President Trump nominated former Iowa DOT Director Paul Trombino to become the next chief of the Federal Highway Administration, drawing on Trombino’s deep industry ties and experience with a broad range of transportation issues.
As FHWA administrator, Trombino would oversee agency officials who work with all states’ transportation departments to help deploy federal funds from the nation’s largest infrastructure investment account – the Highway Trust Fund, which supports highway, transit and multimodal freight projects.
The position requires Senate confirmation, and if confirmed he would follow Greg Nadeau as the permanent FHWA administrator. Currently, Deputy FHWA Administrator Brandye Hendrickson, a former Indiana Department of Transportation commissioner, is heading the agency on an acting basis.
Some of Trump’s nominees for senior positions in the USDOT have been held up for months awaiting confirmation, as senators from New York and New Jersey reportedly stalled them while waiting for the administration to commit funds to the Hudson River rail tunnel project. President Trump held a White House meeting Sept. 7 with lawmakers and governors from those states.
Besides previously heading the Iowa DOT, Trombino was also president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials for a year in 2015-16, after first serving a year as the group’s vice president.
In those roles, he interacted extensively with CEOs of other state DOTs, plus with federal lawmakers and regulators, and repeatedly appeared before Congress to testify on regulatory and legislative issues.
Trombino played a major role in helping formulate AASHTO positions in the runup to congressional passage late in 2015 of the five-year Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, which set highway and transit program funding levels and authorized federal rail programs for fiscal 2016 through 2020.
He was also vice chair in 2016 of the Transportation Research Board’s executive committee.
Bud Wright, AASHTO’s executive director, said that Trombino “has been an important leader in transportation for many years. His emphasis on transportation as a key part of economic development – particularly the movement of freight and goods in a global economy – has helped frame national policy and investments.”
Wright added: “We look forward to working closely with Administrator-nominee Trombino and the Federal Highway Administration on important issues facing the national transportation system – including the deployment of new technologies that increase safety and improve efficiency, streamlining project delivery to ensure the American public gets the best value on its transportation investments, and addressing the long-term stability of the Highway Trust Fund.”
Former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad appointed Trombino in May 2011 as director of the Iowa DOT, where he oversaw the state’s highway, transit, rail and air modal programs, plus motor vehicle services, motor carrier services and enforcement agencies.
Trombino resigned last November and moved into the private sector, becoming president in January of Des Moines-based McClure Engineering Co.
Before helming the Iowa DOT, he worked for 17 years at the Wisconsin DOT in positions that included operations director of the highway division and director of the Bureau of Transit, Local Roads, Rails and Harbors.
Earlier, he spent four years in the finance and banking industry in Chicago and Washington, D.C.