Pete Finn

"Diane Burkhardt Valek and I worked very closely together from August 29, 2006 until recently in Houston, Texas, on the METRO Solutions - light Rail Project for the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO). I am the Project Director for the Federally Funded North Line Corridor and Diane Burkhardt Valek was assigned as my Lead Real Estate agent to assist in all aspects of the project, as needed. She was responsible for leading an every growing team of acquisition, relocation, title and support staff for a design build rail project while complying with FTA guidelines. Initially, Diane and her team were responsible for preparing cost estimates for several route alternatives for the North line Corridor that included: land costs, improvement costs, cost to cure, damages to the remainder, demolition costs, survey costs, legal fees and other costs. These cost estimates were presented to Engineering, Planning and Construction, then to the CEO and Board Members to determine the most cost effective route for the North Line Corridor. After the budget was represented and approved, Diane and Carrie Caloway were responsible for tracking costs and preparing FTA budgeting and cost reports. Diane and her team supported the Community Outreach Program and the Planning Department with the FEIS by attending FTA related meetings, supplying information from the field and writing responses to FTA. Diane represented the Real Estate Team at Public Hearings, neighborhood association meetings and other public meetings by giving presentations to educate the attendees of the real estate acquisition and relocation process, per the FTA guidelines, answering questions and providing contact information for future concerns. Diane and her team were responsible for supporting the Survey team by checking, correcting and verifying that the commitments were for the entire property, all owners were identified and all structures were correctly indicated on the final surveys. Diane and her team attended weekly survey status meetings, tracked all steps from design to survey to final product. The North Line Corridor was always ahead of schedule and led the other corridors in product delivery. Diane and her team worked closely with Environmental Engineers and Remediation Consultant teams in identifying, assessing and completing cost estimates for contaminated sites. Diane and her team worked with environmental consultants by reviewing documents, providing title and other project information to receive TCEQ clearance for construction. Prior to negotiations for acquisitions, Diane and her team set up budgeting and ownership for all property owners along the proposed rail line. They researched and contacted every owner for survey and environmental right of entries. They established positive communication between property owners and the Agency by working cooperatively with all community organizations and the METRO Community Outreach team. The North Corridor was targeted by numerous protester groups; protesters held rallies outside of the METRO building and hostile meetings were held in an attempt to stop the North Corridor Project. Diane and her team were able to address the many concerns and complete the project with a 7% condemnation rate for the project. I enjoyed working with Diane and her team, her professionalism and leadership has enabled the Real Estate acquisition process for the North Corridor to be a success and would embrace the opportunity to work with them again on another project." Pete Finn - Project Director METRO Solutions, North Corridor

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