The Board of Directors of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials recently elected Craig Thompson, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, as its 2023-2024 president. The board also selected Garrett Eucalitto, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Transportation, as its 2023-2024 vice president.
[Above photo by AASHTO]
“As transportation needs continue to evolve, I am honored to serve as AASHTO’s president as we navigate the future together,” Thompson said in a statement.
“This is a very exciting and challenging time for transportation, but I see great opportunity for those of us in the industry to make a real impact for our communities,” he added.
“During my tenure, I will focus on taking advantage of the opportunities offered through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), working with any and all partners to move the needle on roadway safety, and recruiting and retaining top talent for the transportation workforce,” he noted.
In January 2019, Governor Tony Evers (D) appointed Thompson as secretary of the Wisconsin DOT; one of the largest state agencies in Wisconsin. The department supports all modes of transportation, including state highways, local roads, railroads, public transit systems, airports, and harbors.
Thompson has more than 28 years of experience working with Wisconsin businesses, communities, legislators, and units of government. He previously led the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin and served as the legislative director for the Wisconsin Counties Association.
As AASHTO president, Thompson plans to prioritize three major areas of emphasis:
- Realizing the Promise of the IIJA: As the mid-point of the five-year IIJA approaches, it is imperative that state DOTs work with federal partners to ensure that the promise that funding measure is fully realized. He believes AASHTO and state DOTs need to demonstrate to all communities that government at all levels can work efficiently to apply these historic investments in a way that will positively impact their lives.
- Bolstering Safety: Despite enhanced efforts by state DOTs across the country, too many lives are still being lost on our nation’s roadways. Thompson plans to build upon the safety initiatives launched by Immediate Past President Roger Millar to ensure that state DOTs continue to make progress. Thompson believes it is imperative that AASHTO and all partners address this crisis using all means and methods at its disposal, with providing all users with safe multi-modal transportation options the foremost priority.
- Reinvigorating the Workforce: As demographic trends continue to place significant strains on the labor pool across all sectors of the U.S. economy, state DOTs are seeking new ways to attract and maintain robust talent. Thompson will also seek to collaborate with state DOTs to establish effective practices for building a transportation workforce that meets the needs of today and tomorrow.
“I will tell you as someone who spent a couple of decades discussing the importance of transportation funding, and what happens when you don’t invest, we need to tell the story on how transportation improves people’s lives,” Thompson noted following his election as AASHTO president.
“We need to start immediately on reauthorization as we work to fulfill the promise of the IIJA,” he said.
Thompson also stressed the need to keep moving forward on the safety issue. “There are so many things going on in states right now that, if we can create a real-time depository of the things states are doing to improve safety, should be extremely helpful – especially with our legislatures,” he said.
Thompson pointed out that, since state DOTs are very data-driven entities, a fresh look needs to be taken at the safety messaging states are promoting, to see if they are landing in the right places among the motoring public.
“Finally, the workforce issue – everything we do is about our people,” Thompson said. “Reaching out to communities we have not connected before may be one of the keys to unlocking new workers for our organizations.”
AASHTO 2023-2024 Vice President Eucalitto – nominated by Governor Ned Lamont (D) and confirmed by the legislature as commissioner of the Connecticut DOT in January 2023 – previously served as the agency’s deputy commission for three years.
He also previously served as the transportation program director for the National Governors Association, as well as undersecretary for the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management and as a legislative assistant in the U.S. Senate.
Eucalitto earned a bachelor’s degree from the College of the Holy Cross and a master’s degree from Boston University.
“We are ecstatic to welcome incoming AASHTO President Thompson and Vice President Eucalitto as they step into important leadership roles within our organization,” noted Jim Tymon, AASHTO executive director.
“These accomplished leaders bring a wealth of knowledge that will benefit state DOTs across the nation and help AASHTO deliver safety, mobility, and access for everyone,” he added.