Obama nominates FHWA, RITA, NHTSA administrators

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President Obama has announced his nominees for three administration posts within the U.S. Department of Transportation: Victor M. Mendez for administrator, Federal Highway Administration; Peter H. Appel for administrator, Research and Innovative Technology Administration; and Charles A. Hurley for administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Obama also nominated John D. Porcari for DOT deputy secretary.

Mendez was a member of former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano’s cabinet as director of the Arizona DOT. He has extensive experience in transportation, including innovations in the areas of funding and financing, technology, infrastructure, research, planning and internal operations. Mendez has served as a past president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and in 2008 he was selected as Leader of the Year in Public Policy in Transportation by the Arizona Capitol Times. Previously, Mendez was selected as the deputy state engineer to lead the implementation of the Phoenix area’s multibillion-dollar freeway system.

Appel is a principal with the global management consulting firm of A.T. Kearney Inc. He has led business improvement initiatives for clients in the private and public sectors, with a focus on transportation and infrastructure. Appel has more than 20 years of experience in transportation and has supported organizations in the railroad, trucking, airline and ocean shipping industries with growth strategy, supply chain improvement, post-merger integration, public-private partnerships and other key business and policy issues. Previously, Appel served as the special assistant to the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, and as assistant director for pricing and yield management at Amtrak.

Hurley has been chief executive officer of Mothers Against Drunk Driving since 2005 and previously held senior leadership positions with the National Safety Council and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety over the last 30 years. In addition to his work on drunk-driving issues, he has worked extensively with law enforcement on air bag and seatbelt issues, teen driving and child passenger safety. He worked with Obama, a state senator at the time, on his successful efforts in 2003 to strengthen Illinois’ laws regarding seatbelts, teen driving, child passenger safety and racial profiling. Prior to his career in highway safety, Hurley worked for a governor, state speaker, mayor and member of Congress, and was a Naval intelligence officer.

Porcari currently serves as secretary of the Maryland DOT, a position in which he is responsible for the highway, transit, aviation, maritime and motor vehicle registration modes of the state’s transportation system. Porcari also serves as chairman of the entity responsible for operating the state’s bridge and tunnel facilities. He is in his second tour as secretary, having previously served in this capacity from 1999 to 2002. At the Maryland DOT, Porcari implemented a record highway program for the state, including construction of the $2.4 billion InterCounty Connector that includes an environmental program. He also was directly involved in the development and funding of the $2.4 billion Woodrow Wilson Bridge. In between his service as Maryland’s transportation secretary, Porcari served as vice president for administrative affairs at the University of Maryland, where he served as the chief administrative and financial officer.