JACKSON, Miss. (MISSISSIPPI TODAY) – Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) Director Melinda McGrath, who has led the agency for a decade, announced her resignation Tuesday under political fire from lawmakers.
Lawmakers, particularly in the Senate, have been critical of MDOT for cost overruns, delays on projects and other issues and have proposed a bevy of legislation this session aimed at stripping the agency of money and authority.
McGrath, an engineer who worked for MDOT for more than 30 years, announced her resignation to the three-member elected Transportation Commission in a closed-door meeting on Tuesday. She will be leaving March 31, Transportation Commission Chairman Tom King said after the executive session.
The Mississippi Transportation Commission (MTC) released the following statement about McGrath’s resignation.
It is with great reluctance that we accept the notice of retirement submitted by MDOT Executive Director Melinda L. McGrath effective March 31, 2021. Melinda has worked tirelessly for over 30 years to provide a safe, efficient and effective transportation system; from her years as a project engineer, to being named Chief Engineer and then Executive Director. She set a high standard for excellence in engineering, integrity and transparency—not only at MDOT, but also nationally.
Melinda has served on the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Board of Directors and Executive Committee; as well as many other national and state boards and committees that have helped shape transportation policy and create innovative programs for the safety of MDOT employees and the traveling public.
Melinda has served as a mentor to many young engineers and other young professionals here at MDOT, as she has always encouraged and demanded teamwork and professionalism. She has also been a pioneer for women in the transportation industry, serving as the first female Chief Engineer and Executive Director. She will be greatly missed as part of the MDOT family, but her contributions and legacy will be felt for years to come.Mississippi Transportation Commission
Jeff Altman will become interim executive director on April 1. He has worked at the department since 1998 and has been assistant executive director since 2019.