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Local TxDOT Official Earns National Award

Pedro "Pete" Alvarez
Pedro "Pete" Alvarez
RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TX — Pedro "Pete" Alvarez, District Engineer for the Texas Department of Transportation's (TxDOT) Pharr District, has been selected as a recipient of AASHTO’s President’s Transportation Award for Planning. This award recognizes exemplary service during the year that has furthered transportation activities with a positive impact on transportation nationwide or on a regional basis.

Among his accomplishments, Alvarez served an integral role in helping local transportation leaders in the Rio Grande Valley realize the recent merger of three metropolitan planning organizations into one regional MPO. For many years, state legislators, local elected officials, and community leaders from the region had discussed how to maximize federal transportation dollars for regional projects. The answer was simple: merge all three MPOs.

In 2017, Alvarez returned to his home district as the new Pharr District Engineer, bringing with him newfound energy and determination to help the RGV leadership materialize the potential of a merger. He provided state, county, and city leaders with valuable information and unbiased perspective to ease tensions and concerns brought on by differences of opinion and contrasting viewpoints.

The Rio Grande Valley is a vital lifeline for the nation's commerce through the transportation of people and goods. As this border region continues to grow in population and economic prosperity, the need for adequate infrastructure planning with limited funding was a matter of immediate importance. However, there were fears of change, uncertainty about funding, new rules, short and long-term implications, and other unknowns.

Alvarez developed the by-laws in coordination with the Transportation Planning and Programming Division in Austin and a Federal Highway Administration liaison with the vision of regionalism. He worked to address concerns around funding by comparing the existing model with a merged model. He also was able to demonstrate how a regionally merged planning model would be sustainable for anticipated traffic demand.

The RGV-MPO is now the fifth-largest MPO in Texas and serves over 1.4 million people. The merger allows the Rio Grande Valley to compete for more significant funding opportunities for infrastructure projects, encourages economic development, and strengthens transportation systems throughout the region.
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