Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
Streetsblog Capitol Hill

Polly Trottenberg Tapped For Senior U.S. DOT Spot

It's a happy Friday for transportation wonks: the White House has nominated Polly Trottenberg, executive director of Building America's Future, as assistant secretary for policy at the federal DOT.

trottenberg.jpgPolly Trottenberg, tapped as assistant DOT secretary (Photo: NewTalk)

Trottenberg's ascension signals that the Obama administration will make transit a serious priority and encourage a more equitable consideration of urban priorities during debate on the upcoming federal transportation bill. Her dozen years of Senate experience, including stints in the offices of Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA), also will prove a valuable asset to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, himself a veteran of the House.

But it's Trottenberg's independent analysis of the recent economic stimulus bill that stands out. She joined New York City DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and former New York State DOT Commissioner Astrid Glynn for a series of progressive recommendations for the stimulus plan -- some of which, such as the "fix-it-first" requirement for roads and bridges, were left out of the final legislation.

And in a panel discussion at NewTalk, Trottenberg acknowledged that the stimulus bill's speedy delivery of cash to state DOTs was at odds with the Obama administration's goal of promoting "green energy":

It appears that we have made some progress in advancing a moretransparent and accountable infrastructure policy in the economicstimulus bill, but it’s likely that we will not do much to achieve whatshould be our ultimate goal – resolving the more fundamental questionof what we are trying to accomplish with our federal investments andtargeting the funds accordingly.

For example, President-elect Obama has called for a “green energy”approach to economic recovery, which will focus on projects that reduceenergy consumption. However, if you survey the potential list oftransportation projects proposed by a number of State Departments ofTransportation, it appears likely this legislation will fund billionsof dollars in new highway capacity in suburban and exurban areas. Theseprojects will exacerbate auto-dependent development and increase fossilfuel consumption.

It's too soon to say whether Trottenberg can combat the desire for political expediency that led to some bad transportation decision-making in the name of economic stimulus. Yet her arrival in the Obama administration is certainly good news.

Late Update: Schumer has released a glowing statement on the nomination of his former aide:

There is no one more knowledgeable and dedicated to improvingtransportation in this country than Polly Trottenberg. Americans can feelconfident that they will see their transportation system across all modesimprove because Polly was nominated today.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

Tuesday’s Headlines Are Running Hard

More political news: Today's top stories delve into Kamala Harris' record on climate change and Republicans' plans for the Trump administration if he returns to power.

July 23, 2024

Disabled NYer’s are Victims of Gov. Hochul’s Congestion Pricing Pause

So many New Yorkers can’t use the closest subway station to their homes because they don't have an elevator. And Gov. Hochul just halted funding for 23 new lifts.

July 23, 2024

State DOTs Could Fuel a Resurgence in Intercity Bus Travel

Private equity firms are killing off intercity bus companies. Will public agencies fill in the gaps?

July 23, 2024

GOP’s ‘Project 2025’ is ‘Based on a Lot of Ignorance’

What does Transportation for America's Beth Osborne think of the transportation portion of the Heritage Foundation's playbook for a Trump presidency?

July 23, 2024

What a Surprise! Hochul’s Congestion Pricing Pause Helps Rich Suburban Drivers

Gov. Hochul's "little guys" certainly have big wallets. Meanwhile, the rest of us suffer with declining subway service and buses that are slower than walking. Thanks, Kathy.

July 22, 2024
See all posts