New Year, New Authority, and New Challenges

As headlines reported worldwide celebrations welcoming 2015, another change quietly took place: Thruway Authority Executive Director Thomas J. Madison and Chief Financial Officer Bryan resigned, effective midnight, one month after Chair Howard Milstein.

Madison left state service to pursue private sector opportunities, part of the natural transition of government as gubernatorial term changes. Given the recent departure of Milstein, it is natural that other leadership changes would occur.

My 88-year old mom was upset when I told her.

Walter Riechert, Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC, Thomas J. Madison, Jr., Executive Director, NYS Thruway Authority, Brian Conybeare, Special Project Advisor./Photo: NYSTA

Walter Riechert, Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC, Thomas J. Madison, Jr., Executive Director, NYS Thruway Authority, Brian Conybeare, Special Project Advisor./Photo: NYSTA

Governor Andrew Cuomo, sworn in for his second term this afternoon, recommended Madison to the Boards of the Thruway Authority and the Canal Corporation on September 15, 2011, an appointment confirmed by the State Senate on January 9, 2012.

“It has been an honor to serve in Governor Cuomo’s administration as executive director of the Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation during such a pivotal time in the history of the organization,” Madison said in a statement. “It was a particular privilege to be a part of the leadership team of the New NY Bridge project to replace the Tappan Zee, and to serve alongside so many talented and committed public servants.”

His experience — including Vice President and Director of Transportation Policy for STV, Incorporated of New York City, and Federal Highway Administrator at the U.S. Department of Transportation — made him perfect for the job.

Faced with challenges, Madison had calculating vision and is to be commended for his major accomplishments during his three-plus years with the Thruway, and for open communication with colleagues and the media (me). Under difficult circumstances, he kept the Tappan Zee Bridge in a good state of repair for four years and saw New NY Bridge project through to where it is today.

I’ve covered the bridge project for nearly three years and observed him co-chair the mass transit task force meetings with finesse and a calm demeanor.

“It’s best to talk about financing options, rather than talk about transit objectives and back into a discussion about finance,” Madison said at the April 2013 meeting.

Each time mom heard I was going to one of those meetings, she’d ask me to say hello to him for her.

Madison made every effort to bring the 570-mile Thruway system into the 21st century, emphasizing it’s important to begin paying for projects. He spoke about its role in the state economy, favoring a once-proposed 45 percent toll increase that would have added $90 million in annual revenues. It was necessary, he said, after years of mismanagement at the agency and the need for additional revenue.

While the 45% toll hike for trucks won’t happen on the 570-mile Thruway, I felt, then as now, commercial vehicles deserve to pay more – at least on the new bridge.

Thruway officials had an alternative plan to reduce costs: removing the Canal Corporation — on the Thruway’s books since the early 1990s — from its control was an idea voiced by many during the years.

As Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC) begins its third year, details for funding the $3.9 billion bridge project, and how the Thruway will close the $25 million revenue gap on its recently-adopted $1.7 billion budget, are unclear.

Deputy Secretary for Transportation Karen Rae, who has extensive operations background, will manage the transition at the Thruway Authority for the governor. Rae will work closely with the Thruway board to ensure a smooth transition. Until a new executive director is confirmed, Jennifer McCormick will be responsible for all critical day-to-day operations.

Mom says hello and wishes you best of luck, Mr. Madison.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2015

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