U.S. President Joe Biden has nominated passenger rail expert Karen Hedlund to serve as a member of the Surface Transportation Board (STB), according to a Wednesday announcement from the White House.
Hedlund could replace current board member and former board chairman Ann Begeman, whose term will come to a close at the end of 2021.
Hedlund has served as a legal adviser at the federal, state and local levels and has been involved in the development and financing of infrastructure projects related to rail, transit, highways, airports, water and energy facilities, the White House said.
She has previously served as chief counsel and deputy administrator at the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). At FRA, she helped implement and oversee the $10 billion intercity passenger rail program. She also served as chief counsel at the Federal Highway Administration. Prior to serving at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), she was a partner at Nossaman LP, where she advised state and local clients on public-private partnerships.
Hedlund has extensive experience in public transportation, including working on projects to enhance passenger rail in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest, and she has served as co-chair of the commuter and high-speed and passenger rail legislative subcommittee for the American Public Transportation Association.
This nomination comes on the heels of Biden’s nomination to have FRA Deputy Administrator Amit Bose serve as its administrator.
Bose has held senior level roles at the DOT and FRA and was involved in efforts to pass the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) and the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), according to an April 22 White House announcement.
In addition to serving as FRA’s deputy administrator, he has also served as its chief counsel and senior adviser, where he guided the agency in the implementation of positive train control, among other agency initiatives. He also held positions in the transportation secretary’s office under the Obama administration, serving as associate general counsel and deputy assistant secretary for governmental affairs.
Prior to serving at DOT, Bose worked for New Jersey Transit, New Jersey Department of Transportation and U.S. Congress as a transportation staffer. The White House also said he has been involved in some of the highest-profile rail and transportation projects, including the Northeast Corridor Gateway Program, California High-Speed Rail, Acela 2021 trainsets and Liberty Corridor.
Nicole Brewin, senior vice president of government and public affairs for the Railway Supply Institute (RSI), said of his nomination, “Acting Administrator Bose has been a longtime advocate for increasing federal investments in our rail infrastructure, particularly along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, and there is no question that his knowledge, leadership and years of experience in the industry will continue to be a tremendous asset to FRA in this role. We are excited to continue working with Mr. Bose to increase federal infrastructure investment, advance regulations that promote safety and competitiveness, and create and sustain American jobs in the railway supply industry.”
Mike Freidberg, executive director of the Coalition for the Northeast Corridor (CNEC), said, “Over the years, Amit has been a staunch advocate for infrastructure improvements and investments along the Northeast Corridor (NEC). As this administration looks to ensure we have access to 21st century infrastructure, the CNEC is confident that necessary improvements to improve the safety and efficiency of passenger rail up and down the NEC will be taken under Amit’s leadership. We look forward to working with Amit in his new role.”
CNEC also noted that Bose previously served as its chairman.