Associate Administrator for the Federal Highway Administration Shailen Bhatt is Governor Markell’s nominee to fill the vacancy at the top of the Delaware Department of Transportation.
Bhatt, a 35-year-old who grew up in Canada, has spent the last two years working in D.C., setting policy and managing relationship with members of Congress. “I am just so proud to be nominated for this position, and if I have the honor of being confirmed by the Senate, I look forward to working hard to help DelDOT achieve its full potential.”
Markell says he cast a broad net in trying to find the right replacement for former DelDOT secretary Carol Ann Wicks, who resigned in March. “It’s obviously a very difficult job, so I’m not surprised that it took me a few months to find Shailen.” He says he interviewed a number of candidates and got advice from current and former governors along with federal transportation officials before selecting Bhatt.
Bhatt says the most important part of his job over the next few months if he is confirmed, will be listening. “I want to hear from the people and businesses in Delaware how the system is working for them. Is it meeting their needs? What are we doing right and what can we do better?” Bhatt says he has been made aware of some of the problems that have faced the department in recent months. “What will be important in order to make sure that we move Delaware forward and we are able to meet the goals is to ensure that we’re finding out what it is we want our transportation system to accomplish, where we want our strategic investments to be made, and then making sure that the finances are in place.”
Bhatt is currently on the advisory committee of the State Smart Transportation Initiative and formerly served as a board member for Preservation Kentucky and the Bowling Green/Warren County Regional Airport. Bhatt currently lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Neelam.
Bhatt’s nomination must be approved by the state Senate. Markell says he hopes that will happen next month.