- Briefing Room
U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
FHWA Works: Careers in Motion
Full Name: Christopher Douwes
Title: Community Planner; commonly known as the Transportation Alternatives and Recreational Trails Program Manager
Division/Department: Office of Human Environment
Location: Washington, DC
What is your typical workday like?
A typical workday involves receiving and replying to inquiries about the Recreational Trails Program, Transportation Alternatives, and pedestrian and bicycle issues from the public, States, FHWA Divisions, and other Headquarters offices, pointing people to the right place to get the information they need. I am usually juggling multiple topics at once, such as accessibility, project eligibility, FHWA funding, and national pedestrian and bicycle and trail policy. I am the FHWA Trails Guy, so just anything that has to do with recreational trails comes to me. I also coordinate with Federal Land Management Agency trail administrators.
What has been your biggest accomplishment over the last year?
FHWA has published more than a dozen documents in the past 2 years related to pedestrian and bicycle planning, design, and safety. I wasn’t the lead person developing those documents, but my work over the past 25 years helped lay the foundation to support those documents. FHWA’s Strategic Agenda for Pedestrian and Bicycle Transportation states: The USDOT is committed to making all travel modes, including walking and bicycling, safe, accessible, comfortable, and convenient for everyone. My work helps to make that happen.
Prior to working at FHWA, what was the most unusual or interesting job you've ever had?
I was part of an interdenominational mission organization for a 3 years; I lived in Mexico, Honduras, and Peru. Lessons that I learned then still help sustain me today. I still use my Spanish daily. I also saw the importance of an integrated, multimodal transportation system for all users that is efficient, equitable, safe, and environmentally sustainable. I learned from both good and bad examples: I was a transportation geek even then!
What are your hobbies in your spare time?
Walking, gardening, teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, helping with our church International program, and singing in the choir.
What is one of the biggest lessons you have learned in your career to get you where you are today?
Every organization needs people who do the everyday background activities, every organization needs people who keep a corporate memory, and every accomplishment depends on many team members. New and innovative initiatives are nice and glitzy, but we must continue to do the routine maintenance jobs to sustain them.
Complete this sentence: "People would be surprised if they knew..."
I have donated more than 13 gallons of blood through the DOT/FHWA blood donation program. If you can give, give it try!