Click here to watch Chairman Barrasso’s remarks.  

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), delivered the following remarks at a hearing titled, “Innovation and America’s Infrastructure: Examining the Effects of Emerging Autonomous Technologies on America’s Roads and Bridges.”

The hearing featured testimony from Bill Panos, director of the Wyoming Department of Transportation; Shailen Bhatt, president and chief executive officer of Intelligent Transportation Society of America; Dr. Zachary Doerzaph, director of the Center for Advanced Automotive Research; Polly Trottenberg, commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation; and Shaun Kildare, director of research at the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. 

For more information on witness testimony click here.

Senator Barrasso’s remarks:

“Today we will examine the implications of emergent technologies on America’s roadway infrastructure.

“Last month, our committee unanimously passed bipartisan legislation to improve America’s water infrastructure.

“We are now working together to pass America’s Water Infrastructure Act on the Senate floor.

“I believe this bipartisan success on water infrastructure will lead to bipartisan success on America’s surface transportation infrastructure –namely legislation to address our roads and our bridges.

“We are planning to build infrastructure that will last for decades.

“We need to understand the new challenges that those decades will bring to all of us.

“The ongoing development and implementation of autonomous vehicles, connected vehicles, and other innovations, has the potential to fundamentally change the way our nation’s infrastructure works.

“Autonomous vehicles will likely require modifications to our roadways, and changes to the practices of federal, state, and local transportation agencies.

“It’s critical that state and federal transportation agencies are prepared and equipped to tackle the potential opportunities and challenges they present for our roads.

“Those agencies will need to develop, install, and maintain traffic control devices in such a way that they are understood and obeyed by motorists, as well as autonomous vehicles.

“As autonomous vehicles become more common on the road, they could influence regional traffic models and forecasts.

“They will also add new factors as agencies make long-term planning decisions.

“At the same time, new vehicle technologies offer many potential benefits, and could transform the way we view surface transportation altogether.

“Soon, elderly and disabled Americans, as well as those without a car of their own, may be able to travel by vehicle with greater ease and independence.

“Likewise, these innovations have great potential to reduce crashes and fatalities, to improve mobility, and to increase the efficiency of the roadway system.

“How their benefits are realized will depend on industry and agencies working together to make sure our roads keep pace with the vehicles that they accommodate.

“An excellent example of infrastructure innovation is happening in my home state of Wyoming.

“The Wyoming Department of Transportation is implementing a connected vehicles pilot program to improve monitoring and reporting of road conditions on Interstate 80.

“Projects like these are vital for the future of our nation’s roadway infrastructure.

“So I am so glad that Bill Panos, the director of the Wyoming Department of Transportation, is here to tell us more about that project and the other work being done at his department.

“I also want to thank all of our witnesses for participating in today’s hearing.

“Your expertise and insight will help us understand potential high-tech challenges and opportunities for our nation’s roadway infrastructure.”