FHWA Nominee Highlights Safety, Technologies

FHWA Nominee Highlights Security, Applied sciences

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President Joe Biden’s option to handle the nationwide freeway system pledged to advertise security alongside passenger and freight corridors and incorporate new technological options throughout the transportation panorama.

Acknowledging a current rise in freeway fatalities, Shailen Bhatt pointed to a necessity for enhancing present applications that serve to ensure the security of motorists. Bhatt, nominated to run the Federal Freeway Administration, appeared earlier than the Senate Atmosphere and Public Works Committee on Sept. 14.

“There are numerous challenges we face as a nation with our transportation system,” Bhatt informed senators on Capitol Hill. He emphasised Nationwide Freeway Site visitors Security Administration knowledge estimating 42,915 site visitors fatalities in 2021, which marked a ten.5% improve from the yr prior. “We should deploy each device to instantly reverse this pattern.”

So far, the nominee pressed for additional investments on an array of security options and applied sciences designed to amplify roadway security. As he put it, “The interstate system that helped America emerge triumphant within the final century requires funding and innovation so we hold our aggressive benefit for the twenty first century.”

If confirmed, Bhatt would be a part of the company at a time when Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s Division of Transportation is tasked with managing the distribution of funds from the $1 trillion Infrastructure Funding and Jobs Act. Almost half of that legislation’s funding pertains to transportation affairs.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), the panel’s chairman, touted Bhatt’s credentials, which included stints as the highest government on the Delaware and Colorado departments of transportation. The chairman expressed confidence about Bhatt’s capability to hold out the implementation of applications permitted within the new infrastructure legislation. Local weather resilience, freight connectivity and transportation fairness are among the many legislation’s coverage pillars.

“The work of implementing these historic investments couldn’t be extra pressing. We all know that far too many People proceed to lack entry to secure walkways and dependable public transportation. Site visitors crashes and fatalities, which had been already far too excessive, have risen sharply because the begin of the pandemic greater than two years in the past,” Carper mentioned. “As the biggest supply of greenhouse fuel emissions in america, drastic modifications are wanted to scale back emissions from the transportation sector. We should accomplish that whereas additionally defending the American folks and our vital infrastructure from the results of utmost warmth, flooding and different local weather disasters.”

Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), a member of the Commerce Committee, joined Carper in touting Bhatt’s credentials, insisting the nominee possessed a “daring imaginative and prescient we want in an effort to spur innovation and assist meet the evolving transportation wants of the American folks.”

“As we transfer ahead with implementing the transformative investments made within the bipartisan infrastructure legislation, Mr. Bhatt’s management of the Federal Freeway Administration will guarantee these funds are used successfully to enhance the security and reliability of our nation’s highways,” Hickenlooper added.

Senior Republicans, in the meantime, criticized the company’s position in pursuing initiatives they argued fell exterior of the IIJA’s direct purview. A key level of competition for Republicans is a Federal Freeway Administration memorandum from Dec. 16 titled, “Coverage on Utilizing Bipartisan Infrastructure Regulation Assets to Construct a Higher America.”

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), the panel’s rating member, argued the FHWA memo and subsequent DOT coverage steering studies “encourage recipients of freeway formulation to ‘flex’ funding into transit investments. It [discourages] states from shifting ahead with initiatives that add freeway capability. It imposes a one-size-fits-all strategy by discouraging transferring program funds to the place they’re wanted most, which was a flexibility that was deliberately constructed into the legislation to make sure every state’s distinctive wants are met.”

She went on, “Whereas I’ve been informed repeatedly that these are ‘simply steering paperwork,’ my frustration is constructing once I contemplate the time that restricted workers on the division and FHWA are devoting to such paperwork as an alternative of implementing the legislation in its entirety.”

An government at infrastructure consulting agency AECOM, Bhatt is a graduate of Western Kentucky College. His profession contains management posts at DOT and on the Clever Transportation Society of America. His affirmation would safe him a spot on Buttigieg’s management group.

The Senate committee has but to schedule a vote on his nomination.

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