Bush picks former highway administrator to head Transportation

President Bush has chosen Mary Peters, a former federal highway administrator, to succeed Norman Mineta as secretary of Transportation.

Peters spent three years directing the Arizona Department of Transportation, where she worked her way up through the ranks during a 16-year career there. Since November, Peters has been national director for transportation policy and consulting in the Phoenix office of Omaha-based architectural, engineering and consulting firm HDR Inc.

Peters, who was chief of the Federal Highway Administration from 2001 to 2005, fills a Cabinet seat left open when Mineta left the post in July after six years on the job. Bush wanted to announce his choice of a replacement as the Senate returned from its August recess, so the confirmation process could begin.

Peters was well-liked among lawmakers during her tenure at the Federal Highway Administration and her nomination does not appear to be contentious.

"Mary did an excellent job as chief of the Federal Highway Administration and I look forward to working closely with her again as the secretary of Transportation," Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman James Inhofe, R-Okla., said in a statement.

Mineta, who helped rebuild confidence in U.S. airports and flying after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, was the only Democrat in Bush's Cabinet. There had been speculation for years that Mineta was on the verge of quitting, sometimes because of his health and sometimes because or rumors about a cabinet shake-up. Instead, Mineta became the longest-serving transportation secretary since the department was formed in 1967.

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