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Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership
Houston-Galveston Area Council Transportation Policy Council
by Jim Guidry
Friday, August 26, 2011

John Barton, who on Thursday was named interim executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation, today updated the Houston-Galveston Area Council Transportation Council on development of SH 99, the Grand Parkway. 
MP3  RealPlayer

“It is certainly a tremendous project, an outer loop around the Greater Houston and Harris County area, approximately 180 miles in length,” Barton said, noting that TxDOT is working with governments and stakeholders in the H-GAC region to move forward on the project. “The objectives are simply to find a way to move forward with building as much of the Grand Parkway’s minimum scope as defined by that market evaluation waiver agreement (with the entities) as we possibly can to complete segments D, E, F-1, F-2, and G by 2015.”

Barton also talked to the TPC about the retirement of TxDOT Houston District Engineer Delvin Dennis, a member of the TPC.

“Delvin is one who has always been quick to speak his mind in a way that is clear but also tactful,” Barton said. “He tells the emperor when he has no clothes on when others will not; and he’s an intelligent man that has worked hard - not only for your great community here in Harris and Galveston County area and surrounding communities but also for the entire state of Texas.”

The TPC approved a resolution in honor of Dennis, who has served TxDOT since 1980 and as district engineer since 2008. 

Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County CEO George Greanias also noted the retirement of John Sedlak, a 28 year employee of METRO who has chosen to take early retirement as part of the organization’s “right-sizing” program offering incentives to reduce the size of the staff. 
MP3  RealPlayer

Greanias describing the retirement as an "unintended consequence" of the staff reduction.

“He has given so much to this community that I cannot begin to chronicle all the ways in which he’s served this region selflessly despite enormous frustrations, despite substantial barriers, but always optimistic; always cool, calm and collected, always willing to see all sides of the discussion and always willing to find a way to move things forward,” Greanias said. 

Patrick Welsh, assistant director of community development for the City of Sugar Land, briefed the TPC on the city’s Comprehensive Mobility Plan. Listen: MP3  RealPlayer

“This is a plan our city council adopted in May of this year,” Welsh said.  “Sugar Land has come a long way from the time of the sugar mill, the sugar refinery, to the master planned communities like First Colony and Telfair from the ‘70s through today and now we’ve got the 32-acre more dense urban town square.”

He said the city is supporting various modes of transportation, including plans for roads and commuter transit and a hike and bike master plan.  

Sugar Land Mayor Pro Tem, Jacqueline Baly Chaumette added that a residents committee spent a lot of time assisting the city with the plan. Listen: MP3  RealPlayer

The TPC approved amendments to the 2011-2014 Transportation Improvement Program and the 2035 Regional Transportation, including six transit projects providing improved transit access to suburban job centers and/or for disabled persons.

All other action items on the agenda were approved. Agenda

All votes were unanimous, with Galveston City Council Member Dianna Puccetti, Houston City Council Member Stephen Costello, Missouri City Assistant City Manager Scott Elmer, Pasadena City Council Member Darrel Morrison, Brazoria County Commissioner Matt Sebesta, Galveston County Commissioner Ken Clark and Liberty County Commissioner Norman Brown
absent and not represented by alternates. 

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