WASHINGTON — There is more new leadership at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, as the group voted this week to elect Rhode Island Transportation Director Michael Lewis as the association's president for the next year.

Lewis replaces Kirk Steudle, and his presidency will begin with the retirements of several other top executives at AASHTO. Executive Director John Horsley and Jack Basso, director of program finance and management will retire Feb. 1, Tony Kane, director of engineering and technical services, will retire on March 1.

"I will continue Kirk's efforts to push for the speedy implementation of new technologies and innovative programs that are streamlining project delivery and cutting costs," Lewis said.

Lewis will also be at the head of AASHTO, which has positioned itself as "the voice of transportation," as legislators begin work on a new highway bill that will need to take effect before the two-year bill signed earlier this year expires in September 2014. That bill proved highly contentious, and lawmakers will face the same funding difficulties in negotiating a new reauthorization of federal surface transportation programs.

Lewis has led the Rhode Island Department of Transportation since March 2008. He has overseen a public outreach campaign to educate citizens and policymakers about the challenges of transportation infrastructure funding. He chairs the Rhode Island Public Rail Corporation and is a board member of the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority, the state traffic commission, the I-195 Redevelopment Board and the Growth Planning Council. He worked as an engineer with the Massachusetts Highway Department and then the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority from 1984 to 2007. From April 2000 through December 2007, he was director of Boston's Central Artery/Third Harbor Tunnel project.

AASHTO also announced that it has elected Mike Hancock, secretary of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, as vice president. Hancock currently serves as Chairman of the AASHTO Standing Committee on Planning and as a member of the Executive Committee of the Transportation Research Board, a national panel that guides transportation research in the U.S.

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