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The Flow of Progress….Enhancing Mobility In Redevelopment Projects

by Scott Saenger
Vice President, H&H Deputy Practice Leader
Jones|Carter


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With many neighborhoods in urban centers across the United States undergoing redevelopment, engineering firms are facing a range of new challenges. Some of which are more complex than others – for example when redeveloping an industrial site with an outdated infrastructure such as the Hardy Yards in Houston. The Hardy Yards Redevelopment is formerly the Southern Pacific and Union Pacific rail service yard that dated back to the 1800s near the corner of N. Main St. and Burnett St., two blocks north of I-10 by the new MetroRail line, and just east of UH-Downtown. The site was cleared for environmental rehabilitation back in 2003 in preparation for redevelopment. Revitalization plans focus on an urban, high density and transit-oriented Mixed Use development.

 

However, before a developer could begin construction, the site’s drainage system had to be improved to address street ponding and allow for roadway and pedestrian mobility enhancements. The former surface area of Hardy Yards was impervious and the neighborhood adjacent to the north had a history of street flooding and street ponding. Hardy Street had drainage that fed to Buffalo Bayou and Burnett Street had drainage that flowed to White Oak. To provide a drainage system that meets today’s criteria and develop a long-term solution that would help increase access to the area, Jones|Carter worked with the City of Houston’s flooding management and water department as well as other key stakeholders to develop an answer that would get buy-in from all stakeholders, including neighbors in adjacent neighborhoods.

 

Hardy Yards - in article
J|C’s plans included improvements to the area’s drainage and storm sewer system.

 

After conducting research, Jones|Carter developed a plan that leveraged the low depth of the existing storm sewer. Drainage capacity was increased by making the pipe 60” to 66” in size to replace the 42” to 48” pipe. At the same time, Jones|Carter was required to implement new internal drainage to get the water to flow from the site to the new sewer system. The larger pipe sizes and reduced slopes of proposed sewer provide additional storage in the storm sewer and improve how the overall system functions during an extreme event. As a result of these improvements, the neighborhood has already increased in both value and attractiveness.

 

Improving the Overall Community with Infrastructure Improvements

The new storm sewer system benefited both the redeveloped Hardy Yards neighborhood and its neighbors to the north through the following:

  • Reducing the 2-year hydraulic grade of the system and street ponding.
  • Significantly reducing 2-year hydraulic grade for the storm sewer system along Burnett Street because of the downstream location of proposed storm sewer tie-in. Does not adversely impact areas upstream or downstream of project limits.
  • Reducing the 2-year hydraulic gradient of the system including at Main Street tunnel, where critical elevations are exceeded in existing conditions.

 

Part of a 5 phase redevelopment of Hardy Yards, the sewer system project was done in coordination with a range of public stakeholders. Intense pre-work to engage the client and the effected community in advance have laid the groundwork to create a highly desirable, close-in neighborhood, capable of changing the landscape in this underserved area.

 

The Hardy Yards project was nestled in the heart of downtown Houston so the work had major effects on the community.

 

Jones|Carter worked on an ongoing basis with multiple public entities including the City of Houston, METRO, and CenterPoint Energy throughout execution of this project. To that point, Jones|Carter made a number of transportation improvements to increase pedestrian mobility, including partial tunnel removal and a signalized intersection at Burnett Street as well as working with Metro to allow for easy pedestrian access from transit station to sidewalk along Burnett Street and other parts of the development.

 

During both design and construction phases, Jones|Carter met regularly with the client to not only address issues and concerns, but also to maintain project continuity and quality of deliverables.

 

Hardy Yards
J|C collaborated with City of Houston, METRO, and CenterPoint Energy to manage the transportation infrastructure aspects of the project.

 

Enhancing Your Development with Public Infrastructure Reimbursements

by Clayton Black, Chief Strategy and Business Development Officer
and Darren Willis, Division Manager
Jones|Carter


If you’re like most retail developers, making infrastructure improvements to accommodate your new development can be a financial burden. Sometimes it can be a deal breaker. But it doesn’t have to be. Whether you’re considering a one-acre retail development or a multi-thousand-acre master planned community, there are ways to recoup your costs through reimbursement dollars available from public entities. These funds can be put towards public utilities such as water lines, storm sewer improvements, sanitary sewer improvements and roadway improvements. Some entities even have the authority to reimburse left turn lane bays or a signal improvement.

The funds are there. But if you don’t ask, you won’t get them.

 

Here are the questions you need to ask when you know you need to make a public infrastructure improvement:

1) Is the development inside the boundaries of a public entity that has reimbursement powers, such as a management district, a TIRZ or a water district?

2) Is the infrastructure you need to build ultimately going to serve more than one user?

3) If your development is located in a City, is your development something that will be an economic driver for the area? Will it result in more jobs in the area, and bring in sales tax?  Also, is the jurisdiction with public-private partnership authority excited about the project?  If so, the City may be interested in entering into an interlocal agreement or Chapter 380/381 agreement as a way to contribute public dollars to the project.

Taking five minutes with your engineering firm to ask these questions can save you significant dollars.

 

Bottom line benefits

Typically, reimbursement dollars are negotiable and often are reimbursed 100% for the public infrastructure costs. There is even public money available for amenities you don’t have to implement but may make your project look better, including pedestrian and bicycle access, building facades and landscaping where permanent maintenance can be deferred to a Management District.  In addition to the money savings, there are functional and aesthetic benefits to reimbursement dollars. Public infrastructure improvements may improve storm drainage to reduce flooding, streets can be improved as a way to create a more visually appealing entrance to your project and ease vehicle access, and landscaping can be enhanced to make your property more attractive and attract tenants and customers.

 

Being in the know can help you seal the deal

A lot of detail developers aren’t aware that funds are available for public infrastructure improvements. The downside is these public improvements will need to be constructed whether the developer can secure public funds or not. Even worse, some developers will disqualify a project in the due diligence stage because of public infrastructure costs, without looking at the potential public funds available for reimbursement. Hopefully the information above describes a strategy for turning public infrastructure improvements from a development cost into an opportunity to partner with a local entity to accomplish their public infrastructure requirements while also improving the quality of your development

 

What’s the best way to get started?

Make sure you hire an engineering firm that understands how to secure private-public partnership dollars when they’re available in the jurisdiction you’re working in, and has the relationships to get it done. Do this in the Due Diligence phase before you buy the property. The earlier you can start the process the better because the time it takes to secure public reimbursement funds does affect your project schedule.

As a proven engineering firm for water districts and special districts in the State of Texas, we understand the public side and where those dollars come from and leverage our expertise on the private side to help you find those dollars.  At Jones|Carter, we look at public reimbursements as a team to see if the public infrastructure reimbursement dollars are worth the schedule impacts, and provide guidance to help you make an informed decision regarding public infrastructure reimbursement for your development.

Real World Learning…Texas A&M Survey Camp May 15th to 26th

by Doug Bramwell
Surveying Manager
Jones|Carter


Survey Camp

 

Back in old army days, the mechanics of surveying were included in the required civil engineering classes.  In those times, knowing how to survey and take proper field measurements was equivalent to being able to use Manning’s equation for open channel flow, or performing dirt volume calculations.  As time marched on, classes became more and more specialized, removing from them the surveying component that existed; and as the number of required hours to graduate were revised, the survey component of those classes were removed.  That capstone design course that used to occur over the summer in Junction, Texas, was changed to a shorter duration class at Riverside Campus, which has now been rebranded as the RELLIS Campus, and eventually removed from the required curriculum completely.

 

It wasn’t until 2001 when the Civil Engineering Advisory Committee told the Texas A&M Civil Engineering Department that in general all A&M civil engineering students lacked the practical knowledge and application of land surveying.  To help addresses this problem, Bob Jones, Class of 1969, and cofounder of Jones|Carter, asked Carlos P. Cotton, Class of 1973, to design a senior level survey course which provides an overall curriculum of land surveying.  In May of 2002, Jones|Carter, along with other industry leaders and in conjunction with Texas A&M University, offered a two week mini-mester survey course to all the junior and senior level civil engineering students to learn how to succeed in an engineering firm, and lead a new generation of engineers… which is commonly known as Survey Camp.

 

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Now in its 15th year, the two-week Survey Camp provides real world experience and learning through four key components:

  1. Topographic surveys – Completing a topographic survey from the data the students obtained in the field, utilizing state-of-the-art equipment and creating a topographic map of the area surveyed using CAD.
  2. Construction site staking – Learning how to read construction plans, and staking for construction pavement, waterlines, fire hydrants, storm sewer, storm inlets, sanitary sewer, and property corners.
  3. Boundary surveying – Read and interpret recorded deeds, plat and easements from the public record, plotting out these deeds and fitting them together, learning the dignity of calls and participating in a boundary analysis, and preparing a final boundary survey drawing along with a metes and bounds of the tract.
  4. Platting – Taking a piece of land with all the constraints of adjacent roadway, drainage, etc. and providing a subdivision of the parent tract into new roadways and lots for sale by our fictional land developer.

 

Class is held for a minimum of eight hours a day, six days a week either being “in the office” (the computer lab in the Civil Engineering building), or “in the field” (out in the fields of the RELLIS Campus). These young engineers are exposed to and get to use all types of equipment such as a standard total stations and data collectors, robotic total stations, GPS w/GLONASS, as well as different office and field techniques and procedures necessary for successful civil engineering projects.

 

 

By the end of this two-week accredited course, students are able to identify, formulate and apply their surveying skills to solve civil engineering problems, are better equipped to work on multi-disciplinary teams, and have a better understanding of the professional and ethical responsibility in conducting surveys. What’s more, students learn about the business side of surveying.

 

Most of all, after attending Survey Camp, these engineering students are much more valuable and are better prepared for employment. With the understanding of how surveying data is collected, and their ability to utilize this data, these young civil engineers are that much further ahead on the road to a successful and fulfilling career.

 

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The Path to a Successful Public-Private Relationship…listening, adjusting, and transparency.

by Chelsea Young
Municipal and District Services Project Manager
Jones|Carter


It’s a perennial question: what’s the secret to a great relationship? In public/private relationships listening and being prepared to make adjustments is the answer. One such case is the recent Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan for The Woodlands. The Woodlands Township is tucked away in a beautifully wooded community 27 miles north of Houston, Texas. It’s home to people that love its easy access to nature and 126 parks. More specifically, it’s a community where residents love to walk in nature and bicycle on 205 miles of concrete pathways.

 

Although The Woodlands Development Company had originally developed an extensive forested pathway network, there were known gaps in the overall pathway system, and residents wanted more direct access to their destination. So, in 2015 The Woodlands Township decided the creation of a Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan would be the first step towards making the community a safer and more connected place to walk, run, and bike. The end goal was to make The Woodlands a world-class pedestrian and bicycle friendly community over the next few decades. The Woodlands is already nationally designated a Bronze Level “Bicycle Friendly Community” by The League of American Bicyclists. But to reach the next level, or higher, they needed a master plan.

 

After an RFP, Jones|Carter was selected for the master plan effort. The first step was to create a plan in collaboration with key stakeholders by listening to their wants and needs.

 

Collaborating with the community  

 

Residents were involved in the development of the draft plan through the formation of a steering committee, a public meeting for community members and an online questionnaire was created and distributed to the public in late fall 2015 to gain input on what the community most wanted as it relates to walking, running and biking. There were 1,384 responses to the questionnaire in total, which contained 33 questions on topics including demographics, commute characteristics, and general walking and bicycling preferences and opinions. The people had spoken and Jones|Carter had listened.

 

Keeping the Process Open and Transparent

 

Throughout the process, any meetings Jones|Carter had were publicized, and every stakeholder meeting was published online so that everyone could be aware of the project and its progress. In addition to doing outreach with people in the community, a special community organization of cyclists reached out to Jones|Carter. The Easy Riders Bicycling Group, a casual, fun group of women that plan mostly off-street weekly rides throughout The Woodlands, approached Jones|Carter to partake in one of their morning group rides.  The Jones|Carter team eagerly participated and observed and listened to the desires and concerns of the riders as it pertains to overall bicycle accessibility within The Woodlands. The firm took what they heard from participants on this casual ride and included it in the plan, as well as encouraged riders to stay in touch and involved with the planning process through the public meetings and online publications.

 

This transparency benefitted everyone. By having a good understanding of the public’s desires, the process for completing the plan was streamlined, and the Board of Directors was able to see exactly what the community wanted and did not want.

 

With input and involvement from the community, including representatives from various Village Associations, Bike The Woodlands Coalition members, Montgomery and Harris counties, and others as a part of a Steering Committee, in fall of 2016, Jones|Carter presented a draft to the board of directors, and many people from the public were able to speak about concerns developing certain off-street trails.  The board heard this and recommended that Jones|Carter revise the plan recommendations accordingly, and then to come back the next month to present it for final approval. Jones|Carter listened to their recommendations, and returned with a revised plan based on public input as well as direction from the board which was approved as a final document.

 

The first of its kind for The Woodlands, The Woodlands Township Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan will assist The Township with planning for walking and biking projects over time.

 

The plan includes:

 

  • Development of an on-street bicycle lane East to West along Lake Woodlands Drive from Lake Front Circle to Woodlands Parkway
  • Development of a new shared use path (pedestrians and cyclists allowed) from North to South that would provide direct access to retail on the southwest corner of Research Forest Drive and Kuykendahl Road where no pathway currently exists
  • Adding a little over one-half mile segment of new sidepath along the south side of Research Forest Drive to ensure students can reach their schools without crossing a major roadway
  • Providing a connection to the portion of The Woodlands located on the east side of Interstate 45, to allow more residents to access the core of The Woodlands retail, educational, and recreational facilities
  • Adding sidepaths leading to the three Park & Ride locations, stemming from the existing pathways to give pedestrians and bicyclists safe access to Park & Ride facilities

 

Woodlands Bike Path (in article picture)
The Woodlands Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan included improvements to multiple sections of the paths.

 

With its experience in planning, engineering and knowledge of the funding and implementation process, Jones|Carter was able to help The Woodlands Township in most every aspect of the project.  In addition to working together with John Ciccarelli of Bicycle Solutions from San Francisco and M2L Associates, Inc. of Houston, the firm also leveraged the expertise of its multiple internal departments that include not only the Public Planning Practice, but the Transportation Department as well who specifically assisted with traffic-related analysis to develop the on-street recommendations for the plan.

 

By listening, adjusting, and being transparent, a positive relationship was forged, and a positive outcome was achieved. One last point:  May is National Bike Month, and specifically Bike The Woodlands Coalition is hosting over forty cycling-related events all month.  As die-hard cyclists and cycling advocates, Jones|Carter is not only participating in “Bike Month” events, but is also a gold-level sponsor. http://www.bikethewoodlands.org/

Director of Marketing and Business Development Focuses on Strategic Vision and Organizational Growth

Chang, Tiffany

Tiffany Chang, PMC-II, is the Director of Marketing and Business Development at Jones|Carter. She has more than 15 years of experience in global strategic planning and targeted market segmentation and analysis, and is an authority on implementing and realigning business development strategies to unlock both short and long-term growth. Tiffany has developed comprehensive marketing plans and market-led business development initiatives that increased market share and helped position organizations such as GE Oil & Gas and Halliburton.

“We are very excited to have Tiffany as our Director of Marketing and Business Development. She has significant experience creating and implementing winning business development strategies and effective marketing campaigns which will be valuable to Jones|Carter as we move forward with our strategic plan.” – Robert A. Aylward, President and CEO.

AWWA WaterWeek 2017

Helping Houston Kids Learn About the Importance of Drinking Water at WaterWeek.

With years of experience in the master planning and design of plants, facilities, and pumping stations for the treatment and transport of all water types, the Water Practice of Jones|Carter has deep knowledge about the public’s most precious commodity.

Now, Jones|Carter is sharing that knowledge with Houston area elementary through middle school students as they host the American Water Works Association booth this Monday, April 24th at the City of Houston’s Northeast Water Purification Plant.

Texas AWWA Water Week
Local Houston students learn about the importance of clean drinking water at the American Water Works Association WaterWeek 2017

 

It’s all part of WaterWeek – April 24th to April 28th, 9:30 am to 1:00 pm. – at the City of Houston’s WaterWorks Education Center. Located on the shores of Lake Houston, the Center offers visitors a unique environment for learning all about water through interactive exhibits, demonstrations and hands-on activities.

Texas AWWA Water Week 2017
J|C employees Jennifer Franklin and Stephen Barry, along with employees from Arcadis, teach Houston students facts about water at their booth at AWWA WaterWeek 2017.

 

Jones|Carter is proud to be an annual sponsor of the AWWA, and to give back to the kids and the community.

Established in 1881, the American Water Works Association is the largest nonprofit, scientific and educational association dedicated to managing and treating water, the world’s most important resource.

https://jonescarter.com
https://www.houstonwaterworks.org/

Deal of the Week: J|C Woodlands Office Relocation

Jones|Carter Office Building, The Woodlands, Texas Deal of the Week

Jones|Carter and Savills Studley Come Together to Make the Houston Chronicle’s Deal of the Week

Jones|Carter will be consolidating our offices in The Woodlands to a new space in June that will better allow us to enhance lives through engineering excellence for the city of Houston and our employees! The news was featured in the Houston Chronicle as the Deal of the Week, highlighting the collaboration between J|C and Savills Studley on this move.

We will be relocating from two single-story buildings on Research Forest Drive where there was no room to expand, to offices on the fourth and first floors of the six-story Sierra Pines II building at 1575 Sawdust Road. The lease includes 27,025 square feet of office space.

“When you move into a larger building, there are more opportunities for growth and expansion as the need arises,” says Derrell Curry, executive vice president and Houston co-branch manager of Savills Studley.

“It was a perfect time for Jones|Carter to be in the market,” Curry said. “Since we did the transaction, the market has actually improved. We would not get the same deal we got then, today.”

Brad Fricks of Stream Realty Partners represented the landlord, a partnership between VEREIT and Stream Realty. The deal brings the 153,809-square-foot building, which is home to Veriforce and London Offshore, to 61 percent leased.

Savills Studley recently negotiated other leases for Jones|Carter in Austin as well as its headquarters relocation to 6330 West Loop South in 2015. J|C has other area offices at 22330 Merchants Way in Katy and 6415 Reading Road in Rosenberg. The Woodlands office will house 110 of our 350 Houston-area employees.

You can read the full article in the Houston Chronicle here.

Congratulations Brian Dobiyanski! TSPE Brazos Chapter Young Engineer of the Year

Dobiyanski, BrianThe Brazos Chapter of the Texas Society of Professional Engineers (TSPE) has named Brian Dobiyanski, PE as their Young Engineer of the Year for 2016. Every year, the Brazos Chapter of TSPE recognizes an engineer for their outstanding achievements and dedicated service to the engineering profession. Brian’s dedication to the profession is evident on a daily basis in his tireless service to his clients. He epitomizes the Jones|Carter mission of enhancing lives through engineering excellence. Congratulations Brian!

 

Welcome Jib Ahmad to Jones|Carter!

Ahmad_JibJibrael (Jib) Ahmad is joining Jones|Carter with more than 22 years of surveying experience, six of which have been as a Senior Project Manager. His diverse range of projects in land, aerial, hydro-graphic, seismic, and pipeline surveying has given him the opportunity to work in seven states. His experience includes large boundary surveys in Texas and in the U.S. Public Land system, GPS control network design and processing, watershed mapping, coastal mapping for surface and underwater sites, riverine mapping, hydrology and hydraulics studies, and archaeological surveys. He is a licensed Land Surveyor in Texas and South Dakota, a Certified Floodplain Manager, and a Professional SCUBA Divemaster for more than 20 years. Jib is a graduate of the University of Houston and an active member of the Texas Society of Professional Surveyors, the National Society of Professional Surveyors, the Texas Floodplain Management Association, and the Archaeological Institute of America. Contact Jib in our Houston Office at jahmad@jonescarter.com or 713.777.5337.

 

Congratulations to TxDOT on A Century of Service!

Liberty TruckCongratulations to TxDOT on a century of service! TxDOT has a long history of collaboration with JC and an even longer history of connecting Texans to what matters most. This refurbished WWI surplus truck used by the department in its early years will be traveling the state to celebrate the anniversary. We caught the truck while it was right down the street from our Houston office! You can find more information on the truck’s journey and on TxDOT’s first 100 years on their centennial website txdot.gov/txdot100/.

 

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