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LaHood Steps Down as Transportation Secretary
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is stepping down from his post in President Obama's cabinet.
The central Illinois native and former congressman said his role in Washington is the "best job" he's ever had.
LaHood said he won't seek public office in Illinois after he leaves Washington.
For the last four years, LaHood is credited with improving safety on the roads and rails. He launched an initiative to alert the country to the dangers of distracted driving. He worked to address pilot fatigue. And during his tenure, the government enacted tougher fuel efficiency standards.
Forty-eight billion dollars from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was dedicated to transportation--the bulk for high-speed rail.
"When we put transportation money out, we're creating jobs," LaHood told ABC Newschannel in August 2011.
In a message Tuesday morning, he notified DOT employees he won't serve a second term.
"He started so many projects you see in this area that are now economic development machines," Rep. Rodney Davis, a Republican representing Illinois' 13th District, said. "He was on the ground for the MacArthur interchange in the Springfield area. That's now seen an economic boom for that side of town."
Prior to his post in the President's cabinet, LaHood, a Republican, served as a U.S. Congressman for more than a decade.
UIS Political Studies Professor Kent Redfield said he was known for working across the aisle.
"LaHood came out of Congress with a reputation of being fair, policy-oriented," Redfield said. "He was often someone they put in the chair when dealing with difficult policy issue."
It's not unusual for a cabinet secretary to serve only one term.
But Redfield said the dynamic in Washington may have influenced LaHood's decision.
"He would personally like to accommodate, compromise, get things done," Redfield said.
In the letter to DOT employees, LaHood emphasized the agency has more work to do. That includes implementing the highway bill the President signed into law last year.
LaHood said he'll stay in his role until a new secretary of transportation is confirmed.
LaHood was one of two Republican members of President Obama's Cabinet during his first term.
Prior to taking on the role of transportation secretary, LaHood served in both the United States Congress and Illinois General Assembly.