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TxDOT selects WSB for Comprehensive Engineering Consultant (CEC) Services Houston District

The firm is selected to deliver $10 million in engineering services over four years

May 23, 2023

Engineering and consulting firm WSB announced today that they have been awarded a contract by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Houston District as a prime provider of Comprehensive Engineering Consultant (CEC) services.

“We welcome the opportunity to support the Houston District’s engineering needs,” said Bret Weiss, WSB’s president and chief executive officer. “This is our first large-scale contract with TxDOT’s Houston District, and we see this as a significant advantage because we have the opportunity to shape the way infrastructure projects are delivered in the Houston community. As a firm, we lead the industry in in digital delivery across the country. We’re looking forward to bringing a more innovative, collaborative approach to design and engineering services for the state of Texas’ infrastructure needs.”

Through TxDOT’s Professional Engineering Procurement Services (PEPS) division, the CEC contracts are solicited through an RFP process and use qualification-based selection to procure services. PEPS mission is to obtain the most qualified consultants to deliver effective solutions for Texas. The division has $1.35 billion allocated for consultant services in 2023 alone.

“TxDOT’s commitment to delivering safe, reliable and integrated transportation systems align well with our capabilities and expertise,” said David Balmos, WSB’s vice president of strategy. “Our technical approach, deep bench of in-house expertise, approach to project management and our resumé of notable design and engineering projects will be vital to TxDOT’s long-range transportation plan.”

In addition to the CEC contract, WSB provides engineering services to TxDOT for the I-10 Inner Katy project, a $1.2 billion program to reconstruct five miles of urban freeway in Houston.  

Six Things You Didn’t Know About Traffic Signals

March 13, 2023
By Sean Delmore, Director of Traffic, WSB

Traffic signals are an often-overlooked aspect of everyday life. But when you stop at a traffic signal, did you ever also stop and think about how, where, and why these signals are used? Here are six things you may not know about traffic signals.  

When is a traffic signal needed?

Communities thoughtfully decide where traffic signals are needed vs. roundabouts or stop signs. An Intersection Control Evaluation (ICE) is conducted to determine the appropriate method of traffic control, which includes a detailed signal warrant analysis. These studies measure the existing vehicular and non-motorized (pedestrian/bicycle) traffic volumes and evaluate crash history at the intersection. WSB traffic experts conduct these evaluations in partnership with communities and local governments to collect the necessary data and determine if a signal would help improve the traffic safety and operations of the area. 

Traffic signals are typically designed to last more than 20 years with routine maintenance and designed to handle forecasted traffic volumes 20 years out. The federal government has requirements that must be followed when planning for the installation of new signals. These requirements include signal warrants that are found in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). 

What are the benefits of a traffic signal?

Efficiency and safety are the top benefits of traffic signals. Signals are designed to keep up the progression of heavy traffic while ensuring there are no undue delays to side streets. The signals imitate elements of human decision-making, such as when a pedestrian should cross a busy intersection or when it is safe for a vehicle to make a left turn. Removing that decision from the person and incorporating it into an automated system like the traffic signal increases the overall safety for vehicles and pedestrians.

The ability to efficiently manage traffic flow can also be a significant factor in the success of local businesses and the livability of an area for families. For instance, access management developed by signals reduces the chaos of vehicles entering and existing businesses onto the main corridor.

How do traffic signals communicate with emergency vehicles? 

Traffic signals can change to the green phase for emergency vehicles allowing them to respond quickly and safely to incidents. Most emergency vehicles have an emitter on the dashboard that communicates with the traffic signal to safely end an opposing signal phase and bring up a green indication for the emergency vehicle. The technology also will extend the length of a green cycle if it is currently green for the direction an emergency vehicle is travelling.

Why do traffic signals always turn red for me?

Despite what we sometimes think, not all traffic signals turn red as you approach— in fact, it is just the opposite. Traffic signals have “dilemma zone protection,” which extends the length of a green light when a vehicle passes the back detection as it approaches the light. This keeps the light green to eliminate the human dilemma of whether to speed up or stop when the light turns yellow. 

Additionally, sensors in the ground at the intersection detect cars as they approach. For example, in many signalized locations, a minor street with lower vehicle volumes won’t change to green unless a vehicle is waiting at the red light to maximize the efficiency of the major roadway. 

What’s the latest innovation with traffic signals?

Flashing yellow arrows are one of the latest innovations in traffic signals. The flashing yellow arrow allows the driver to decide when it is appropriate to turn left, as opposed to controlling left-turns with green and red arrows. This feature on signals may also change based on the time of day. For example, the flashing yellow left turn arrow may be used on a Sunday night when traffic volumes are significantly lower. Then, during Monday morning rush hour, when traffic volumes increase substantially, the flashing yellow arrow will not be utilized, and the signal can offer a protected only phase because there is too great a risk posed to left turning vehicles trying to find an acceptable gap against the amount of oncoming traffic.  

What’s on the horizon for traffic signals?

One element of future traffic signals being considered more and more in major metropolitan areas is incorporating pedestrians and cyclists into the signal system. Engineers are rethinking classic intersection designs to incorporate new technology such as Audible Pedestrian Signals (APS) & ADA compliant curb ramp improvements, as well as bicycle markings for improving safety and accessibility for all modes.

How WSB Can Help

If you have concerns or complaints about an intersection, WSB’s team of experts are here to help. We can perform an Intersection Control Evaluation or provide suggestions how to move traffic safely and efficiently through your community.

Sean has more than 28 years of transportation experience. He specializes in traffic operations, lighting, signing & striping, and signal design. He is a licensed Professional Traffic Operations Engineer and leads WSB’s Traffic Engineering Group. Prior to joining WSB, Sean served 17 years with MnDOT, where he worked mainly in the Metro and Central Office Traffic Engineering. | 612.360.1322

Sean Delmore
Texas Road

Q&A with Rob Bailey | VP of Transportation – Texas

January 12, 2023

Rob Bailey is the Vice President of Transportation – Texas at WSB. Rob has over three decades of engineering experience. His dedicated background and ability to lead has contributed to the expansion of WSB’s footprint in Texas since joining our firm a year ago.

In this Q&A, Rob shares his reflections on the expansion and future of WSB in the Texas market.

You’ve worked in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) Industry for many years, how has your experience informed how you approach your role at WSB?

My experience is almost entirely in the state of Texas, I have over 30 years of experience working on transportation infrastructure, the first ten at the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) which has been foundational for me. Building that foundation has helped me learn about our client needs, understand their culture, and it has allowed me to build personal connections and relationships that I have taken with me throughout my career. Having that background has given me what I need to be successful in this role in terms of leadership and transportation knowledge.

What is your favorite part about leading the Texas transportation team?

I really enjoy the people side of leading. I see my role and team much like a sports team. I am the general manager, and I must understand the rules of the game, and the playing field, and I must analyze and put together a strategy for success. I am also in charge of recruiting the best talent and having the right players. I need to figure out their strengths and weaknesses and find what position fits best within the team and the organization.

How has transportation been advancing in Texas?

The transportation program has changed dramatically over the last year. I am really excited about the team we have built and the clients we have added. Moving forward, we have all the pieces we want in place, and I am really optimistic about the future. Fortunately, the market lines up with my optimism. TxDOT has a steady stream of revenue that will support infrastructure across the state. We are experiencing significant population growth that is stretching city and county resources, which means we need to help build the infrastructure to support that growth.

How has WSB grown? What factors do you think made this possible?

There are two factors that pertain to the growth of WSB. One is the market, along with the policies that elected officials enact. The other is the soft side, the people side. We are focused on our staff. We are committed to hiring staff that is well-known in the industry and well-respected by our clients which will help us to maintain relationships and foster new opportunities.

Why is the Texas market important to the growth of WSB?

The opportunities for growth in Texas are significant. The population and growth of the state are driving both the infrastructure and energy markets. As a company, our mission is to build what’s next in infrastructure and this is a great place to do just that. Our company roots in Minnesota and the deep bench of expertise we have throughout the country help position us for success. The infrastructure needs across our country vary and it helps us expand our knowledge and bring new ideas and innovations to our clients regardless of location.

What makes WSB best suited to support industry efforts in Texas?

WSB has a true understanding of the client’s needs. We believe in working with our clients to help them be successful. Many WSB staff in Texas have experience working for owners, contractors, and engineering firms. These experiences help us understand the challenges of our clients, the real purpose of delivering infrastructure projects, and an overall deep understanding of how to support industry needs.

I am really excited about the team we have built and the clients we have added. Moving forward, we have all the pieces we want in place, and I am really optimistic about the future.

Rob Bailey
What does WSB look like to you in the future?

There has been significant growth for the company, and I don’t see it slowing down. I see it accelerating more each day. It’s a big reason why I came to WSB. I was excited about the opportunity it would bring not only to myself but the staff as well. Our staff will continue to grow, and I am excited to see how everyone will fit into a larger organization. There will be a lot more opportunities and the company will be led by a lot of the younger leaders we have today.

Any advice for leaders now and for those who come after you?

Leadership is a lot like relationships and marriage. Always make sure to pick your battles wisely. Try hard to have a long-term vision with your decisions and actions. One thing that can be challenging in a large company is short-termism. Focused on the next quarter’s reports, and impacts today, and less focused on the long-term. I am impressed with WSB and our long-term vision and investments in staff and technology.

TH 169

MnDOT’s Corridors of Commerce program: What’s New in 2022

By Mary Gute, Sr. Transportation Planner, WSB

A healthy economy is dependent upon an efficient transportation system. To foster economic and commercial growth across our state, the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s (MnDOT) Corridors of Commerce program is now open for applications. The program helps communities make highway capacity improvements where there are bottlenecks, as well as improve the movement of freight and other barriers to commerce. 

The Project Recommendation Process and What’s New in 2022

MnDOT will determine program recipients using an online recommendation process. 2022 has some additional requirements and new guidelines as well. Here are some important details regarding what is new for submitting a proposal for consideration. 

Who can submit a proposal? As of this year, only an individual acting as an official representative of one of the qualifying organizations below may submit a project for consideration. 

  • An area transportation partnership
  • Any city, county, or township in Minnesota
  • Any tribal government in Minnesota
  • Any corridor coalition which is formally organized as a not-for-profit organization.
  • Any metropolitan planning organization
  • Any regional development organization

Additionally, each organization is limited to submitting one project recommendation per cycle. 

Provide cost estimates and funding details. Make sure your project has a leg up by laying out funding resources and cost estimates. New requirements for this year include a detailed project description that corresponds to identified cost estimates, as well as a cost estimate reviewed and agreed to by a State of Minnesota licensed engineer. Any other committed funding sources must also be identified along with the name and contact for those sources.  

Make sure your project scores well upon review. Your project was submitted online and met all the eligibility and project recommendation requirements. How to ensure your project stands out? State law requires that projects be scored based on the following criteria, so make sure to highlight:

  • Return on investment with a focus on travel time reduction and/or an anticipated reduction crashes.
  • Economic competitiveness that is measurable in its impact on job growth and direct and indirect economic development.
  • Freight efficiency measurements including time travel savings, average daily heavy commercial travel, and travel reliability. 
  • Safety criteria, which impacts multiple scoring areas, focused on 5-year averages of crashes, injuries, and fatalities. 
  • Regional connections including to area commercial trade hubs, highway systems, and to other transportation modes like ship, air, and rail. 
  • Policy objectives with an emphasis on transparent decision making, system stewardship, and healthy communities. 
  • Community consensus, providing resolutions and/or letters of support from municipalities and counties touched by the project, local planning agencies, and a chamber of commerce. 
  • Regional balance to ensure that projects across the state and various regions can tap into opportunities to foster economic development, growth, and commerce through the Corridors of Commerce program. 

By looking ahead and factoring the scoring process into your project planning and ensuring that your project meets all the requirements, you can increase the likelihood of your project being selected. Projects with the highest scores will receive funding first, with exceptions for regional balance which may result in some lower scoring projects taking precedence. 

Project Eligibility

The first step is to explore project eligibility requirements and ensure your project can rise to the top of the selection process. From MnDOT, here is a review of the basic requirements needed for your project.

  1. The project must be classified as either develop additional system capacity or improve freight movement.
  2. Projects must be in line with and adhere to MnDOT’s Statewide Multimodal Transportation Plan.
  3. Projects must be able to begin construction within 4 years of being awarded funding, but the actual construction start may be delayed beyond 4 years to avoid significant impacts to the traveling public.
  4. Projects must be on the Interregional Corridor Network in Greater Minnesota or a state highway in the eight-county MnDOT Metropolitan District.
  5. The amount of corridors of commerce funding needed to construct the project cannot exceed the amount of funding available. 
  6. A project that is listed in MnDOT’s State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) is not eligible for funding, unless the project was listed in the STIP because it previously received funding.

Are you considering applying for the Corridors of Commerce funding? Applications are due November 30. 

Corridors of Commerce is a highly competitive program and bringing in outside experts who are well-versed in applying for and receiving funding can help ensure that you are set up for success.

Mary has 20 years of progressively complex transportation planning and project management experience, gained from working on a variety of transportation projects for modes including roads/bridge, transit, and trails. Several these projects have included environmental documentation considerations – either pre-NEPA, or through NEPA and/or MEPA processes. | 612.741.7055

Building Better, Safer Transportation Systems to Reduce Traffic Accidents

By Do Nam, Director of Traffic Modeling and Technology, WSB

The number of U.S. traffic deaths has been steadily increasing. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, vehicle fatality rates increased by 10.5 percent up to 42,915 last year, making it the highest number killed on U.S. roads in a single year since 2005.

The use of traffic modeling combined with cutting edge technology to mitigating risk, reducing traffic accidents, better protecting motorists and pedestrians, and analyzing ways to reverse the deadly trend of motor vehicle crashes. 

Trends, Statistics & Human Factors

Reports over the past two years have shown a significant increase in traffic fatalities across the nation. Much of this is attributed human factors like increased risk taking, which appears to have become more common in response to the pandemic.  

In 2020, when COVID-19 hit, the average vehicle miles traveled (VMT) decreased because much of the population was working from home and going out less. However, nationwide fatalities still increased from 36,355 in 2019 to 38,824 in 2020, and then up to 42,195 in 2021. With less traffic on the roads, many drivers were driving faster than the posted speed limit leading to more high-speed crashes. Furthermore, pedestrian, bicyclist, and motorcyclist fatalities were the highest they had been since 1989, 1987, and 1975 respectively.

The number of alcohol-related crashes also increased, which could be attributed to people consuming more alcohol to manage the social and economic stress brought on by the pandemic. 

Improved vehicle designs, seat belts, air bags, and new technologies like blind spot warning and automatic emergency braking systems have contributed to reduced vehicle fatalities over time, but cell phones and other distractions have caused those trends to reverse over the past decade. 

How Artificial Intelligence Improves Traffic Safety 

New emerging artificial intelligence (AI) programs assist engineers in collecting data, mapping out problematic traffic patterns, and predicting the likelihood of crashes. By using drones and traffic cameras to capture data from video, engineers use AI technology to track the movement of individual vehicles, bikes, motorcycles, and even pedestrians.

AI also allows us to better analyze traffic flow, determining work zone movements, space gaps between vehicles, and movements of heavy semi-trucks. Such advanced technology makes our analysis more informed and accurate. Through the use of data, we improve the flow of traffic, increase safety measures for drivers and construction workers, and predict where infrastructure changes are needed for more efficient and safer roads.


Do has been a civil engineer in the transportation field for over 25 years. His experience includes modeling, operational analysis, design and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) of large-scale transportation projects in both the United States and Qatar. Do has successfully managed over 30 major transportation and research projects utilizing traditional macroscopic travel demand forecasting modeling and state-of-the-art microscopic traffic simulation modeling techniques. | 763.760.8090

Learn How the ‘Safe Streets for All’ Program Can Strengthen Rural Communities

By Mary Gute, Sr Transportation Planner, WSB

Funding for the ‘Safe Streets for All’ (SS4A) program is now available thanks to the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Bill passed in Washington last November. The SS4A Program aims to improve road safety by significantly reducing or eliminating roadway fatalities. This program could help your community make strategic planning, infrastructure and safety investments to improve the lives of residents. 

The notification of funding for SS4A, as well as the application process, went live in May of this year, and the deadline to apply is September 15, 2022. The first round of funding will make $1 billion available to communities, with more rounds expected to be available annually through 2026.

Who Qualifies?

The grant program is targeted for local, tribal, and regional entities. States, including DOTs are not eligible. However, applicants should consider coordinating with state agencies as appropriate.

This program is structured with equity in mind, to ensure equitable investment in safety needs of underserved communities. To this end, 40 percent of the SS4A funding is intended to go to low income and underserved communities. This includes rural areas to address disproportionality high fatality rates. Rural communities, especially if have lower income levels or experience persistent poverty/inequality, may benefit from SS4A funding.

Partnership is Important

By partnering with other communities, or applying for funds to address multi-community or regional safety issues, applications are more likely to receive approval and receive larger awards. The grants cover up to 80% of plans for projects and recipients are expected to match at least 20% on their own from non-federal sources; which is another reason cross-entity partnerships are beneficial. Identifying and collaborating with partners for larger, strategic projects can create a greater advantage to receive funding. 

Two Application Categories

Communities can apply for funding under one of two categories: action plan grants or implementation plan grants.

Action plans are created to study and understand what safety issues exist and what strategies would best address safety issues. The award amount for an action plan, based on cost assessments, is between $200k and $1 million. 

Implementation grants are for the actual project design and construction to make safety improvements to infrastructure. The possible award amounts are between $5 million and $30 million for approved projects. 

Applicants may only apply for one grant type – an action plan or an implementation grant. Receiving a grant to prepare an action plan grant will not preclude applying for and receiving an implementation grant in future rounds of funding.

The SS4A program will not fund:

  • Projects where the primary purpose isn’t safety
  • Projects focused on non-roadway modes of transportation
  • Capital projects to construct new roads
  • Projects to expand capacity or improve mobility for motorists
  • Maintenance activities

How WSB Can Help 

Is your community looking at how SS4A funding can help support safety-related projects? WSB can help determine if your proposed plan or project would be eligible; identify partnership and collaboration opportunities; help write applications; and answer any questions you may have about the process.

The federal infrastructure bill provides once in a generation funding for critical infrastructure needs and can greatly help enhance rural community infrastructure. 

Mary has 20 years of progressively complex transportation planning and project management experience, gained from working on a variety of transportation projects for modes including roads/bridge, transit, and trails. Several these projects have included environmental documentation considerations – either pre-NEPA, or through NEPA and/or MEPA processes. | 612.741.7055


Avoiding Vehicle Pileups

By DJ Sosa, Sr Project Manager, WSB

When winter storms sweep across the nation, dangerous road conditions can cause crashes, pileups, and leave commuters stranded for hours on end. How can road design play a role in making roads safer in the winter?

When roads are designed, many elements, such as drainage and flooding, are considered. Unfortunately, snowdrift prevention is often overlooked until after these disasters occur. What’s more, even long after snowstorms are over, snow can get blown back onto the roadway, requiring agencies to plow or push back the snow to clear the roadway. Significant snow accumulation, particularly on a “heavy” snow winter season, drives up maintenance cost for these agencies. Snow drift problems typically occurs on long, flat, rural stretches of highway. To create a snowdrift prevention plan, designers start by analyzing the terrain on both sides of the road. Determining how and where the snow is being picked up and drifted back onto the roadway is important in choosing which solution best suits the road.

Using that analysis, the following three options should be considered for minimizing snowdrifts and avoiding dangerous pileups:

Option 1: Wider Ditches

If there is adequate space, the best option is to have a wide ditch next to the roadway to create a “bowl” effect. These are ditches that serve as another area to capture the snow. Since roads are typically higher than the ditches, it blocks the wind and prevents snow from blowing back onto the roadway. This option requires a lot of room and typically involves additional right of way. If feasible, it is the top choice due to cost and maintenance. 

Option 2: Living Snow Fence

A living snow fence consists of trees, shrubs, or hay bales along the roadway. Farmers can work with their local department of transportation to line the road with hay bales, providing a cost-effective solution to block the wind from stirring up snow from the fields and on the roadways.

Option 3: Structural Snow Fence

This option looks like a robust version of a vinyl fence used for backyards that acts as a direct wind block. These fences often require coordination with property owners because they typically are on private property and outside of public right of ways.

These above three tactics can work for many roadways, but too often they are built reactively and only after a number of crashes, pileups, and other dangers already occurred. All options require room, more often, outside of public right of way. This requires transparent and consistent coordination with nearby residents. Discussions of the benefits for each tactic is key for the residents to allow any mitigation measures in the property. Because many Midwest states see snow for one-third to one-half of the year, agencies must be more proactive, many are now incorporating these tactics into their original planning and design. The Minnesota Department of Transportation, for example, is currently working on major interstate highways in rural locations and are including analysis of the corridor as part of the project. They have a whole department dedicated to working on snowdrift prevention.

Driver safety in winter is important and proper snowdrift prevention design can go a long way to saving lives, preventing crashes, and making roads safer for all of us. WSB’s transportation team can help advise on ways to make roads safer all year round.

DJ has been a quality manager and a senior project manager in transportation, both in preliminary and final design, for over 15 years. Prior to joining WSB, DJ was a design engineer and project manager for the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) and has managed or been part of a wide range of design-bid-build transportation projects. | 763.762.2817

Metropolitan Council 2022 Regional Solicitation Grants

By Mary Gute, Sr Transportation Planner, WSB

The Metropolitan Council’s 2022 Regional Solicitation process is now open. Please review the information below if you are considering submitting a project application or are wondering if a project is a good fit for the program.


  • Due Date: April 14, 2022
  • Funding available in three main categories: roadways; bicycle and pedestrian Facilities1; and transit/travel demand management (TDM)2
  • Projects can only be submitted in one category
  • See the Metropolitan Council website for more information:

How much funding is available? Does this include new federal infrastructure funding?

The Metropolitan Council initially identified $180 million for the 2022 solicitation. With the new federal infrastructure bill, the Council anticipates an additional $10-$20 million will be available. It is likely that federal funding will augment the available Regional Solicitation funding in future years, but not confirmed.

What can funding be used for?

  • Up to 80% of construction costs; a 20% local match is required
  • Construction only; Funds CANNOT be used for studies, preliminary engineering/design, construction engineering, or right of way
  • Projects that are to be constructed in 2026 or 2027; applicants will be asked if their project(s) could be programmed earlier

What Makes for a Good Project?

Successful projects must meet all qualifying criteria. Projects meeting several prioritizing criteria and demonstrating a high level of project readiness will score higher.

Qualifying Criteria – RequiredPrioritizing CriteriaProject Readiness
• Consistency with regional plans
• Inclusion in local plan or program
• ADA compliance – ADA Transition Plan
• Accessible/open to the public
• Permanent improvement independent utility
• Role in regional transportation system & economy
• Project usage
• Equity and housing elements
• Infrastructure age
• Congestion reduction/air quality
• Safety
• Multimodal Elements/ Connections
• Risk Assessment
• Cost Effectiveness
• Public process with residents, interested stakeholders
• Project layout
• Review of Section 106 Historic Resources
• Right of way acquisition process, if applicable, or knowing no additional right of way is needed
• Railroad right of way agreement, if applicable

What is the likelihood of a project receiving funding?

This program is highly competitive with requests far exceeding available funding. In the 2020 solicitation, 130 project applications were submitted and 56 (43%) were funded. Projects were funded in all seven metro area counties, in twenty-six cities and townships.

What is the level of effort to complete an application? Is it worth it?

These applications are moderately complex. Some elements require considerable lead time (e.g., preparing a layout; public engagement activities, etc.). Applications started early are generally higher quality than those that are completed towards the end of the solicitation process.

Federal requirements must be met on selected projects (e.g., federal environmental documents, federal and state design, and construction requirements, etc.). WSB advises that applicants request at least $500,000 to make going through federal process(es) worthwhile for financial reasons.

If you are considering submitting a Regional Solicitation application or want to discuss whether a project is a good fit for the program, please contact Mary Gute.

1: To be competitive, multiuse trail and bicycle facility projects should be on the Regional Bicycle Transportation Network (RBTN); Safe Routes to School (Infrastructure), projects should be included in a completed Safe Routes to School Plan and/or engineering study.
2: Transit funding is usually awarded to transit agencies.

Mary has 20 years of progressively complex transportation planning and project management experience, gained from working on a variety of transportation projects for modes including roads/bridge, transit, and trails. Several these projects have included environmental documentation considerations – either pre-NEPA, or through NEPA and/or MEPA processes. | 612.741.7055


How Corridor Studies Play a Role in Community Growth

By Steve Lindsey, Director of Transportation, WSB

In 2021, Texas added more people to its population than any other state. For residents, businesses, and communities, it’s critical for planners to meet the immediate needs of citizens, while also planning for the future. For local, city, and county governments, corridor studies play a key role in creating and executing comprehensive transportation design that adapts to and meets the needs of growing communities.

What is a Corridor Study?

Corridor studies examine the relationship between roadways and adjacent land. In more densely populated areas, this can mean figuring out ways to overcome challenges where roadway expansion is limited. For land in development, it means looking at future population growth and where investments are being made to build homes, businesses, and public services.  Corridor studies also help ensure that if opportunities to acquire land becomes available – whether because they are being sold or planned for future development – there is a long-term view on how to best meet transportation needs.

Corridor studies are instrumental to help communities plan for 5, 10, and even 50 years down the road.

Trends in Community Growth

In Central Texas, Austin and the surrounding communities are growing rapidly. It is a technology hub with major companies like Tesla, Apple, Dell, and Samsung employing thousands of people. Densley urbanized areas have seen population growth, and more people are building homes and businesses in communities farther and farther from the city centers as the population grows.

Additionally, with the ongoing pandemic, we’ve seen more people looking to build homes, expand their space, and work remotely. With a hot housing market and population growth, more people are building and expanding into areas that were traditionally more rural or predominantly farmland.

Communities need properly planned transportation infrastructure to help transport people and commerce in those growing areas.

Working with the Experts

For community leaders facing growth challenges and working to plan for what’s next, it can be difficult to know when and where to start. When we partner with clients, we help them explore what opportunities their community can tap into in transportation design, and corridor studies are an important tool to get them and their community where they want to go.

Steve brings over 22 years of experience in all phases of the transportation industry including schematic, environmental, GEC/program management, construction and plans, specification and estimates (PS&E). He has a history working with TxDOT divisions and districts around the state as well as municipal clients in central Texas. | 512.983.5624

US Fish and Wildlife Service decide listing monarch butterfly is “warranted but precluded”

By Roxy Robertson, Environmental Scientist, WSB

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) recently announced their decision to list the monarch butterfly under the Endangered Species act is “warranted but precluded”. The USFWS will not issue a proposed rule to list the monarch officially until 2024 due to insufficient funding and personnel. The listing will be evaluated annually to determine its eligibility and listing decision may be expedited under a new administration.

What does the USFWS decision mean?
  • The “warranted but precluded” decision means that the USFWS has determined the monarch butterfly meets the definition of a threatened or endangered species, but the agency lacks the resources to take further action to list the species at this time.
  • Since monarch butterflies still face threats and decline, there is a strong likelihood that monarch conservationists will challenge and litigate the decision.
  • If litigation occurs, the USFWS could be ordered to prioritize the listing prior to 2024. This could result in a listing of the species within a short timeframe. If this occurs, partners enrolled in the Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterfly on Energy and Transportation Lands (CCAA) are protected against regulatory actions that may occur following the listing decision.
Why is the CCAA important?
  • By enrolling in the CCAA, partners will be protected against any regulatory actions that may result from future listing. Enrollment avoids risks to planned projects that may impact monarchs and their habitat by giving assurance that no additional regulatory requirements will be imposed by the USFWS beyond the terms of the CCAA agreement.
  • The conservation efforts of enrolled partners will help to save the monarch species. This decision means that monarch butterflies are in trouble and unless the species experiences dramatic improvements in the next few years, a future listing of this species is certain.
  • Enrollment in the CCAA demonstrates the partner’s commitment to conservation of this species.

Learn more about the Candidate Conservation Agreement and how the listing decision will impact right of way on energy and transportation lands. 

Roxy is an environmental scientist and certified wetland delineator. She has a master’s degree in ecology and is a Certified Associate Ecologist. She has completed numerous wetland delineations and has experience with wetland monitoring, ecological restoration design, environmental site assessments, field research, biological surveys, ArcGIS mapping, and GPS Trimble. | 763.762.2844