New Transportation Secretary Faces Tough Road

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Gov. Deval Patrick looks on after introducing Richard Davey as the state's new transportation secretary. (AP)
Gov. Deval Patrick looks on after introducing Richard Davey as the state's new transportation secretary. (AP)

Come Sept. 1, there will be a new boss at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. MBTA General Manager Richard Davey will take over from the current MassDOT secretary, Jeffrey Mullan.

In his new post, Davey will be responsible for Massachusetts highways, public transportation and airports.

Patrick appointed him to take over at MassDot as the agency struggles with massive debt, as well as an ongoing controversy over leaks and lights in the Big Dig Tunnels.

State Sen. Thomas McGee, the co-chair of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation, says that MassDOT’s new head will face a tough road.

“Considering what we’re looking at and the challenges we face, I think the governor made a good choice,” McGee said.

The current transportation secretary has done a good job setting the department on a new path following an organizational overhaul of transportation agencies in 2009, McGee said. But, McGee wants Davey to move MassDOT on to the next step.

“Now that we’ve implemented most of the transportation reform, we have to take a more serious look at what is the state of transportation in Massachusetts,” McGee said.

Looking to the future, Davey himself says the already financially strapped department could face more troubles if Washington reduces federal funding for Massachusetts transportation projects.

“We continue to be worried, concerned perhaps, that the federal government’s fiscal situation may likely have the federal government take a step back when it comes to transportation funding,” Davey said.

Davey is popular with transportation groups like the T Riders Union, according to its vice chairperson, Taisha O’Bryant.

“I have faith that his decision-making, from this point on and always — that it’s in the best interest of ridership,” O’Bryant said.

Davey will be the fourth transportation secretary since Patrick took office, and he says he plans to stick around, “as long as the governor wants me to serve,” Davey said.

Davey will start his new job next month. There’s no word yet on who will replace him as head of the MBTA.

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