Secretary Buttigieg to Headline Annual TRB Conference

Transportation Officials Bhatt, Trottenberg Also Will Participate
Pete Buttigieg and Jennifer Granholm
Pete Buttigieg and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm address TRB in 2023. (Transportation Research Board)

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Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is among the senior officials headlining the Transportation Research Board meeting this year, an annual event that brings together several thousand stakeholders, academics and experts to discuss myriad issues facing the transportation sector.

The DOT leader is scheduled to keynote the annual Washington, D.C., conference on Jan. 10. On his agenda is the ongoing implementation of 2021’s $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Included in that bipartisan measure was the multibillion-dollar Bridge Investment Program. DOT recently announced applications for agencies to access funding for bridge projects.

“When a bridge closes, it costs Americans time and money, disrupts supply chains across the region, and sometimes cuts off entire communities from vital resources,” Buttigieg said Dec. 20. “Thanks to President [Joe] Biden, we are making the largest investment in America’s bridges since the construction of the interstate system, and these grants will help repair bridges in communities of all sizes, so we can get people and goods safely to where they need to be.”

At TRB, the secretary also will join a panel titled, “New Materials for Infrastructure: Reinventing the Roadway, Runway and Railway.” Per background from TRB, the discussion will “focus on innovative durable materials, including green and low embodied carbon infrastructure materials, bioengineered materials, and other topics related to decarbonizing the infrastructure supply chain.”

Shailen Bhatt


“These new and innovative technologies can reduce emissions from infrastructure and construction, while making infrastructure more resilient to the impacts of climate threats. The workshop will highlight advances in durable and low-carbon material technologies and will bring together a group of industry experts and research leaders to discuss opportunities for collaboration and deployment,” according to TRB.

The conference, set for Jan. 7-11, will cover every transportation mode as well as themes associated with climate change, equity, public health, artificial intelligence, electric vehicles and alternative fuels. Held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the conference also will recognize the extraordinary contributions of transportation officials from around the country.



Shailen Bhatt, administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, is scheduled to participate in a Jan. 7 panel discussion titled “Designing the Transportation Agency of the Future.” Per TRB, the session aims to answer, “How must transportation agencies evolve to meet changing customer needs? How can they leverage technology and innovation? Will the future [DOT] focus on system management, mobility or strategic development? How can DOTs work with other public and private partners to carry out this mission?”

TRB logo 2024

TRB also will feature panels and workshops focused on safety. Deputy Transportation Secretary Polly Trottenberg is scheduled to participate on a Jan. 8 panel to examine the process for reducing highway fatalities. Trottenberg and fellow panelists will “discuss how they are leveraging research to implement roadway safety policies that are saving lives in their communities.”

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DOT’s safety strategy presents a comprehensive approach for reducing fatalities on highways, roads and streets. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determined that nearly 43,000 individuals died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2022. “Key to our strategy is recognizing that people make mistakes, and, as good stewards of the transportation system, we should put in place safeguards to prevent those mistakes from being lethal. Zero is the only acceptable number of deaths and serious injuries on our roadways, and that is our ultimate goal,” Buttigieg wrote in the “2023 Progress Report on the National Roadway Safety Strategy.”

“At the core of this strategy,” the secretary continued, “is the departmentwide adoption of the Safe System Approach, which focuses on five key objectives: safer people, safer roads, safer vehicles, safer speeds and post-crash care.”