By ERICH WAGNER
ANNAPOLIS (April 10, 2009) - Maryland Transportation Secretary John Porcari said Friday he was "honored and humbled" to be nominated by President Obama to be deputy secretary for the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Porcari, 50, said he was excited despite the challenges awaiting him in the new position. The Department of Transportation will play a key role in the president's economic recovery plan by helping to fund infrastructure projects across the country.
"I'm going to be working hard every day to implement the policies of the president and the secretary [of transportation]," Porcari said, in a phone interview. "They have built a very strong team already and I look forward to being a part of that team."
Gov. Martin O'Malley congratulated Porcari in a statement and said he will work with the nominee through the Senate confirmation and transition processes.
"John's leadership as an advocate for infrastructure investment impacts the lives of all Marylanders as they travel on resurfaced highways, restored bridges, or new hybrid buses," he said.
State officials estimate that the $787 billion recovery package signed by Obama in February will bring Maryland at least $566 million for infrastructure and transit projects.
Porcari emphasized before the bill's passage that the state was preparing to move quickly, anticipating that the bill would contain "use-it-or-lose-it" provisions. Those provisions bind states to certain deadlines for committing portions of their stimulus money.
O'Malley announced on March 26 that Maryland became the first state to avoid having to return unused money from its first batch of infrastructure funding.
Porcari was the state's secretary of transportation under former Gov. Parris Glendening from 1999 to 2003. From 2003 to 2007, he served as vice president of administrative affairs at the University of Maryland, College Park. He returned to the state transportation job after O'Malley was inaugurated in 2007.
As transportation secretary, Porcari oversaw the early stages of construction for the inter-county connecter and was involved in the funding for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project.
Porcari, who was born in Rochester, N.Y., has a bachelor's in political science from the University of Dayton, and a master's in public administration from the State University of New York at Albany.
Capital News Service reporter Leonard Sparks contributed to this report.