ASCE Texas Section Legislative Update >> August 2020
The ASCE Texas Section’s Government Affairs Committee (GAC) has been hard at work since the beginning of 2020. This unprecedented pandemic has threatened the Architectural, Engineering, and Construction (A/E/C) industry and the state’s economy this year. Despite these challenges, the Texas Section GAC has not wavered in working to meet the needs of our members by contacting our policy makers to educate and advocate on behalf of Texas Civil Engineers.
Engineers deemed Essential Workers amid COVID-19 Pandemic
Early in the outbreak, our Section President Susan K. Roth PE, PMP sent a letter to Governor Abbott asking that civil engineering be considered an essential service. In response to updated guidance from the Department of Homeland Security about the essential infrastructure workforce, ASCE sent a similar letter to the National Governors Association urging the executives of each state to deem engineering an essential service for public works and the nation’s energy grid. Through the collaboration of active members, our voices were heard, and we have been able to continue our work on building and maintaining Texas’ critical infrastructure needs.
TXDOT approves $4.3 billion to build new lanes on I-35 through Austin
April 2020: ASCE Texas Section GAC members encouraged Section membership to send letters of support to the Texas Transportation Commission (TTC) regarding the Austin I-35 expansion project. The Texas Section wrote a letter to the Commission stating that the proposed I-35 Capital Express funding solution is a bold regional and statewide vision that is long overdue and would benefit all Texans.
TTC voted to approve a plan to boost the I-35 Capital Express Project, which Commission Leaders say will help to alleviate traffic congestion in one of the worst traffic choke points in Austin. The state projects an increase of 116,000 vehicles/day on the Austin stretch of I-35 by 2040.
The project funding will come from three sources: $3.4 billion in discretionary funds, $600 million from projects proposed by the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO), and $300 million from the 2021 Unified Transportation Program that TTC will act on in August 2020.
ASCE Houston comments on proposed by-laws for the Harris County Community Resilience Task Force
July 2020: The Harris County Flood Control Task Force is in the process of reshaping the Harris County Community Resilience Task Force to reflect a broader approach to the infrastructure challenges and opportunities in Harris County.
Harris County aims to establish an Infrastructure Resilience Team (IRT) made up of representatives from County departments to develop and guide implementation of a 2050 Harris County Flood and Infrastructure Resilience Plan. These efforts are designed to work together to promote multidisciplinary resilience across Harris County.
Michael F. Bloom PE, ENV SP, BCEE, CFM serves as the Public Affairs Committee Chair for the ASCE Houston Branch. He led the effort to provide comments and testimony on the Community Resilience Task Force Bylaws that will serve as a governing document and lay out the purpose, structure, scope, and procedures for the Task Force.
United for Infrastructure: A Week to Champion America’s Infrastructure
United for Infrastructure, formerly Infrastructure Week, is September 14-21, 2020 and will be “A Week to Champion America’s Infrastructure”. The campaign will include emails to legislators and social media outreach events. Please stay tuned to Texas Civil Engineer for more details.
ASCE Texas Section GAC is boosting involvement on the Local level
**If you are interested in leading these efforts locally, please contact [email protected]**
Volunteer representation is needed in:
- Brazos Branch
- Central Texas Branch
- Corpus Christi Branch
- Northeast Texas Branch
- Rio Grande Valley Branch
- San Antonio Branch
- Southeast Texas Branch
- West Texas Branch
Written & compiled by Tiffany Reed-Villarreal PE, ENV SP, VP for Professional Affairs