AASHTO elects new leadership to advocate for infrastructure
A new president at the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials will play an important role in advocating for infrastructure funding from a new president and a new Congress next year.
Victoria Sheehan, commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, was elected on Friday to serve as AASHTO’s 2020-2021 president.
“The COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters, as well social unrest in support of racial equality and inclusion are challenging us in many ways,” Sheehan said in a press release. “As transportation leaders, we have a role to play and one of my presidential emphasis areas focuses on the need for training, recruiting, and building a diverse state DOT workforce that reflects all of the people we serve.”
Sheehan was AASHTO’s vice president in 2019 and has been a commissioner for the New Hampshire DOT since 2015. There she manages an operating budget of $650 million and 1,600 full-time employees.
Sheehan is the second woman to serve as AASHTO president in its 106-year history.
Sheehan’s term comes as President-elect Joe Biden comes into office in January. AASHTO has been pushing for a surface transportation bill and has asked for $37 billion through FY 2024 to offset state transportation revenue losses in a COVID-19 relief bill.
An infrastructure bill did not pass during the current administration, though Trump campaigned on it in 2016. The Senate Environment and Public Works committee unanimously passed a multi-year surface transportation bill in July 2019. The House passed its infrastructure bill, which was folded into the Moving Forward Act in July 2020. But the two chambers never came together on a bill hat could become law.
The board also elected Shawn Wilson, secretary of the Lousiana Department of Transporation and Development, as AASHTO’s vice president. Dr. Wilson is in his second term as Louisiana DOTD secretary. He is the first Black person to serve in the role as vice president.
“I am filled with both gratitude to the regional board and a keen sense of duty and responsibility for becoming the first black person to serve as AASHTO vice president,” Wilson said in the press release. “We’ve made a lot of progress in America, but recent events remind us all just how important diversity and inclusion are to all of our institutions. Being first is significant, even in 2020.”
AASHTO said Wilson is “a longtime advocate for new revenue, maximizing federal dollars available to Louisiana, advancing a balanced and comprehensive transportation policy for Louisiana, and ensuring the department is more collaborative in its work at every level.”
Russell McMurry, commissioner of Georgia DOT, will be AASTHO’s secretary and treasurer. He began his career with Georgia DOT in 1990.
Last week, AASHTO’s board of directors also adopted a five-year strategic plan. AASHTO plans to enhance transportation policy leadership while keeping track of emerging trends among others.