Neil J. Pedersen, administrator of the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA), is the 2006 recipient of the George S. Bartlett Award for his achievements as a transportation planner and administrator and for his efforts in promoting highway innovation at the national level throughout his career. Pedersen received the award on Jan. 24 during the Chairman's Luncheon at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) 86th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.
The George S. Bartlett Award was established in 1931 by a group of friends of George S. Bartlett to perpetuate the spirit of friendship and helpfulness that he brought to his work in the highway field. The recipient is selected by a board of award composed of one representative each from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) and TRB. The award is conferred annually at a venue of the recipient's choosing.
A native of Massachusetts, Pedersen earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering and urban studies from Bucknell University and a master's degree in civil engineering from Northwestern University. He began his career as a consultant in transportation planning, working first for R.H. Pratt Associates and then for JHK and Associates. He managed projects ranging from travel-demand forecasting to transit-alternatives analyses and toll-road feasibility studies. In December 1982, he joined SHA as deputy director of the Office of Planning and Preliminary Engineering; in 1984 he became director of that office. Pedersen served in that post until July 2000, when he was appointed deputy administrator for planning and engineering, with responsibility for SHA's planning, environmental, engineering and real estate activities.
In January 2003, Pedersen was named administrator of SHA. In his role, he serves as principal advisor to the Governor and the Secretary of Transportation on highway-related matters and provides strategic leadership to an agency of 3,200 employees who plan, design, construct, maintain and operate Maryland's highway safety and motor carrier programs, and he leads delivery of the state's two megaprojects: the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and the Intercounty Connector. Throughout his tenure, Pedersen remained technically engaged in the science and art of planning and engineering while providing highly effective management and leadership, often in politically charged context.
Pedersen also is heavily engaged in professional activities outside SHA. He chairs the executive board of the I-96 Corridor Coalition, which includes transportation agencies of 16 states, the District of Columbia and two Canadian provinces along the Eastern Seaboard, and he chaired the U.S. Department of Transportation's Travel Model Improvement Program Advisory Panel for 10 years. For AASHTO, Pedersen has served as chair of the Task Force on Context-Sensitive Solutions since 2003, and he currently serves as vice chair of the subcommittee on asset management. He also is a member of AASHTO's standing committee on highways, the standing committee on research and the project delivery council.