Joe McAndrew, Vice President of Regional Mobility and Infrastructure, started with the Partnership in its earlier days. Since 2017 he has led the charge on some of our most critical work advocating for more inclusive and accessible transportation and infrastructure that connects our region and powers equitable growth. Joe knows just how critical collaborative cross-sector and jurisdictional partnerships are to achieving a shared vision of inclusive growth for the Capital Region.
You’ve been with the Partnership since its earliest days. What motivated you to join such a young organization?
I am a Capital Region resident and I wanted to lend my training towards achieving the Partnership’s vision of creating a stronger, more successful, and competitive region that affords my family as well as my neighbors the ability to thrive and prosper.
Looking back at all you and the team have accomplished in the past few years, what are some of your personal highlights?
As the saying goes, many hands make light work. None of the region’s ‘wins’ are accomplished without many parties coming together to deliver results. This said, we are honored to have helped the region achieve these headliners: securing the long-sought dedicated funding for WMATA in 2018 (and hopeful reauthorization of WMATA at the federal level this Congress); the game-changing Transforming Rail in Virginia program from 2019; passage of the MARC Expansion bill by the Maryland General Assembly, as well as the Long Bridge Act by Congress in late 2020; and forward movement on the Frederick Douglass Tunnel project in 2021. The future looks very bright for transportation in the region as we are well-positioned to maximize our returns on the expected federal infrastructure bill upon its passage this year.
Mobility and infrastructure are hot-button topics right now but have always been critical to an inclusive and prosperous region. What motivated you to enter this space?
I grew up in Iowa. Traveling around the country, living abroad, and moving to the DMV after undergrad allowed me to appreciate that our built environment is a key determinant for how we live our lives. Reading Greater Greater Washington in those days helped me a ton, and I landed on wanting to spend my time trying to help create a transportation system that supported sustainable and healthy communities. Through years of work, and a graduate degree in urban and regional planning, I now know what gets prioritized and measured gets built, and I am happy to be able to lend a hand supporting the region’s efforts to prioritize transportation investments that can create a more inclusive, economically competitive, safe, and healthy region that I call home.
What has surprised you most during your time at the Partnership?
The people and the culture are tops no doubt. As a region, I wish we were better at celebrating our transportation ‘wins’ a bit more often. Of course, we have a long way to go to deliver a more accessible and competitive multimodal transportation system that rivals foreign superstar regions, but we come to the conversation with strong bones that many peer regions in the U.S. would beg to have. Take our rail and trains systems, we have new funding and are making moves to transform our systems from Baltimore to Richmond. We should appreciate and celebrate these wins because it sets us apart from other regions in the U.S., including high-growth regions like Austin or Denver.
How have you evolved as a leader during your time at the Partnership? How has your leadership style changed through the Pandemic?
Building trust requires showing up for partners and patience is key. This is true for both moving an infrastructure project from a plan to opening day, as well as working with regional partners and colleagues. We are all working towards similar goals. Slowing down to appreciate different paths to get to the same result has helped me adapt my understanding and approach to managing a dynamic team, as well as supporting the region’s implementation of the Capital Region Blueprint for Regional Mobility.
If you could snap your fingers and solve any issue or hurdle you’ve encountered in this work, what would it be and why?
I’d stick a cool billion or more dollars into a federal grant program to integrate all surface transportation trip options in the region onto one fare payment portal. It is silly with today’s technology that anyone needs even a few mobile phone apps to call up a cab, rent a bike, or travel across various publicly funded transit options. Yet, we still do, and this is because each jurisdiction and transit operator focus day to day on what they control and own and rarely have time to step back and work together to deliver an optimal experience for the region’s residents, employers, and tourists. I expect this will get solved someday, but the federal government could speed this up.
What is your favorite activity or pastime to do around the Capital Region?
Happy Hour on the Amtrak bar car, I mean café car, if staying on brand. Outside of work, a good hike in the fall followed by a Liverpool FC win makes for a great weekend.
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