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Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley Appoints New Transportation Chief

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Jim Smith will be in charge of the Department of Transportation, one of the state's largest agencies.
WAMU/Elliott Francis
Jim Smith will be in charge of the Department of Transportation, one of the state's largest agencies.

Maryland's new secretary of transportation says he'll make bridge maintenance a priority in the state.

The state's new Transportation Secretary Jim Smith is no stranger to the state's infrastructure challenges. At the announcement of his appointment, Governor Martin O'Malley explained why.

"Public service has been the calling of Jim's professional life. As a member of the county council, as a judge, and as county executive, and I'm absolutely convinced that he's going to be a very effective transportation secretary for the the people of our state."

As Baltimore County executive, Smith prioritized the reduction of congestion on Baltimore's beltway. He says one of his first tasks as head of state transportation will be to check the inspection records for the state's bridges, particularly road spans built between 1950 and 1970.

"That was the time that they were not using redundancy in their engineering. This was reported recently, it means that if there is a problem in one area, it would affect the entire bridge because there wasn't any redundancy built into the design," he said.

Smith will also oversee the state's recently passed $4.4 billion Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act. The Department of Transportation is of one of Maryland's largest state agencies, spending $3 billion a year for operating expenses and capital projects.

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