Frederick G. “Bud” Wright is Executive Director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), a non-profit, non-partisan association which advocates transportation-related policies and provides technical services to support states in their efforts to efficiently and safely move people and goods. He has almost four decades of experience in both the private sector and as a top executive at the Federal Highway Administration.
Wright, who was a transportation consultant based in Alexandria, Virginia, prior to his appointment as AASHTO Executive Director, served as Executive Director of the Federal Highway Administration from 2001 to 2008, assisting the Administrator in establishing policies, programs, and priorities for the $40 billion annual federal-aid highway program. As FHWA’s chief operating officer, Wright was also responsible for a workforce of more than 2,500 transportation professionals and an annual operating budget of $400 million.
Driving Home the Message: Making Transportation Policy Personal
I don’t think that we have done as good a job as we can of telling the story to American citizens of why transportation investment is important…We know, for example, that we can substantially reduce transportation fatalities, in particular highway fatalities. We know that we have the tools to substantially reduce congestion and improve highway performance…I think part of the challenge is that we need to personalize the story.
Grassroots Action for Transportation
I’m convinced that it’s going to take grassroots involvement to convince elected officials that it’s time to get serious about the additional investment. This is not an expenditure program; this is an investment program. Again, I think it is bringing that message home, that transportation really does affect our competitiveness and that means it affects out-of-pocket costs to everyday things.
State DOTs: Making the Most With What We Have
I think the most important thing for us right now is to preserve the investment that we have already made…You build a home and you don’t just walk away from it for the next hundred years. You’re going to have to make investments to not only maintain it, but to upgrade it.
Our Highway System Isn’t Only Used by Drivers
I have occasionally heard people say, “Well I don’t use the roads, I don’t use the highway system because I bike to work or I use Metro,” and my response to many people is, “Well, what about that Amazon package that you ordered yesterday and it was sitting on your doorstep the next morning. How do you think it got there?”
Social Media Increases Engagement
Social media is, I think, a key to reaching the younger generation…I think we have to be smart about engaging with people through the means that they generally use, and we’re trying to do that, and I think the state DOTs are trying to do that as well.