With U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster now leading the powerful House transportation committee, can we expect a new multibillion-dollar road project - maybe a "Bill Shuster Highway" - to soon snake through the region?
While his father, longtime representative and transportation chair Bud Shuster, is often associated with his namesake interstate highway, the younger Shuster, R-9th, doesn't yet face the same local demand for his newfound power over major projects.
"I think we're more fortunate than other parts of Pennsylvania. That was a result of the great support that Bud Shuster was able to provide," Blair County Chamber of Commerce director Joe Hurd said Wednesday.
Bill Shuster's interests lie in building national infrastructure, he said shortly after receiving the Republican party's official nod Wednesday, while a series of major national transportation-funding bills could occupy much of his time as they expire over the next two years.
Shuster said he plans on "making transportation more efficient, more effective," developing coastal ports and freight transit across the country.
"It is a national system, all connected, and every part of it is extremely important," he said.
Still, he lent his support - now vastly stronger with his influential committee seat - to a series of road projects in his home district, from a U.S. Route 219 completion in Somerset County to expansion of the Interstate 81 corridor to the east.
Money could be guided to those roads and others through federal spending bills in coming years, Shuster said.
His father, once referred to by Bloomberg Businessweek magazine as the "Prince of Pork," garnered a reputation for using his federal authority to send millions of dollars to central Pennsylvania transportation projects.
Bill Shuster doesn't share that reputation, Hurd said.
"He's earned a great deal of respect within that committee," he said. "It's unrealistic to think he's going to say, 'OK, now I've got the influence, I'm taking this money back to my district.' I don't see that he'll all of a sudden go wild and use the position for ... games in politics."
That's not to say business figures in Shuster's district aren't excited about his new job.
The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman essentially sets the legislative agenda on transit, roads and rail; with a central Pennsylvanian again in office, much-needed infrastructure upkeep would be more accessible, Hurd and Bedford County Chamber of Commerce director Kellie Goodman Shaffer said.
Shuster - who has directed subcommittees on railroads, pipelines and hazardous materials as well as economic development, public buildings and emergency management - has a reputation for keeping his district in mind during transportation discussions, said Janet Kavinoky, director of transportation and infrastructure at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.
"He always comes back to, 'How is this going to help, how is this going to hurt, Altoona and the surrounding area?'" Kavinoky said.
After announcing his new seat Wednesday, Shuster hailed Interstate 99 as an example of transportation projects that fuel economic growth.
"People are becoming more and more interested in the I-99 corridor. When you build great roads, companies love to locate there," he said.
His local support will come in a less direct fashion than his father's, however, with legislative earmark rules in place to prevent the explicit pork-barrel spending common in past decades.
"The House and Senate rules are very different now than they were in Bud Shuster's days," Kavinoky said. "The traditional bringing-in-the-projects line in the vein of Bud Shuster can't happen."
Instead, Bill Shuster may find himself tied up with a trio of federal funding bills set to expire during his term, she said.