Richard H. Trainor, who helped improve Maryland roads and mass transit systems during 41 years in state and Baltimore government, died of a heart attack Sunday at his Homeland residence. He was 67.
"Wherever you go in the state, Richard Trainor has left his mark," said former Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who appointed him state secretary of transportation in 1987.
"If a guy's good, you don't tell him what to do, and he was competent, very competent. I have nothing but the highest regard and praise for him," Mr. Schaefer said.
"It's hard to drive around the state, have a glass of water or flush a toilet without thinking of him," said William K. Hellmann, Mr. Trainor's predecessor as transportation secretary.
Mr. Trainor, who chain-smoked Viceroy cigarettes until he quit several years ago, was 6 feet 5 inches tall, weighed about 275 pounds and seemed as large as the projects he tackled.
He began his career in 1950 with the old State Roads Commission, working as a project engineer on the construction of the Baltimore Beltway, the Capital Beltway and the Jones Falls Expressway.
While at the commission, he attended the Johns Hopkins University at night, earning a bachelor's degree in civil engineering and a mechanical engineering certificate.
In 1966, he was named head of construction for the Interstate Division for Baltimore City, a city-state agency that was responsible for planning, engineering and building the interstate highway system in the city.
In 1969, he was named chief of the bureau of management at the division, a position he held until 1978. In that capacity, he worked on various projects, including the building of Interstate 170.
I-170 was to be a six-lane east-west expressway along the Franklin-Mulberry corridor in West Baltimore, linking downtown with Interstate 70 in Woodlawn. But the plan met widespread opposition and came to a halt after 1.36 miles.
Said George Tyson of Forest Park, who led two groups opposed to the road: "Throughout it all, we felt he was an honorable man. He was true to his word even though he was wrong on this one."
Mr. Trainor won wide acclaim for his work on the eight-lane Fort McHenry Tunnel in the 1980s, at that time the costliest ($825 million) single project in the history of the national interstate highway system, and the construction of Martin Luther King Boulevard.
In 1978, he was appointed deputy director of public works by then-Mayor Schaefer and in that position he oversaw construction of the Convention Center, the National Aquarium, the Patapsco wastewater treatment plant and the modernization of the Lake Montebello filtration plant.
In 1984, he was named commissioner of the Department of Transit and Traffic and in 1986 was appointed the first commissioner of the newly formed city Department of Transportation.
In the latter position, he oversaw the $150 million rehabilitation of nine miles of the Jones Falls Expressway.
"He believed in a comprehensive transportation system using all modes because, at heart, he viewed it as a social program. It was a social program because it moved people; therefore, he believed in the expansion of the Beltway and light rail," said Steve Zentz, former deputy transportation secretary.
As state transportation secretary in 1990, Mr. Trainor was widely criticized by legislators over a $160 million miscalculation in the the projected $290 million cost for the 27-mile light rail line, which runs from Glen Burnie to Timonium. It wound up costing $450 million.
When he retired as state transportation secretary that year, Mr. Trainor explained: "I just figured it was time. There comes a time when the enjoyment stops. It's a tough job. It's satisfying, but it's time-consuming."
"He had a long and distinguished career and continued to serve as a consultant on major issues and was a board member of the Maryland Transportation Authority," said David L. Winstead, state transportation secretary.
Mr. Trainor, who was born and raised in West Baltimore, was a 1947 graduate of Polytechnic Institute. He served in the Maryland Air National Guard for 20 years and was discharged with the rank of captain.
For more than 30 years, he was active with the Maryland Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, where he was chairman emeritus.
In 1965, he married Dorothea Myers, who died last year. They had no children.
Services will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at Glyndon United Methodist Church, 4713 Butler Road.
He is survived by a niece, Sue Heckler of Las Vegas.
Pub Date: 6/17/97