The U.S. Senate has confirmed Shailen Bhatt, President Joe Biden’s nominee, to head the U.S. Dept. of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), where he will be a central figure in the continued rollout of $350 billion in highway and bridge funding contained in the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Bhatt’s approval as FHWA administrator came by voice vote on Dec. 8.
At Bhatt’s confirmation hearing in September, senators praised his multi-faceted transportation background, most notably as the leader of the Delaware and Colorado departments of transportation.
U.S. DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement after Bhatt was confirmed, “His leadership will be a tremendous asset as we continue to implement the largest investment n our nation’s roads, bridges and highways in a generation and we are thrilled to have him on our team."
FHWA is familiar territory for Bhatt, who served as an associate administrator at the agency during the Obama administration.
After his stints in the top jobs at the Delaware and Colorado DOTs, Bhatt from 2017 to 2021 was chief executive officer of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America.
His most recent position has been as a senior vice president with AECOM, which ranks No. 2 on ENR’s 2022 Top 500 Design Firms list.
Dr. Shawn Wilson, secretary of the Louisiana Dept. of Transportation and Development, tweeted on Dec. 8 that Bhatt "understands infrastructure & the industry that delivers it for our nation."
Wilson added that Bhatt is "a cool transpo geek [who] will work very well with @USDOT @SecretaryPete."
The most senior official at FHWA has been Stephanie Pollack, who was named the agency’s deputy administrator six days after the start of the Biden administration, in January 2021.
In July of this year, Pollack—a former secretary and CEO of the Massachusetts DOT—has been serving as FHWA’s acting administrator.
Bhatt was nominated in July for the FHWA post, had his confirmation hearing in September and was approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Nov. 29.