California transportation officials have elevated two state High Speed Rail Authority executives, Chief Operating Officer Joe Hedges and Chief Deputy Director Pam Mizukami, to replace CEO Brian P. Kelly during an extended medical leave. His departure, for unstated reasons and duration, was announced in a Sept. 24 internal email, the Associated Press said.

Kelly, named CEO in January, previously led the California State Transportation Agency, a cabinet-level body responsible for all state transportation departments.

Hedges, named to his newly created COO role also in January, had led the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement for the Washington state DOT and Mizukami, also hired at that time, was deputy director of the state motor vehicle agency.

The C-suite shifts come amid a new political challenge for the controversial 800-mile project that is aimed to cut the Los Angeles to San Francisco trip to under three hours—but with a price tag now at $77 billion and construction not set to end until 2033.

Project opponents—also heavily backing the Proposition 6 initiative on state ballots next month to repeal the 12-cent-per-gallon gas-tax hike and vehicle registration increases passed last year—launched on Sept. 24 a new measure intended for ballots in 2020 that would halt funds for high-speed rail, stop construction and other work on the project, and apply unspent funding toward project debt.

The initiative also would change the state Constitution to create a lock-box for transportation related taxes and fees to be used only for transportation-related projects. AP reported that a March poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found that 46% of all likely voters said they support the project, but 52% opposed it.

But opponents of Prop 6 say supporters are not offering alternatives for the $5 billion in annual transportation funding the measure would provide.


Bechtel National has shifted several top nuclear project executives, according to a Sept. 24 report in the Tri-City Herald.

Brian Reilly, who the company named in December as project director for the $17-billion nuclear waste vitrification project at the Hanford federal nuclear waste cleanup site in Washington, told site employees last month that he will leave to become project director for the Vogtle 3 and 4 nuclear power plants that Bechtel is building in Georgia, says the Herald.

Named to succeed him in the Hanford role is Valerie McCain, a 28-year Bechtel veteran who was project manager at the $6.5-billion Uranium Processing Facility being built in Oak Ridge, Tenn. She is expected to start sometime in October, say media reports.

Felice Presti, now an area manager for the project, becomes its deputy director, replacing Kim Irwin, who will lead work at the Horizon Wylfa Newydd project in Wales, where a former nuclear power plant is being decommissioned and two new plants are being built.

Bechtel told Exchange Monitor that it will name a new project chief for the Tennessee uranium facility later in October. It is one of the National Nuclear Security Administration's largest construction projects.


J.S. Held LLC, a Jericho, N.Y., construction, forensic engineering and environmental consultant, named Frederic Z. Samelian managing director of strategy and development. He was president of the construction claims and consulting group at Hill International.

Charlie Hales, who was mayor of Portland, Ore., has rejoined HDR as senior vice president and cross-sector director for urban planning and design. Formerly the firm’s senior vice president for transit planning, he also had served as vice chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors transportation committee.

Patrick Engineering, Lisle, Ill., has hired Mark Urban as senior vice president of operations. A 26-year veteran of HNTB Corp., he was most recently its senior vice president and chief engineer for alternative delivery. Patrick ranks at No. 220 on ENR’s Top 500 Design Firms list.

Theresa Jang has joined Edmonton, Alberta-based design firm Stantec as executive vice president and will take the added position of chief financial officer on Jan. 1, succeeding Dan Lefaivre, who retires from the role on Dec. 31. She had been CFO of Veresen, a publicly traded energy infrastructure firm in Calgary, Alberta. Lefaivre will stay with Stantec through the first quarter of 2019.

MWH Constructors, a unit of Stantec, has named Neil Tunmore as chief operating officer and Marco Aieta as newly created global director of engineering. A 30-year Intel Corp veteran, Tunmore was most recently vice president and corporate services director. Aieta was chief engineer at Corona Environmental Consulting. In an August quarterly results call with investors, Stantec CEO Gord Johnston noted the firm’s continuing “strategic review” of MWH water-sector contracting units, begun in April, which investors say signals a possible sale. Stantec bought parent firm MWH Global in 2016.

Three industry advocacy groups—the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Association of Equipment Management Professionals (AEMP)  and the Charles Pankow Foundation—are set to have new chiefs. James J. Tymon, current AASHTO chief operating officer and director of policy and management, will succeed the retiring Frederick “Bud” Wright as executive director on Dec. 31. Tymon joined the group in 2013 from a previous role as staff director of the House Highways and Transit Subcommittee. Joining AEMP as CEO, effective on Jan. 7, is Donté P. Shannon, who succeeds Stan Orr, also retiring. Shannon had been executive director of the Specialty Advertising Association of California. Selected as executive dirctor of the Pankow group, which funds building sector design and construction research and collaboration, is Anne M. Ellis. She is founder and former CEO of Ellis Global, a consulting firm, who was a special advisor to the Pankow board. She replaces Mark Perniconi, who is leaving the group.

Carnegie Mellon University has named Anthony Foxx, former U.S. Transportation Secretary in the Obama Administration, as a distinguished executive-in-residence for the 2018-19 year. He also had been managing director of Related Infrastructure, an investment arm of New York developer The Related Cos.

Chicago architecture firm Goettsch Partners has named Chairman James Goettsch and President James Zheng to the added roles of co-CEO. The firm ranks at No. 464 on ENR’s list of the Top 500 Design Firms, reporting about $27.2 million in 2017 revenue