DOVER, DE (AP) The head of Delaware’s beleaguered Department of Transportation is resigning for health reasons, Gov. Ruth Ann Minner announced Dec. 6.
Transportation Secretary Nathan Hayward III will retire Feb. 1.
Hayward, appointed by Minner in 2001, is stepping down because he was recently diagnosed with cancer.
“The cards get dealt the way they get dealt,” said Hayward, who expressed confidence in his physician and gratitude for the support he is receiving from family and friends.
“I’m very confident that with some rest and good medical care, we’ll get through this,” said Hayward, who said he intends to remain engaged in the duties of his office until he retires.
Minner issued a prepared statement Dec. 6 thanking Hayward for his service.
“Secretary Hayward has worked diligently with the community and our elected representatives for the past five years to ensure the many transportation needs and concerns of our citizens are addressed,” the governor said.
In recent months, the transportation department has come under criticism by state lawmakers and members of the public for its handling of personnel and budget issues.
Earlier this year, the department announced that it was putting $287 million worth of work on hold because it didn’t have the money to pay for the projects. A task force established to examine the agency’s financial situation reported last month that the department needs to come up with an estimated $2.7 billion over the next six years to meet currently scheduled projects. The task force listed several funding options, including raising tolls, taxes and fees, and leasing the state’s major north-south toll artery to private interests, but it made no recommendations.
Administration officials will consider the task force report as they prepare a budget plan for fiscal 2007.
Transportation officials said they have warned lawmakers for years about a looming funding crisis, which the agency blames on the decision by lawmakers several years ago to use money from the transportation trust fund, which is designed to pay for capital projects and transportation department operating expenses.
Meanwhile, lawmakers have been investigating Hayward’s decision to terminate several employees for alleged misuse of state computers under his “zero-tolerance” policy. State budget officials concluded that suspensions were appropriate in some cases, but that the firings violated a “progressive discipline” policy that some believe is required for state merit system employees.
Hayward said the DOT’s recent problems played no role in his decision to retire.
“Basically, my doctor’s advice was, ’You’re not going to get through this and come out well the way you want to if you’re living the 24-7 job that you’ve been doing for the last five years.’ He knows the job and he knows me,” he said. “If DelDOT had all the money in the world, I would still be following my doctor’s and my family’s guidance on this.”
Before becoming transportation secretary, Hayward spent 16 years in the private sector working in commercial banking, real estate and international development. Under former Gov. Pierre S. DuPont IV, Hayward served as director of the Office of Management, Budget and Planning, and director of the Delaware Development Office.
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