BOSTON - Newly appointed Turnpike Authority Executive Director Alan LeBovidge said he will draw on his management experience as revenue commissioner to help the authority run more efficiently.
Newly appointed Turnpike Authority Executive Director Alan LeBovidge said he will draw on his management experience as revenue commissioner to help the authority run more efficiently.
Transportation Secretary Bernard Cohen appointed LeBovidge Monday, the first permanent executive director since Matthew Amorello, who was pressured to resign last year following the Big Dig tunnel ceiling collapse.
"We need somebody who is going to scrub down deep and look for every available efficiency, try to make a blunt assessment of the talent we have and the talent gaps that we have, and I think he can do that," Patrick said after announcing his nomination of LeBovidge, a Republican appointee who Patrick removed from the Department of Revenue in June.
“When I first heard I was excited,” said LeBovidge, who worked for nonprofits in the interim, but is looking forward to getting back into state government.
In his first two months on the job, LeBovidge, of North Andover, is charged with identifying $5 million in potential savings.
He replaces Interim Executive Director Mary Jane O’Meara, who, at the direction of the authority’s board, froze hiring and told department heads to cut 5 percent of their operating budgets.
LeBovidge promised to look for efficiencies in every corner of the authority, but deferred to Cohen on the policy matter of whether recent toll hikes are unfair to MetroWest commuters.
“The board approved the smallest increase we could have approved realizing it wasn’t enough to cover the needs of the authority … with the idea that we’d find another way to raise the money for the authority without having to go back to the tollpayers,” Cohen said in a phone interview Monday.
Cohen and the other authority board members voted to go ahead with the 25-cent turnpike extension and 50-cent Boston tunnel toll increases at their last meeting, but to conduct an equity study to determine a fairer way to impose future tolls.
According to MetroWest lawmakers, the study would be similar to the one conducted by a legislative commission conducted several years ago, which found that commuters west of Boston unfairly finance the Big Dig through turnpike tolls.
When Patrick announced his recommendation of LeBovidge earlier this month, MetroWest lawmakers voiced support for respected revenue chief, despite his lack of transportation experience.
“I don’t think it’s a transportation issue, it’s a management issue,” LeBovidge said of his ability to run an agency with a troubled record.
“We’re talking about turnaround, management issues, personnel issues that would apply to any company in the U.S., whether we’re making widgets or running the turnpike.
Under his oversight, the authority will tie up loose ends and take over maintenance of the completed Central Artery Project, more commonly known as the Big Dig.
Patrick has also said LeBovidge could play a role in a transportation overhaul that would merge all of the quasi-independent state authorities into one entity.
“It doesn’t affect me at all, I took this position knowing that (the merge) was a possibility,” said LeBovidge, unconcerned that Patrick may be planning to do away with the authority.
“My job is to try to make the Metropolitan Highway System and the Turnpike (run as efficiently as possible),” he said. “What happens to it and who runs it later, that’s for the future.”
The Metropolitan Highway System encompasses the eastern turnpike as well as the Big Dig and has an annual operating budget of $100 million.
MetroWest (Mass.) Daily News staff writer Lindsey Parietti can be reached at email@example.com