By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA

The Senate March 28 confirmed Nicole Nason as administrator of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), ending a two-year absence in the agency’s top spot. The vote was 95-1, with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) the only dissent.

Nason has been working at the State Department as assistant secretary for administration. At the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from 2006 to 2008, Nason helped to initiate new seat belt rules for school buses, rulemaking for electronic stability control systems, and new car seat safety regulations, according to a government biography. Under her watch, NHSTA developed the first-ever criteria for crash test ratings for the Five-Star Safety Ratings program and held the first-ever bilateral meeting with the Chinese government on regulations for motor vehicle safety.  Prior to leading that agency, Nason served as the U.S. Department of Transportation’s assistant secretary for government affairs.

Nicole Nason

Nason “is an experienced government administrator and solid choice to head FHWA,” ARTBA President and CEO Dave Bauer said after President Donald Trump announced her nomination in early February.

The FHWA administrator position has been vacant since January 2017. An earlier nominee withdrew. Brandye Hendrickson, a former Indiana Department of Transportation commissioner, has been serving as the agency’s deputy administrator, its highest-ranking official in the absence of an administrator.

Nason earned a bachelor’s in political science and government at American University, and a law degree at Case Western Reserve University. Her work with Project Koe, a Connecticut fitness program based on the centuries-old traditions of Shorin-Ryu karate and designed to empower women by promoting their inner and physical strength, last year was featured in American University Magazine.

The 2,900-person FHWA has a $44 billion annual budget.