AASHTO, Facebook and Federal funding

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) invites comment on federal transportation priorities via their Facebook page.

AASHTO is the non-profit quasi-governmental body that establishes standards for all road and bridge construction in the United States. It’s not officially a government body, but state Departments of Transportation (DOT) all follow the guidelines and standards established by AASHTO.

AASHTO was founded as the American Association of State Highway Officials in 1914, but they added “Transportation” to their organization name during the 70s bike boom when they finally realized “AAS-HO” sounded funny.

The DOTs of each State, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico all have voting membership in AASHTO. Some Canadian provinces, the US Federal DOT, and various local governments and regional planning boards have non-voting associate memberships, as do (interestingly enough) the Hong Kong Highways Department and the Turkish Ministry of Public Works. The Chickaloon Native Village (population 213) road department in Alaska also pays the $2000 annual associate membership fee.

One transportation consultant suggests that AASHTO’s apparent bias in favor of Single Occupant Vehicle (SOV) travel happens because each state gets the same vote in AASHTO, and state transportation “bureaucracies are often dominated by middle-class suburbanites, often wildly out of proportion to their populations.