I've only been Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration for less than two months and I've already been invited to blog? This truly IS the Fast Lane!First, I have to say I am very thankful to President Obama and Secretary LaHood for their faith in choosing me to lead the FHWA. I've spent most of my career in transportation and am honored to be a part of it during the most exciting time in the history of American highways.
We haven't seen this kind of presidential interest in America's highway system since the Eisenhower Administration. With both President Obama and Vice President Biden helping Secretary LaHood reinvigorate the economy with the $27 billion available for roads and bridges in the Recovery Act, highways are getting some of the attention they need.
Though America's highway network is serving more drivers now than at any other time, our roads are the safest they've ever been. Some credit must go to the auto industry, which has made great advances in automotive safety, but road design and safety hardware are equally responsible. Better use of guardrails and cable median barriers and more subtle improvements like brighter signs and pavement markings also contribute to a safer roadway. FHWA will continue to make safety our top priority.
However, our highway system faces numerous challenges. While the Highway Trust Fund--a key part of state highway funding--received an infusion of $7 billion to ensure solvency into the next fiscal year, we must find a long-term solution. This was, after all, the second year in a row it fell billions of dollars short. In addition, with the end of SAFETEA-LU only weeks away, I will help Secretary LaHood work with Congress to pass an 18-month extension this year and devote ourselves over the coming year to work on solutions for our long-term transportation needs.
In the months ahead, I will work to continue improving the relationship between infrastructure and community needs - specifically to improve a community's "livability" - to enhance the environmental sensitivity of roads and bridges and to help states explore multi-modal transportation options.
There is much work ahead of us, but I look forward to it. Our mission is to bring you the highway system you deserve, and I welcome the challenge!