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Leaving a legacy of transitioning his agency from its traditional role to one that is acutely security focused in the post-9/11 era, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta is stepping down.
When he departs July 7, Mineta will leave to his replacement perhaps one of the most ambitious plans to fight congestion across the modes as well as innumerable other issues affecting shippers, carriers and others.
Who that replacement will be is, of course, up to President Bush, who has surprised pundits lately with unexpected cabinet picks. Three names top the list of likely successors--Federal Aviation Administrator Marion Blakey, Deputy Transportation Secretary Maria Cino and Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Michael Jackson.
Whoever is next will replace the longest serving secretary of transportation, the first Asian-American transportation secretary and the only Democrat in Bush's cabinet. Mineta, 74, has decades of transportation and government experience, including stints as the mayor of San Jose, Calif., and chairman of the House transportation committee.
"While there remains more to be done--a job such as this is never truly completed--I can assure you that the Department of Transportation is well-positioned, with highly competent and dedicated people you brought in as well as the civil service workforce, to fulfill the mission that you and the Congress advance in the years ahead," Mineta wrote in a letter to Bush June 20 announcing his resignation.
In his five and a half years as DOT secretary, Mineta played a major role in the immediate reaction to the September 11 terrorist attacks, creating rapid response teams charged with creating sweeping security measures in a matter of weeks. He also oversaw the creation of the Transportation Security Administration and the transfer of TSA and the U.S. Coast Guard to the fledgling Department of Homeland Security.