Might Trucking Executive Be Trump's Pick to Head DOT?

James S. Simpson/Photo via Linkedin

A Philadelphia-area transportation guru might play a major role in President-elect Donald Trump's cabinet: Politico has listed James S. Simpson, 59, of Wayne, Pennsylvania, the chairman of Victory Worldwide Transportation of Jamesburg, New Jersey, as a possible candidate to head the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Simpson is also a former New Jersey Department of Transportation commissioner under Gov. Chris Christie and a former head of the Federal Transit Administration under President George W. Bush.

Rival candidates include lame-duck Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) and Mark Rosenker, ex-chief at the National Transportation Safety Board. Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) doesn't want the job.

Efforts to contact Simpson on Nov. 16 were not successful.

Simpson and Trump are friends — they've spent holidays together, a person who knows them both says — and Simpson backed Trump even when his former boss, Christie, was also seeking the GOP nomination.

RELATED: Trump team floats ‘infrastructure bank’ derided by campaign

But, the Washington Post has reported that some people closely tied to Christie are being removed from consideration by Trump's revamped transition team.

In 2010, the Inquirer's Paul Nussbaum called Simpson a "fast-talking airplane pilot and former truck driver," a self-described "transportation nut" who hoped to find corporate sponsors to upgrade turnpike rest stops so he wouldn't be embarrassed to take his kids there, to find ways to boost New Jersey Transit funding in the face of Christie's pledge not to boost tolls or taxes, and to "fix roads before building new ones." Simpson lived in Princeton while working for the state.

Simpson stepped down in 2014 to return to the private sector. He is senior adviser to the chairman and a member of the board of China Construction America Inc., a Jersey City-based unit of China State Construction Engineering Corp. China Construction America also owns Plaza Construction Co. of New York.

He also owns Victory Worldwide, a corporate- and home-moving company, the Newark Star-Ledger reported. Simpson started at Victory in the 1970s as a driver to pay his way through St. John's University. Past Victory jobs include moving the George W. Bush Presidential Library collection.

Simpson as transportation secretary "would give us someone in Washington as they look at ways to rebuild I-95, using private money, not just government money," says Frank Rapoport, the Philadelphia Main Line-based Peckar & Abramson attorney who serves as chief strategy adviser for the Association for the Improvement of American Infrastructure. Of course, the investors "will have to get paid back," which likely means more tolls, he adds.

Staff writer Jacob Adelman contributed to this article.

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