By Dean Franks, senior vice president, congressional relations, ARTBA

ARTBA’s Executive Committee Jan. 12 shared its transportation policy priorities with a key member of President-elect Joe Biden’s U.S. Department of Transportation transition team. Chairman Steve McGough and the association’s other leaders emphasized the need for quick action on a long-term, sustainable surface transportation reauthorization bill by Sept. 30, and the imperative of building on reforms that have accelerated the project delivery and environmental approval process.

California Department of Transportation Director Toks Omishakin, the transition team’s lead on Federal Highway Administration issues, outlined how the group has spent the past several weeks organizing information for the department’s new leadership. He acknowledged that surface transportation reauthorization is among the priority agenda items, and provided a sense of what the new administration will hope to achieve in such a measure:

  • Addressing climate concerns through expanded facilities for electric vehicle charging and performance measures tied to mitigation of greenhouse gases.
  • Achieving equity by launching or revisiting initiatives on environmental justice and employment opportunities.
  • Creating jobs with increased infrastructure investment.
  • Improving safety through additional funding for and more flexibility in safety programs.
  • Expanding system access for people and goods while addressing the $800 billion backlog in highway and $98 billion in transit capital needs throughout the country.

In November, ARTBA provided all members of the Biden transportation transition team detailed information on the association’s reauthorization recommendations, as well as links to ARTBA’s “highway dashboard,” which quantifies the benefits of federal highway investment for every state. ARTBA leaders will continue working with the incoming administration to ensure there is support for major increases in federal investment through a new surface transportation law and broader infrastructure stimulus package.

The transition team is also preparing President-elect Biden’s nominee for secretary of transportation, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, for his confirmation process. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation has scheduled Buttigieg’s hearing for Jan. 21, with the expectation that the full Senate will vote on his nomination shortly thereafter.

PHOTO: California Department of Transportation Director Toks Omishakin, top left, and members of ARTBA’s Executive Committee during Jan. 12 virtual meeting.