Calvin G. Grayson transportation career spans seven decades


FRANKFORT (Oct. 21, 2013) – Calvin G. Grayson, a former Kentucky transportation secretary and visionary planner whose career in transportation spans nearly seven decades, has been accorded a national honor by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).


Grayson, director emeritus of the Kentucky Transportation Center at the University of Kentucky (UK), was announced Sunday as the recipient of the Thomas H. MacDonald Memorial Award, presented annually by AASHTO for continuous outstanding service over an extended period of time or an exceptional contribution to the art and science of highway engineering.


The award is named for Thomas H. MacDonald, chief of the federal Bureau of Public Roads and the Public Roads Administration – forerunners of the current Federal Highway Administration – from 1919 to 1953.


Grayson’s distinguished career includes numerous awards, achievements and contributions to the transportation industry. He earned a civil engineering degree from UK after returning home from Army service in the Pacific Theater of World War II.  He later became the first professional engineer to serve as commissioner of highways and secretary of the Kentucky Department of Transportation.


“Calvin Grayson exemplifies how hard work and a dedication to improving the lives of others can bring about positive change,” Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Mike Hancock said. “His career in the field of transportation has had a profound impact for good on the Commonwealth of Kentucky in general and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet in particular. He is the perfect example of what can happen when innovative thinking and a drive to improve come together.”


Grayson began his professional career with the former Kentucky Department of Highways and remained with the department and its successor, the Department of Transportation, for 30 years. In 1973, in his role as statewide planning engineer, he established the Division of Environmental Analysis to identify environmental problems associated with transportation programs. The following year he organized the department’s Office of Transportation Planning and served as its first chief.


In 1977, Grayson was named Commissioner of Highways and Secretary of the Kentucky Department of Transportation. While secretary, he established the Kentucky Transportation Center at the University of Kentucky and was its director from 1983 to 2004, the capstone of his legacy of service to the transportation world. Over the years, the center has gained a national reputation for research and technology.


Grayson is recognized as the change agent who transformed the highway department from a single modal agency, focused on roads and bridges, into a multimodal agency with added roles in air, water, transit and rail transportation. It represented a significant shift in thinking and organization.


Grayson has also worked tirelessly to improve Kentucky’s infrastructure and highway safety. He campaigned for nearly 50 years for enactment of Kentucky’s primary seat belt law, finally seeing his efforts come to fruition in 2006. A primary seat belt law was a change he believed was right for Kentuckians, and he never wavered from being the public voice for it.


Even today, he continues to work for improvements that will be beneficial to all of Kentucky. He presently chairs the statewide safety committee for Kentuckians for Better Transportation, an education and advocacy organization representing all modes of transportation.





AASHTO is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association representing highway and transportation departments in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. It represents all five transportation modes: air, highways, public transportation, rail, and water, with a primary goal of fostering the development, operation and maintenance of an integrated national transportation system. The association serves as a liaison between state departments of transportation and the Federal government.





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