Carolann Wicks, who rose through the Delaware Department of Transportation from engineer to cabinet secretary only to see her actions questioned in the last year, has resigned.
Wicks submitted her resignation to Gov. Jack Markell late Friday afternoon. The governor quickly accepted it. It will be effective March 18. Markell said he will look for candidates both within the state and outside Delaware. His statement emphasized the search would take place outside of the department.
The Department of Transportation has come under fire on several fronts over the last few years. There was a questionable land deal involving DelDot and N.K.S. Distributors near Route 1 in Milford. The Indian River inlet bridge has had numerous design and construction delays over the years.
However, the biggest controversy surrounding Wicks involves the Route 113 by-pass project in Sussex County. It led Markell to ask for an investigation on every aspect of the plan. He took the unusual step of cancelling the project and criticizing the department when he released the report last month.
When the report came out, Wicks responded by asking one top aide to resign. Her chief of real estate, Wayne Rizzo, retired at the first of this month. In December, Wicks appointed former Markell deputy counsel Cleon Cauley as her No. 2 at DelDot.
Markell is out of town for weekend on a planned trip with his family. He released a statement which said:
“Carolann has been a dedicated public servant for many years and has been a strong and effective advocate for better and safer roads for our State. For that, I thank her and very much wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors.”
Wicks also released a statement late Friday afternoon. “This has been a difficult decision, but one that has been made with a clear conscience and the best interest of the department at heart.”
She said it was time to move on to the next chapter in her life. She said her only regret was leaving the more than 2,600 employees of the department.
Wicks began her career as a civil engineer 28 years ago. She was appointed secretary by former Gov. Ruth Ann Minner in 2006. Governor Markell reappointed her as secretary in January 2009.
DelDot oversees Delaware’s road systems, the state mass transit system (DART), motor vehicle services, and state road construction projects.