• Industry Can Be Optimistic About New FHWA Director

    From Michael St. Clair, Executive Director & Lobbyist, Iowa Outdoor Advertising Association and with permission of the OAAA.


    On October 25, a US Senate committee approved the nomination of Paul Trombino as administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, which oversees billboard controls. Michael St. Clair, lobbyist for the billboard industry in Iowa, prepared this report on Trombino, director of Iowa DOT from 2011-2016).

    Based on the Iowa experience, we have reason to be optimistic about incoming FHWA Director Paul Trombino, who was a competent leader and manager at Iowa DOT.

    Here are highlights, from the billboard-industry perspective:

    In Iowa, the industry has long enjoyed a good working relationship with state DOT. As director, Trombino did nothing to meddle in or disrupt that rapport.

    We worked directly with the Department’s advertising staff to resolve issues. Trombino gave general direction/set the tone, and let division directors do their jobs.

    Trombino is smart, he has a commanding presence, and should not be considered a regulatory pushover.

    Trombino is an IronMan triathlete who used metrics and technology to drive decisions and goals. Under his watch at Iowa DOT, the agency applied technology to become more efficient and user friendly. Improvements included better data-sharing with insurance companies, a snowplow tracking system viewable to the public, and the licensing process.

    President Trump nominated Trombino to lead FHWA, a job that requires confirmation by the 100-member US Senate.

    A Senate committee held a (non-controversial) hearing on Trombino’s nomination October 6. In conjunction with his hearing, a senator asked Trombino about proposals in some states to allow commercial ads inside the highway fence line, on the right of way.

    This issue hasn’t surfaced in Iowa; Trombino said he wanted to learn more. He also cited longstanding FHWA policy: “FHWA has historically interpreted the law to prohibit commercial advertising in the right of way in order to ensure the safe and efficient operation of traffic along the highways.”



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