In a reshuffling of some top jobs at the state Department of Transportation, former Durham Mayor Nick Tennyson was named DOT’s sole chief deputy secretary on Friday, giving him authority over DOT operations along with his previous role as chief planner and fiscal manager.
Chief Engineer Terry Gibson, who held the job historically known as state highway administrator, will take charge of turnpike operations. His successor as chief engineer will be Mike Holder, who since 2000 has been in charge of DOT work in the six western counties of Division 12, based in Shelby.
DOT Secretary Tony Tata hired Tennyson a year ago as chief deputy for support, sharing oversight chores with Jim Trogdon, chief deputy for operations. Tennyson’s role widened when he spent three months as interim motor vehicles commissioner and then took on responsibility for operations, on an interim basis, after Trogdon resigned in November.
Tata named Gibson to replace John Breedlove as operations director of the state Turnpike Authority. He’ll be the agency’s top administrator until Tata fills the turnpike executive director’s job, which has been vacant since the resignation of David Joyner a year ago.
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Gibson takes charge as the Turnpike Authority faces challenges on several fronts: to complete the 540 Outer Loop across southern and eastern Wake County; to get moving on Gaston and Union county turnpike projects stalled by legal and political obstacles; and to address toll-road marketing and customer service problems.
“That is a huge challenge, and it’s one we do intend to improve,” Tennyson said. “Having customers is a major part of customer service, and we’d like to have more of them. Once we’ve got them, we need to be sure we’re providing a level of service people expect with an option we have asked them to choose. Nobody has to take the toll road.”
Tata also named a new customer service director for the Turnpike Authority: Michelle Muir, a marketing consultant and former business development director for a Raleigh engineering firm.