While he was in the army, President Dwight D. Eisenhower traveled across the United States, witnessing firsthand the poor condition of the nation’s roadways. Years later, during World War II, he saw Germany’s Autobahn, which only reinforced his belief that America needed a more competitive, higher quality transportation system. In the end, he pushed for a groundbreaking highway system that would change America’s infrastructure forever. Today, his Interstate System is 46,876 miles long and known as the greatest public works project in history, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
It’s people like President Eisenhower — those who challenge the idea of American infrastructure to help it progress — that we’re recognizing in this list. Although not everyone has the power of a president to implement change, the people on our list have impacted America’s transportation infrastructure in important and remarkable ways — or are currently in positions of power to do so as Congress tackles transportation funding reauthorization.
These transportation leaders, who were nominated by their peers or the editors of Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure, are organized in four categories: governmental, professional, media, and advocacy. Because The Power List is not a ranking, individuals are listed alphabetically by last name.
California senator and chair of the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Environmental and Public Works
After 10 years of service in the House of Representatives and six years on the Marin County board of supervisors, Barbara Boxer was elected senator of California in January 1993. With a strong devotion to environmental protection, Boxer is the first woman to chair the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works. Her accomplishments include securing passage of the Water Resources Development Act, which authorized $1.3 billion for 54 flood control, ecosystem restoration, and navigation projects in California. She also fought for high-quality drinking water standards, preservation of California’s wilderness, and protection of California’s coast against the harmful effects of oil drilling. Most recently, she worked with Senator Dianne Feinstein to pass a bill that would strengthen pipeline oversight and increase penalties when federal pipeline regulations are violated.
Oklahoma’s senior U.S. senator and ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee
James Inhofe currently is Oklahoma’s senior U.S. Senator. As ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, he aided passage of the 2005 Highway Bill through the U.S. Senate. As a result, Oklahoma now receives more money than it sends to Washington, D.C., in federal highway funding. This historic legislation also lessened the federal bureaucracy over highway trust funds by returning the decision-making process back to the states.
West Virginia congressman and engineer
After receiving a civil engineering degree from Purdue University, David McKinley worked in the construction industry for 12 years before establishing McKinley and Associates, an architectural and engineering firm. Most recently, McKinley was elected as congressman of the 1st District of West Virginia. He filed his first piece of legislation in January 2011 that would remove the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to retroactively veto an existing Section 404(c) Clean Water Act permit. The bill amends the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to explicitly prevent the EPA from revoking a permit under the act after one has been issued by the Secretary of the Army.
Florida congressman and chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee
On Dec. 8, 2010, U.S. Rep. John L. Mica was confirmed by vote of the House Republican Conference to serve as Chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure in the 112th Congress. In the previous two congresses, Mica served as the committee’s Republican leader. He is a strong advocate for improving America’s highways, airports, rail systems, waterways, and maritime transportation systems to supply jobs and enhance infrastructure. One of Mica’s goals as chairman is to enact a long-term reauthorization of federal surface transportation programs. He’s also working to improve America’s high-speed rail plan in the Northeast Corridor. While he agrees with the president that the nation should be shifting more freight and passengers onto rail service, he has been a critic of the president’s expansion of Amtrak under the high-speed rail grants program.
West Virginia congressman and vice chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Serving his 17th term as congressman, Nick Rahall also is dean of the West Virginia Delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives, chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources, and vice chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. According to rahall.house.gov, he was a key architect in the formulation of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century. He has made requests for dozens of surface transportation projects, including construction of multiple highways, interstates, bridges, and railways, and multiple water resources development projects, including the funding of water management plans, flood protection, and wetland mitigations. He also has fought changes to House rules regarding the Highway Trust Fund that would threaten long-standing federal transportation programs.
George Chang, Ph.D., P.E.
Project manager, The Transtec Group, and
Robert Otto Rasmussen, Ph.D., INCE, P.E.
Vice president and chief engineer, The Transtec Group
George Chang, Ph.D., P.E., is recognized as a world expert on pavement smoothness and intelligent compaction technologies. As a result, the websites he develops and maintains — www.roadprofile.com and www.intelligentcompaction.com — have evolved into one-stop shops for pavement smoothness and intelligent compaction for soils, subbase, and asphalt. Leading the software developers and engineers at The Transtec Group, Chang recently developed a new, intelligent compaction tool for geospatial data analysis called “Veda,” as well as another software tool for qualifying weigh-in-motion sites called “OWL.”
Robert Otto Rasmussen, Ph.D., INCE, P.E., is recognized internationally for his technical abilities in all aspects of pavements from materials to design to construction. He has served as a principal investigator on numerous national level research projects, and has overseen more than $15 million of research, largely funded by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and various state departments of transportation. The most notable include the FHWA HIPERPAV system, the FHWA ProVAL Profile Analyzer software, the FHWA Pavement Surface Characteristics program, and participation in Quiet Pavement Initiatives in the states of Colorado, Missouri, Kansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Washington, and Virginia.
Transportation regional manager at Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, Inc.
Bruce D. Nipp, P.E., is a transportation regional manager for planning, engineering and program management firm Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam Inc. (LAN). Nipp is responsible for business development, client relations, and managing transportation projects in the Dallas-Fort Worth region. He has more than 25 years of experience in transportation planning and engineering and has been responsible for several large-scale projects throughout Texas and in California, including the management and coordination of 20 miles of bus rapid transit/light-rail transit for the Metropolitan Transit Authority in Houston. He also worked as a project manager responsible for the design of the 14-mile light rail design-build project from Los Angeles to Pasadena, Calif.
Predrag (Pete) Popovic
President of IABSE
Predrag (Pete) Popovic, vice president and senior principal at Wiss, Janney, Elstener Associates Inc., took office as president of the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering (IABSE) on Nov. 1, 2010, for a period of three years. He previously served as chair of Working Commission 8, member of the Technical Committee, member of the Outstanding Structure Award Committee, and vice president of IABSE. During the last 30 years, he has evaluated and designed repairs for more than 1,500 structures. Major projects included assessment of steel bridges for fatigue damage, investigation of collapses of bridges and buildings, assessment and design of repairs for exterior facades of high-rise buildings as high as 60 stories, and assessment and repair of more than 100 parking structures.
C. Kenneth Orski
Editor and publisher of Innovation Briefs
In its 22nd year of publication, Innovation Briefs is published by C. Kenneth Orski, a public policy consultant and former principal of the Urban Mobility Corp. Orski was the associate administrator of the Urban Mass Transportation Administration from 1970-1978, and senior officer in the U.S. Foreign Service with assignments to the European communities in Brussels and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris, where he directed a program of intergovernmental cooperation in transportation, according to innobriefs.com. He also served as technical advisor to the Federal Transit Administration from 1985-1994, where he worked on policies and programs dealing with private-sector involvement in urban transportation. Lastly, he served on President George W. Bush’s Transportation Policy Task Force, and was a member of the Bush-Cheney transportation transition team.
Susan Martinovich, P.E.
President of AASHTO and director of NDOT
As the director of the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT), Susan Martinovich, P.E., is responsible for the daily operations of the department, which has an annual operating budget of more than $800 million and more than 1,750 employees. As the first female president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), Martinovich supports the association’s primary goal of fostering the development, operation, and maintenance of an integrated national transportation system and advocates for the enactment of a well-funded, multi-year, flexible federal surface transportation program. She also is a member of the Transportation Research Board Executive Committee and the Oversight Committee for SHRP-II, which will oversee the national research activities identified in SAFETEA-LU.
T. Peter Ruane, Ph.D.
President and CEO of ARTBA
T. Peter Ruane, Ph.D., is the president and CEO of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA). He has more than 40 years of diversified experience in the economic development, transportation, construction, and national defense fields. He currently serves as treasurer of the International Road Federation. He also is a trustee of the Transportation Development Foundation and is the vice chairman of the U.S. Chamberled Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM), a broad-based coalition focused on major national transportation legislation. And, he co-chairs the Transportation Construction Coalition, a permanent 30-member market-oriented construction trade association and labor coalition working on industry legislative and regulatory issues. In 2004, he was designated one of the Top 100 Private Sector Transportation Construction Professionals of the 20th Century and was named one of Public Works magazine’s 2005 “Trendsetters” for his leadership in helping to pass SAFETEA-LU.
E-mail nominations for the 2012 RAI Power List to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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