Friday, November 14, 2008

NM Transportation Secretary Rhonda Faught Announces Her Retirement

On Friday State Transportation Secretary Rhonda Faught announced that she will retire from her position at the end of this year, capping a distinguished 21-year career in state government.

“Rhonda has been an invaluable member of my cabinet for the past six years,” Governor Bill Richardson said. “Since taking over the helm of New Mexico Department of Transportation, Rhonda has transformed the agency into a true multimodal department with emphasis on all modes of transportation.

“She was instrumental in implementing my transportation agenda that included improving our critical highway infrastructure needs and providing efficient public transportation systems such as the Rail Runner Express and Park-and-Ride services,” Governor Richardson said.

“It has been a privilege and an honor to work for Governor Bill Richardson,” Secretary Faught said. “Thanks to his infectious enthusiasm and bold leadership, we have been able to make giant strides toward improving transportation in New Mexico. I also want to thank Governor Richardson for this wonderful opportunity to serve our citizens.”

“Rhonda is one of the most skilled and result-oriented public servants I ever had the opportunity to work with,” State Transportation Commission Chairman Johnny Cope said. “Her strong and continued desire to build the best transportation department in the country served us well in all areas of highway construction, operations and safety, and public transportation. She has turned a predominantly highway-focused department into a multimodal transportation department. I am very thankful for her service.”

Faught is no stranger when it comes to breaking the gender barrier. Starting her career in 1988 she worked in various positions, including District Engineer,(the first female district engineer of the then New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department).

She also headed the Local Government Assistance Bureau and served as the Adjutant Secretary for the New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department.

Going back further in her career, Faught is one of the first women to receive an engineering degree from New Mexico State University . And first and foremost, she is the first female Secretary to head the New Mexico Department of Transportation in its 105-year history. She currently serves on the Executive Board of Directors for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and is the current President of the Western Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (WASHTO).

In 2003, the American Public Works Association selected Faught as one of the Top 10 Public Works Leaders for that year. In the same year, she received the Trailblazer Award by the Commission on the Status of Women. This award recognizes women who have succeeded in non-traditional careers, which are described as careers with generally less than 10 percent women.

Some of the accomplishments under Secretary Faught’s six-year tenure as the head of the transportation department include:

Passing and implementing the $1.6 billion transportation infrastructure improvement project known as GRIP (Governor Richardson’s Investment Partnership). As a result, nearly 4,000 construction jobs were created and more than 90 percent of the projects awarded have gone to New Mexico contractors so far.

Implementing one of the fastest startup commuter train system in the country —the New Mexico Rail Runner Express — between Belen and Santa Fe .

Reducing overall traffic fatalities by more than 30 percent in the last two years, including the reduction of DWI-related fatalities by nearly 20 percent in the last three years.

Implementing a statewide Park-and-Ride public transportation system that has seen the ridership increase more than 430 percent in the last five years.

Implementing a new and easy to use road advisory hotline — 511— for New Mexico commuters and the traveling public.

Opening an Intelligent Transportation System Center in Albuquerque to monitor road conditions via cameras and other high-tech devices.

Implementing regional transit districts across New Mexico to help promote and establish public transportation services at regional and local levels.

Establishing bilateral working agreements with various pueblos, tribes and nations across New Mexico on transportation issues that affect everyone.

NMDOT was recognized by the Reasons Foundation, a non-profit transportation advocacy group, which ranked NMDOT third in the country for the most efficient use of public money on transportation initiatives.

The American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials (AASHTO) ranked New Mexico highways and rural roads as being one of the smoothest in the country.

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