On October 2, 1930, a group of 19 transportation professionals gathered at the William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh, PA, USA to establish a new national organization. The purpose of this organization was to “advance the profession of traffic engineering, stimulate research on street traffic matters, to encourage and foster traffic engineering education, and to establish a clearinghouse for authoritative pronouncements of street travel matters.” On that day nearly 90 years ago, ITE was born.
Throughout 2020 we will be celebrating the 90th anniversary of the founding of ITE, our rich history, and the individuals who have led the way. We also want to shine a spotlight on our Districts, Sections, and Chapters, and those who have contributed to the success of ITE. Each month, ITE Journal will feature one of our Districts and tell the story of the growth of that District. The history of ITE will be woven throughout our Joint ITE International and Southern District Annual Meeting and Exhibition in New Orleans, LA, USA. As the theme “Celebrating the Past—Shaping the Future” indicates, we will have the opportunity to gather together to wish ITE a happy 90th, and to look forward as well.
To start our reflection and celebration I thought I would share a few snippets from a history of ITE written on the occasion of the 50th anniversary in 1980:
The formation of ITE had been discussed many times at national and regional meetings of the National Safety Council and the American Society of Civil Engineers in the 1920s. According to the ITE history books, these discussions took place at “some of the better saloons of the convention cities.” Some things never change!
The 19 founders of ITE included state traffic engineers, city traffic engineers, safety personnel with insurance companies, professionals with the National Safety Council, transit and consulting engineers, a salesperson, and a dean of a college of engineering. A true Community of Transportation Professionals!
Growth was slow in the early years with a total membership of 159 in 1939. By 1951 ITE had grown to 677. Although all of its founders were from the northeast, Western ITE had grown to be the largest Section with 135 members. Growth started to take off in the 1950s with more than 1,500 members by 1962; 3,000 by 1967; and 4,500 by the early 1970s. Today we have more than 16,000 members, not far from our peak membership of about 17,000.
While it is fun to look back at our history, we also want to make the anniversary about Shaping the Future. As part of this 90th anniversary, we have launched the $90 for 90 campaign to benefit the ITE Legacy Fund, ITE’s charitable effort to support the next generation of transportation professionals and ITE members. It provides for a wide range of programs. Members from every District, Section, and Chapter benefit from the Legacy Fund, which is supported by annual donations from ITE members. Throughout our 90th anniversary year, we will provide opportunities for members to contribute to the $90 for 90 campaign, recognizing and thanking those who do so in a variety of ways. I hope you will join us in making a difference in a young person’s life. Visit http://www.ite.org/legacy to learn more.
If you have anything you’d like to share about ITE’s history, you can reach me at email@example.com or on Twitter, @JeffPaniatiITE.This blog post is from the Director's Message in the January 2020 issue of ITE Journal