(UPDATE: FDOT spokesman Dick Kane said late Thursday that Prasad "had no role in this procurement." He said the contract was was awarded after two internal committees reviewed the bids for the job, which was advertised on Aug. 11. He said the selection of HNTB was not Thursday, as announced by the firm, but on Oct. 13, when Prasad was still FDOT secretary. But Kane said Prasad had no oversight of the committees and didn't steer the contract to his future employer in any way while he was secretary. "Again, he had no role in it," Kane said. HNTB for the next three years will provide consulting to the FDOT about how the state can prepare for autonomous vehicles, or driverless cars.)
Timing really is everything.
Just two days after the engineering firm HNTB Corp. announced it had hired former Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad, the DOT's central office selected HNTB for a three-year contract.
HNTB announced on Tuesday that Prasad was to "develop and direct strategies that enhance HNTB’s service to state departments of transportation across the country," including Florida. It picked the right guy, considering that Prasad resigned from the FDOT in December after serving as secretary since 2010.
Before getting hired by the FDOT, Prasad had been vice president of HNTB. And before working for HNTB as its vice president, Prasad had served as assistant secretary for engineering and operations for, yes, the FDOT.
For those keeping score at home, Prasad's resume reads: FDOT ==> HNTB ==> FDOT ==> HNTB. Two days after he rejoins HNTB, FDOT hires HNTB for big new contract.
Here's how HNTB announced its good fortune:
Florida Department of Transportation’s Central Office selects
HNTB Corporation for automated vehicle support
Infrastructure firm will assist Florida as the state establishes itself as an industry leader
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Jan. 15, 2015) – The Central Office of the Florida Department of Transportation has selected HNTB Corporation for a three-year automated vehicle support contract.
“Florida is one of a handful of states leading the way toward a future where cars talk with one another, the roadway and eventually drive themselves,” said Mike Inabinet, HNTB Southeast Division president. “Connected and automated vehicles will inform drivers and transportation users, making travel safer and more efficient. HNTB is proud to support the Sunshine State as it moves forward with national and international partners and explores how the car of the future will work and be deployed, developing curriculum to nurture local talent, as well as attracting new businesses and innovators to Florida.”
HNTB will support FDOT by working directly with auto manufacturers, related original equipment manufacturers and suppliers on pilot projects, working with universities on automated vehicle research projects, and developing policy to move forward with application testing.
“Big changes on are the horizon for the driving public and those of us in the transportation industry,” said Jim Barbaresso, HNTB national practice leader for intelligent transportation systems (ITS). “With automated and connected vehicles being integrated into the marketplace over the next decade, it is foreseeable that available roadway capacity can be greatly increased without adding another inch of pavement.”
“And, because automated and connected vehicles have faster reaction times and are not prone to distracted or impaired driving, there could be a tremendous decrease in vehicle crashes, injuries and fatalities as well,” he added. “Florida is setting the bar for other states across the nation.”
HNTB’s ITS work in Florida also includes consulting with the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority as it plans fulfilling its role as an affiliate test bed for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Connected Vehicle Test Bed program, in this case along the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway.
The firm is a recognized leader in the ITS industry, with extensive experience developing transportation, toll and emergency operations centers; traffic management systems; and conducting the latest infrastructure and connected vehicle research. Since 2005, HNTB has been involved in a growing number of projects related to the national Connected Vehicle initiative, including designing and building one of the first live test beds with the Michigan Department of Transportation.
HNTB Corporation is an employee-owned infrastructure solutions firm serving public and private owners and construction contractors. Now celebrating a century of service in the U.S. and 60 years in Florida, HNTB continues to grow in size and service offerings to clients from 13 regular office locations, currently employing approximately 380 full-time professionals in the state. HNTB understands the life cycle of infrastructure and addresses clients’ most complex technical, financial and operational challenges. Professionals nationwide deliver a full range of infrastructure-related services, including award-winning planning, design, program management and construction management. For more information, visit www.hntb.com.