Francis B. “Frank” Francois, who served as Executive Director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) for 18 years, on Wednesday was named the 2007 recipient of the Frank Turner Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Transportation. Mr. Turner received the honor at the Transportation Research Board Chairman’s Luncheon Wednesday, during this year’s TRB Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.
Francois, now a transportation consultant, retired from AASHTO in 1999, after decades as a leader in public policy and transportation. He was honored Wednesday for his leadership on national transportation policies and programs and for his contributions to AASHTO – which represents the state departments of transportation in Washington – and to the federal-state partnership that delivers transportation value to the public.
The Turner Medal recognizes lifetime achievement in transportation. The award, for which TRB serves as the secretariat, was established in 1998. It is jointly conferred by AASHTO, the American Concrete Pavement Association, the American Highway Users Alliance, the American Portland Cement Alliance, the American Public Transportation Association, the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, the American Traffic Safety Services Association, Inc., the Asphalt Institute, the Associated General Contractors of America, the Construction Industry Manufacturers Association, the Equipment Manufacturers Institute, the Eno Transportation Foundation, the Institute of Transportation Engineers, the National Asphalt Pavement Association, the Road Gang, and the Texas A&M Foundation.
Its first recipient was Frank Turner, who served in the federal Bureau of Public Roads and was a key figure in the establishment of the U.S. Interstate Highway System. It commemorates its namesake’s extraordinary accomplishments in the development and construction of the overall U.S. transportation system.
Following his upbringing on an Iowa farm, Francois earned a bachelor of science degree in engineering from Iowa State University and a law degree from George Washington University. Early in his professional life, he was active in civic life, occupying elected office in Prince George’s County, Maryland and serving on state and national posts, including a term as president of the National Association of Counties.
His service in public office made him a resource for transportation knowledge, and he served on the board of directors of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments for 14 years -- including terms as president and chairman of the group – and served on the board of directors of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
In 1980, Francois was named Executive Director of AASHTO. He was immediately influential in the development of national transportation policy and the evolution of the federal-state relationship that has sustained the U.S. transportation system.
During his years as AASHTO Executive Director, Francois reasserted AASHTO’s position as the premier technical organization for adopting and issuing highway standards and specifications, and he strengthened AASHTO’s role in setting national transportation policy.
He also was active in the Transportation Research Board for more than 25 years, and was an active ex officio member of the organization’s executive committee. Francois was pivotal in the creation of the Strategic Highway Research Program and the formation of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America. He recently chaired TRB’s Committee for a Future Strategy for Transportation Information Management, and he has served on numerous TRB committees and panels.
Frank Francois was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1999. In 2002 he received an honorary lifetime membership in the Institute of Transportation Engineers. In 2003, Iowa State University awarded him its Marston Medal – the school’s highest award for engineering achievement. In 2004 he was named by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association as one of the top 100 private-sector design and construction professionals in the U.S. in the 20th Century.
He also received the 1997 George S. Bartlett Award, presented by AASHTO, ARTBA, and TRB; the Theodore M. Matson Memorial Award, in 1993; and the W.N. Carey Jr. Distinguished Service Award, presented by TRB in 1989.