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Meeting “Big Change” in Texas: Key Takeaways from 5th Infraday Texas

Apr 10, 2024
Austin, Texas skyline

At the recently concluded 5th Infraday Texas event, STV’s team of participants and panel moderators arrived in Austin, TX at a moment of generational change and significant challenge in Texas.

As Austin Mayor Kirk Watson noted in his keynote address, “big things lead to big change.” In this context, Mayor Watson was referring to the nearly $25 billion in infrastructure projects currently under development in the Austin area alone. These include major capital improvements at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport; significant enhancements on one of Central Texas’s main thoroughfares, I-35 (a portion of which STV is serving as the prime schematic engineer); and Project Connect, Austin’s new transit plan that will better connect the region via light rail and other modes of public transit.

From these momentous projects comes the great challenge of workforce development – developing the people who are going to build, operate and maintain this transformational infrastructure.

For a professional services firm like STV, these challenges mean our partnerships with clients and local stakeholders in communities across Texas and the nation are even more crucial as these projects must jockey for resources and cast a wide net seeking innovative ideas to maximize every public dollar.

Our clients need solutions that navigate the challenges to deliver these projects on time and on budget, while keeping a holistic eye on the future of transportation

In addition to I-35 in Austin, our organization is currently engaged in several other vital infrastructure programs throughout the state, including the planning and project management of civil landside improvements at Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport, the Terminal B redevelopment at Houston Airport, and various other infrastructure programs that strive to improve mobility and connectivity via highways, transit and more. With so much major infrastructure either under construction or in the planning or design stages, our clients need solutions that navigate the challenges to deliver these projects on time and on budget, while keeping a holistic eye on the future of transportation and how the movement of people and goods may change over the next 50 years.

Central to these solutions is helping our clients develop plans and leverage new transportation technologies that will accommodate so much concurrent infrastructure development throughout the state. In addition to the challenge presented by each of the state’s major hubs investing in some combination of improved transit, highways and airports, development is moving at an aggressive pace to meet the demands of Texas’s seismic population growth – more than 40% since 2000. As the number of projects increase in volume and increase in size, our Texas clients are looking to organizations like ours to identify innovations grounded in traditional engineering expertise and practice to utilize limited resources – time, money and people.

The connective tissue for all these topics is digital transformation

That’s why our team focused on crucial value add topics at Infraday Texas, such as digital project delivery, including project controls and emerging project management software; digital roadway infrastructure that fosters enhance connectivity, intelligence and data-driven decision-making for improved roadway safety and efficiency; and the optimization of airport infrastructure, including the exploration of funding mechanisms like public-private partnerships, capacity planning, and how to better leverage data analytics.

The connective tissue for all these topics is digital transformation – a trend that is shaping infrastructure across the globe. Whether its deploying project management or asset management software that allow our clients to streamline construction and create infrastructure that can be successfully maintained and operational for decades to come or utilizing data to either prioritize project investment or enhance the customer experience through improved communications, there have never been more digital tools at our industry’s disposal. One of the messages that was loud and clear at Infraday Texas is that our clients need teams like STV’s to better identify the optimal tools to use for their programs so that these “big things” can be executed.

The STV team looks forward to continuing this dialogue with our clients and industry peers at the 6th Infraday California in Los Angeles on April 18.

Brady Babbit headshot

Brady Babbitt, PMI-SP, is a project controls manager with nearly 15 years of experience supervising and providing estimating, cost management, scheduling and project management services for various large-scale capital improvement projects. He was the moderator for the “The Great Debate: Build vs Buy” panel.

James Kuhr headshot

James Kuhr is STV’s Texas mobility and data solutions leader. Based in Austin, TX, he has extensive experience in the public sector where he most recently led an enterprise initiative to deploy and support emerging transportation technologies, including autonomous vehicles and infrastructure, electric vehicles, digital roadway infrastructure and big data. He was the moderator for the “Driving Efficiency and Service Excellence through Digital Transformation” panel.

Wade Strong headshot

Wade Strong, P.E., is an STV vice president and has decades of experience managing the design and construction of more than $5 billion worth of infrastructure improvements, including highways, transit and aviation, in Texas. He is currently the program director for DFW’s civil landside improvement program. He was the moderator for “Soaring Success: Optimizing Texas’ Airports for Strategic Growth and Operational Excellence.”

Adrian Pearmine headshot

Adrian Pearmine, P.E., is STV’s Western mobility technology solutions leader. In this role, he leads the firm’s emerging technology solutions efforts with a primary focus on the West and Texas/Mountain regions.  Adrian is leading coordination efforts with Infraday for conference event planning and participation.