New FHWA Administrator Ready to Tackle Mounting Infrastructure Challenges

Nicole Nason says the administration has three main priorities for highway transportation; safety, funding & innovation

Newly sworn in FHWA Administrator Nicole Nason.
Newly sworn in FHWA Administrator Nicole Nason.

Newly sworn in Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Administrator Nicole Nason spoke to attendees of the 2019 Transportation for Construction Coalition (TCC) Fly-In. In her first address as Administrator, Nason discussed the growing needs of our infrastructure and FHWA’s vision for the future. 

“The importance of infrastructure is not news to anyone here,” Nason told attendees. “We are a nation built on transportation and we owe future generations to protect it.”

Nason said the FHWA has three main priorities and plans laid out to accomplish their goals. 

  1. Safety: Nason said that safety was top of mind of all administrators. As the former Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the daughter of a motorcycle cop, Nason keeps his cracked helmet after a crash on her desk as a reminder of the importance of our highway safety. 

“We still have too many fatalities on our roads,” Nason says. “FHWA has done some wonderful things with designs and improving work zone safety, but I am committed to a future of zero fatalities, and would like to work with all of you to reach that goal.”

  1. Funding: Nason said another priority of the FHWA is surface transportation funding reauthorization.

She added that Trump administration is committed to regulatory reform and permit streamlining. 

“We need to move projects faster,” Nason says. Delays can hold projects up for years can cost millions of dollars. We can’t waste that money.” 

Nason added that the agency will have “a lighter touch” going forward by moving some decisions to states and local officials.

  1. Innovation: Nason says innovation has the potential to make roads and bridges safer which is why it is another focus at the FHWA. 

“Fifteen years ago, few people would have imagined drones, driverless cars, 3D-printing, and other technological innovations and we all know there is more coming,” she says, including bridge inspections done by robots and drones.

Nason ended her discussion by addressing FHWA’s new initiative, the Highway Construction Workforce Pilot program. The partnership, called Roads to Your Future, aims to identify, train and eventually place workers into construction careers. 

“Our nation depends on the highway system and that highway system depends on qualified workers,” Nason said. “Investing in their success is vital to our transportation system. The worker shortage will only get worse which is why we developed the Highway Construction Workforce Pilot.”

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