President Obama may have chosen a man from outside of the transportation finance universe to be his transportation secretary when he tapped former Rep. Ray LaHood for the job, but his picks for other posts at the department have included several veterans in transportation finance and policy.
Roy Kienitz, undersecretary of transportation policy, was plucked from his post as deputy chief of staff for Gov. Ed Rendell, D-Pa. He told American Public Media’s Marketplace in 2008 that the proposed lease of the Pennsylvania Turnpike would provide funding for public transit, bridge repair, and road construction at a time when “it’s just impossible to raise the gasoline tax.” He was the executive director of the Surface Transportation Policy Project in 1999, when he testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in support of a proposed Better America Bonds program, which would have provided $10 billion in bond authority for state, local, and tribal governments to pay for open space, urban parks, and construction and renovation.
Obama earlier this month nominated Polly Trottenberg for assistant secretary for transportation policy. Trottenberg is executive director of the bipartisan coalition Building America’s Future that supports the creation of a national infrastructure bank, more public-private partnerships, and more ability for state and local governments to implement tolling, congestion pricing, and variable tolling. The coalition also strongly supported Build America Bonds.
Karen Hedlund recently joined the Federal Highway Administration as chief counsel, leaving the Washington, D.C., office of Nossaman LLP, where she specialized in P3s. Hedlund advised the development of the Port of Miami Tunnel concession deal, the North Carolina Turnpike Authority on its Triangle Expressway project, and state transportation departments on the $15 billion of transportation private-activity bonds authorized by the current transportation law, as well as other P3 and tolling projects. Hedlund is a former board member and treasurer for the National Association of Bond Lawyers.