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July 27, 2022 2:10 PM, EDT

Stakeholders Praise Bhatt’s Nomination to Lead FHWA

Shailen Bhatt FHWA nominee Shailen Bhatt's expertise comes in the fields of transportation safety and technology. (Business RadioX - Gwinett Studio via YouTube)

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Key transportation stakeholders expressed support for President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Federal Highway Administration. The president this month nominated Shailen Bhatt, a longtime transportation official and industry insider, to lead the agency.

“Shailen Bhatt has been a tireless transportation advocate for decades, especially in the areas of safety and technology, and he makes an excellent choice by the Biden administration to lead FHWA,” said Jim Tymon, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

“His leadership roles at both the Delaware and Colorado departments of transportation, as well as his time at the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Intelligent Transportation Society of America and AECOM, demonstrate his ability to bring people together to ensure we have a safe, sustainable, equitable and multimodal transportation system that enables mobility for everyone,” Tymon added.

Jim Tymon

Tymon

“The breadth of experience he brings to the role as the former leader of two state departments of transportation, CEO of ITS America, and senior vice president at AECOM will strengthen our nation’s highway system,” said Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, president of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association. She is commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

On Capitol Hill, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) also was welcoming of Bhatt’s nomination to oversee federal surface transportation policies. The senator, who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, was among the authors of the $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. About half of the law’s funding is dedicated for highway-centric operations.

“Bhatt’s resume is nearly perfect for leading a transportation agency with such a critical infrastructure mission,” Carper said July 21. “I have a long history of working with Shailen, and he is an outstanding choice.”

Tom Carper

Carper

An executive at AECOM, Bhatt’s career includes stints as executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation and Cabinet secretary of the Delaware Department of Transportation, per his background from the White House. A graduate of Western Kentucky University, he also has held a leadership role at the Intelligent Transportation Society of America.

Per the White House, “In these roles, Bhatt spearheaded innovative solutions, collaborations and partnerships to support the delivery of safe, sustainable and cost-effective transportation systems for the 21st century.”

If confirmed for the role of administrator, Bhatt would lead FHWA as the agency is managing an influx of funds approved in the infrastructure law. A hearing in the U.S. Senate on his confirmation has yet to be scheduled.

A nominee awaiting a vote on the Senate floor is Robin Hutcheson, Biden’s choice to lead the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Senate Democratic leaders suggested a vote on her nomination would occur this summer.

The nominee, serving as acting chief at FMCSA, recently gained bipartisan approval at the Senate Commerce Committee. Hutcheson told the Senate panel she would continue to commit resources for programs that seek to enhance safety initiatives, alleviate supply chain bottlenecks and advance new technologies.

She also praised truck drivers for their contributions to highway safety and economic prosperity. As she put it during her confirmation hearing, “Now, more than ever, Americans are acutely tuned in to how our goods get to our homes — from the flour for the bread we eat, the clothes we wear, the bed we sleep in — we all have a better understanding that it probably came on a truck.”

Before arriving at FMCSA, Hutcheson led the public works division in Minneapolis, overseeing a unit of 1,100 individuals. She also was transportation director for Salt Lake City. Groups touting her record include American Trucking Associations. “Since her appointment as acting administrator in January, Ms. Hutcheson has worked closely with the trucking industry to confront supply chain, workforce and safety challenges, while pressing forward with the implementation of vital programs included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” ATA President Chris Spear said in a statement following her nomination by the president.

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