Of the 60 projects funded by a $302.1 million bond program approved by Travis County voters and commissioners in 2017, 50 are on schedule, eight are on schedule to be mostly completed by the December 2022 deadline, and two are behind schedule and will not be completed until after the December 2022 deadline, said Jessy Milner, chief operating officer of Frontline Consulting.
The bond program includes nearly $185 million for roadway and parks projects approved by voters in November 2017, nearly $95 million for critical safety projects approved by commissioners, and $22 million to address additional costs associated with updated rainfall and flood plain data released as part of a study called Atlas 14.
In order to reach what Public Works Director Morgan Cotten called “an aggressive deadline” of Dec. 31, 2022, the county has hired program manager consultant Frontline Consulting and general engineering consultant Travis Transportation Partners.
Milner attributed the delays, in part, to the procurement process, in which private companies bid for contracts to complete certain projects. So far, the procurement process for bond projects has averaged 190 days, which is nearly two months longer than the 132 days the county had planned.
“There have been some growing pains, but this is a fundamental paradigm shift,” Milner said in a presentation to Travis County commissioners March 5.
Over a year into the five-year bond program, only $22.5 million of the $302.1 million budget—or 7.5 percent—has been allocated. Milner said this is because most of the projects remain in the design phase, which costs significantly less than construction.
“I am concerned about not meeting our December 2022 date—just have to say it—so I’m going to continue to push on y’all to see if we can tighten those projects up that … won’t be substantially complete by 2022,” County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said. “I have as a goal to go back to Travis County residents and say, ‘When we bond for these projects, we have a timeline; we get them done, and then we come back for the next tranche, and you can rely upon us that will come in on time and under budget.”