Former IA DOT head Paul Trombino to lead FHWA
President Donald Trump is expected to tap former Iowa Department of Transportation Director Paul Trombino as administrator of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), The Hill reported.
Now the president of McClure Engineering in Iowa, Trombino served as the Iowa DOT head from 2011 to 2016, during which time he was also president of the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials.
The move to fill the FHWA post comes amid murmurings that the Trump administration is expected to release detailed legislation on its proposed $1 trillion infrastructure program sometime this fall.
Trombino would take the FHWA administrator post at a critical time for public works in the U.S. The American Society of Civil Engineers ranked the state of the country’s infrastructure as a D+ on its latest report card, with roads and transit among the lowest-scoring categories. The trade group estimates that it will take $4.6 trillion to make the required upgrades and repairs by 2025.
The industry has long been awaiting more details from the Trump administration on its plans to make a dent in that backlog, as well as to support future spending. So far, few details of the much-touted $1 trillion building program have been issued, though it’s likely the program will use public funding as seed money for private investment.
Last month, the president issued an executive order to significantly reduce the time it takes transportation infrastructure projects to get through the environmental approvals process. It’s an ambitious effort and one that requires collaboration among the heads of federal agencies — a challenge notorious for holding up the process.
Public-private partnerships, a gas tax, vehicle fees, tolls and other assessments have been suggested by the administration or industry observers as ways to finance infrastructure spending going forward. Trombino was a critical player in a 2015 lobbying effort for a 10-cent-per-gallon increase to the state gas tax that would supply $200 million annually for Iowa's roads and bridges, The Des Moines Register reported.
Even if detailed infrastructure legislation is released this fall, it may have to wait until 2018 to take center stage in Congress. The administration has been releasing details of the program in fits and starts since taking office earlier this year, but lawmakers have said that issues including tax reform, healthcare and the debt ceiling could push even debate on an infrastructure program to the fall.
Nonetheless, construction companies are gearing up for the potential new work with mergers and acquisitions to combine resources and expertise. Chief among them is Jacobs’ recent purchase of CH2M Hill for $2.85 billion and AECOM’s $175 million grab of Shimmick Construction.