Monica Tibbits-Nutt is the next Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation, Governor Maura Healey announced Monday.
Tibbits-Nutt, formerly the undersecretary, has been serving as acting secretary of transportation since mid-September after her predecessor, Gina Fiandaca, resigned from the post abruptly after fewer than eight months on the job.
Tibbits-Nutt’s appointment to the state’s top transportation post comes as the MBTA, which she oversees, embarks on an ambitious 14-month plan to repair its track infrastructure and rid the system of frustrating slow zones. The troubled agency is also grappling with what it has described as construction flaws on the $2.3 billion Green Line extension, the first subway expansion in Greater Boston since the 1980s, that will require service shutdowns to reposition most of the new track less than a year after the project fully opened.
Previously, Tibbits-Nutt served on the MassDOT board of directors and as the vice-chair of the Fiscal Management and Control Board, the MBTA’s former oversight body. She also worked as executive director of the 128 Business Council, an organization that offers shuttle services along the Route 128 West corridor.
“Monica Tibbits-Nutt is a proven leader who has done important work at MassDOT over the past year as we’ve worked to make Massachusetts’ transportation system more reliable, safe and accessible,” said Healey in a statement.
Tibbits-Nutt said she is grateful for the opportunity and called the staff at MassDOT an “incredible team.”
“We all share a deep commitment to delivering the safe, reliable, resilient and equitable transportation system that the people of Massachusetts deserve,” she said in a statement. “I am honored by the opportunity to lead the Department in this critical moment and build on the progress that the Healey-Driscoll Administration has made together.”
Among the big challenges, she’ll face at the agency which includes the T, the Registry of Motor Vehicles, and the state highway division: restoring pre-pandemic transit service, resolving the growing funding gap for the MBTA’s operating budget, and shepherding long-promised transportation improvements like the Allston I-90 overhaul and the Red-Blue connector.
Fiandaca’s short tenure was marked by successes, like the first of two months-long Sumner Tunnel closures, seen as as painless as possible. But her time as transit chief was also marbled with what critics called missteps.
In May, under Fiandaca’s leadership, MBTA and state officials entered into a $900,000 no-bid consulting contract with Teneo Strategy LLC, under which Bill Bratton, the former Boston police commissioner and Fiandaca’s ex-brother-in-law, was slated to advise Fiandaca and the MBTA as the agency worked to respond to a host of federal safety directives.
The move — Bratton told the Globe that Fiandaca first approached him — came less than a year after state investigators criticized the T for entering into no-bid contracts.
Advocates voiced strong confidence in Tibbits-Nutt on Monday.
“Secretary Tibbits-Nutt has quickly established herself as a collaborative and solution-oriented leader with the vision and pragmatism to make meaningful progress toward improving our infrastructure and uplifting our communities,” said Kate Dineen, the president of the business group A Better City, in a statement.
Jim Rooney, president of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, said he commended the choice to make Tibbits-Nutt permanent.
“Over the years, I have seen Secretary Tibbits-Nutt lead impactful organizations and teams, and her immense expertise will strengthen MassDOT and the Commonwealth’s transportation system,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing to work with the Secretary to move forward strategic solutions to difficult challenges that our communities and businesses urgently need.”