Frederick "Bud" Wright, a former executive director of the Federal Highway Administration, will lead the association that represents state transportation departments.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials voted Monday to name Wright its executive director. He'll replace retiring executive director John Horsley.

Wright led FHWA from 2001 to 2008, where he helped the agency's administrator set priorities for the $40 billion federal highway program. He oversaw a workforce of more than 2,000 and an FHWA budget of $400 million, according to AASHTO.

More on the new director from AASHTO:

Wright began his career in 1975 as an economist in the FHWA Office of Planning. In 1986, he was selected for a congressional fellowship, serving with the Senate Appropriations Committee staff. In 1989-90, he was a member of the National Transportation Policy Team, which developed former Transportation Secretary Samuel Skinner's National Transportation Policy.

From 1990 to 1992, Wright served as a special assistant to FHWA's executive director, working on the development of legislative provisions and negotiations with Congress that led to the landmark Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991. In 1992, he was appointed division administrator in Nevada, the agency's first non-engineer to hold such a position.

More recently, he's worked as a consultant to a manufacturer of highway safety products.

AASHTO cites Wright's work in developing ISTEA and TEA-21, the 1991 and 1998 surface transportation bills. That experience should come handy, since AASHTO officials are already starting to plan their strategy for how they'll influence the successor to MAP-21, the latest highway bill, which was enacted earlier this year and is set to expire in 2014.

Wright takes the job not just at a pivotal time for the transportation community but at a crucial time for the organization. Three of AASHTO's top leaders are retiring early next year. In addition to Horsley's retirement, AASHTO will also faces the departures of Jack Basso, director of program finance and management, and Tony Kane, director of engineering and technical services.