Commission's Lineup
Chairman: U.S. DOT Secretary Norman Mineta

R. Richard Geddes, Cornell University, associate professor, (appointed by President Bush)

Stephen Odland, CEO Office Depot Inc.; former AutoZone Inc. CEO (Bush)

Mary Peters, HDR senior VP; ex-FHWA administrator (Bush)
Paul Weyrich, CEO, Free Congress foundation, (appointed by Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn.)

Patrick Quinn, co-chairman, U.S. Xpress Enterprises; chairman American Trucking Associations (Frist)

Frank McArdle, retired managing director, General Contractors Association of New York (appointed by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.)

Tom Skancke, founder, The Skancke Co.,lobbying, consulting firm (Reid)

Matthew Rose, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. CEO (appointed by Rep. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.)

Jack Schenendorf, attorney; former House transportation committee staff director (Hastert)

Frank Busalacchi, Wisconsin DOT secretary; former Teamsters local official (appointed by Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.)

Steve Heminger, executive director, Metropolitan Transportation Commission, San Francisco area (Pelosi)

The roster finally is set for a congressionally mandated commission charged with recommending ways to deal with the highway funding squeeze. Once the group begins to meet, it will have to hurry to produce its required report by a July 1, 2007, deadline. Delays in filling the panel�s slots already have put it months behind schedule. A more important issue is whether that report, whatever it says, will have an impact on lawmakers who draft the next big transportation bill, in 2009.

With a widespread feeling that new ways to fund road building should be explored, Congress set up a National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission in last year�s SAFETEA-LU legislation. As that measure required, Senate and House leaders picked eight panel members. President Bush completed the lineup April 6, filling three slots. SAFETEA-LU mandated that all members were supposed to be named four months ago.

"Their mandate is very broad," says American Highway Users Alliance CEO Greg Cohen. The statute calls for a "comprehensive study" of such items as road and transit system conditions and future needs, near-term Highway Trust Fund revenue sources and "long-term alternatives" to the fuel tax as the fund�s cornerstone.

"It�s a big, big job," says Cathy Connor, Parsons Brinckerhoff senior vice president for government affairs. "This is not going to be easy." Jay Hansen, National Asphalt Pavement Association vice president for government affairs, adds, "They�re going to be challenged to come up with ways of financing the transportation system of the future."

Cohen says views about the panel have changed, with estimates now projecting the trust fund�s highway account will fall into the red at the end of fiscal 2009. Earlier, observers thought there might be a funding pinch "way into the future," he says. "Now it�s more like, 'We have trouble right now.'"