Harris appointed as Vermont bridge closure "czar"

Gov. Jim Douglas announced that he has tapped 34 year New York Department of Transportation (NYDOT) veteran and current Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) employee, Jim Harris to lead the state's approach to managing the Lake Champlain Bridge closure mess.

"Jim's leadership skills and his ability to manage challenges that extend beyond transportation make him more than qualified for this vital role," said Douglas. "He has more than 40 years of experience in transportation and project management. His expertise, on the ground in Addison County dealing with the wide-range of challenges, from economic and jobs loss to agriculture, caused by this transportation crisis will be essential.

"Jim has the tools needed to be the state's eyes and ears at this critical time," said VTrans Secretary David Dill. "We want the public to have the best and latest information as we work day and night to find a solution to this terrible situation."

Harris' responsibilities will extend beyond the transportation situation caused by the Lake Champlain Bridge closure. Harris will act as the point of contact for all state agencies and departments as well as local officials and the public.

"I know this is a difficult time for the people of Vermont and New York whose lives have been disrupted by the bridge closure," said Harris. "Building on the good work that my colleagues at VTrans are already doing, I'll do my best to offer more affordable and less time consuming alternatives as quickly as possible.

After 34 years of service, Harris retired from NYDOT in 2003 where he was Executive Director of New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for New York City, Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley. He also served as Division Director of Program Planning and Management Division which, among other responsibilities, included development and execution of the Department's $1.75B Annual Capital Program, coordination of metropolitan planning for the twelve MPO's in New York and development and maintenance of the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP).

Harris joined VTrans in 2003 as project engineer for the Bennington Bypass project, and in 2005 he became Project Manager for the Bypass. In 2008, Harris took in the responsibility for the Morristown Truck Alternative Route as project manager.

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