President Bush’s nomination of former Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Administrator Mary Peters to be the next Secretary of Transportation has been met with mixed reactions by various trucking interests.
Peters has to be confirmed by the Senate before she can step in as Secretary of the U.S. Dept. of Transportation. President Bush has called on the Senate “to confirm her promptly.”
“On behalf of the American Trucking Assns., I want to congratulate President George Bush on his decision to nominate Mary Peters to be the next Secretary of Transportation,” stated ATA chairman Pat Quinn. “I have had the pleasure of serving with Mary Peters on the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission and have been impressed with her insights into the challenges we face in maintaining and improving our nation’s infrastructure. I hope for an early Senate confirmation process so we can all benefit from her strong leadership of our nation’s transportation programs.”
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn. (OOIDA) had a tepid reaction to the nomination. OOIDA noted that Peters advocated interstate tolling and public-private partnerships within the SAFETEA-LU during her tenure as FHWA Administrator. OOIDA has opposed public-private partnerships as a means to shore up revenue for transportation and highway infrastructure.
Rod Nofziger of OOIDA’s Washington, DC office said that the nomination “does not bode well” for opponents of public-private partnerships.
Peters now serves as senior vp at HDR, Inc., an engineering firm. She was appointed by President Bush in 2006 to serve as a co-vice chairman of the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study. She served as FHWA Administrator from 2001 to 2005. Peters started at the Arizona DOT, where she worked her way up to become director of the agency in 1998.
Yesterday, in her address to the media at the White House, Peters indicated that she would continue the legacy of former Secretary Norman Y. Mineta.
“Today, our vital transportation infrastructure is showing signs of aging,” Peters said. “We are experiencing increasing congestion on our nation’s highways, railways, airports and seaports. And we’re robbing our nation of productivity and our citizens of quality time with their families.”
If confirmed by the Senate, she vowed to work with the President, Congress, and public and private sector partners toward providing an efficient and safe transportation system.
Her remarks appeared to be consistent with Mineta’s parting words to lawmakers, urging them to embrace foreign and domestic investments in the transportation infrastructure. Public-private partnerships were a critical element of Mineta’s congestion reduction plan, introduced in May.
Mineta was the longest-serving Transportation Secretary and had a five-year tenure. Mineta oversaw DOT’s implementation of SAFETEA-LU, grounded civilian flights on Sept. 11, 2001 and was responsible for the subsequent formation of the Transportation Security Administration.
“I feel a little bit like Ginger Rogers must have felt with Fred Astaire following Secretary Mineta,” Peters said. “I think I’m going to be dancing backwards in high heels a little bit.”
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