Government Affairs

AASHTO Elects 2020 Officers

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) has named its top officers for the 2019-2020 term. AASHTO has elected Patrick McKenna, Director of the Missouri DOT, as President and New Hampshire DOT Commissioner Victoria Sheehan as Vice President.  Commissioner Sheehan becomes the second woman in AASHTO’s 105-year history to serve in that role.

McKenna says he plans to focus on surface transportation funding reauthorization and transportation safety.

“We need to make clear the public benefit of federal surface transportation investment and its impact on the safety, mobility, health, and economic well-being of all Americans,” he explained in his emphasis areas paper released at the meeting.

Launching a national campaign focused on how “transportation is personal” that explains the many benefits transportation investment provides to all Americans is one tactic McKenna plans to spearhead during his term as AASHTO’s 2019-2020 president as part of the organization’s effort to get surface transportation funding legislation reauthorized. He also plans to place renewed focus on reducing transportation fatalities, which McKenna described as a “national public health crisis” in his remarks.

To help reduce the estimated 36,700 highway fatalities, McKenna said AASHTO will continue its role in the Towards Zero Deaths and Vision Zero national coalitions while facilitating discussions with state DOTs and local communities to consider ways to deploy “innovative infrastructure designs and technologies” to more safely accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists and scooter users.

McKenna was appointed as Missouri DOT’s director in 2015.  He previously served as MAASTO President and is a member of the TRB executive committee. He earned an undergraduate degree in finance from Bentley College and an MS in management and finance from the University of Maryland. 

Sheehan was appointed New Hampshire DOT Commissioner in 2015. She previously served with the Massachusetts DOT’s highway division, where she served in a number of roles, including her most recent post as Manager of Strategic Planning and Highway performance.  Originally from Northern Ireland, Sheehan holds a Master’s in Structural Engineering and Architecture from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

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Photo:  AASHTO 2019/20 President Patrick McKenna and Vice President Victoria Sheehan. (Credit: AASHTO)

Letters Convey Appreciation for Research Funding

The American Concrete Pavement Association (ACPA), National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) and Portland Cement Association (PCA) have sent letters to U.S. House and Senate Appropriation Committee leaders to express appreciation for inclusion of funding for increased airfield pavement research in S. 2520 and H.R. 3055 (Division E) appropriations bills for fiscal year 2020. 

Gerald Voigt, P.E. (ACPA), Audrey Copeland, Ph.D., P.E. (NAPA), and Michael Ireland (PCA) co-signed the letters to the Senate and House Committees’ transportation subcommittee leaders. The letters went to House subcommittee Chair David Price and Ranking Member Mario Diaz-Balar and Senate  subcommittee Chair Susan Collins and Ranking Member Jack Reed.  

The research funding, if approved in the final appropriations bill, would be used to support a research provision included in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 Sec. 744 “Research and deployment of certain airfield pavement technologies.” The provision is similar to the Accelerated Implementation and Deployment of Pavement Technologies (AID-PT) first included in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP 21), creating both a mechanism and funding for the delivery of pavement technology. 

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Associations Express Support for Research Funding

The chief executives of the American Concrete Pavement Association (ACPA), National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) and Portland Cement Association (PCA) today issued a joint statement welcoming the inclusion of funding for increased airfield pavement research in S. 2520 and H.R. 3055 (Division E) appropriations bills for fiscal year 2020. The House passed H.R. 3055 in June, and the Senate will consider S. 2520 as it works through the appropriations process over the coming weeks. Click here to see the joint statement.

Gerald Voigt, P.E. (ACPA), Audrey Copeland, Ph.D., P.E. (NAPA), and Michael Ireland (PCA) released the statement, which was sent to the media and shared with members of the three associations.  Letters were send to Senate Appropriations Committee members, also expressing support for the research provision. 

The research funding, if approved in the final appropriations bill, would be used to support a research provision included in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 Sec. 744 “Research and deployment of certain airfield pavement technologies.” The provision is similar to the Accelerated Implementation and Deployment of Pavement Technologies (AID-PT) first included in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP 21), creating both a mechanism and funding for the delivery of pavement technology. AID-PT was also included in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, and provides funding through 2020.  

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Follow this link to see ACPA’s government affairs repository.

Group Urges Senate Leaders to Support Timely Reauthorization

The Infrastructure Working Group (IWG) sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader  Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) urging bipartisan action to address our nation’s long-standing infrastructure deficit.

“As this challenge persists and worsens,” the group wrote, “we encourage you to move a long-term, robustly funded surface transportation reauthorization ahead of the September 30, 2020 deadline. The group cited the imperative to avoid costly delays that slow construction schedules and make important projects more costly and more difficult to complete.”

The letter continued, “Substantial and long-term investments in all kinds of infrastructure are needed to expand our economy, grow jobs and compete globally. We appreciate strong bipartisan support for various infrastructure initiatives over the years and hope momentum recently initiated by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee can lead to a successful, bipartisan surface transportation reauthorization.”

Led by the National Association of Manufacturers and the Associated General Contractors, the IWG exists to unite a diverse range of trade associations and build support for infrastructure investments. The IWG works to unite the common interest of support for infrastructure investment among a diverse range of industry organizations.

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Photo:  Composite view of Sen. Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer, from photos on the website of the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress. Follow this link to see ACPA’s government affairs repository.  See related story from our September 20th newsletter.

Airport Pavement Technology Program Advances in Senate Approps Bill

The Airfield Pavement Technology Program (Section 744 of the FAA bill) was fully funded at $6 million per year in the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, also referred to as the THUD bill.  The bill passed out of committee last week.  The specific language in the bill follows below: 

Airport Technology.—The Committee recommends $39,224,000 for Airport Technology Research. This funding level is $6,000,000 more than the budget request and $6,014,000 more than the fiscal year 2019 level. Of this amount, $6,000,000 is for the airfield pavement technology program authorized under section 744 of Public Law 115–254, of which $3,000,000 is for concrete pavement research and $3,000,000 is for asphalt pavement research.

Click here to see the complete report, including the section above, which appears on page 43.  ACPA is very pleased to see the $6 million “plus-up” of the Airport Technology Research amount.  The THUD bill is expected to go to pre-conference with the House THUD bill that passed earlier this year.  Look for further developments to be reported in a future issue of ACPA TODAY. 

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Follow this link to see ACPA’s government affairs repository.

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