The board, made up of the chief executive officers of each of the 50 state departments of transportation along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, voted during the AASHTO annual meeting in Pittsburgh to appoint Wright to succeed John Horsley, AASHTO's executive director since 1999, who is retiring Feb. 1.
Wright, a transportation consultant based in Alexandria, Va., has recently worked on a major project examining approaches to performance-based management of the federal-aid highway program. He also has played a significant role in a research effort focused on administrative and institutional issues associated with mileage-based user fees.
Wright 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, 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 was the FHWA program manager for safety. Before that, Wright was director of the Office of Budget and Finance, where he worked extensively on the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century.
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 through 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.
For the past four years, Wright has served on an ongoing basis as a consultant to Lindsay Transportation Solutions/Barrier Systems Inc., a manufacturer of products used in highway lane management and highway safety. He is currently a member of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association Board of Directors, and he is a co-chair of ARTBA's MAP-21 Policy Promotion, Implementation & Funding Enhancement Task Force.