Forum Focuses on Highways


Forum Focuses on Highways

Texas Secretary of State addressed TxDot officials and contractors at the Heavy Highway Forum held in Pharr. (VBR)
Texas Secretary of State David Whitley addresses TxDot officials and contractors at the Heavy Highway Forum held in Pharr. (VBR)

Texas Secretary of State David Whitley expressed confidence that the Texas Department of Transportation’s 10-year, $70 billion statewide infrastructure program will bode well for the future economic development in the Rio Grande Valley.

“As TxDot begins to the rollout of the Unified Transportation Program bill, it’s even more important that we continue to communicate with one another to accomplish our goals of enhancing capacity, maintenance and safety of our critical infrastructure,” Whitley said at the Heavy Highway Forum in Pharr organized by the Regional Hispanic Contractors Association.

“I have always believed that when the Valley succeeds, Texas succeeds,” he said. “Infrastructure is important to us, the Valley is important to us.”

The forum brought together contractors, TxDot officials and community leaders. The day of collaboration concentrated on highway project opportunities for historically underutilized business contractors.

Engineers from the Pharr, Laredo and Corpus Christi TxDot districts gave updates on highway projects. All were then available for networking with the contractors. Also speaking was Bill Hale, chief engineer for TxDot project planning and development. Martin Rodin, director of professional engineering procurement services for TxDot, also addressed the audience.

A panel of experts in highway contract procurement discussed and fielded questions from contractors. Their discussion focused on traditional versus alternative project delivery methods in the heavy highway industry. They also gave advice on how firms can position themselves to participate in the projects coming to South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley. This includes professional and construction service firms.

“With the incredible growth we are seeing, the biggest challenge right now is ensuring that we have the best infrastructure to facilitate trade and cross-border commerce that serves the engine of our economic success,” Whitley said. “I am extremely encouraged by all the collaboration I have seen between the public and private sectors as you work to bring even more economic development, growth and prosperity to this region.”

George Cox is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years experience as a newspaper writer and editor. A Corpus Christi native, he started his career as a reporter for The Brownsville Herald after graduating from Sam Houston State University with a degree in journalism. He later worked on newspapers in Laredo and Corpus Christi as well as northern California. George returned to the Valley in 1996 as editor of The Brownsville Herald and in 2001 moved to Harlingen as editor of the Valley Morning Star. He also held the position of editor and general manager for the Coastal Current, a weekly entertainment magazine with Valleywide distribution. George retired from full-time journalism in 2015 to work as a freelance writer and legal document editor. He continues to live in Harlingen where he and his wife Katherine co-founded Rio Grande Valley Therapy Pets, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising public awareness of the benefits of therapy pets and assisting people and their pets to become registered therapy pet teams.