Dr. Dennis L. Christiansen, P.E., Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) agency director emeritus, was inducted into the Texas Transportation Hall of Honor at a reception and dinner at Traditions Club in Bryan on September 14. During his 50-year career of transportation leadership and innovation, he served in numerous leadership roles over four decades at TTI, including as agency director for 10 years. He retired in 2016.
Christiansen—described at the event as a pioneer of the high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane concept in several Texas cities—conducted groundbreaking research in traffic operations, transportation planning and transit planning. He led, for example, the development of the extensive barrier-separated HOV system in Houston, which is used throughout the country daily by millions of commuters. Since his retirement from TTI, Christiansen has continued to lead in the transportation arena, notably in the creation and operation of the Brazos County Regional Mobility Authority and as chair of the College Station Planning and Zoning Commission.
About 200 guests were welcomed to the event by TTI Senior Research Fellow Katie Turnbull, Christiansen’s longtime colleague at the Institute. Speakers included Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp; David Laney, former chair of the Texas Transportation Commission and former chair of the Board of Amtrak; Michael Behrens former executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and client services advisor at Volkert, Inc.; and Marc Williams, TxDOT’s current executive director. All praised Christiansen’s various contributions to Texas transportation throughout his career, and Texas State Representative John Raney read a state resolution in his honor.
“Dennis, TTI and its analytical muscle guided the work of the Texas 2030 Committee, which proved to be an invaluable contribution to Texas transportation,” said Laney, referring to the TTI-led, landmark study assessing the state’s transportation infrastructure and mobility needs from 2009 to 2030.
Williams credited Christiansen and TTI for TxDOT’s reputation as a leader and innovator among its peer state departments of transportation nationwide, a distinction owing partly to the Institute’s strong participation in the TxDOT research program.
“Dennis is the best that there is,” said Sharp. Referring to the honoree’s volunteer community leadership positions, the chancellor noted that Christiansen “took TTI from good to the absolute best and is now providing his expertise throughout the Brazos Valley.”
Christiansen credited the 700-plus employees and retirees at TTI for his professional successes. “I got to work with scores of outstanding people on a multitude of projects over many years,” he said. “The partnership between TTI, TxDOT and the Texas A&M System is a winning combination for Texas transportation.”
In the course of his career, Christiansen has received numerous awards and recognitions, including being designated by The Texas A&M University System as a Regents Fellow and receiving TxDOT’s Road Hand Award, the department’s highest honor bestowed upon individuals who drive the state forward in the area of transportation. He has been involved in many professional organizations and served as international president of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, president of the Council of University Transportation Centers, and president of the Research and Education Division of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association. Christiansen was inducted as the 48th member of the Texas Transportation Hall of Honor, which was established in 2000 by TTI to recognize select individuals who played pivotal roles in the advancement of transportation in Texas and the nation. Each individual is recognized by a plaque on permanent display in the Hall of Honor located at TTI’s Headquarters in Bryan, Texas.