The top official in Maine’s Department of Transportation has been selected to lead a national transportation trade group.

David B. Bernhardt, the commissioner of Maine’s DOT, has been chosen by the board of directors of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials to serve as its next president for 2017, according to a release from the DOT.

The group is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association representing highway and transportation departments in 50 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Its primary goal is to foster the development, operation and maintenance of an integrated national transportation system.

“Transportation matters today more than ever,” said Bernhardt in the release. “American families and businesses depend on transportation infrastructure to be competitive. I strongly believe that investment in the maintenance and upgrade of our transportation infrastructure is critical to sustaining a vibrant U.S. economy.”

Bernhardt will concentrate on working closely with the administration of President-elect Donald Trump, as well as members of Congress to develop strong transportation legislation. Trump said during his campaign that national infrastructure improvements would be a priority of his administration. A top priority will be how to collectively address intermodal freight capacity and improve rail connections, in addition to creating freight networks that support our nation’s businesses, according to the release.

Bernhardt was appointed commissioner by Gov. Paul LePage in February 2011. Prior to that, he served in several top positions at Maine DOT including director of maintenance and operations. Bernhardt is a 1984 graduate of the University of Maine at Orono and a registered professional engineer.

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