RALEIGH — David Joyner Jr. retired Friday after nearly nine years as the first executive director of the N.C. Turnpike Authority, a few days after completion of the state’s first modern toll road.
Joyner’s role in the agency had been diluted since the legislature voted three years ago to have the state Department of Transportation absorb the turnpike agency. DOT engineers now do toll-road work, and toll-road operations employees report to DOT administrators.
Joyner, 62, said his only remaining direct report was his assistant, Beth Wise, who also retired Friday. He said it will be up to Tony Tata – who was tapped Thursday as the next DOT secretary by Republican Gov.-elect Pat McCrory – to decide whether to hire a new turnpike director.
He said he had told outgoing DOT Secretary Gene Conti he thought it might be a good idea to retire now.
“He shrugged his shoulders and said that might be best,” Joyner said. “I didn’t want to sit there and wait for the new crowd to make a decision. It was the right time for them to have a clear path to decide what they want to do with the Turnpike Authority.”
The state legislature created the Turnpike Authority in 2003 with a mission to plan, build and operate a half-dozen toll roads and bridges across the state.
The 18.8-mile Triangle Expressway, North Carolina’s first modern toll road, was completed at the end of 2012 in Research Triangle Park and western Wake County. Other proposed toll projects face a variety of legal, environmental and political challenges.
“I appreciated the opportunity to work there,” Joyner said. “You don’t get the chance to do something new in government very often. It was a tremendous challenge for a long time. We’re real proud of that (Triangle) project and where we’ve gotten with these other projects.”
The legislature did not eliminate the Turnpike Authority board when it merged the agency with DOT, but the board’s duties also have been diminished.
On Friday, outgoing Gov. Bev Perdue, a Democrat, appointed Pryor Gibson, an aide and former state representative, to fill a seat on the turnpike board. Gibson will succeed Charlotte attorney Anthony Fox.
Friday also was Conti’s last day after four years as DOT secretary. He left Raleigh for a weekend in Asheville.
Both Joyner and Conti said they probably would do some consulting work.
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