AASHTO Journal, 10 April 2015
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced several high-level changes for the New York’s transportation leadership, saying he will nominate former Syracuse mayor Matthew Driscoll to become the next commissioner of the New York State Transportation Department and appointing Ron Thaniel to the position of deputy secretary for transportation in the governor’s office.
Driscoll since 2010 has been president of the state Environmental Facilities Corp., an arm of the Cuomo administration that provides low-cost financing to local governments for wastewater and drinking water infrastructure. His nomination as NYSDOT commissioner requires Senate confirmation.
He would replace Commissioner Joan McDonald, whom Cuomo named to the post in January 2011.
Driscoll was mayor of Syracuse for two terms, 2001-2009. News reports note that he would be heading the transportation department as it decides how to replace the aging Interstate 81 in central New York that runs through downtown Syracuse.
The current mayor there, Stephanie Miner, favors tearing down an I-81 viaduct that splits part of the downtown.
Cuomo’s announcement said Thaniel, the new deputy secretary for transportation, has nearly two decades of experience “at federal, state, local and international levels on investments needed to rebuild and modernize transportation infrastructure.”
Thaniel most recently ran his own transportation consulting firm. He was formerly executive director of the National Association of City Transportation Officials in New York, a senior official at the U.S. Conference of Mayors and at Amtrak, and is a member of the Eno Center for Transportation Policy in Washington, D.C.
Cuomo has appointed his former deputy secretary for transportation, Karen Rae, as senior adviser for innovative project delivery for the Empire State Development agency. Rae, a transportation expert with over 35 years of experience, had been deputy secretary since October 2011.
Earlier, Rae was deputy administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, where she managed the federal high speed rail initiative and developed national freight and passenger rail policy. She had held prior senior positions at NYSDOT and at the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.