The AASHTO Washington Briefing is an annual event for DOT officials and other guests to visit their Congressional delegations, as well as to hear speakers from the Administration and Congressional committees of jurisdiction, says Jim Tymon, Executive Director. 

This year proved to be no exception as AASHTO leaders kicked off the open forum portion of the program last Wednesday. Congressional Leaders followed, with Senate EPW Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY); House T&I Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR); House Subcommittee on Highways RM Rodney Davis (R-IL); and Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Trade (Ways and Means Committee) Earl Blumenauer all delivering remarks They spoke about the importance of infrastructure investment and expressed their hopes of passage of a transportation bill in 2020.

Several other panel discussions followed, and one notable forum focused on “Core Formula Programs: Foundation of the Federal Program in an Age of Disruption.” Moderated by Scott Bennett (AASHTO Secretary-Treasurer and ARDOT Director), the discussion featured Jeff Davis, Senior Fellow at the Eno Center for Transportation; Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, Commissioner of the NJDOT), and Bill Panos, Director of the North Dakota DOT. The panelists spoke about why core formula programs should be adapted to meet current and future requirements.

US DOT Secretary Elaine Chao presented the keynote luncheon address, reinforcing that rural America has “long been neglected of infrastructure funding,” despite nearly half of all truck vehicle miles traveled occurring on rural roads and almost two-thirds of rail freight originating in rural areas. This concern led to the DOT’s Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success or ROUTES initiative last October.

The Secretary also emphasized the importance of safety and the DOT’s continuing commitment to battling human trafficking. The Agency signed up more than 100 transportation leaders, including Jerry Voigt and Leif Wathne from ACPA, in direct support of this important initiative. ACPA also supported the US DOT’s social media program to call attention to the problem and encourage greater participation in fighting the problem.

The briefing also focused on highway and other transportation infrastructure safety; a Federal leadership roundtable, state and local partners’ roundtable; legislative perspectives from key Congressional staff, a joint luncheon with the Road Gang (featuring Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, who chairs the National Governor’s Association).

Photos: (L) DOT Secretary Elaine Chao presents keynote remarks at AASHTO’s Washington Briefing. (R) Scott Bennett, Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, Bill Panos, and Jeff Davis participate in a panel discussion on highway program funding solutions programs.

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