Peters led agency since 2001 (Photo by Federal Highway Adminisration)

Mary E. Peters, head of the Federal Highway Administration since October 2001, is leaving the agency to return to her home in Arizona, the agency said. FHWA said in a July 13 statement that Peters had told Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta about her decision the previous evening.

Before becoming FHWA administrator, Peters was director of the Arizona Dept. of Transportation. She spent 15 years at ADOT, rising from contract administrator to senior posts and, in 1998, to the top job. She is widely respected by state and industry officials for her extensive background on highway issues.

Mineta said, "Mary has left a lasting impression on the history of surface transportation. She has made us all think about the future of surface transportation in ways we might not have otherwise."

FHWA said that Peters, a fourth-generation Arizonan, planned "to return home to be with family" in Phoenix.

The agency said that Deputy Administrator Rick Capka will become acting administrator after Peters leaves at the end of July.