The Director of the Rail Division at the Texas Department of Transportation, Erik Steavens, tendered his resignation this week. It is said to be effective at the end of this month.
Steavens is only the second Director to lead the Rail Division and was appointed in September 2013. There was no formal announcement made by TxDOT but in a tweet this weekend Steavens said "one has to constantly assess where you are and where you are going. Family matters change and should dictate one's direction #family first".
He replaced Bill Glavin, who ramped up the fledgling Rail Division in November 2009 and began planning for numerous freight and passenger rail projects. After Glavin left, TxDOT executives who are no longer with the department re-assigned many of the Rail Division employees into other areas, which one industry source described as very unproductive. The Texas legislature has not been kind to funding for the Rail Division and in the past session did not even consider a freight rail development plan that would have helped move goods faster for shippers in Texas and promoted grade crossing safety. TxDOT was almost shut out of high speed rail planning at the end of the legislative session with a rider attached by Georgetown Senator Charles Schwetner that would have prevented the division from communicating with rail developers. The budget committee voted 6-4 to remove the rider after a groundswell of support for the private Dallas to Houston high speed rail project.
According to his bio on the TxDOT website, Steavens is a twenty-year transportation professional with a diverse background in multimodal transportation. For the past two years, (2011-2012) he has managed his own firm, TIP Consultants, to assist public and private sector clients in navigating through the complex transportation funding and implementation environment. Previously, Steavens was the division director of intermodal programs for the Georgia Department of Transportation, where he managed the state's rail, transit, aviation and port interests.
The TxDOT bio said that Steavens’ career spans all levels of government and the private sector, where he established himself as a recognized leader in transit and rail-related projects. He began his career at the Planning Commission in Albany, Georgia and was responsible for multimodal planning of the road, bridge, bicycle, pedestrian, aviation and transit systems in Dougherty and Lee Counties. He worked for the Federal Highway Administration for eight years and developed several non-traditional projects, including transit service at Yosemite National Park, financing plans for the Alameda rail project, and the Miami Intermodal Center. Steavens followed up this federal service with work on the past transportation authorization bill, SAFETEA-LU. In this capacity, he advised senior leadership of the United States House and Senate on policy and financial provisions that were ultimately adopted in the bill. Steavens holds bachelor and master of science degrees in civil engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is married with one daughter.