Supporters of Thomas J. Madison Jr., President Bush’s nominee to lead the Federal Highway Administration, hope the Senate will confirm him quickly. No initial objections to Madison, 42, a former head of the New York State Dept. of Transportation, have surfaced. But only five months are left in the Bush administration and few legislative days remain before Congress ends.

Madison (2nd from left) led NY DOT in 2005-2007.
New York State Dept. of Transportation
Madison (2nd from left) led NY DOT in 2005-2007.

Construction industry reaction to Madison is positive. “I think it’s a terrific nomination,” says A.J. Castelbuono, New York State Associated General Contractors’ president and CEO. In industry and at the state DOT, “I think everybody liked him,” Castelbuono says. The American Road and Transportation Builders Association wants to see Madison confirmed. “The sooner the better,” says President and CEO Peter Ruane. “He has very practical, relevant experience.”

Madison was NYSDOT commissioner from 2005 until early 2007, under then-Gov. George Pataki (R). Madison helped push for a $2.9-billion transportation bond issue, which state voters approved in 2005. He moved from the state DOT to Spectra Environmental Group Inc., Latham, N.Y., where he is president of its subsurface imaging group. Madison also has been on the board of the New York State Bridge Authority since 2006.

Most of his career has been in New York political posts, as an aide to state legislators, a county official and in several jobs in Pataki’s administration, including assistant secretary to the governor for transportation and deputy secretary, before becoming DOT chief.

Madison also has some construction background. In 1991, he was a general foreman for Binghamton-based T.J. Madison Construction Co., which is headed by his father.

The Senate picture is hard to read. Among nominees for other DOT slots, Simon Gros was confirmed on June 27 as assistant secretary for governmental affairs. Still pending are Robert Sturgell, nominated on Oct. 2 to head the Federal Aviation Administration, and Tyler Duvall, nominated on March 31 as under secretary for policy. James Ray, FHWA deputy administrator, has been its acting head since February, when J. Richard Capka left the top job to be chief operating officer of a consulting and lobbying firm.

If Madison is confirmed, Jay Hansen, National Asphalt Pavement Association vice president, says, “It’s just a caretaker role, I would think, until the next administration is named.” If the presumed GOP nominee, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), is elected, he may ask some Bush officials to stay on, Hansen says. “Otherwise, it’s going to be all new people early next year,” he says.