Top 40 Under 40 2013: Nate Macek

Nate Macek has more than a decade of experience performing financial analysis, policy analysis, strategic management and planning studies for transit systems, highways, toll roads and other public works. He has conducted cash flow modeling and analyses of capital and operating funding for more than two dozen transportation agencies, applying innovative nonprofit and public-sector financing techniques to address the budgetary challenges faced by public agencies. He has created integrated financial models to evaluate funding, alternative project delivery and innovative financing for highway and transit projects in the U.S., Europe, the Caribbean and the Middle East.

Macek is a specialist in developing financial capacity analysis plans supporting Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Section 5309 New Starts grant applications, including three — totaling $4.8 billion — that have been recommended for Full-Funding Grant Agreements for the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. He has also developed financial plans for transit alternatives analysis and environmental clearance studies, TIGER grant applications and Small Starts projects. In addition, he has examined the financial feasibility of the Makkah Mass Rail Transit program in Saudi Arabia.

His other project experience includes policy analyses for the U.S. Department of Transportation, including a report to Congress on public-private partnerships (PPPs) in transit. He has also been involved with strategic management studies, and he has taught a National Transit Institute course on financial planning in transportation.

He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, American Planning Association, Transportation Research Board (TRB) Revenue and Finance Committee and the Planning Commission of the city of Alexandria. He also served on Alexandria’s Waterfront Commission, chairing the group from 2009 to 2013. During his tenure, he helped to develop a land use plan for the city’s historic waterfront district. He also authored Alexandria’s successful nomination of King Street as one of the American Planning Association’s 2011 Great Places in America in the category of “Great Streets.”

Macek has written and presented papers to the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, TRB, and other national and regional agencies. His recent topics have included “Which Path Forward? Federal Toll Policy in MAP-21 and Beyond” (TRB, 2013); “Integrating Transit into Planning and Funding of Managed Lane Projects” (TRB, International Managed Lanes Conference, 2012); and “Integration of Transit Operations and Funding into Planning Managed Lane Projects” (International Bridge, Tunnel, and Turnpike Association, 2012).

“There’s a lot of variety to my work — every day is different. In the morning I might work on a financial plan for a project in California and that afternoon talk with a transit agency here on the East Coast. This keeps things interesting and I have the satisfaction of knowing my work makes a tangible difference for transit users. If projects can’t be funded, they can’t be built, and I enjoy helping clients figure out how to make their projects work.

“Finding cost-effective ways to provide high-quality transit service will continue to be a challenge. I’d like to see greater integration of transit and highway planning, especially with regard to new express lane facilities being constructed along Interstates in metropolitan areas around the country. A lot of the express lane planning continues to be about maximizing throughput of toll-paying automobiles rather than maximizing overall mobility. There’s a great deal of opportunity to optimize express lanes to facilitate transit use, but it has to be a design consideration from the start.

"I’m a member of the Planning Commission in Alexandria, Va., where I live. I’m an urban planner by training and it’s a good way for me to give back to the community and keep my land use planning skills honed. I’ve enjoyed my involvement in developing a new waterfront plan and developing strategies to link land use and transportation decisions in Alexandria."