The board of directors of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) have unanimously elected Craig Thompson – secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation – as its vice president. “AASHTO plays an important leadership role in America’s transportation system,” Thompson said in a statement. “From delivering cutting-edge research to promoting highway safety to providing a platform for states to learn from one another, AASHTO’s services are vital to Wisconsin and to state transportation agencies nationwide. It’s an honor to be elected vice president.”
Thompson replaces Paul Ajegba, former AASHTO vice president and director of the Michigan Department of Transportation, who retired in December 2022 after a 31-year transportation career.
Governor Tony Evers (D) named Thompson – who has more than 26 years of experience working with Wisconsin businesses, communities, legislators, and units of government – as Wisconsin DOT secretary in January 2019. In April 2022, AASHTO appointed Thompson as chair of its Council on Water Transportation.
Thompson previously served as executive director of the Transportation Development Association (TDA) of Wisconsin. Prior to leading TDA, he served as the legislative director for the Wisconsin Counties Association, managing legislative initiatives at the state and federal levels.
During his tenure at Wisconsin DOT, Thompson has spearheaded several safety, environmental, and tribal-focused initiatives. For example, a report released by the Traffic Operations and Safety or “TOPS” Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and funded by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation in April 2022, found the use of liquid brine in winter highway maintenance cleared roadways faster and at a lower cost, while providing for better vehicle traction and reducing salt buildup in local waterways.
“With salt cost continuing to rise, it is imperative we work together to optimize supplies and deliver the most safe and effective service possible for the taxpayer,” Thompson said in a statement at the time. “Liquid brine is a great example of how we strive to implement sustainable and earth-friendly alternatives during winter highway maintenance. We applaud county highway departments across the state for using liquid brine to maintain and clear Wisconsin roadways faster.”
Thompson also worked to get former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver to reprise his role in Wisconsin DOT’s annual “Click It or Ticket” seat belt safety campaign in May 2022, as well as with Milwaukee Bucks forward Bobby Portis on a traffic safety campaign in October 2022, aimed at reducing speeding and reckless driving behaviors statewide. “Safety is at the center of what we do at Wisconsin DOT,” Thompson said at the time. “It means working cooperatively [and] sharing our resources, so that together we can be as effective as possible.”
His agency also launched in 2021 and effort to install dual-language highway signs in the native tongues of local Native American tribes, such as the Oneida Nation and the Menominee Indian Tribe. “We are proud to deepen the longstanding cooperation between state and tribal governments,” Thompson pointed out regarding this highway signage program. Together we are fostering a stronger sense of place, and connecting travelers to history by sharing Native American heritage.”
Thompson is a native of Racine, Wis. and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He lives in Madison with his wife and they have a daughter and a son.