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Hartford - State Transportation Commissioner Joseph Marie has resigned to "pursue long-term employment opportunities and spend more time with his family," Gov. M. Jodi Rell's spokesman announced Wednesday.
The move was relatively unexpected, and creates another vacancy at the top of the one of the state's largest state agencies.
"I thank Joe Marie for his service to the state of Connecticut and wish him well as he pursues other opportunities," Rell said in a written statement Wednesday. "Joe made a significant contribution to DOT over the last two years, and his leadership will be missed. I have full confidence that Jeff Parker will continue moving the DOT in the dynamic new direction that I have set."
In a brief phone interview on Wednesday, Marie said almost exactly what the press release had.
"It's really difficult balancing family life and the job with what comes next," Marie said.
It is "really hard to do the job," he added, "when you're looking for something else."
Marie and his family intend to remain in Connecticut, he said, but he decided to leave now rather than await the change that could come with the entry of a new administration, after Rell departs from office early next year.
"There's going to be a new governor, and a new governor's going to bring in a new team," Marie said.
Marie's departure comes after several months of high-profile work on major infrastructure projects, especially the effort to secure federal funding to begin high-speed and commuter rail service on the corridor connecting New Haven, Hartford and Springfield, Mass.
In April, Marie joined a delegation including Rell, Sen. Chris Dodd, and reps. John Larson and Rosa DeLauro, who hosted U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on a train ride from New Haven up to Hartford, during which Marie laid out Connecticut's plans to develop the rail corridor.
According to participants, the meeting went well.
"What I say is when a state has its act together, they're going to do well," LaHood said at the time.
The governor's release gave no additional detail about the reasons for or timing of Marie's departure, which also comes as New London business officials and city leaders have lobbied for expanded service to the city on the Shore Line East commuter rail line.
Rell has appointed Deputy Commissioner Jeffrey Parker to succeed Marie, her office said.
In the interview, Marie rejected a question about whether his departure had resulted from clashes with Rell's chief of staff, M. Lisa Moody, with whom other state officials have butted heads during Rell's tenure.
"They gave me a very wide latitude to do what I wanted to do organizationally, and I think we have really got the department positioned well for success in the future," he said.