Wednesday, September 7, 2011

GDOT Commissioner Vance Smith resigns

Posted By on Wed, Sep 7, 2011 at 3:43 PM

Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Vance Smith is stepping down after a somewhat tumultuous time in charge of the state agency. The announcement came today after a two-and-a-half hour, closed-door meeting of GDOT's 13-member board. Ariel Hart sums up what might have contributed to Smith's decision:

While his supporters praised him for restoring morale at the department, even they seemed unable to explain his inaction in the face of clear directives from the board to fill key positions with strong full-time candidates.

Last week Smith filled a key vacancy, for the director of the department’s toll road program, with a top official who was already doing double duty.

In addition, board members have questioned Smith’s communications style. When he made the decision to put Chief Engineer and Interim Deputy Commissioner Gerald Ross into triple duty over the toll road program, a high-stakes program that is at a critical juncture, most of the board members who oversee that program said they had not discussed the move with Smith or heard of it before they got an e-mail notification the day of the announcement.

Ross will now step away from the deputy commissioner position, retaining only two jobs.

Rumors of Smith's exit have been whispered for months. Names of possible successors we've heard in the past have included State Planning Director Todd Long, the powerful GDOT official who played a key role in deciding which road and transit projects were eligible for funding from next year's transportation-tax referendum. Whoever lands the gig will be the state agency's fifth commissioner in the last four years.

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