Saturday, August 29, 2015

Henry Kay leaves the MTA

Henry M. Kay is probably the closest thing to the [Red] line’s architect. (Baltimore Brew)
MTA's Executive Director of Project Delivery, Henry Kay who had previously the Deputy Administrator of Planning at MTA is leaving the agency. His last day at the desk was Friday 8/28/15.

Henry Kay had been in this position since 2011 and was instrumental in seeing MTA's three New Starts projects through the stages of federal approval, environmental review and engineering, the Baltimore Red Line, the Washington area Purple Line and the Corridor City Transitway. MTA Administrator said that Kay initiated the leave himself and that he, Comfort would have loved to keep him.

Henry Kay at his desk in 2013 (Photo: Mark Reuter)

Kay had been Planning Director at MTA from 1998 to 2003 until he went  for a stint as the transportation and transit specialist at the Greater Baltimore Committee during the years of the Ehrlich administration. From there he returned back to MTA under the O'Malley administration.

In spite of the apparent retreat from functions at the MTA during Republican governance he has maintained amicable relations to both political parties and cooperated cordially with the Hogan transition team and Hogan's new Secretary of Transportation Pete Rahn. As his colleagues noted at a farewell event in the former Red Line offices on Lombard and Charles Streets, there is nobody who dislikes Henry. He was always interested in balance, the best solution under given circumstances and the right give and take between different views. With a Bachelor in political economy from Berkeley and a planning degree from Cornell he was equipped with the skills to see a broader picture for transit that extended beyond the technical issues on which his engineering consultants usually focused, or the operational concerns his MTA colleagues brought to the table. There had been many occasions when a consultant would have wanted to despair about the one or the other design issue during the Red Line Planning process and it was always Henry Kay who called for reason and resolved matters so everybody could go on feeling to have been heard. Even those who strongly opposed the Red Line respected Kay as someone who represented matters fairly and factually.

Before his time at MTA, Kay had been principal planner at the Maryland Department of Transportation from December 1993 to September 1998, where he was charged with statewide, multi-modal, long-range transportation planning. Before that, he had served as a planner for the Maryland Department of Planning from 1990 to 1993.

In a brief note to his colleagues and consultants that had worked with him over 15 years on bringing the Red Line to fruition (including the time it took to get to the Baltimore Region Rail Plan), Kay said about his long career in government, "Time to leave the government sector and try something new" . His tendency to do things right and, for example not cut the Red Line project to the bone he quipped that that was obviously "hugely successful", referring to the fact that the project now had been cancelled for good. "It is dead, really dead" as Comfort put it in his remarks.  The Administrator added that "the Purple Line is going full steam ahead".
Kay addressing the former Red Line team
(Photo: Klaus Philipsen)

Henry Kay wants to stay in the Baltimore area and is seeking employment in the private sector. Kay will be missed at the MTA by colleagues as well as consultants except for those who may soon welcome him in their midst. Which firm that may be is yet unknown since Kay was legally prevented from seeking out new jobs until he cleaned his desk on the 7th floor of the Project Delivery Office.

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

This article is an unplanned but apt conclusion about this week's series of articles about the future of transit in our region.

Here the Links to all of them:
The Future of Transit in the Region 
Even without the Red Line - these things need to be done (East side)
Community Compact projects to be done (west side)
The Future of Regional Transit: Money

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