Norfolk -- Flanked by a bipartisan collection of local mayors, Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe came to Hampton Roads today and promised that easing the region's notorious traffic gridlock will be a top priority of his administration.
The occasion was McAuliffe's announcement of his pick for transportation secretary, Aubrey Layne of Virginia Beach.
By tapping Layne for the key Cabinet post, the incoming governor sent a dual message.
First, the two-term member of the Commonwealth Transportation Board will bring an intimate knowledge of Hampton Roads' traffic issues to Richmond, underscoring McAuliffe's pledge to tackle the region's nagging transportation woes.
Second, the addition of Layne, a lifelong Republican, to the Cabinet plays into the Democratic governor-elect's narrative that he will be an inclusive, problem-solving leader determined to rise above partisan divisions.
McAuliffe announced Layne's appointment at Norfolk International Terminals as four mayors looked on and applauded: Democrats Paul Fraim and Kenny Wright of Portsmouth and Republicans Will Sessoms of Virginia Beach and Alan Krasnoff of Chesapeake.
"I decided early on during the campaign that my appointment as secretary of transportation would come from the Hampton Roads region," McAuliffe said. "I need someone who's going to help us diversify and grow this economy here and unlock these tremendous assets that we have.
"Aubrey's own experience as a longtime Hampton Roads resident means that he understands how damaging overcrowded and outdated roads, tunnels and bridges are not only to our economy, but to our quality of life. We cannot encourage businesses to locate here if they are unable to move their products and their people freely about the commonwealth."
Moreover, he said, Layne "will bring a bipartisan approach and a unique point of view as we work to find common ground with leaders from both political parties to solve the problems that we are facing."
Layne said he is "very keen to bring to the state Capitol a deeper understanding of the challenges we face every day in crossing rivers and bays and connecting citizens to their jobs, shopping and entertainment."
Layne, 57, an accountant, chairs the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel Commission and the funding entity for a planned new tolled alternative to U.S. Route 460 from Suffolk to Petersburg.