FDOT secretary steps down



trafficFlorida Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad has become the third of Gov. Rick Scott’s agency heads to step down since the general election.

Prasad, a professional engineer tapped by Scott to run the agency in April 2011, will leave the job Jan. 2, the governor’s office announced Tuesday.

With Scott pushing to expand parts of Florida’s transportation infrastructure, the agency under Prasad has grown from a $7 billion operation to $10.1 billion in the current year.

“Secretary Prasad has also helped Florida become a major force in international trade because of his commitment to expanding our Florida ports and airports,” Scott said in a prepared statement. “I am grateful for Secretary Prasad’s service to our state, and we will continue making our transportation system a top priority as we select another excellent leader for this department.”

The news about Prasad follows announcements last week that Department of Corrections Secretary Mike Crews and Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Herschel Vinyard will retire.

Scott now has at least five new leaders to appoint as he gets ready to start a second term.

The Florida Department of Children and Families and the Department of Juvenile Justice are operating under interim secretaries.

Prasad’s replacement will come from a list of candidates recommended by the Florida Transportation Commission, whose nine members are all appointed by the governor.

Prasad spent 18 years at the agency, including stints as chief engineer and director of construction, before being selected by Scott.

During the recent election campaign, Scott hyped a plan to reinforce the state’s roads, ports and airports by expanding parts of the agency’s $41 billion, 5-year work program.

The state has spent $582 million the past three years on improvements at Florida’s seaports, with an eye on establishing Florida as a global trade crossroad. An additional $139 million is included in the current fiscal year budget for more than 20 port projects across the state.