CTB member to succeed Connaughton as transportation secretary

A Virginia Beach man who voted to fund construction of the Western Bypass of U.S. 29 in Albemarle County is the governor-elect’s choice for Virginia’s next secretary of transportation.

Terry McAuliffe on Friday named Aubrey Layne to succeed Sean T. Connaughton in the role.

Layne, whose selection must be confirmed by the General Assembly before he can take office, said the new administration would be reviewing many projects, including the Western Bypass.

“One of the things I will be doing at his direction is working with [McAuliffe] on evaluating all projects across the commonwealth and where they fit in,” Layne said in an interview. “Based on that analysis and his direction, then we’ll take whatever action is necessary.”

Layne was appointed to represent the Hampton Roads area on the Commonwealth Transportation Board by then-Gov. Timothy M. Kaine in 2009. He is also chairman of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge & Tunnel Commission.

“Aubrey’s experience in statewide transportation planning and in the private sector give him valuable perspective on the pivotal role that transportation planning, construction and maintenance play in creating an environment where businesses can locate and thrive,” McAuliffe said in remarks made Friday at Norfolk International Terminal, according to a news release.

Layne is currently the president of a partnership between Newport News public schools and the business community called Achievable Dream Academies. Prior to that, he was president of Great Atlantic Properties. He received a B.S. in accounting from the University of Richmond and an . from Old Dominion University.

As a CTB member, Layne voted in July 2011 to allocate nearly $200 million to the Western Bypass. At the time, he described the project as the kind of “shovel-ready” project that should be funded.

A month before, Connaughton had told the CTB that the project would be under construction by the beginning of 2012.

However, the project is currently awaiting the go-ahead from the Federal Highway Administration.

Layne also voted to award a $136 million contract to the joint venture of Skanska-USA and Branch Highways to design and build the road. They cannot begin design work until after the FHWA issues a ruling on whether the project can proceed or requires further study.

When asked to comment on his support for the bypass, Layne said he will be evaluating projects with McAuliffe.

“I look forward to getting to understand these projects across the state in a much more in-depth analysis,” Layne said.

While on the CTB, Layne frequently met with local officials in Hampton Roads to gauge their support for projects.

“I really tried to listen to them and determine what was the best decision for projects in the area,” Layne said. “That’s how we get the best decisions and I will be looking to do that same thing across the state.”

In this election cycle, Layne donated $6,500 to candidates, including $1,000 for Republican attorney general candidate Mark Obenshain and $1,000 to Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Ralph Northam.

According to the Virginia Public Access Project, Layne made no contribution to any of the gubernatorial candidates.