Governor Haley announced late last Friday her appointment as Secretary of Transportation for our DOT: Robert St. Onge. According to news sources, St. Onge, 63, retired from the Army after 34 years of service and now lives in Lexington. From 2001 to 2003, he was the deputy assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, and his previous posts include commanding general of the 24th infantry division at Fort Riley in Kansas, policy director for the Army’s chief of staff, and commandant at West Point. Since retiring from the Army in 2003, St. Onge has been an executive at L-3 Communications, a defense contractor.
Of all of her cabinet decisions, Secretary of Transportation solicited the most opinions and advice from lobbyists and others. According to Haley, she wanted to appoint an individual that would be steadfast in their leadership, not easily swayed by politics:
One thing I’ve learned about the military is, they are given challenges – sometimes things they’ve never done before – and they always step up, and they always produce, and they know you have to run them on a strict timeline. They understand budgets, and they also understand managing.
Hopefully St. Onge’s leadership will be true to the qualities that Governor Haley describes. We look forward to working with St. Onge and his administration for several years to come.
Finally, a word on what our new Secretary may mean for SCDOT. St. Onge is joined by several other Deputies at SCDOT that are also fairly new to their positions: last fall, Mr. Tony Walsh replaced Mr. Tony Chapman as Deputy Secretary for Engineering, and DOT also added the position of Deputy Secretary for Intermodal and Freight Programs with Mr. Hart Baker at the helm. We think it is a sign of promising things to come given the new administration now at the top. New blood can be a good thing, especially in this case.
The role of the Secretary and his administration for SCDOT is largely administrative, with these positions carrying out the policies as dictated by the DOT Commission. The Secretary and his Deputies also represent DOT in their dealings with other state agencies, local governments, special districts, other states, and the federal government. The general policy-making body of the SCDOT is governed by the Transportation Commission. The Commission meets monthly, and the PCC works on a continual basis to attend these meetings and work in-district with Commission members to ensure bicycle infrastructure and safety is a top priority.