The president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation officials along with other state DOT leaders will be participating in several roundtables at the Transportation Research Board’s 2023 annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
[Above photo by AASHTO]
Roger Millar – AASHTO president and secretary of the Washington State Department of Transportation – will moderate a roundtable discussion on how state DOTs are working to develop a more resilient transportation system for what he calls a “rapidly changing world.”
Panelists include: Toks Omishakin, secretary of the California State Transportation Agency; Patrick McKenna, director of the Missouri DOT; Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, commissioner of the New Jersey DOT; and Marc Williams, executive director of the Texas DOT.
Improving transportation system resilience is also one of Millar’s emphasis areas for his one-year term as AASHTO president.
“As president, I will use resilience as a lens to view and define what a safe, sound, and smart multimodal transportation system is,” he noted during his acceptance speech at AASHTO’s 2022 Annual Meeting in Orlando.
“This systemic approach ensures that state DOTs have the tools, resources, and systems needed to reduce highway crashes and fatalities, advance equity and accessibility, and improve mobility for all users,” Millar said.
Another key state DOT roundtable being held at TRB’s annual meeting focuses on the development of a “national vision” for the future of transportation in the United States.
Moderated by Dr. Shawn Wilson – AASHTO immediate past president and secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development – this roundtable examines what many state DOT leaders refer to as the “moonshot strategy” where U.S. transportation needs are concerned.
Julie Lorenz – the former secretary of the Kansas Department of Transportation, who stepped down from that role in December 2022 – led the effort to create a national “framework” wherein state DOTs could work “collectively and individually” to develop an over-arching vision for addressing the country’s mobility needs of the future.
“It is all of us working together with our communities, urban and rural, as well as other state agencies and across state boundaries,” Lorenz noted during a presentation at the AASHTO 2022 Annual Meeting. “The heart of the vision is community-centered transportation and making transportation work better for people.”
Lorenz – who described this effort as the “Moonshot Project,” in reference to the 1960s-era Apollo program that put American astronauts on the moon – said that establishing a “transportation vision” for America is but the first phase.
“It does us no good if we do not go to phase two and implement the vision we develop,” she stressed. “When we think about this ‘moonshot,’ we have to think about how we change the way we operate and maintain our transportation systems. To do that, we will need a range of strategies using different levers of change, both external and internal. For state DOTs, it will be about where they fit in across those various levers of change and identifying what works in your state.”
Speakers on the national transportation vision roundtable include: Carlos Braceras, executive director of the Utah DOT and AASHTO 2018-2019 president; Nicole Majeski, secretary of the Delaware DOT; Everett Lott, director of the District DOT for Washington D.C.; and Eileen Velez-Vega, the first female secretary of the Puerto Rico DOT and Public Works.