The board of directors of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) elected Carlos Braceras P.E., executive director of the Utah Department of Transportation, to serve as its new president and Missouri DOT Director Patrick McKenna as its vice president.
“I’m honored and inspired to accept the role of AASHTO president during this inflection point in transportation history,” Braceras said in a prepared statement. “State DOTs are facing new challenges on several fronts. As technology develops rapidly, we as owners need to adapt proactively to operate safer, more effective transportation systems. Attracting and keeping a highly-skilled workforce is critical. It’s also imperative that we find ways to educate lawmakers and members of the general public about the irrefutable connection between long-term investment and safer, smarter and more reliable transportation systems.”
Prior to today’s election, Braceras served as AASHTO’s vice president and secretary-treasurer. As president he will focus on three emphasis areas: workforce development, reauthorization of current surface transportation legislation to include funding and policy reform, all while “communicating transportation’s vital role” in American life.
In terms of workforce development, Braceras said the current robust economy and low unemployment rate are making it difficult for state agencies to compete with the private sector for engineers, technicians and information technology professionals.
“State DOTs must attract and keep these workers to build, maintain and manage America’s increasingly sophisticated transportation networks,” said Braceras. “Funding and policy reforms will also be needed because the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act expires in 2020.”
A native of New Jersey, Braceras began his career at UDOT in 1986, becoming UDOT’s executive director in 2013, responsible for more than 1,600 employees along with the design, construction and maintenance of Utah’s 6,000-mile road and highway system, as well as transit projects. Braceras previously served as the agency’s deputy director and chief engineer, where he helped shape UDOT’s strategic direction and its mission of developing innovative transportation solutions to strengthen Utah’s economy and enhance quality of life.
Braceras earned a bachelor’s degree in geology from the University of Vermont and a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Utah. Prior to UDOT, he worked as a well-site geologist in the oil and gas exploration/development industry.
Braceras said he and his wife enjoy spending time in the great outdoors, with their favorite activities including skiing, bicycling, golfing, camping, windsurfing and sailing on the Great Salt Lake.
Newly elected AASHTO Vice President McKenna has served as director of the Missouri Department of Transportation since December of 2015. He previously was the deputy commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation.
McKenna, who is also president of the Mid America Association of Transportation Officials for 2017–2018, is a member of the executive committee for the National Academy of Science’s Transportation Research Board. He received a bachelor’s degree in finance from Bentley College and a master’s in management and finance from the University of Maryland University College.