Transportation professionals in Texas and across the country are reflecting on the lifetime achievements and visionary guidance of G. Sadler Bridges, who passed away April 16. Bridges’ career spanned five decades and included a pioneering transportation appointment with the Texas governor’s office, accolades from a U.S. vice president and debts of gratitude from numerous colleagues whose careers he helped inspire.
Bridges was first hired by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) in 1967 after receiving degrees in business administration and economics at Texas A&M University. Bridges also pursued doctoral studies at Southern Methodist University. He was an assistant professor of economics at Texas A&M before he began his 40-year career at TTI.
“In many ways, Sadler is responsible for shaping and influencing programs and initiatives within the Institute that helped us develop into a world-class organization,” TTI Director Dennis Christiansen said. “The impact Sadler had on the people and programs at TTI and beyond will secure the G. Sadler Bridges name a rightful place in transportation history. We owe him an enormous amount of gratitude.”
Bridges’ accomplishments are numerous and far reaching. He was an integral part of federal, state and local transportation initiatives, including:
- The landmark National Grade Crossing Inventory Project, a database that contained all known railroad grade crossings in the United States. The database later became a significant component of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s successful railroad safety program.
- Intelligent Transportation Society of America
- National Transportation Studies for Texas
- Southwest Region University Transportation Center
- Mobility 2000 Group
Within TTI, Bridges was responsible for the success and innovation of several programs. He was the director of the Intelligent Vehicle Program, which developed ALERTTM, an advanced vehicle project that was recognized by Vice President Al Gore with the National Performance Review Hammer Award.
Bridges is credited with bringing TTI into the computer age by conceptualizing and directing the Institute’s initial implementation of a computer and information systems infrastructure. He was also instrumental in developing TTI’s intelligent transportation system laboratory, TransLink®. During his career, Bridges held several leadership positions at TTI including associate director and interim agency director.
Bridges received the Charley V. Wootan Career Achievement Award in 2004. He retired from TTI in August of 2007 and was named executive associate director emeritus by the Texas A&M Board of Regents the following month.
“Sadler had a profound impact on my career,” says Assistant Agency Director Steve Roop. “Fifteen years ago, he urged me to begin a new rail research group. That ultimately developed into the Multimodal Freight Transportation Program here at TTI and allowed me to develop in ways I otherwise would not have. Sadler provided an option to me, and I know he provided many other individuals at TTI a similar growth opportunity. Maybe most importantly, he was genuinely happy when those he helped along succeeded.”