January 29, 2012 3:45 PM, EST
LaHood to Leave DOT
TT File Photo

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said he will leave the Obama administration after leading the Department of Transportation for just over four years.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to lead the department, and I am grateful to President Obama for giving me such an extraordinary opportunity,” LaHood said Tuesday morning in an e-mail to DOT employees. “I plan to stay on until my successor is confirmed to ensure a smooth transition for the department and all the important work we still have to do.”

Obama thanked LaHood for his service in a statement of his own.

“As secretary of transportation, he has fought to create jobs and grow our economy by rebuilding our roads, bridges and transit systems,” Obama said. “Every American who travels by air, rail or highway can thank Ray for his commitment to making our entire transportation system safer and stronger. I am grateful to Ray for everything he’s done, and I wish him only the best going forward.”

Obama did not set a timeline for naming LaHood’s successor.

Under LaHood’s leadership, the DOT negotiated and last year helped pass MAP-21, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, the first major transportation law since 2005. The $105 billion, two-year law allows more tolling on existing interstate highways and directs DOT to establish a national freight highway network.

LaHood’s DOT, and the agencies within it, created the first fuel economy standards for heavy- and medium-duty trucks in 2011, which accompanied the first greenhouse-gas standards for those vehicles.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration implemented its Compliance, Safety, Accountability initiative for rating the safety of trucking companies in 2010 under LaHood’s leadership. It also put restrictions on truck drivers’ hours of service and pushed toward mandating electronic logging devices for all trucks.

Anne Ferro, FMCSA’s administrator, said in a Jan. 23 statement that she “would be honored to continue serving” in her role, but did not say whether Obama had asked her to stay on during his second term.

“As I look back on the past four years, I am proud of what we have accomplished together in so many important areas,” LaHood said in his farewell e-mail.

American Trucking Associations spokesman Sean McNally said the group “appreciates secretary LaHood’s service to the country as transportation secretary, particularly in elevating the highway safety discussion on distracted driving.”

LaHood, 67, was confirmed to lead DOT Jan. 22, 2009, two days after Obama’s first inauguration. Prior to DOT, he was a Republican member of Congress from Illinois for 14 years.

LaHood initially said in 2011 that he would leave DOT if Obama were re-elected. He said at the time he would go into the private sector and did not have plans to seek public office again.