John N. Robertson, 77, former director of the old D.C. department of highways and traffic, died Thursday at his home in Washington.

He retired in 1959 after 42 years with the department. He had started as a roadman in an engineering field party.

As highway director, Mr. Robertson was in charge of the construction of such major projects as the South Capitol Street Bridge, the Whithurst Freeway and the New York Avenue extension to connect with the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

Born in Washington, he graduated from the Columbia Technical Institute of Washington and later took special course in municipal engineering. He was a registered professional engineer.

Mr. Robertson was president of the American Road builder Association in 1955-56, and then served as its treasurer for 20 years. He was a former president of the Association Highway Officials of the North Atlantic States and a former officer of Region One of the American Association of State Highway Officials.

A his death, he was an engineering consultant and engineering-director of the D.C. Road Builders Association.

He belonged to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Institute of Traffic Engineers an the D.C. Trucking Association.

Mr. Robertson had been a member of the D.C. advisory board of the American Automobile Association and had served on the executive committee of the D.C. Highway Users Conference and the transportation committee of the Washington Board of Trade. He was a member of the D.C. Trucking Association.

He was a Mason and belonged to Almas Temple, Royal Order of Jesters, Scottish RIte and the Kenwood Country Club.

A member of All Souls Episcopal Church, Mr. Robertson served several terms as a member of the vestry and was the current junior warden. Earlier he had been senior warden at St. Mark's Episcopal Church.

He is survived by his wife, Lillian, of the home; a brother, James P., of Salem, N.J. and a sister, Lulu M. Robertson, of Washington.