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Gov. Haley names new SC transportation director with national policy experience

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COLUMBIA, South Carolina — Gov. Nikki Haley said Monday that she's appointing a woman with more than 30 years of national transportation policy experience as the next director of the South Carolina Department of Transportation.

Haley said she chose Janet Oakley of Friendship, Maryland, because of her experience with federal infrastructure grants. Haley said Oakley will focus on improving the state's infrastructure as a whole instead of a specific region.

Oakley has served since 1999 as Director of Policy and Government Relations for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. Oakley will replace Robert St. Onge, who resigned in January after being charged with driving under the influence.

"I love the fact that here I have got a very strong and intelligent woman that understands that it is all a competition," Haley said.

The governor said that Oakley has experience with federal infrastructure grants and knows the transportation system across the country.

"We have done everything that we know to do in-state. We need somebody to come in and that actually has seen other states and what has made them prosper when it comes to their infrastructure and put that to work here in South Carolina," Haley said.

Haley also said Oakley's status as an outsider will be helpful.

"I wanted someone that was going to come in and look at infrastructure in the entire state of South Carolina and say: 'How do we improve the entire state?'" Haley said.

Oakley said her more than 30 years of experience in the private and public sector will benefit the state.

"I do believe that I can bring to South Carolina a breadth of experience and depth of knowledge to help the entire state. All of the regions of the state," Oakley said.

Oakley said she and her husband built a house two years ago on Edisto Island, where she is planning on retiring.

Haley said Oakley will start meeting legislators Tuesday as part of her confirmation process.

"We have a lot of infrastructure needs in South Carolina. We took a massive step last year when we passed the billion dollar transportation plan but we don't want to stop there," Haley said. "We want to continue to look for ways to improve infrastructure in South Carolina."


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