February 7, 2023
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The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works approved the nomination of Shailen Bhatt (seen above) to be the next administrator of the Federal Highway Administration by voice vote during a committee business meeting on November 29. Bhatt’s nomination now awaits a vote by the full Senate between now and the end of 2022.

[Above by AASHTO]

Bhatt noted during a Senate EPW hearing in September that he intends to focus on highway safety, economic growth, and climate change as key priorities should he win confirmation as the agency’s next leader.

“There are many challenges we face as a nation with our transportation system,” he explained during his testimony at that hearing.

Shailen Bhatt

“The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration projected that an estimated 42,915 people died in traffic crashes in 2021 – a 10.5 percent increase from the previous year,” he said. “We must deploy every tool to immediately reverse this trend.”

Bhatt added that the nation’s transportation systems are critical to restoring U.S. “economic strength” yet need to be hardened against the impacts of climate change.

“The interstate system that helped America emerge triumphant in the last century requires investment and innovation so we keep our competitive advantage for the 21st century,” he stressed.

“We must ensure equity in transportation because we are stronger as a nation when we remove barriers so that everyone can share in the prosperity,” he added. “We must address the challenges of the climate crisis so that we do not put at further risk the trillions of dollars invested in our transportation network.”

Bhatt credited his previous tenure as an FHWA appointee and leadership roles at three different state departments of transportation – in Kentucky, Delaware, and Colorado – with providing key insights into how partnerships are critical to maximizing the value provided by the nation’s transportation system.

editor@aashto.org

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