Transportation

New TxDOT District Engineer Discusses Houston’s Mobility Challenges

A new district engineer is heading TxDOT’s operations in Houston. Quincy Allen has been with TxDOT for the past 30 years, and he now oversees hundreds of miles of roads in a six-county area. News 88.7 Transportation Reporter Gail Delaughter recently sat down with Allen at TxDOT’s Houston headquarters to talk about the challenges of planning massive projects.

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TxDOT Houston District Engineer Quincy Allen oversees operations in a six-county region.

Delaughter: What do you oversee as part of your job?

Allen: It is, in fact the biggest district in Texas. We oversee Harris County and surrounding counties. Our district is made up of six counties. It’s Harris and the counties surrounding Harris County with the exception of Chambers and Liberty.   

We have a little over a thousand employees, TxDOT employees, in our district to help manage the work we do. 500 of them are officed here in this building, and then we have 10 maintenance sections and seven area offices that are strategically located within the district. And again, we’re responsible for TxDOT projects that have state and federal funding, and we take those things from the planning stage to the design stage, and then the construction. Generally we hire contractors to do those jobs and we administer the contracts.

Delaughter: What’s the role of contractors in these projects in terms of both design and execution of these projects?

Allen: We do some of the design work for these projects in-house. But obviously our district is so big and the effort is very large, it is necessary that we use design consultants. We partner with the consulting community to accomplish that effort, to get our designs out. The plans have got to be prepared in order to meet the funding that’s available and certainly to keep our construction moving forward. I can’t imagine us doing this work without the private sector partnerships that we have.

As far as the construction goes, almost all of that work is done by private contractors. Contractors are pre-qualified. We have a bidding process. They bid on the project. TxDOT’s role in that is to administer the contract. In other words, we develop a contract, it has specifications. Our role is to make sure that the specifications in the contract are followed.

Delaughter: TxDOT does more than just freeways. You operate ferry systems and other transportation delivery systems around the state. What about multimodal?

Allen: Immediately freight rail comes to mind. If we can work with our rail partners and do further development on a rail system, it’ll help us move freight through the area. If we move freight on rail, (it) gets some of the trucks out of the corridor.

You mentioned ferry systems. There are two ferries in Texas, one at Galveston-Port Bolivar, the other in the Corpus Christi area. Ours is the bigger of those two. The other thing we do on a smaller but equally important scale, is interaction with pedestrians and bicycles.

We’ve been dealing with the city and the federal government in developing bike paths in the area. There’s a lot of effort both with the City of Houston and TxDOT to make those paths connect better, and we’ve been fortunate to be involved in some of those projects. I’ve been riding with some of the guys in past months and it’s exciting to see that system of bike paths come together.

We also do some work with rural airports. We’ve got more involvement than ever in different phases of transportation.

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Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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