Thomas Larson is the 2003 recipient of the Frank Turner Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Transportation. Larson is honored for a career that has included notable contributions as a university professor and researcher, innovative leadership of a state transportation agency and contributions to national transportation policy as head of the Federal Highway Administration.
The Frank Turner Medal recognizes lifetime achievement in transportation, as demonstrated by a distinguished career in the field, professional prominence and a distinctive, widely recognized contribution to transportation policy, administration or research. The award was established in 1998 to commemorate Turner's extraordinary accomplishments in the development and construction of the U.S. transportation system.
Born in Philipsburg, Pa., Larson earned his bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. degrees in civil engineering from Penn State University. From 1962 to 1979 he taught and served as an administrator at Penn State, where he founded and became the first director of the Pennsylvania Transportation Institute.
Appointed Secretary of Transportation of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1979, he succeeded in revitalizing the ailing agency into a model state department of transportation.
He returned to his alma mater in 1987 to serve as Pennsylvania Professor of Government and Management and as a special assistant to the university's president.
In 1989, he was appointed administrator of the Federal Highway Administration. At FHWA, he headed the U.S. Department of Transportation team that was responsible for developing the 1990 National Transportation Policy, which earned him the U.S. DOT's highest award--the Secretary's Gold Medal. Larson also led the department's negotiations with Congress for the Intermodel Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991.