State transit official named director of expressway authority
By Dan Dolan
After a long and frequently turbulent search, the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority picked Florida Department of Transportation District 6 Development Director Javier Rodriguez to serve as its next executive director.
In a unanimous vote Tuesday, authority trustees offered Mr. Rodriguez a 3-year deal to replace current Executive Director Servando Parapar, who retired last year but agreed to continue working until his replacement was found.
Mr. Rodriguez said he's accepted the job. However, contract details, including salary, still need to be negotiated, he said.
Salary negotiations torpedoed the authority's last attempt to hire an executive director. Assistant State Transportation Secretary Ysela Llort accepted the post in August. She walked away three months later after failed salary talks with authority Chairman Darryl Sharpton, who drew criticism from other trustees for the way negotiations were handled.
However, trustees don't expect similar drama this time around. Trustees Maurice A. Ferré and Johnny Martinez said they're confident the authority and Mr. Rodriguez will reach an agreement.
"We're going to try to get him on board in two weeks," said Mr. Martinez, the state Department of Transportation District 6 secretary who is Mr. Rodriguez' current boss.
"Obviously, I know Javier very well. He's a key player in FDOT District 6. He's a bright and reasonable man. I'm certain there won't be any contract problems. I'm sorry to lose him, but I voted on his merits for the job, not my selfish needs."
Mr. Martinez said Mr. Rodriguez' familiarly with Miami-Dade transportation planning and the issues confronting the expressway made him the strongest candidate in a field of finalists that also included Jacksonville-based consulting engineer Terrell Shaw.
"Mr. Shaw's credentials are very impressive," Mr. Ferré said. "But we decided on Mr. Rodriguez because of his experience with the state and the legislative process. We think he knows us better, too, since he comes from within our community."
A Florida International University graduate engineer, Mr. Rodriguez has spent 15 years with the state transportation department. The 38-year-old Coral Gables resident currently oversees planning and development on rail and road projects throughout South Florida. He is a member of the committee assigned to select the company that will build the $1.5 billion Port of Miami Tunnel.
Mr. Rodriguez does not know when he'll report to his new position. Mr. Parapar, who has served as executive director since the authority was founded a decade ago, will stay on until March, Mr. Martinez said.
"I'm excited about this new job," Mr. Rodriguez said. "It's going to be a great challenge. The authority is developing a capital improvement program and a strategic plan. I want to look at them both and make sure the authority is meetings its mission to enhance mobility in Miami-Dade county."
The expressway authority runs 32 miles of toll roads that generate $33 million a year.