Remembering Ed Kussy
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Ed Kussy, our friend and colleague, who was a partner at Nossaman.
Ed was a member of Nossaman's Infrastructure and Environment & Land Use Groups and was resident in our Washington, DC office. With nearly 40 years of experience holding senior positions in federal government, he was one of the nation’s leading experts on federal surface transportation policy and regulations.
“In addition to Ed’s considerable professional accomplishments, he was a beloved member of the DC office and the Firm,” said Nossaman Managing Partner David Graeler. “We were fortunate to have Ed as a partner, and his contributions throughout his time here—as a lawyer, mentor and friend—were unparalleled. This is a sad day for everyone here, he will be deeply missed.”
Before joining the Firm, Ed served in senior legal and policy positions in the U.S. Department of Transportation through six presidential administrations. As the top career lawyer in the Federal Highway Administration, Ed helped develop and implement innovative federal transportation and environmental policies that changed the shape of the nation’s transportation network. He helped draft and set in motion many laws governing the Federal-Aid Highway Program, which provides financial assistance for construction, maintenance and operation of the nation’s 4.1 million-mile highway network. Throughout the course of his federal career, Ed worked on virtually every part of the federal aid highway program and aspects of many other federal transportation programs, including issues related to the use of airspace and federal utilities policies. His advice advanced a host of major transportation projects across the United States, including some of the most challenging projects in the nation.
“As a consummate gentlemen, and professional, Ed was a legend in the transportation community. The many different ways governments do business today for its largest and most complicated infrastructure projects were born mostly in the highway industry on Ed’s watch,” said Geoff Yarema, co-founder of our Infrastructure Group. “He was the primary regulator of how federally funded roads, bridges and tunnels were delivered. The buck largely stopped with him.”
Patrick Harder, chair of our Infrastructure Group, said, “Ed was a beloved member of our group and someone who had a depth of knowledge and insight few can match. He took great care in mentoring our young (and not-so-young) lawyers and making our all of our IPG members, both lawyers and staff, feel valued and appreciated. He also cared deeply about the social implications of transportation policy. He understood the positive and negative impacts that flow from public infrastructure projects, and worked hard to increase awareness of the sometimes unintended impacts that large public works projects can have on disadvantaged communities.”
Rob Thornton, a partner in our Environment & Land Use Group added, “Ed was an extraordinary attorney and an extraordinary human being. Ed likely did more than any other single attorney in the federal government to integrate compliance with NEPA and the many other modern federal environmental laws into federal transportation decisions. Thanks to his leadership, the USDOT now administers a sophisticated and effective program to deliver transportation infrastructure while complying with the challenging mandates of federal environmental law.”
For decades, Ed also was active in the leadership of the Transportation Research Board, a division of the National Academies. He most recently served as an emeritus member of the Legal Resources Group for the organization. Previous roles included serving as a member of the Technical Activities Council; chair of the Legal Resources Group Executive Committee; and chair of Committees on Environmental Issues in Transportation Law. Additionally, he was a member of the Federal Bar Association and past chair of its Motor Carrier and Surface Transportation committees, as well as the founder and past chair of the Department of Transportation Law Library Advisory Group.
During his career, Ed received a number of accolades for his contributions in the field of transportation. These include the Secretary's Award for Outstanding Public Service–USDOT (2008); General Counsel's Award for Lifetime Legal Achievement–USDOT (2008); Distinguished Career Service Award–USDOT (2008); Lester Boykin Award–USDOT (2008–the first recipient of a new award designed to recognize particularly creative FHWA attorneys in honor of the first FHWA Chief Counsel); Heartland Award (2007–given to an FHWA employee who has made major contributions of marked national significance to FHWA programs, in honor of those who died in the Oklahoma City bombing); Secretary's Gold Award–USDOT (twice, in 2007 for the Minneapolis I-35 Bridge Response Team and for the Secretary's Urban Partnership Initiative Team and in 2006 for the DOT Congestion Initiative Working Group); SES Presidential Rank Award–U.S. Government (twice, Distinguished Executive in 2000 and Meritorious Executive in 1995); Distinguished Lecturer, Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board (1996); and the Exceptional Contribution to Transportation Law, Federal Bar Association (1994).
Ed earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Michigan, as well as an LLM in environmental law from George Washington University. Ed taught environmental law at the George Washington University School of Law.
He is survived by his sister Henriette, niece Tamara Warren and her husband Lee Quinones, nephew Joshua Warren and wife Amanda, niece Luana Bechstein and four great-nieces and nephews.