Oak Ridge native named new TDOT commissioner

12-20-2002

By Hayes Hickman, Knoxville News-Sentinel

Gerald Nicely says its important to serve the state's road needs and preserve Tennesseans' way of life, and he thinks he can do both as the next transportation commissioner.

"They are not mutually exclusive," Nicely said, after his appointment was announced today by Gov.-elect Phil Bredesen at a Knoxville press conference.

The Oak Ridge native promised to bring credibility to the controversial Tennessee Department of Transportation, holding construction delays to a minimum and keeping projects - both big and small - on budget. But more importantly, Nicely said he intends to assume his post with an open ear to the concerns of citizens.

"My mission is to make TDOT accountable to our customers, who are the taxpayers of Tennessee," he said. "I really want to hear what they have to say."

Nicely served as executive director of Nashville's Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency during Bredesen's tenure as mayor. And his appointment marks a major departure from previous governors' standard practice of naming a road builder to the job.

"I certainly didn't blackball any road builders," Bredesen said. "But to make the changes I wanted to make ... I knew it was going to take someone from outside the industry."

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Hayes Hickman can be reached at 981-9101 or hickman@knews.com.

Copyright 2002, Knoxville News-Sentinel Co.