ITD’s Ness named president of 18-state western transportation coalition

Idaho Transportation Department Director Brian W. Ness was named the new president of the Western Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (WASHTO) during the 18-state regional organization’s annual conference, held July 19-22 in Boise. Ness assumed leadership Wednesday, July 22.

Ness took the gavel from outgoing president Malcolm Dougherty (pronounced DOCK-erty), director of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) during an afternoon ceremony at the Boise Centre on the Grove. The passing of the gavel is pictured above. Ness is in orange on the left.

Carlos Braceras (pictured below, right) from the Utah Department of Transportation also was selected to be the group’s new vice president.

The annual WASHTO conference provided a forum for the organization’s members to exchange ideas, explore and adapt new techniques, promote quality and share best practices for other states to consider implementing. Sharing innovations and focusing on customer service helps assist member DOTs in better serving the driving public.

Ness became ITD’s director in 2010. Since then, he has worked to boost public confidence and trust. Most notably, he realigned the agency to save millions of dollars that translated to an additional $180 million in new projects added to the state's five-year transportation program. Under Ness' leadership, ITD has earned more than 190 state, regional and national awards and honors.

He is a recognized authority on organizational realignment and has been invited to speak nationally about how to structure a more effective state government. In 2013, ITD was presented the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials President’s Award for Administration for the results of its realignment efforts.

He is also recognized as a leader in applying new organizational structure to emergency management and security.

"I appreciate the confidence my colleagues in the western states have shown in me," said Ness. “I intend to continue the momentum already started by previous WASHTO presidents.”

“Idaho's economy is dependent on factors beyond our state borders, and transportation is a key driver of that economy,” he explained. “This unique opportunity strengthens Idaho's ability to have a unified voice with our western state partners as transportation policy is set nationwide."

More than 500 officials representing departments of transportation from the western states attended this year’s conference, which was last held in Idaho in 1997 when the group met in Sun Valley. This year’s conference theme was “Transportation Solutions: Moving at the Speed of Business.”

The organization works with the United States Department of Transportation and other government agencies to contribute to national policies on transportation issues that are responsive to its members’ needs. It advocates legislation that supports efficient and effective transportation systems, economic competitiveness and the environmental integrity of member states.

Exhibitor booth fees, sponsorships and registrations fund WASHTO’s annual conference, which rotates to a different western state each year.

The gavel started as just a simple rock. Each WASHTO president has added something to the gavel during his/her tenure. After all this time, it has changed significantly, into what you see below.

Published 07-24-15