O’Malley to name James T. Smith Jr. as next Maryland transportation secretary

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) on Wednesday plans to name former Baltimore County executive James T. Smith Jr. (D) as the state’s new transportation secretary, according to several people familiar with appointment.

The Cabinet-level post has been open for close to a year, following the resignation last summer of Beverley Swaim-Staley.

The Post reported last week that Smith, whose name surfaced months ago as a possible replacement, had been in renewed discussions with the O’Malley administration about the job. Several sources said Tuesday that the appointment would be announced Wednesday at an event in the Baltimore area.

The sources requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak for O’Malley.

Smith, whose second term as county executive ended in 2010, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. O’Malley spokeswoman Takirra Winfield declined to comment.

The arrival of Smith, a lawyer with the Towson-based law firm of Smith, Gildea & Schmidt, would come at a key time. The transportation department is preparing to spend a major influx of revenue on road and transit projects as the result of a gas-tax increase passed by the General Assembly this year.

Among them is the Purple Line, a proposed rail link the Washington suburbs that the state is also seeking federal dollars to help build.

Legislative analysts estimate a combination of adjustments could lead to an increase at the pump of 13 to 20 cents per gallon by mid-2016. The increase will be phased in, with the first bump of about 4 cents a gallon coming in July.

According to O’Malley aides, Joseph C. Bryce, the governor’s former chief lobbyist, was among those previously considered for the transportation secretary post.

John Wagner has covered Maryland government and politics for The Post since 2004.
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