On April 20th, Ms. Kay Batey, FHWA Administrator for Illinois, addressed a group of 40 at Maggiano's Little Italy in River North. Ms. Batey has been Division administrator for FHWA for almost 3 years and in that time has directed a staff of 33 professionals that deliver the Federal Aid Highway Program in Illinois. Ms. Batey gave a fascinating summary of her impressive career which includes 11 years as FHWA Assistant Division Administrator for Alabama, 8 years as the Planning and Project Development Engineer in North Carolina, four years as a Transportation Engineer in the Louisiana Division and several years as an Environmental Engineer for the Maryland Division.
She took the group through the history of the US roadway policy and the significant changes in each federal Highway Act (later Surface Transportation Act) that Congress passed. She also explained some of the frustrating times when political realities resulted in multiple "continuing resolutions" as a band-aid when the political climate was such that compromise between the parties and/or between the chambers of Congress meant that the Act was drawing to an end, and could not be replaced with a multiyear vision for transportation by the time of expiration. She culminated with highlights of the current Act, the FAST Act, which was signed into law by President Obama on December 4, 2015.
The Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act is five-year legislation to improve the Nation's surface transportation infrastructure, including our roads, bridges, transit systems, and rail transportation network. The bill reforms and strengthens transportation programs, refocuses on national priorities, provides long-term certainty and more flexibility for states and local governments, streamlines project approval processes, and maintains a strong commitment to safety.