Sherri LeBas, the first woman secretary for the state Department of Transportation and Development, said Thursday she plans to leave the agency early next year.
“I don’t have a set retirement date at this point,” LeBas said. “I am thinking early spring. So, I am playing that by ear.”
She said she hopes to help with the transition of the next DOTD secretary, which is expected when a new governor takes office in January.
Most cabinet posts are expected to change after Republican David Vitter or Democrat John Bel Edwards wins the race for governor on Nov. 21.
LeBas has held the job for nearly six years, including major spending for roads and bridges initially when state budget coffers swelled after hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.
Baton Rouge area projects, including the widening of Interstate 10 from the I-10/12 split to Highland Road and I-12 from the split nearly to Satsuma, were among the beneficiaries.
However, DOTD has been plagued by a roughly $12 billion backlog of road and bridge needs in recent years.
Repeated efforts to craft solutions have failed in the Legislature, and Gov. Bobby Jindal has opposed any tax hikes for transportation or other state services.
LeBas is a licensed professional engineer who is paid $170,000 per year.
She made her comments after her final appearance before the annual meeting of the American Council of Engineering Companies of Louisiana.
“It has been a tremendous honor to have served in this capacity,” she told the group. “It will be one of the highlights of my life.”
LeBas succeeded William Ankner, who resigned suddenly in 2010 amid controversy over a $60 million contract to widen I-10 in Baton Rouge.
She has worked for 24 years at DOTD and six other years at the state Division of Administration.
LeBas is getting married in March.
The DOTD secretary left a classified job at DOTD about 10 years ago, where she can return after stepping down from her current job.
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