Ronald L. Freeland is retiring as executive secretary of the Maryland Transportation Authority after about 3 1/2 years in the job, Transportation Secretary Beverley K. Swaim-Staley announced Friday.
Freeland, a veteran transportation professional, was named to the top executive post at the toll authority shortly after Martin O'Malley became governor in 2007. He will be succeeded on an interim basis by Deputy Transportation Secretary Harold Bartlett.
According to the Transportation Department, Freeland will retire after 24 years in public service in late August and join T.Y. Lin International as Mid-Atlantic director of the engineering and consulting firm.
As executive secretary, the 63-year-old Freeland presided over several controversial policy decisions, including the imposition of a service fee for maintaining an E-ZPass account and the adoption of a toll schedule for the Inter-County Connector, the first segment of which is expected to open in early 2011.
The transportation authority's board is expected to conduct a search for a replacement headed by the Rev. William C. Calhoun Sr., chairman of the Human Resources Committee. Recruitment of a new top executive could be complicated by the gubernatorial election in November. Department spokeswoman Erin Henson said the board will decide whether to wait until after the election.
While the board officially decides who is chosen as executive secretary, it customarily considers the wishes of the governor and transportation secretary, the political appointee who chairs the authority.
Freeland said his retirement represents an "amiable parting" and was not the result of any policy disagreements or dissatisfaction on his part. He said he has been recruited by the Lin firm since January and initially declined but eventually found the offer too attractive to decline.
"It fell into my lap," he said. "It's a lot more money."