Government Affairs

AASHTO Names Top Officers

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ Board of Directors (AASHTO) announced it has elected three DOT officials as its top officers for 2018. 

They are: John Schroer, Tennessee DOT Commissioner, as President; Carlos Braceras, P.E., Utah DOT Executive Director,  as Vice President; and Scott Bennett, P.E., Arkansas DOT Director, as Secretary-Treasurer, according to an AASHTO news release.

AASHTO President Schroer, who was appointed to his DOT post in January 2011, previously served as mayor of his hometown of Franklin, Tenn. He has served in several top committee positions at AASHTO, including Chairman of  its Standing Committee on Finance and Administration and Chairman of the Strategic Management Committee.

“It is an honor to be elected by the AASHTO board to serve as President of our association,” said Schroer. “One of my goals will be to make sure that AASHTO is on the cutting-edge of innovation, to ensure states are ready to meet the many challenges that new transportation technologies will bring.”

Schroer said he wants to focus on the critical issue of sustainable funding at the federal level and will encourage Congress to explore all available revenue options. Schroer hopes to lead the efforts of AASHTO and state departments of transportation to work with the Trump Administration and Congress to enact an infrastructure package and a new long-term transportation reauthorization bill. The impacts of new technologies such as autonomous, connected and electric vehicles on the nation’s transportation infrastructure will also be a top priority for Schroer, according to AASHTO.

AASHTO Vice President Braceras was appointed to his DOT post in May 2013. A native of New Jersey, he began his career at UDOT in 1986, ascending in 2001 to Deputy Director and Chief Engineer, where he shaped UDOT’s strategic direction and its mission of innovating transportation solutions to strengthen Utah’s economy and quality of life. Prior to his current AASHTO leadership position, he served as Secretary-Treasurer.

AASHTO Secretary-Treasurer Bennett was named to his current DOT position in September 2011. He began his career at ARDOT as a summer employee, then began working full-time in the Planning and Research Division as a Civil Engineer I. Over the next two decades Bennett held several top management positions including Section Head of Technical Services, Assistant Division Head of Planning and Research, and Assistant Chief Engineer for Planning.

Magazine Cites Federal Official’s Views on Pavement Competition

Editor’s Note:  Sometimes, the more things change, the more they stay the same, and it’s for that reason we present this interesting bit of history, which we believe is as logical now as it was 96 years ago. An article in the July 1921 issue of “ARIZONA HIGHWAYS” magazine quoted federal official Thomas H. MacDonald, on his strong views about competition.  Mr. MacDonald served for 34 years as the Chief of the Bureau of Public Roads, forerunner of today’s Federal Highway Administration.  The article is presented in its entirety.

“In a statement just issued [by] Thomas H. MacDonald Chief of the United States Bureau of Public Roads  deplores the tendency that has been developing in some States to pass legislation governing conditions of bond issues and specifying one type of material to be used in highway construction.

“Mr. MacDonald urges open competition and more careful consideration of cost and local conditions affecting construction before the type of pavement is determined upon.

Thomas H. McDonald, BPR Chief, from 1919 to 1953. (Photo: Federal Highway Administration.)

“‘Granting that the preparation of the roadbed has been properly done,’ says Mr. MacDonald, “Many kinds of road surfaces will give excellent service.  The element of time is important.  There are so many miles of roads to be constructed and their cost will be so enormous that the most careful and detailed study of each road project must be made to provide, at the lowest possible cost, roads which will give satisfactory service and which can be maintained without undue depreciation under the traffic which is to use them.  Many times the question has been asked the bureau: What type of road is best.  The answer is always the same: There is not one best kind of type of road surface.'”

FAA Announces Project Grants

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will award $167.6 million in airport infrastructure grants to 64 airports in 30 states across the United States as part of the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program (AIP), according to an August 7  press release.

“The Airport Improvement Program helps to maintain our aviation infrastructure and supports safety, capacity, security and environmental improvements,” said Secretary Chao.  “This is an important investment in these airports and the economic vitality of their respective communities.”

The airport grant program funds various types of airport infrastructure projects, including runways, taxiways, and airport signage, lighting, and markings, all of which help to create thousands of jobs.

To date this year, the U.S. Department of Transportation has announced more than 1,300 new grants to nearly 1,200 airports for a total of $2 billion.  These grants will provide funds for 546 runway projects and 459 taxiway projects that are important to the safety and efficiency of the nation’s system of airports.

Click here to see the projects associated with this series of grants.

ACPA, Industry Allies Show Support for Airport Funding

ACPA recently co-signed letters in strong support of airport construction funding, notably to urge Congress to adjust the Passenger Facility Charge on originating passengers, as well as to boost the Airport Improvement Program by $250 million for a total of $3.6 billion in funding.

The letters, sent prior to the current August recess, urged House and Senate Appropriations Chairs and Ranking members to support additional funding in the respective versions of the “Transportation, Housing and Urban Development” (THUD) appropriations bills.  The two letters were sent by:

These letters cited long overdue increases to aviation infrastructure funding, and noted the revenue increases will support critical infrastructure projects for U.S. airports.  

The Senate passed its version of the THUD Bill on July 25; the House version is pending the current August recess, which is scheduled to end September 5.  

ACPA and other coalition partners will continue to advocate for increased airport construction funds.   The FAA bill, formally the “FAA Modernization and Reform Act” of 2012, has been extended by several short-term measures, the most recent of which is set to expire on September 30.

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* The Highway Materials Group is comprised of the American Coal Ash Association, American Concrete Pavement Association, American Traffic Safety Services Association, Associated of Equipment Distributors, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute, National Asphalt Pavement Association, National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association, Portland Cement Association, and the Prestressed/Precast Concrete Institute.

 

 

FHWA Appoints Senior Officials

The Hon. Brandye Hendrickson was appointed as FHWA Deputy Administrator. (Photo courtesy of the FHWA.)

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced it has appointed two senior officials.  The Honorable Brandye Hendrickson was appointed as Deputy Administrator and the Honorable Mala Krishnamoorti Parker was appointed Associate Administrator for Policy, according to FHWA Executive Director, Walter C (Butch) Waidelich Jr.

Deputy Administrator Parker leads the daily operations of 2,900-person federal agency, which spans six time zones. She oversees the agency’s $44 billion annual budget, directs execution of the “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act” (FAST Act), and co-chairs the U.S.-Canada Transportation Border Working Group and U.S.-Mexico Joint Working Committee, according to the FHWA.

Hendrickson has a background in transportation, including two years serving as the Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation, where she oversaw all aspects of its operations.  This included  3,400 employees, a $400 million annual operating budget, and a billion-dollar annual construction budget. She has nearly 20 years of business experience, according to the FHWA.

She previously served as Deputy Commissioner of Indiana’s Greenfield District (the Hoosier State’s largest transportation district) from 2007-2015.   In this role, she managed an annual construction budget of approximately $250 million and an annual operating budget of $48 million. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Indiana University and is a professional in Human Resources, the FHWA reported.

In other personnel news, Mala Krishnamoorti Parker was appointed FHWA’s new Associate Administrator for Policy.  She previously served with the American Trucking Associations, where she served as their Vice President for Coalitions.  She also served with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao at the U.S. Department of Labor from 2002 to 2009.  She has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from University of Puget Sound, Waidelich said in a recent announcement.

 

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