With a long list of Texas and national transportation accomplishments to his name, the former chairman of both the Texas Transportation Commission and the National Rail Passenger Corporation (Amtrak), David Laney, was inducted into the Texas Transportation Hall of Honor Oct. 6.
With numerous colleagues and well-wishers in attendance, the induction ceremony took place at the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT‘s) Dewitt Greer Building in Austin. Laney, a Dallas attorney, becomes only the 32nd member of the Hall of Honor.
“David Laney’s contributions to the transportation system are immeasurable,” says Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) Agency Director Dennis L. Christiansen. “The indelible mark he has made on transportation has made a positive impact not only in Texas, but throughout the nation. We owe him a great debt of gratitude for his service.”
TxDOT Executive Director Amadeo Saenz welcomed the audience and noted that the TxDOT staff had counted 59 commission meetings that Laney had attended as a commissioner. Several of Laney’s professional colleagues and personal friends provided reflections on his leadership and personal attributes that earned him this honor. The speakers included Wes Heald, TxDOT executive director (retired), who headed the agency when Laney served on the commission; Michael Morris, director of transportation for the North Central Texas Council of Governments; Jere Thompson, CEO of Ambit Energy; and Donna McLean, vice chair of the Amtrak Board of Directors.
“David essentially turned around Amtrak,” said McLean. “It was not an easy job; it was a ‘turnaround’ job. Our revenues and ridership went up, and we laid a partnership with the states for intercity passenger travel. We’re building on his contributions every day.”
Morris noted that Laney could be the secretary of transportation for the United States. “He has that quality of leadership,” Morris said.
Ronald Marino, managing director of municipal securities of CitiGroup, spoke at a dinner in Laney’s honor following the ceremony, which was hosted by the Associated General Contractors of Texas.
Laney chaired the Texas Transportation Commission from 1995 to 2000. His list of accomplishments includes increasing highway construction contracts from $1.9 billion to $3.1 billion annually, establishing TxDOT‘s toll division and initiating TxDOT‘s shift toward innovative methods of highway finance, implementing a $2.8 billion Rio Grande border infrastructure program and re-establishing the North Texas Tollway Authority.
He was appointed to Amtrak’s board of directors by President George W. Bush, where he served as chairman from 2003 to 2007. Laney aggressively rebuilt the organization, reduced its debt, increased ridership and revenue, and for the first time achieved important on-time performance targets.
A 1971 graduate of Stanford University and a 1977 graduate of Southern Methodist University School of Law, Laney is currently a practicing Dallas attorney and a leader in many civic and transportation-related activities. He has held numerous board positions, including serving on the Stanford University Board of Trustees.
The Texas Transportation Hall of Honor was established in 2000 by TTI as a way to recognize the select individuals who played pivotal roles in the advancement of transportation in Texas and the nation. Each individual inductee is recognized by a plaque on permanent display in the Hall of Honor.