Transportation Secretary LaHood, Dulles rail proponent, to resign
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood will step down from his post in President Barack Obama’s cabinet, LaHood announced Tuesday.
A Republican and former Congressman from Illinois, LaHood is a strong proponent of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project that extends Metro’s Silver Line to the Dulles airport and into Loudoun County. In the months leading up to the vote from the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors on whether to proceed with the project as planned, with Loudoun one of several funding partners, LaHood appeared in the Loudoun board chambers to lobby for the project.
LaHood was seen as a strong ally in securing a federal loan for Phase Two of the estimated $5.5 billion project. The federal loan could help keep tolls along the Dulles Toll Road from drastically rising.
Loudoun Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles) remained cautiously optimistic that Rail to Dulles would still be the beneficiary of a federal loan.
“Obviously [LaHood] was a big proponent and somebody we were able to work with on this project,” Letourneau said. “However, the good thing is that he was not alone. We also worked with Peter Rogoff, the federal transit administration administrator, which is a Senate confirmed position, meaning that the Secretary’s resignation wouldn’t necessarily impact his status. I perceived Administrator Rogoff as supportive of helping this project as well.”
In an email to U.S. Department of Transportation employees across the country, LaHood said his position as transportation secretary was the best job he’s ever had.
“We have put safety front and center with the Distracted Driving Initiative and a rule to combat pilot fatigue that was decades in the making,” LaHood wrote. “We have made great progress in improving the safety of our transit systems, pipelines, and highways, and in reducing roadway fatalities to historic lows. We have strengthened consumer protections with new regulations on buses, trucks, and airlines.”
LaHood continued, “We helped jumpstart the economy and put our fellow Americans back to work with $48 billion in transportation funding from the American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009, and awarded over $2.7 billion in TIGER grants to 130 transportation projects across the Nation. We have made unprecedented investments in our nation’s ports. And we have put aviation on a sounder footing with the FAA reauthorization, and secured funding in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act to help States build and repair their roads, bridges and transit systems.”