Eighteen months after he took the reins at the Texas Department of Transportation, Executive Director Joe Weber announced Tuesday that he will step down from the position at the end of the year.
Weber was picked by the Texas Transportation Commission in April 2014 out of more than 150 applicants to take over for Phil Wilson, who left to become general manager of the Lower Colorado River Authority. Before running TxDOT, Weber had worked as Texas A&M’s vice president for student affairs. Before that, he was commander of the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command and served as chief of staff of the Multinational Force Iraq based in Baghdad.
“The opportunity to lead and serve at your side over the past 18 months has been a true highlight in my life, a good life encompassing a career spanning 44 years of service to country and state,” Weber wrote in a note sent to all TxDOT employees Tuesday. “It has been an incredible honor to serve both for you and with you in the higher calling that we as public servants have chosen.”
The note did not specify a reason for his departure.
Last year, then-Gov. Rick Perry lobbied the commission to pick Weber as Wilson’s replacement. Perry and Weber both graduated from A&M in 1972 and have remained friends ever since.
Weber is currently paid a salary of $299,000, higher than the $292,500 that Wilson was paid before his departure, according to TxDOT spokesman Bob Kaufman.
Wilson’s tenure has coincided with a boost in funding for TxDOT, as voters approved Proposition 1 last year, which took advantage of the oil drilling boom to redirect some oil and gas severance taxes to road construction and maintenance. TxDOT is poised to see its funding grow significantly again if voters approve Proposition 7 in the Nov. 3 election. That measure would dedicate $2.5 billion of the general sales tax to the highway fund beginning in 2017 — as well as a portion of future motor vehicle sales taxes beginning in 2019.
Earlier this year, Gov. Greg Abbott appointed former state Rep. Tryon Lewis to the Transportation Commission and then later elevated him to its chairman.
Disclosure: Texas A&M University is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. The Lower Colorado River Authority was a corporate sponsor of the Tribune in 2013. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2015/10/06/weber-stepping-down-head-txdot/.