By Eileen Houlihan, ARTBA senior writer/editor
Three top executives from the Metropolitan Washington area transportation community addressed nearly 200 attendees of the Metropolitan Transportation Opportunities Conference on April 27 in Arlington, Virginia, to discuss upcoming market opportunities for smaller, women-owned or minority-owned businesses in the region. The annual event was co-hosted by MWRTBA and DBE Advance LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based firm that helps government agencies, prime contractors, and service providers better involve those companies in major infrastructure projects in the region. FHWA D.C. Division Administrator Chris Lawson emceed the event.
Attendees – whose businesses include heavy highway construction, bridge and civil engineering, architectural services, and others- heard from Dr. Charles Glass, the assistant secretary for the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT); Helen Cuervo, P.E., Northern Virginia district engineer for the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT); and the D.C. District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Director Jeff Marootian. All three discussed current and future projects for their respective departments of transportation and how to locate information on how to register, become certified as a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), or Small Business Enterprise (SBE), and how to bid on projects. For more information visit the MDOT, VDOT and DDOT websites.
Cuervo noted that Virginia not only has several “mega” transportation projects on the horizon including the routes 66, 395 and 495 Express Lanes projects, but also offers opportunities for smaller business at the administrative services level, including communications, facilities and maintenance, trash debris and removal, landscaping and other arboriculture services. Maryland’s Glass noted the state’s three transportation business units, the Maryland State Highway Administration, Maryland Aviation Administration and Maryland Transit Administration all participate in the DBE program with participation goals of at least 25 percent for fiscal years 2017-2019. DDOT’s Marootian, who runs a municipal DOT that also functions as a state DOT, said the concern in a city that is growing by upwards of 1,000 residents a month has to be on safety and said his department is working with D.C. Mayor Bowser on the Vision Zero objective to reach zero fatalities of travelers on its transportation system by 2024 through the effective use of data, education, enforcement and engineering, encouraging attendees to work on projects involved in those efforts.
MWRTBA presented FHWA’s Lawson with an award for his efforts to start and continue the area opportunities conference, formerly known as the DBE conference, and for his work as mentor to regional transportation infrastructure professionals including MWRTBA Executive Director Mike Sakata. For more information on MWRTBA and its programs for members in the D.C. Metropolitan region, visit www.mwrtba.org.