Vance Smith is out as head of Georgia DOT

Smith spearheaded a P3 push in the Peach State, but has reportedly been forced to resign amid internal discord. He will remain as an advisor until December 31. Deputy commissioner Keith Golden (pictured) is stepping in as interim commissioner.

Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) commissioner Vance Smith, a vocal public-private partnership (PPP) champion, has resigned from his position, the department announced in a statement.

Smith will remain with GDOT an advisor until December 31, according to the department. Keith Golden, the acting deputy commissioner, will now step in as interim commissioner.

Rudy Bowen, GDOT board chairman, commented in a statement: “On behalf of the board, I thank Mr. Smith for his service to transportation in Georgia and welcome deputy commissioner Golden to his new position. We look forward to working with him.”

Golden is a 25-year GDOT veteran. He was nominated deputy commissioner by Smith.

Smith ushered in an ambitious P3 initiative that included “West by Norhtwest” – a major toll road expansion in Atlanta – as well as a plan to build a “multi-modal passenger terminal” (MMPT).

He tendered his resignation following a two-hour closed-door meeting of the GDOT board.

The main criticism lodged against Smith: the GDOT is understaffed – and that shortage in manpower has overextended important personnel.

In addition, Smith was blamed for not having the department fund enough roadwork. 

Smith, who was elected commissioner in June 2009, did not return a voicemail message from Infrastructure Investor.

In an aggressive PPP build out under Smith, Georgia has endeavoured to add a 40-mile batch of tolled road throughout Atlanta under the 'West by Northwest' project.

With its estimated cost of $2.3 billion, West by Northwest (WxNW) has the potential to make Georgia into a flagship PPP state.

A previously announced request for proposals (RFP) for WxNW is still expected to go out in late September.

Also under Smith, Georgia initiated a PPP to build a train and bus terminal, or MMPT, as well as a PPP to lease highway rest stop supervision. A board agenda listed on the GDOT website noted the overall status of the P3 program is set for Wednesday.

The arrival of Smith as GDOT commissioner dovetailed with an amended 2009 law to bolster privatisation state-wide.

In a July 2010 Infrastructure Investor cover article, Smith enthused about increasing privatisation in Georgia.

A Georgia native, Smith served as state representative from 1993 until taking over as GDOT commissioner in 2009.