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Alan S. Boyd, Nation’s First Transportation Chief, Dies at 98

Lyndon B. Johnson chose him to lead a new department integrating vast air, sea and land systems. He also led Amtrak and the Illinois Central Railroad.


Alan S. Boyd, the first United States secretary of transportation, who was named by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966 to integrate the nation’s sprawling networks of planes, trains, ships and highways into a new superagency, died on Sunday in Seattle. He was 98.

He died at Aegis at Ravenna, a retirement home, his son, Mark, said.


Despite resistance from bureaucrats and maritime unions, and having to work with underfunded mass transit systems, Mr. Boyd won relatively high marks for a two-year effort to merge dozens of transportation-related federal agencies into a cabinet-level department with 95,000 employees and a more than $5 billion budget. The main holdout was the Maritime Administration, which was not brought into the fold until 1981.


A half-century after Mr. Boyd laid the foundations, the Department of Transportation’s $76.5 billion budget and 54,700 employees regulate aviation, railroads, mass transit, shipping, highways, pipelines, the St. Lawrence Seaway and other transport entities. After the Sept. 11 attacks, the Transportation Security Administration and the Coast Guard were transferred in 2003 to a new Department of Homeland Security.


It was perhaps inevitable that Mr. Boyd would find a life in transportation. A great-grandfather invented America’s first horse-drawn streetcar on rails, his father was a highway engineer, and his stepfather was a lawyer for a railroad company. At 17, Alan visited the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City and was dazzled by a General Motors exhibit: a futuristic diorama of superhighways crisscrossing the country.


This article originally appeared on The New York Times


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