By Robin Foster, Houston Chronicle | June 3, 2015
Quincy Allen won’t be resting on his laurels, and neither will transportation advocates who crowded into a recent meeting of the Transportation Advocacy Group of Houston to congratulate him on his new job as Houston District Engineer for the Texas Department of Transportation.
Among those attending the May 6 TAG Houston event were two predecessors in the post – Delvin Dennis, who retired in 2011, and Gary Trietsch, who retired in 2008 – along with the vice-chairman of the Texas Highway Commission, Jeff Moseley.
Trietsch, who now heads the Harris County Toll Road Authority, called the meeting’s attendance a tribute to the Houston District. Both he and Moseley said Allen, a sixth-generation Houstonian, is uniquely qualified to run the division.
“This truly is his (Allen’s) community. When you talk to him, you sense he has an intense pride in his hometown,” said Moseley.
Allen has worked for TxDOT in Houston since 1985. He was an area engineer from 1997 to 2009, when he became the district’s director of maintenance. He was named deputy district engineer in 2012. The six-county district stands out for having the largest population, the largest number of registered vehicles and the most vehicle miles traveled.
With $1 billion being spent on U.S. 290 and plans recently announced to re-route Interstate 45 through downtown Houston, Allen said he is relying a strong team of 1,025 TxDOT employees, “some of the most awesome talent there is,” to keep the division moving forward.
Allen said drivers need to put down the phone and obey posted speed limits. Of 3,000 traffic fatalities expected this year, 500 will in the Houston District and 80 percent of those will occur on the TxDOT system, he said.
“At TxDOT, we’re not going to rest. We’re pushing this number toward zero, and we’ve 3,000 to go,” Allen said.
Allen acknowledged TAG Houston’s effort to advocate for more transportation dollars and said he has his “fingers crossed” that the Texas Legislature will appropriate the funds needed to maintain the state highway system.
TAG members are hoping their work could reap dividends later this year. At the May 6 breakfast, TAG Executive Director Andrea French announced that a conference committee had just been named to work out a compromise between plans by the House and Senate on a long-term source of funding for transportation. The Senate sought to dedicate about $2.5 billion from vehicle sales taxes to the state transportation fund. The House supports using $3 billion from general sales tax revenue. Either would require support of a constitutional amendment in the fall.