The top executives of state departments of transportation will gather Feb. 27-March 2 in Washington, D.C., and meet with top policymakers from Congress and the Trump administration, at a time when they can help shape national discussions on infrastructure investments.
The event is the annual Washington Briefing of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, an event that gives the state officials their most concentrated opportunity of the year to hold face-to-face talks with those who set national policy both at the conference and in visits to congressional offices.
This comes just weeks after President Trump released his infrastructure proposal and his fiscal 2019 budget request. The investment plan did not address a major goal of state DOTs – to bolster the Highway Trust Fund with sustainable, dedicated funding – while the budget plan calls for significant cuts to some transportation programs.
The state agency CEOs will hear remarks from USDOT Secretary Elaine Chao and from presidential aide D.J. Gribbin, who has played a key role in crafting President Trump's 10-year, $200 billion federal investment proposal that aims to leverage state, local and private-sector contributions for a total of $1.5 trillion in new project spending.
The state DOT chiefs will hear policy assessments and prospects for legislation from the chairmen and ranking members of both the House and Senate committees that take the lead on any new transportation bills, and will hold a discussion with USDOT modal chiefs.
They will meet with the agency heads of other national trade associations that are major stakeholders in the transportation funding debates, hear from legislative aides who will write legislation for their members of Congress and hear a panel of transportation news reporters discuss policy issues from the outsiders' point of view.
Separate from the legislative sessions, the state CEOs will hold some special focus discussions. Those include how to manage risks such as extreme weather to ensure a resilient transportation system, and state efforts to develop and deal with the fast-emerging connected and autonomous vehicle technologies.
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