Frederick G. "Bud" Wright, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, plans to retire at the end of 2018.
He made the announcement May 24 during the AASHTO Spring Meeting in Franklin, Tenn. AASHTO President and Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer said the group's executive committee would begin a search for a new executive director.
"AASHTO is a wonderful place to work," said Wright upon announcing his retirement. "In my experience – and that experience working in transportation now spans more than 43 years – you will at some point feel the moment. And I am feeling that moment. This is very bittersweet for me, but I am proud of where we are as an association and I prefer the idea of leaving maybe too soon rather than too late."
Wright (seen at left) was appointed to be the seventh executive director of the nearly 104-year-old association in November 2012. He led AASHTO through the development of a new strategic plan that broadened the organizational focus to include all modes. AASHTO also is implementing a complete overhaul of its committee structure designed to help it be a more nimble and responsive to emerging technologies and transportation policies.
Prior to joining AASHTO, Wright was a consultant based in Alexandria, Va. He also served as executive director of the Federal Highway Administration from 2001 to 2008, assisting the FHWA's administrator in establishing policies, programs, and priorities for the $40 billion annual federal-aid highway program. As FHWA's chief operating officer, he was also responsible for a workforce of more than 2,000 transportation professionals and an annual operating budget of $400 million.
From 2001 to 2002, Wright served as FHWA program manager for safety. Before that, he worked as director of the Office of Budget and Finance, where he worked extensively on the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21).
Wright began his career in 1975 as an economist in the FHWA Office of Planning. In 1986, he was selected for a congressional fellowship, serving with the Senate Appropriations Committee staff. In 1989 and 1990, he was a member of the National Transportation Policy Team, which developed former Transportation Secretary Samuel Skinner's National Transportation Policy.
From 1990 to 1992, Wright served as a special assistant to FHWA's executive director, working on the development of legislative provisions and negotiations with Congress that led to the landmark Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991. In 1992, he was appointed division administrator in Nevada, the agency's first non-engineer to hold such a position.
Among the many awards Wright has received over the years are: the Presidential Rank Award for federal government executives; the Secretary of Transportation's Special Achievement Award; the Federal Highway Administrator's Superior Achievement Award; and the Secretary of Transportation's Team Award, for his work on development of TEA-21.
Wright holds a B.A. in economics from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Va.
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