Secretaries’ Day: A powerful meeting for transportation policy

The University of Virginia’s Miller Center (Photo: The University of Virginia Magazine)The University of Virginia’s Miller Center (Photo: The University of Virginia Magazine)

Conferences come and conferences go but as conferences go this one could be really good.

Six former U.S. transportation secretaries, who served under every president from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush, will be among the participants in a conference held by the University of Virginia’s Miller Center in Washington, D.C. on Monday, April 29.

The Miller Center has produced some powerful stuff in recent years, some of it relying on the input of former transportation secretaries, some of whom will be at this meeting.

The Center’s clout seems to come from a balancing act between politics and practicality and an ability to find powerful people who like the idea of a bipartisanship with teeth. The Center has produced some extremely valuable blueprints for our transportation infrastructure policy-makers, who have, in turn, largely ignored them. And while this conference isn’t dedicated to policy development, I’m looking forward to it.

This is a group of people that might be able to kick-start reauthorization. Maybe that’s a reach. But reauthorization is next fall and the political wind-up is about to start in earnest. Some thoughtful, reasonable, practical and daring–these guys can be daring, maybe even risky–ideas may be a handy roadmap for us as we start toward September 2014.

The 2013 David R. Goode National Transportation Policy Conference, which starts at 1:30 p.m. at the National Press Club, will examine the role of the president in articulating and advocating a national transportation vision.

The Secretaries include James Burnley (Ronald Reagan); Samuel Skinner and Andrew Card (George H.W. Bush); Rodney Slater (Bill Clinton); and Norman Mineta and Mary Peters (George W. Bush).

Other events at this meeting with star Jim Oberstar, former chairman and former ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and Polly Trottenberg, under secretary of transportation for policy.