Idaho Transportation

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New AASHTO leaders set agenda for future

J. Bryan Nicol, Director of the Indiana Department of Transportation, and Jack Lettiere, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Transportation, were elected as the new president and vice-president of AASHTO recently.

Nicol was named INDOT Commissioner by the late Gov. Frank O'Bannon in 2001, after serving as the chief executive's Fellow and an executive assistant with the department. He served in INDOT's Land Acquisitions Division and later as the Assistant Deputy for Operations and Deputy Commissioner of Highway Operations.

He also served as an Indiana Deputy Attorney General and Deputy Chief of Staff to O'Bannon. Nicol earned a law degree from Indiana University in Indianapolis and a bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of Evansville. He resides in Indianapolis with his wife and three children.

Within AASHTO, Nicol served as Chairman of the Standing Committee on Administration; Region III Representative on the Standing Committee on Aviation, a member of the Joint AASHTO-Associated General Contractors-American Road and Transportation Builders of America Committee, Executive Committee, Chair of the Administrative Subcommittee on Information Systems and Standing Committee on Highways Council on Project Delivery.

Lettiere, who has been with NJDOT for 30 years, was named commissioner in December 2002. As commissioner, he oversees 16,000 employees and an annual budget of more than $3 billion. He served as Deputy Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner for Capital Investment. Within AASHTO he chairs the Administrative Subcommittee on Transportation Finance.

Emphasis Areas Outlined
After his election, Nicol outlined three emphasis areas for the association for the coming year:

  • Re-establish Transportation as a national priority
  • Reauthorize federal transportation bill that meets states' collective needs
  • Develop a national freight agenda and establish an AASHTO Center of Excellence for Freight
  • Promote safety by convening a second National Safety Summit to be held in conjunction with the spring meeting of the AASHTO board of directors
  • Project Delivery and Operations - the New Way
  • Accelerate project delivery
  • Communicate with customers' share and learn best practices
  • Preserve and protect the environment
  • Develop an AASHTO Center of Excellence for Operations
  • Technology - the Future Rides on It
  • Use emerging technology, materials programs and processes
  • Move from talk to action on the dialogue with the auto industry on vehicle infrastructure integration
  • Use technology to drive safety improvements; develop center of excellence for safety
  • Technology and environmental stewardship

Njord, Nicol Call for Raising Transportation on National Agenda
Addressing AASHTO delegates at the association's 90th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, outgoing President John Njord and incoming President Bryan Nicol said state officials must work to "re-establish transportation on the national agenda."

Njord, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Transportation, said, "We in the transportation business are victims of our own success. Transportation has become so dependable, it's become invisible. And that has allowed this vital service to slip from public view and political priority." He added, "Nothing about this nation happens without involving some kind of transportation. And yet, when it comes to our crisis-oriented political agendas - transportation is not on the back burner. It's not even on the stove. We need to fix that."

"We have to claim a place for transportation at the policy table – because transportation can make or break the best intended policies that government can create," he said.

Njord concluded, "Finally, we have to be up front and realistic that keeping our nation's transportation system the finest in the world is not going to happen on a wink and a promise. In direct terms, 'You get what you pay for.' We can be innovative in leveraging our resources, and we will be accountable for maximizing every dollar. But it's time that we reasserted the truth that users are willing to pay at the pump and at the toll booth and at the fare box for good roads and efficient transit."

Nicol, Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation, told delegates, "Our nation moves when we get the job done. We get the job done when we make investments in the preservation, expansion and operation of our highway and transit systems. And we cannot make those investments when Congress does not give us the tools to do so. We must stand up and state our cause to the nation because the nation's mobility and foundation for economic vitality depends on our ability to get the job done.

"In order to meet this goal, we must have a long-term, sustainable and well-funded federal transportation bill that meets our individual state needs and advances our nation's mobility. The interstate system did not appear one day. It took bold and decisive leadership to make it happen. It took sufficient resources to get the job done. And it took an incredible commitment from the public and private sectors to make it so.

"We must look to our future with history as our guide and with a determination and vision that puts our business at the top of the list of our nation's priorities," he said.