit Account was created, there was a five-cent gas tax increase and one penny of that was dedicated to transit programs. And then of course another Texas president, President Bush, signed ISTEA, which had significant new funding options for transit.

This slide just gives you the long view of the last ten years in federal funding for Texas, and we're generally in the top five or six states in total federal funding for transit. We're getting about $290 million this fiscal year and the significant indicator is that brown line; that's the discretionary money, and we're pretty competitive with other states.

Many of the recent awards, you'll see, relate to the light rail construction in Dallas and the commuter rail line between Dallas and Fort Worth. Of course, we have to match those federal dollars, and this is where our state funding becomes a significant resource for Texas operators.

As this shows, we started in fiscal year 1976 with $15 million in general revenue funds per year, and that actually proved to be too much under the statutory constraints at that time which limited it to capital and there were limited prospective recipients, and we actually built up such a funding balance that we wound up giving $30 million back at one point.

But today we find ourselves in the current biennium with over $63 million in state assistance appropriated from Fund 6, General Revenue, and a still to be determined amount of oil overcharge dollars.

Another Texan, Vice President John Nance Garner of Uvalde, said the state investment is certainly not chicken feed, particularly for rural systems whose state dollars outnumber federal contributions by more than two to one.

Now, how do other states finance transit? This must be California or one of those western states. Fourteen rely on general revenue funds, ten have multimodal transportation accounts, eight dedicate fuel tax revenues, four have state sales tax, three issue bonds, and one relies in part on lottery receipts, and that would be Pennsylvania.

The annual state contribution is over $4 billion nationwide for transit, compared to a $5.7 billion federal appropriation, so you can see that the states are very much a player when it comes to transit investments.

This is my "show me the money" slide. It was probably taken after recent conversations with the comptroller's office trying to determine how much oil overcharge money we really have. Our past experiences suggest that we are $6.9 million short in this biennium which will have an extremely negative effect on smaller cities in particular.

You're going to hear more about toll credits in upcoming months as we propose to use that financing technique for the capital earmark secured for Texas by Senator Hutchison. And for the right project, we think SIB loans may be feasible as well.

Despite our financial challenges, I do not believe the end of the world is at hand, but if you'll notice the sign, it's comforting to know that bus service will be available when that day arrives.

And finally, I want to introduce you to Tx and Dot's newest cartoon chum, Buster the Cat, Bus-ter, who will help us teach kids about public transportation. For the record, Buster is not holding out his hand for money. And I'll be happy to answer any questions you have about that.

MR. HEALD: I think we may have another assignment for you, Margot.

Why don't you go ahead and proceed with your minute orders on 5(a) and (b).

MS. MASSEY: The first item is allocation of some of the earmarked funds I just spoke about. This is almost $2.5 million that is going to the small cities. You had previously approved a like amount for rural funds in your March meeting. These are much needed; the urban systems, the small cities are still about $2-1/2 million short on capital on what they need, but this will go a long ways toward helping them along. We recommend your approval.

MR. JOHNSON: Any questions?

MR. NICHOLS: So move.

MR. LANEY: Second.

MR. JOHNSON: All in favor, signify by saying aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. JOHNSON: Motion carries.

MS. MASSEY: The second item for public transportation is our annual Federal Formula allocation for rural transit. It's governed by provisions and a formula in the Administrative Code. It will go to the 41 rural systems operating in Texas, and we recommend your approval.

MR. JOHNSON: Any questions?

MR. LANEY: So moved.

MR. JOHNSON: Is there a second?

MR. NICHOLS: I second.

MR. JOHNSON: All in favor, signify by saying aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. JOHNSON: Motion carries.

MR. NICHOLS: I had a question I wanted to ask her; it wasn't about the minute order but it's related to this.

MR. JOHNSON: About Buster?

MR. NICHOLS: Buster -- that's two-thirds of a pun, the P and the U. No, that's cute.

(General laughter.)

MR. NICHOLS: My question relates to the formulas for the rural transit. In the past, we've talked a little bit about trying to create incentives for some of these groups that are more efficient than others, that come up with other ways to help fund themselves through a wide range of things. We've got someone, you said, from the Transit Association?

MS. MASSEY: The Texas Bus Association, but Mike Plaster from the Texas Transit Association is also here. And we have been working with the association.

MR. NICHOLS: Are we having any progress in that area?

MS. MASSEY: It's a challenging subject.

MR. NICHOLS: I know it's a challenging subject; I think it's a very important subject.

MS. MASSEY: Absolutely.

MR. NICHOLS: Where is he? There you are. I will tell you from my looking at it, the way the funding formula pretty much works is where the money is spent the most of course is where the formula hits the heaviest as far as refunding the money, but you could also look at it from a different attitude: whoever is spending the most gets the most, and it is not necessarily based on efficiency, improvements, encouraging more income from other sources, whether you pick them up, there's other ways to get money into that system at the local level, and there's no incentive in that formula for that. It's almost whoever spends the most steps up at a higher plate to get more in the future, and that's almost -- I'm a little concerned about that.

I would love to see some type of incentive in that formula and encourage your input in trying to work with us to come up with something that encourages efficiency from some of those transit operators.

MS. MASSEY: We are, in fact, having those discussions and have been for some time. It's a challenge, but I think we'll probably have something that -- we definitely will have something that we can support in this legislative session.

MR. NICHOLS: I encourage you. Thank you very much.

MR. HEALD: Agenda Item 6, Aviation, Dave Fulton.

MR. FULTON: Thank you, Wes. My name is David Fulton; I'm the director of the TxDOT Aviation Division.

Item 6 is a minute order containing a request for funding approval for two airport planning projects, four airport construction projects, one engineering design project, and a request for a cost increase for a current construction project at the Smithville Municipal Airport.

The Smithville project was originally approved by the commission on September 26, 1996, and we have encountered significant delay in acquiring the property needed for development which has now been acquired. As a result of that delay, the land and construction costs have increased resulting in this request.

The total estimated cost of all projects on Exhibit A is approximately $3.7 million; $2.7 of that is federal, $648,000 state, and $325,000 local funding. A public hearing was held on May 8 of this year; no comments were received, and we would recommend approval of this minute order.

MR. JOHNSON: Any questions? Can I hear a motion?

MR. LANEY: So moved.

MR. NICHOLS: Second.

MR. JOHNSON: All in favor, signify by saying aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. JOHNSON: Motion carries. Dave, thank you.

MR. HEALD: Agenda Item 7, beginning with rules for proposed adoption, starting with 7(a)(1), James Bass.

MR. BASS: Good morning. I'm James Bass, director of TxDOT's Finance Division.

This minute order proposes the repeal of existing Sections 5.24 and 5.25, amendments to Section 5.22, and new Sections 5.24 and 5.25 concerning hardship financing for utility adjustments, relocations, and removals. These sections cover the department's ability to finance a utility relocation that is not eligible for state reimbursement when a short-term financial condition exists that prevents the utility from being able to fund the relocation. The financial assistance provided under these sections is to be repaid at 6 percent interest over no more than five years.

The proposed change to the rules would amend the definition of what a short-term financial condition is and require that the district engineer of the district in which the utility relocation work is located to submit a request for financing. This will ensure that there is a preliminary review of the need for financing and also ensure that this review is completed by the person or persons most familiar with prior steps taken by the utility to pay for or finance the relocation work.

These and other amendments will enable the department to process requests for financing more efficiently, thereby ensuring the timely completion of highway projects. This minute order will allow for publication in the Texas Register for the purpose of receiving public comments, and staff recommends your approval.

MR. JOHNSON: Any questions?

MR. LANEY: So moved.

MR. NICHOLS: Second.

MR. JOHNSON: All in favor, signify by saying aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. JOHNSON: Motion carries.

MR. HEALD: Item 7(a)(2), still rules for proposed adoption, Al Luedecke.

MR. LUEDECKE: I'm Al Luedecke, director of Transportation Planning and Programming.

This minute order proposes amendments to Section 15.40 through 15.42 of the Texas Administrative Code concerning the Texas Highway Trunk System. On November 29, 1990, the commission passed Minute Order 91029 establishing the Texas Highway Trunk System. The routes selected were based on a set of criteria presented to the public through a series of ten public meetings. After careful consideration of public input, the selection criteria was adopted by the commission and codified through the Texas Administrative Code.

In addition to establishing the system, the 1990 minute order instructed the department to periodically review the adopted system to ensure its timeliness with respect to the original concept of the trunk system. With the ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement and its subsequent effects on the state highway system, it was determined that a review of the selection criteria was needed.

The department recently held public meetings throughout the state to obtain input on possible criteria additions. Meetings were held in Childress, San Angelo, Uvalde, Corsicana, and Huntsville, with approximately 280 people in attendance. After reviewing and analyzing the current criteria and the public comments, the department concluded that two additional criteria were needed.

The proposed amendment to Section 15.42 will give consideration to closing gaps in the system and providing system connectivity. These additional selection criteria will allow the commission to amend the system so it will provide more statewide coverage and more directional opportunities to meet the new demands placed on it by the growing economy.

The minute order is presented for your consideration; the proposed rules for adoption for the Register for the purpose of receiving public comments, and we recommend your approval.

MR. JOHNSON: Any questions?

MR. NICHOLS: I don't have any questions.

MR. JOHNSON: Is there a motion?

MR. NICHOLS: So move.

MR. LANEY: Second.

MR. JOHNSON: All in favor, signify by saying aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. JOHNSON: Motion carries. Thank you, Al.

MR. HEALD: Item 7(a)(2)(b), Mary Lou Ralls.

MS. RALLS: Good morning. I'm Mary Lou Ralls, director of the Bridge Division.

The criteria contained in Title 43 of the Texas Administrative Code, Section 15.52 required local governments to provide 10 percent funding to participate in the Off-State System Bridge Rehabilitation and Replacement Program. Currently 10 percent of the original estimate for preliminary engineering costs is paid by the local government.

At the time the construction and maintenance agreement is signed, 10 percent of the updated engineer's estimate of total cost, minus the payment previously paid, is paid just prior to letting and 10 percent of any overruns is paid after the construction is completed.

What this means is the preliminary engineering cost is about 10 to 20 percent max of the total cost, so at the time the construction and maintenance agreement is signed, 10 percent of a maximum of 20 percent, or 2 percent max, is paid by the local government. And then the remainder, minus that first payment, is paid approximately 45 days prior to the letting.

The minute order I am presenting to you this morning proposes that 10 percent of the original estimate of the preliminary engineering will be paid by the local government at the time the construction and maintenance agreement is signed which is what's done now, and the remainder of its 10 percent participation based on the original estimate will be paid just prior to letting. We recommend your approval.

MR. JOHNSON: Questions?

MR. NICHOLS: I don't really have a question. I just, as we go through this, want to commend the Bridge Division work you did and Mike Lynch and Mike Behrens for their work. There were a lot of good people that had a lot of great ideas on this program, and I realize the 10 percent is just one piece of it. I so move.

MR. LANEY: Second.

MR. JOHNSON: All in favor, signify by saying aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. JOHNSON: Motion carries.

MS. RALLS: The next item is the criteria contained in Title 43, Texas Administrative Code, Section 15.55 require the local governments to provide 10 percent funding to participate in the Off-State System Bridge Rehabilitation and Replacement Program.

The minute order I am presenting to you this morning proposes that the local participation funding requirement be waived if the local government commits to using an equivalent amount of funding on other bridges or main lane cross-drainage structures in its jurisdiction. We recommend your approval.

MR. JOHNSON: Any observations or questions?

MR. NICHOLS: The only observation I wanted to point out was in the fiscal note, the five-year period cost to the department of this action is $2-1/2 million is what it's showing, and the comment really is I realize this is correctly reported but it's important, I think, also to note we are not getting extra bills for $2-1/2 million. What we're doing is instead of us spending the money on the bridge, the county or the city will be spending the money on the bridge, and that $2-1/2 million means they're not going to give us the check, they're going to give it to the contractor.

So it's not actually as if they're additional expenses or we're getting a different bill. So it's correctly there; I just wanted to make sure everybody understood it. Maybe I wasn't clear; it was a comment. I'll just leave it alone then; I think I've got it.

MR. LANEY: I thought you were leading up to your opposition of this.

(General laughter.)

MS. RALLS: The waived amount will be for -- the participation waived projects are the ones that are on the program now, and the match will be for other deficient bridges that the local government determines, so these are additional bridges that will be funded by the local government with their match. Yes, that's correct.

MR. JOHNSON: Is there a motion?

MR. LANEY: So moved.

MR. NICHOLS: Second.

MR. JOHNSON: All in favor, signify by saying aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. JOHNSON: Motion carries.

MR. HEALD: Mary Lou, before you go, why don't you take just a minute and talk about some of the other initiatives that you're doing as far as standardization of bridge plans and so forth.

MS. RALLS: Okay. We have several other initiatives and we are very appreciative to Commission Member Nichols for his pushing us on these and giving us direction. We have several initiatives. One is the standardization of elements for the Off-System Bridge Program. We have several elements already developed and available on the Internet for use to be downloaded, and then we are also placing county maps on the Internet and these will show the load restricted bridges so that the traveling public can pull those up and then be able to use that for routing purposes, and that is anticipated to be available by the end of this year.

We will be looking at the prioritization process, the selection of bridges to give consideration to elimination of the landlocked areas, and we are looking at addressing multiple deficiency bridges under a single contract which is a more efficient operation for contracting purposes, in addition to these two.

MR. HEALD: I'll have to tell you from staff's standpoint that we're very excited about the new focus on our Bridge Program and I think you're going to all be proud of it.

Thank you, Mary Lou.

Agenda Item 7(a)(3), still rules for proposed adoption, Jerry Dike.

MR. DIKE: Thank you. Good morning. My name is Jerry Dike, director of Vehicle Titles and Registration Division.

This minute order proposes new rule 17.29 concerning vehicle registration renewals via the Internet, and this is in accordance with county requests and state E-government initiatives. This system seeks to ensure uniformity throughout the state and it will charge a break-even $2 additional fee to the public. This is in absence of a statewide system. Some counties have already begun implementing or they're considering independent registration renewal initiatives on the Internet, and we recommend your adoption of these rules.

MR. JOHNSON: Any questions?


MR. NICHOLS: Is there a motion?

MR. LANEY: So moved.

MR. NICHOLS: Second.

MR. JOHNSON: All in favor, signify by saying aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. JOHNSON: Motion carries.

MR. HEALD: Thank you, Jerry.

And we have one set of rules for final adoption, that being Agenda Item 7(b)(1), Carlos.

MR. LOPEZ: Good morning, commissioners. My name is Carlos Lopez, director of the Traffic Operations Division.

The minute order before you proposes final adoption of rules pertaining to environmental speed limits. These rules will allow TxDOT to lower speed limits up to 15 miles per hour for environmental considerations based on requests from the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission. Any proposed reduction must be a control measure within an area's air quality plan or be a part of the area's transportation conformity demonstration.

During the public comment period, we got comments from TNRCC and the North Central Texas Council of Governments. TNRCC appreciated the department's approach on this issue and indicated they intend to work to coordinate the development of environmental speed limits with MPOs.

The North Central COG had three comments. First, they were concerned about the impacts that the implementation of environmental speed limits may have on area's overall emissions budget. We responded that we're not the ultimate authority on strategies used in nonattainment areas and cannot offer the assurances that they were looking for. We forwarded this comment to TNRCC, and they have indicated their intent to work closely with the MPOs during the air quality development process.

The COG also expressed a concern that an environmental speed limit could be lower than that considered reasonable by a local area. In response, we noted that the safety of the traveling public is always our top priority and TxDOT will continually monitor all environmental speed limits and make any adjustments necessary to ensure safety.

The COG'S final comment involved the procedure by which a proposed speed limit reduction would be made by the TNRCC. They asked that the procedures be modified to allow MPOs to comment on such requests before they were submitted to TxDOT. We chose not to modify the rules since MPOs are already extensively involved in the transportation conformity process.

We recommend approval of this minute order for final adoption.

MR. JOHNSON: Any questions?

MR. NICHOLS: So move.

MR. LANEY: Second.

MR. JOHNSON: All in favor, signify by saying aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. JOHNSON: Motion carries.

MR. HEALD: Thank you, Carlos.

Agenda Item 7(c) under Rule Review, John Campbell.

MR. CAMPBELL: Good morning. John Campbell, director of the Right of Way Division.

This morning I'd like to present for your consideration this minute order which provides for the re-adoption of rules included in various sections of Title 43, Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 21 with regard to the operations and responsibilities of the TxDOT Right of Way Division.

The proposed rule review was published in the Texas Register on April 14, 2000, and no comments were received regarding the re-adoption of these sections. The reasons for adopting these sections continue to exist and we recommend your approval of this minute order.

MR. JOHNSON: Any questions?

MR. LANEY: So moved.

MR. NICHOLS: Second.

MR. JOHNSON: All in favor, signify by saying aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. JOHNSON: Motion carries.

MR. HEALD: Thank you, John.

Item number 8(a) under Programs, Al Luedecke.

MR. LUEDECKE: Al Luedecke with the Transportation Planning and Programming Division.

The minute order we bring you now authorizes programming authority to develop a four-lane divided facility on State Highway 195 from one mile south of FM 2484 south of Killeen to Interstate 35 north of Georgetown, and an interchange on State Highway 195 at Stagecoach Road.

This area along State Highway 195 has experienced considerable growth and an increase in traffic which has resulted in a degraded level of service. In certain sections, current traffic volumes along the corridor are approaching the minimum level of service and future traffic projections clearly indicate the capacity of this corridor as it exists in its two-lane configuration will be exceeded within the next five- to ten-year period.

This minute order provides Priority 2 status to the project in Category 13-A, State Funded Mobility, of the 2000 Unified Transportation Program for development purposes only. Total estimated construction cost for the proposed four-lane divided facility and interchange is $98.4 million. We recommend your approval.

MR. JOHNSON: Any questions?

MR. NICHOLS: So move.

MR. LANEY: Second.

MR. JOHNSON: All in favor, signify by saying aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. JOHNSON: Motion carries.

MR. HEALD: Thank you, Al. And we've already handled 8(b) previously. 8(c), go ahead.

MR. LUEDECKE: We bring you the third quarter program for disadvantaged counties to adjust matching fund requirements. In your books is Exhibit A that lists the projects and staff's recommended adjustments for each of them. The adjustments are based on the equations approved in earlier proposals. There are 25 applications in ten counties and the reduction in participation for these projects is $562,782. We recommend your approval.

MR. LANEY: So moved.

MR. NICHOLS: Second.

MR. JOHNSON: All in favor, signify by aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. JOHNSON: Motion carries.

MR. HEALD: Item number 9, the Department's Strategic Plan, and Kirby will be handling that.

MR. PICKETT: Kirby Pickett, deputy executive director.

The minute order today covering the TxDOT Strategic Plan for the years 2001 to 2005. This is required by statute each biennium. We are now entering our fifth biennium of using the strategic planning and performance budgeting system. This one is still a work in progress. I think you got all the changes to them, but there were changes to this as late as yesterday which I think you were furnished this morning.

The LBB and the Governor's Office of Budget and Planning instructions have become somewhat more detailed and much less flexible than they have in the past, much as the LAR has. A number of new requirements in this one: One is that an information resource strategic plan has to be submitted in conjunction with our overall agency's strategic plan, based on legislation from last session; and a customer service compact with Texans and customer service survey results, service standards and performance measures are included in this plan.

Of course, major definitions are included as a part of the Strategic Plan, identification of geographic service regions of the state, a plan for receiving electronic payment of monies received through the Internet, and demographic information addressing the aging of Texas' population -- and Wes would make some comment on this about me -- and the state's increased racial and ethnic diversity.

There is an increased emphasis in the plan by the LBB on performance measure attainment as the appropriation bill riders are implemented. If we as an agency do meet or exceed the major targets that are included in the plan, then TxDOT becomes eligible for additional employee compensation, no more money but we can exceed the 1.7 cap at that point. We have some increased flexibility in moving funding from one strategy to another, and if we do really good, then they do reduce the reporting requirements.

You have all seen this. We recommend that the fiscal year 2001-2005 Strategic Plan be approved, or staff recommends that, so we can submit it to the Governor's Office, LBB, and the other required officials. This is due June 1.

MR. JOHNSON: Any questions or observations?

MR. NICHOLS: They made all the corrections; the last draft I saw had the corrections I was concerned about. If you're waiting for a motion, I'll so move.

MR. LANEY: Second.

MR. JOHNSON: All in favor, signify by saying aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. JOHNSON: Motion carries.

MR. HEALD: Thank you.

Item number 10, Contracts, award or rejection of highway contracts, Elizabeth Boswell, and Elizabeth, I believe this is your first time to appear before the commission, and Elizabeth is the fairly new deputy director of the Construction Division.

MS. BOSWELL: Good morning. My name is Elizabeth Boswell. I'm the Construction Section director within the Construction Division, and I'm here today representing Mr. Thomas Bohuslav. He's our division director; he was unable to be here.

With regard to Item 10(1), authorization of this minute order will provide for the award or rejection of highway maintenance contracts let on May 3 and 4, 2000, whose engineers' estimated costs are $300,000 or more. Staff recommends award of all projects as shown in Exhibit A.

MR. NICHOLS: So move.

MR. JOHNSON: Second. All in favor, signify by saying aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. JOHNSON: Motion carries. Thank you.

MS. BOSWELL: With regards to item 10(2), authorization of this minute order will provide for the award or rejection of highway construction and building contracts let on May 3 and 4, 2000, as shown in Exhibit A.

Staff recommends rejection of two contracts located in Bexar and Camp counties as shown on page 3 and page 4 of Exhibit A. Both of these contracts are recommended for rejection as it was determined that the level of competition was insufficient, resulting in a bid amount that was unacceptably high.

Staff recommends award of all remaining contracts as shown in Exhibit A.

MR. JOHNSON: Can I have a motion?

MR. NICHOLS: I so move. I was also going to make a comment, not really a question. We've seen in the past couple of years such an increase in cost. It was good to see -- I think this is almost two months in a row where the bid prices actually came in a fair amount below the estimate. On the maintenance it was less than 8 percent below estimate and on the construction contracts, it was in the neighborhood of 5 percent below estimate, and we got over an average of four -- on the construction -- bids per, which I thought was very good. I'm glad to see that going back up. Anyway, that's all I have.

MR. JOHNSON: May those trends continue. I'll second the motion. All in favor, signify by saying aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. JOHNSON: Motion carries.

MR. HEALD: Thank you very much.

Agenda item number 11, Routine Minute Orders. As usual, I'll go through these and we'll cover these with one motion, and stop me if you'd like.

Starting with 11(a) Speed Zones, establish or alter regulatory and construction speed zones on various sections of highways in the state.

11(b) Load Zones, revision of load restrictions on various roads and bridges on the state highway system.

11(c) Highway Designation in Hood County, extend the designation of State Highway Loop 567 from its current terminus north of the city of Granbury at FM 51 westward and southward to Business US 377.

Steve, any comments?

MR. SIMMONS: No, sir.

MR. HEALD: 11(d) Right of Way Disposition, Purchase and Lease. In Rusk County, FM 782, consider the exchange of surplus right of way.

11(d)(2) Upshur County, FM 852, north side at Kelsey Creek northeast of Gilmer, consider the exchange of surplus right of way.

11(d)(3) in Webb County, State Highway Loop 20 at Century Boulevard in Laredo, consider the sale of a tract of surplus right of way to the abutting landowners.

11(d)(4) Wichita County, North Beverly Drive in Wichita Falls, consider the sale of a surplus maintenance site and improvements in Wichita Falls.

11(e) Eminent Domain Proceedings, request for eminent domain proceedings on non-controlled and controlled access highways, and there's a list in your book.

And Mr. Chairman, that completes the routine minute orders.

MR. JOHNSON: I'll entertain a motion.

MR. NICHOLS: So move.

MR. JOHNSON: Second. All in favor, signify by saying aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

MR. JOHNSON: Those motions carry.

MR. HEALD: Item number 12, Executive Session, we're not calling for an executive session, and under Open Comments we have one speaker that signed up, William A. Galerston who is going to speak on the recent amendments to the TMUTCD which impacts the use of ceramic traffic buttons.

MR. GALERSTON: Thank you, Chairman. Commissioners, Executive Director Heald, ladies and gentlemen of TxDOT.

I'm here on behalf of a Texas corporation Traffic Supply, Inc., and several other Texas corporations and their employees who are impacted by this recent manual guidelines changes which are known as Manual Notice 00-1. These manual changes relate to the use of raised pavement markers, and in essence, the manual notice states that effective immediately as of May 4, 2000, that it eliminates the use of non retro-reflective traffic buttons for simulating striping patterns and further states that thermoplastic or prefabricated pavement markings are the recommended striping material for use on all roadways.

Texas has a 40-plus year history of using ceramic markers on its roadways, particularly in the southern urban cities such as Houston. In those areas they use the buttons to simulate the striping instead of using the paint, or as required here, the thermoplastic striping. The effect of the changes that are proposed by the Traffic Operations Division and its immediate and retroactive implementation will effectively destroy 80 percent of the current demand for ceramic markers.

This will effectively destroy the industry that is currently and has for 40 years served TxDOT. This is an industry that has met all the requirements set by TxDOT with regards to the manufacturing production of ceramic markers. This manual guideline change, however you'd like to call it, is not only effective immediately, as I said which is what's stated in the manual itself dated May 4, it also states in the cover memorandum that the district engineers are at liberty to re-engineer any and all existing contracts that have already been let, provided that the contractors have not purchased those materials.

Now, the grievance that the industry has and what I'm here to air is that this effectively allows TxDOT and the contractors to destroy any and all business planning that has been done by this industry for several months, well into the year 2001. That based upon the contracts that are anticipated to be let between now and October 1 -- which apparently is another implementation date for these guidelines -- as of October 1, all future projects shall be engineered using the thermoplastic requirements.

It prevents them from manufacturing and selling the materials and products that they have developed and devised at the request of TxDOT. The complaint is that it kills the industry; it puts them out of business. What we'd like to see is a public comment period on the proposed changes; we'd like to see the guidelines that have already been adopted, that are already being implemented, that have already resulted in contracts being threatened to be canceled that were in the process of being delivered at the time.

We'd like to see these guidelines rescinded. We'd like to see them placed for public comment and consideration by the entire state, including a public comment period for the general motoring public. We'd like to see, if adoption is appropriate, a phase-in, not an immediate, not a retroactive policy and procedure but one that's phased in over several years.

If the materials that are being called to replace the 40-year-old tested materials of ceramic buttons are to actually be adopted, then the phase-in should take one to five years, whatever would be appropriate.

In the event that we cannot impose upon or prevail upon you, the commissioners, or TxDOT itself, to reconsider these guidelines, at the very, very bare minimum, we ask that TxDOT abide by its original position that states that these guidelines shall not be effective until October 1, 2000, that they not be made effective immediately, that they not be made effective retroactively, because we feel that this is not only unfair to us, it sets a bad precedent on behalf of TxDOT for future dealings with contractors, because it basically gives every single contractor who does business with TxDOT a position of incredible insecurity because you never know at what point in time, without any advance notice, that not only is your industry destroyed by the change in the guidelines in the use of materials, that they can actually go back and re-engineer and call for new materials on contracts that have already been let, much less those that you anticipate to be let in the future.

We're also going to ask that this be placed as an agenda item for next month's meeting. Thank you, sir.

MR. JOHNSON: One question. You sort of married the idea of an October 1 date and also a retroactive provision. Clarify in my mind how you can have both.

MR. GALERSTON: Well, I don't believe that you can have both, but if you look at the manual notice -- and I'm sorry I did not bring copies for everyone, but I'd be happy to share my copy here -- but if you look at the manual notice 00-1 on the front, it states effective immediately. If you will also look at the memorandum dated May 4 from the Traffic Operations Department, on the final page, page 5, it states: "These guidelines and standards sheets should be used with the October 2000 letting. Current projects may be field changed to reflect the new guidelines if the contractor has not already purchased the markers."

We have met with Mr. Lopez in the Traffic Operations Department and it is my understanding in my conversations with him that this is precisely the intent, that all projects that have already been engineered, the explanation was given to us that basically there's about a four-month lag time between the project being engineered, being sent to Austin, being approved, being sent back, the bid being put together, bids being sent out, and it's actually let, and that would basically be October from the May date. And the October implementation date is that all projects to be engineered going forward must comply with the guidelines.

It's also been explained to us that it may not be that difficult to re-engineer some of the projects that had not been let to the thermoplastic striping as reflected by the guidelines, and that the engineers should be allowed to do that as well.

Finally, it's been explained to us, and we have experienced this firsthand, for contracts that have been let, projects that are in process of being implemented, where we have products in our warehouses that are about to be shipped, the district engineers have changed or attempted to change those.

After the involvement of Mr. Lopez, we have prevented at least one situation of that happening, but we have no confidence, none whatsoever, that we'll not be faced with situations throughout the summer, well into 2001 where we are situated where we have the material to put out to provide to the contractors to put on the projects which have called for ceramic buttons, but they suddenly re-engineer it overnight and we're left holding the bag on those materials.

So right now we're on the horns. Do we stop production for fear that we're not going to be able to sell what we make, or do we continue to manufacture anticipating that TxDOT will continue to use them, they will not engineer the projects as they exist?

MR. NICHOLS: I have a question. You said that the industry was going to be destroyed because this was 8 percent.


MR. NICHOLS: Eight, eight zero.

MR. GALERSTON: The reduction of the use will be 80 percent of the current ceramic usage.

MR. NICHOLS: Eight zero, 80 percent.

MR. GALERSTON: Yes, sir.

MR. NICHOLS: Is that 80 percent of the entire United States or 80 percent of the state of Texas?

MR. GALERSTON: Well, in terms of the ceramic usage, TxDOT is pretty much the United States. As you know, you can't use ceramic buttons in the northern states. TxDOT, of course, is the largest consumer by far of all the states. There are some other states that use buttons but they tend to be the plastic variety. So when we talk about the United States, we're talking about Texas, basically.

MR. NICHOLS: All right. You answered my questions. Thanks.

MR. JOHNSON: Carlos, could you help me with basically the same question: why on one aspect we talk about the immediacy of this order and then on another we have a phase-in date of October 1?

MR. LOPEZ: Sure. First of all, the policy becomes effective for jobs that are going to letting for the October letting. At that point in time, all projects have to conform to the new raised pavement marker policy that was issued on May 4.

In between that time, we have some projects that are in the design stage. Because the districts know that this new policy will be coming into effect, it's always good for them to have design flexibility and allow them, if they're able to do so, to conform with the policy that's about to come into effect. Those jobs have not gone to letting, there are no contractual agreements made.

There are also jobs that have already been let that we feel it's desirable to have the districts have the ability to change order those to meet the new policy. For example, there are some jobs like the Ben White interchange, and I don't know if it's got ceramic buttons or not, but that was let in August of '99. By the time they put ceramic buttons down on that job, it will probably be the year 2003. It would not make a whole lot of sense in the year 2003 to try to put down a product that is no longer in line with the policy that was issued in the year 2000.

But there are also, as Bill mentioned, in the interest of fairness, there are some projects where material is about to be put down maybe in the next few months that already production has started, and in the interest of fairness, those projects ought to be able to go ahead and go on and put those buttons down. And we're going to give that guidance to the districts very shortly.

I'd like to also address maybe a couple of other points that Bill raised, if it's okay with you.


MR. LOPEZ: The reasons for the change on the ceramic buttons are threefold: we made them for RIF activity purposes, maintenance purposes, and standardization purposes. A non-reflective button, just by its name, at night does not reflect any light back to the driver. We feel it's better to have a stripe that people can see and light comes back to them, that's the main reason.

Maintenance is also a problem in high volume areas. Buttons pop up periodically and every once in a while when they start popping up, you don't get a continuous looking stripe in the daytime, so you don't have the appearance of the first class roadway that TxDOT tries to attain on its system.

Standardization. There are only about three or four districts using ceramic buttons on a large scale, the rest of the districts do not, and one thing we expect or would like for the drivers to see in Texas is the same kind of highway, whether they're in Odessa or whether they're in Houston.

And those are the three main business reasons why we chose to implement this policy. Now, ceramic buttons will still be allowed in work zones; it's a good idea to use them there. They'll be allowed for shoulder texturing treatments and places where no shoulders exist, so there will still be a use for ceramic buttons in this state, it just won't be to the extent on the lane lines that we had before.

MR. JOHNSON: Question?

MR. LANEY: The statement was made that when it comes to the use of ceramic buttons in the United States, Texas is sort of the United States. Are we the only ones that use ceramic buttons?

MR. LOPEZ: I think most of the Sunbelt states do use some type of raised reflective pavement markers. I haven't done any research to find out how many folks actually use non-reflective buttons, but we use the reflective buttons throughout the state, and the company that Bill is representing does also make those and we're going to expand the use of those type of buttons.

MR. LANEY: So has the industry basically been going the direction of these new -- nationally in the transportation industry in the direction of these new guidelines?

MR. LOPEZ: In Sunbelt states, raised pavement markers are a good thing to use because it provides good guidance at night. Where you have a great deal of snow, it's not a good idea, because they pop up every year and it's not a good investment of dollars. In those states they tend to use delineators on the side of the road to provide that same kind of guidance. We're trying to get away from so many delineators and use raised pavement markers.

MR. JOHNSON: This is just an occurrence to me that perhaps we ought to be uniform in the date that we use, but I do feature that there are some exceptions. I mean, you mentioned 71 and 35 where you have what I would refer to as a mega-project of high traffic count, high budget that is certainly down the road timewise that we would not want to do one thing if we are phasing out, especially when there's a period of time, a significant period of time between now and then, but incorporate that in our thinking but get more consistent on this October 1 date utilizing what I've since described.

MR. LOPEZ: And in our conversations, he did raise a good point. I think we have to have a fairness issue and we're prepared to do that, but it just can't be carte blanche, any job that's being let would have to not be able to change.

MR. JOHNSON: No. I think there needs to be some rational exceptions.

MR. LOPEZ: Yes, we agree.

MR. JOHNSON: Mr. Monroe, did you have anything?

MR. MONROE: I would remind the commission that this was not placed on the agenda so any final decision, of course, would not be appropriate at this time.

MR. LANEY: Let me follow up on what Johnny was saying. Are there too many projects to do this on a case-by-case basis, or can you kind of work this fairness issue that the chairman was referring to into the overall dealings with the industry?

MR. LOPEZ: As far as a change order process?

MR. LANEY: Uh-huh.

MR. LOPEZ: The districts do have discretion on what jobs they can or do want to change order, so we're going to give them the guidance on which jobs maybe they ought to not change order and which ones they can still consider for change ordering, and that happens in all kinds of different items within TxDOT construction projects.

MR. JOHNSON: Heeding Mr. Monroe's advice, I don't think we can come to a decision here, but we'll be alert to this issue.

Is there anyone else or any other issue that needs to come before the commission?

(No response.)

MR. JOHNSON: If there are none, I'll entertain a motion to adjourn.

MR. NICHOLS: So move.

MR. LANEY: Second.

MR. JOHNSON: For the record, it is now 11:37 a.m. and we stand adjourned.

(The meeting was concluded at 11:37 a.m.)


MEETING OF: Texas Transportation Commission
LOCATION: Austin, Texas
DATE: May 25, 2000

I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 108, inclusive, are the true, accurate, and complete transcript prepared from the verbal recording made by electronic recording by Penny Bynum before the Texas Department of Transportation.

(Transcriber) (Date)
On the Record Reporting, Inc.
3307 Northland, Suite 315
Austin, Texas 78731

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