Rudy Bowen said Smith, a former state lawmaker who was appointed by the board in 2009, will act in an advisory capacity through Dec. 31.
GDOT Operations Director Keith Golden will serve as interim director. He is a 25-year GDOT veteran
with a master’s degree in civil engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology.
Bowen, who represents the 7th Congressional District on the board, said Smith had put Golden in the deputy commissioner slot before he resigned.
“On behalf of the board, I thank Mr. Smith for his service to transportation in Georgia and welcome Deputy Commissioner Golden to his new position. We look forward to working with him,” Bowen said in a statement.
Golden’s appointment lightened the workload of Gerald Ross, who was serving as both deputy commissioner and chief engineer when Smith named him director of the Public Private Partnership Program last week.
The STB member for Floyd County and the rest of the 11th Congressional District, Jeff Lewis of Cartersville, said by email he would be available for comment on Monday.
David Doss of Rome, who represented the district through April 15, said the turnover at the GDOT is a result of the struggle for control between former governor Sonny Perdue and former House Speaker Glenn Richardson.
The battle culminated in a massive 2009 transportation overhaul law that gutted much of the board’s power over infrastructure spending decisions.
“We have now had five commissioners in four years, and that’s unsettling,” Doss said. “The board needs to take that position out of the political arena and find a professional to work that department for more than a couple of years.”
He said he knew the board was “becoming restless” with Smith, but he also pointed out that Smith’s tenure began during a period of instability.
“Vance did a commendable job, coming in when the department was in shambles,” Doss said. “But this is a pretty good example of what happens when we put transportation in the political arena.”
GDOT Commissioner Harold Linnenkohl served four years before retiring in 2007 after 39 years with the department. He was followed by Gena Abrams, whose tenure was marred by controversy; Gerald Ross on an interim basis; Smith; and now Golden.
State Transportation Board Chairman Rudy Bowen issued the following statement:
I have today accepted the resignation of Vance Smith as Commissioner of the Department of Transportation.
Prior to his resignation, Mr. Smith appointed Department Operations Director Keith Golden to the position of Deputy Commissioner. In accordance with state law, the Deputy serves as interim commissioner in these circumstances.
Deputy Commissioner Golden will begin his new duties immediately. A 25-year Georgia DOT veteran, Golden is a licensed professional engineer and holds both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in civil engineering from The Georgia Institute of Technology. He began his Georgia DOT career in planning and has held numerous management positions, most recently in traffic operations.
Mr. Smith will remain as an advisor to the Department until December 31, 2011.
On behalf of the Board, I thank Mr. Smith for his service to transportation in Georgia and welcome Deputy Commissioner Golden to his new position. We look forward to working with him.