Spanning the News

Jan. 16, 2004

Scranton Gillette Communications chairman, CEO passes away

Halbert Scranton Gillette, chairman of the board and CEO of Scranton Gillette Communications, publisher of Roads & Bridges and TM+E magazines, passed away on Nov. 22, 2003, due to complications from chemotherapy after a long battle with cancer. He was 81.

Born in Chicago on June 29, 1922, the son of Edward Scranton Gillette and Claribel Reed Thornton was raised in Chicago and Winnetka, Ill.

Scranton Gillette Communications chairman, CEO passes away

Halbert Scranton Gillette, chairman of the board and CEO of Scranton Gillette Communications, publisher of Roads & Bridges and TM+E magazines, passed away on Nov. 22, 2003, due to complications from chemotherapy after a long battle with cancer. He was 81.

Born in Chicago on June 29, 1922, the son of Edward Scranton Gillette and Claribel Reed Thornton was raised in Chicago and Winnetka, Ill.

He was chairman of the board and CEO of Scranton Gillette Communications Inc., which specializes in trade magazines and was founded in 1906 by his grandfather. Mr. Gillette started as a salesman for Gillette Publishing in 1947. In 1960, two-thirds of Gillette Publishing Co. was sold to Ruben H. Donnelly, which then was merging with Dun & Bradstreet. Mr. Gillette also moved to Donnelly/Dun & Bradstreet as a publisher and a vice president. One of the magazines under his direction was Roads and Streets. In 1970, he rejoined his father's company, then Scranton Publishing Co., and shortly became president of the company, which was renamed Scranton Gillette Communications.

He will be missed.

MoDOT's Hungerbeeler resigns

Missouri Department of Transportation Director Henry Hungerbeeler resigned in early December, citing the November report of a blue ribbon panel that was critical of the organization.

"The Blue Ribbon Panel called for reorganization of senior management at MoDOT in ways that the citizens of Missouri would perceive as ‘a New Day dawning,'" Hungerbeeler wrote in his resignation letter. "I am proud of my accomplishments with this organization, but I have concluded that the agency could benefit from new leadership."

The Kansas City Star published a series of articles in August portraying MoDOT as a dysfunctional agency that had earned its poor reputation. The newspaper found the state's roads had gone from among the best in the country to among the worst.

Other misfires reported in the Kansas City Star included paying contractors before verifying that the work had been done right, losing track of MoDOT property and misplacing a pair of checks worth $250,000.

In a response to Hungerbeeler's announcement, Barry Orscheln, chairman of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission, said the resignation was voluntary and not requested by any of the commissioners: "It is with regret that we accept this resignation. . . . The commission has supported his efforts and will continue to support him during his remaining time here."

"He was there at a very difficult time," Morris Westfall, a member of the blue ribbon panel and former chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, told the Kansas City Star. "He's done some things to help pull it back together. But I don't know that he could take it much farther. It's probably time for a different face."

Hungerbeeler joined MoDOT as director in March 1999 after a 30-year career in the Air Force. He retired with the rank of colonel. His resignation is effective June 1, 2004.

Wis. reverses plowing cuts

Wisconsin's county road crews will be able to plow snow off state highways as usual this winter, although the state is not sure how the work will be paid for, the Fond du Lac Reporter reported.

The Wisconsin DOT decided in November that snow plowing on state highways would have to be cut back because of the Wisconsin legislature's decision to allocate less money for highway maintenance in the latest budget. The decision was to end late-night plowing on many major routes in rural and suburban areas and cut back on weekend plowing in those areas.

In December, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle reversed the plowing decision but did not say how he would pay the extra $6.5 million for plowing.

"The legislature is just going to have to find the resources within the transportation fund to keep the plows on the road," Doyle spokesman Dan Leistikow said.

General is now in charge of Kentucky transportation

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Maxwell Clay Bailey has been selected as the new secretary of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, the Louisville, Ky., Courier-Journal reported. He was picked by Kentucky's Gov.-elect Ernie Fletcher.

Bailey retired from the Air Force in March 2002 after a 32-year career and now lives in Paris.

Even though Bailey has no experience in highway construction or engineering, Fletcher's transition team considered him for a leadership job along with a list of other retired generals living in Kentucky.

Bailey brings "rock-solid values" to the position, said Fletcher, and integrity, character and a history of getting things done. One of Fletcher's campaign promises was to clean up the transportation cabinet after several scandals under outgoing Gov. Paul Patton.

Wyo. to compensate for habitat taken by highway construction

The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission has agreed to set aside 635 acres of land west of Cody to compensate for wildlife habitat lost in 1997 to construct a nearby highway, the Billings Gazette reported. Constructing U.S. Highway 14-16-20 between Cody and Yellowstone National Park eliminated 250 acres of prime wildlife habitat.

The land set aside for permanent preservation is reportedly key winter habitat for elk, mule deer and bighorn sheep and occasionally grizzly bears and moose. The agreement, or easement, permanently prohibits development of buildings or roads on most of the land.

The land covered by the easement is worth more than the $400,000 in federal money that was set aside for long-term mitigation for the highway project, but the current landowner is donating the rest.

The U.S. Forest Service has already conducted several small mitigation measures, but it took six years to find the right long-term action.

EPA retains wetlands protection

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has decided against narrowing the interpretation of the Clean Water Act, the New York Times reported. The agency was considering a proposal that would have removed federal protection for millions of acres of isolated wetlands and intermittent streams.

"It's our belief that the best approach is to continue reviewing and learning from the data," said Michael Leavitt, the new EPA administrator.

Leavitt also said he thought the legal case for narrowing the scope of the Clean Water Act would have been shaky, considering recent federal court decisions rejecting similar arguments.

Most state governments were reportedly opposed to the suggested new regulations.

Environmentalists were worried that the Bush administration would be able to push through new regulations in light of a 2001 Supreme Court decision. The Court ruled that the U.S. Corps of Engineers could not require a permit for siting a landfill in an abandoned strip mine, even though parts of the site were filled with water and sometimes used by migratory waterfowl.

Leavitt voiced the Bush administration's commitment to preserving wetlands: "At the root of this is a commitment from the Bush administration to achieve the goal of no net loss of wetlands." He described wetlands as "nature's kidneys" and said they "add immense value to economic and aesthetic bounties of this country."

Bay silt not from road building

The silt filtering into Mica Bay on Lake Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, is not coming from a nearby highway construction site, according to a report from the Idaho Transportation Department, the Boise Idaho Statesman reported.

A group called Save Mica Bay said the bay was filling with silt at an increased rate because of the construction on U.S. 95 about 10 miles south of Coeur D'Alene. The report said the delta around Mica Creek has not changed shape during the time and said logging and farming are major sources of silt.

The Transportation Department was ordered to study the erosion from the construction site and pay a $70,000 fine after a settling pond above the lake collapsed twice and released millions of gallons of muddy water into Mica Creek and the bay.

A couple of boating areas of the lake are now only accessible to boats with very shallow drafts, and Save Mica Bay does not trust the Transportation Department's conclusions. "Everybody knows two retaining areas collapsed," said Scott Reed, an attorney representing the group. "Where did it go? Into space?"

Smithsonian eyes transportation

The Smithsonian Institution opened "America on the Move" on Nov. 22. The new permanent exhibition examines how transportation has changed the U.S. from 1876 to the present.

The exhibition is housed in the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. Anyone interested can view portions of the exhibition at

Highlights of the exhibit include a recreation of Route 66 with a section of the actual pavement from the historic Chicago-to-Los Angeles highway. An exploration of the interstate highway system, initiated with the 1956 Federal-Aid Highway Act, also will attract attention.

The exhibition also displays more than a thousand artifacts and photographs from the museum's transportation collection.

Gridlock headed for Houston

Residents of Houston may have a nasty hangover from the Super Bowl in February. After the big game, transportation officials plan to start reconstructing I-10, which runs east-west through the city, the 610 Loop around the city and the Highway 59 spur to downtown.

Residents of the area are suing to delay the work, the New York Times reported, because the diverted traffic would overwhelm historic residential districts.

The people bringing the suits say the FHWA and the Texas DOT have not properly considered historic preservation.

A TxDOT spokesman said the plans were reviewed long ago.

--edited by Allen Zeyher

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