ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland Gov. Wes Moore appointed Paul Wiedefeld, a former general manager and CEO of Metro, to be the state’s transportation secretary Tuesday.
The appointment is a significant one for the new governor, who has made transportation a top priority of his administration in connecting people to jobs, boosting social equity and protecting the environment.
“I look forward to working with the team to achieve your vision for Maryland, and I understand the critical role the Department of Transportation plays in supporting that vision,” Wiedefeld said. He added that he understands the importance of the department working in partnership and transparency with communities.
Wiedefeld also has served previously as head of the Maryland Aviation Administration and the Maryland Transit Administration.
Moore cited Wiedefeld’s broad experience in making the appointment.
“In other words, Paul is a pro,” Moore said, noting that under Wiedefeld’s leadership at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, he “improved reliability, tackled massive safety challenges and weathered the global COVID-19 pandemic.”
Moore also noted that as the administrator of the state’s aviation administration, Wiedefeld oversaw a $1.8 billion expansion of Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.
“He also understands the importance of public transit and the role that it plays in the lives of all of our citizens,” Moore said.
Wiedefeld led Metro, which serves the District of Columbia as well as suburbs of the nation’s capital in Maryland and Virginia. He was general manager for about six years before resigning in May. He retired about two months before he was scheduled to retire, after about half of Metro’s train operators were found to not have required retraining and testing.
Asked about concerns that could be raised about Wiedefeld’s appointment, Moore said his administration has gone through “a full vetting process” and that they “feel comfortable with where things are.”
“The secretary is going to go in front of the Senate for a full hearing, but we know that when we think about the future for the things that we are looking to get done, … we believe firmly and deeply that Paul is a person that’s going to help lead us there,” Moore said.
Moore has expressed interest in reviving a 14-mile (22.5-kilometer) east-west transit line in Baltimore, which former Gov. Larry Hogan did not support. He spoke of a “new form of a Red Line, a true east-west transit that can help address the transportation desert that we still continue to see in many areas of Baltimore.”
“This is not going to be a start-from-scratch operation,” Moore said. “There is good work that has already been done.”