Gina Fiandaca, who has served just seven months as Governor Maura Healey’s transportation secretary, chose to leave the administration of her own volition, a top state official said Tuesday, though why — or where Fiandaca may be going — remains unclear.
Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll told reporters Tuesday that Fiandaca is “ready for her next challenge” and praised her short time in the administration. Fiandaca said Monday that she will resign effective Sept. 11.
“She’s ready to move on. We’re ready to support her in that,” Driscoll said in a brief interview following an unrelated event in Dorchester. “[We] know that we’re going to have a solid team in place. It will be a really smooth transition. So I think that’s really good for all of us.”
Fiandaca’s abrupt announcement that she will leave her post atop the state Department of Transportation surprised board members and transportation advocates alike. It also marked the latest bout of turbulence to hit MassDOT, an agency that — with the MBTA, Registry of Motor Vehicles, and highway division, among other offices — directly touches as many, if not more, Massachusetts residents than any other secretariat under Healey.
Her tenure will be one of the shortest for a Cabinet secretary in recent memory and will force Healey to reshuffle her leadership team just months after finalizing her expanded Cabinet.
Undersecretary of Transportation Monica Tibbits-Nutt will become acting secretary of transportation. Fiandaca will continue to earn her $181,722-a-year salary as an adviser to MassDOT through the end of the year, said Healey spokesperson Karissa Hand.
Among the top priorities for Tibbits-Nutt will be improving safety at the MBTA, establishing an Office of Transportation and Climate Planning and Policy, and reviewing the impacts of the Sumner Tunnel closure to prepare for upcoming weekend work and next summer’s closure, said MassDOT spokesperson Jacquelyn Goddard in an email.
“The entire team at MassDOT is committed to continuing the forward momentum of the Healey-Driscoll Administration and building on the progress we’ve made together,” Tibbits-Nutt said in a statement. “Each step of the way, we’re going to collaborate with stakeholders and focus on our goals of creating a safe, reliable, resilient and equitable transportation system.”
Fiandaca has declined interview requests, and aides to Healey said Monday the governor was not available for an interview. The Arlington Democrat traveled to Colorado for a two-day Democratic Governors Association retreat in Aspen.
Driscoll said Tuesday that she and the governor were “absolutely” pleased with Fiandaca’s work. An East Boston native, Fiandaca worked as an assistant city manager overseeing mobility for the city of Austin, Texas, before joining Healey’s administration in January. Before that, she was the transportation commissioner for the city of Boston under former mayor Martin J. Walsh.
“Gina’s done great work,” said Driscoll, a former mayor of Salem. “She came from local government, I came from local government. We had a lot of affinity for the way we tackle challenges. And she’s ready to do something new.”
Ultimately, her tenure will be among the shortest for a position that, until recently, had a history of high turnover. Healey’s predecessor, Charlie Baker, had just two transportation secretaries over his eight-year tenure, with Stephanie Pollack’s six years in the role standing as one of the longest stints in decades.
Before that, former governor Deval Patrick cycled through several secretaries over eight years, with Richard Davey, now the president of New York City Transit, following Jeff Mullan, James Aloisi, and Bernard Cohen. Aloisi served just 10 months as secretary in 2009.
Taylor Dolven of the Globe staff contributed to this report.