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PA Turnpike CEO steps down amid spiraling debt, state investigation

By   /   October 9, 2012  /   No Comments

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

HARRISBURG — Roger Nutt, CEO of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, abruptly resigned Tuesday.

Nutt was appointed by Gov. Tom Corbett in 2011 to head the government agency that directs the 450-mile toll road system. He came out of retirement to accept the position and said in a brief statement he was resigning to return to retirement.

Nutt, 72, told fellow members of the commission he felt fatigued, stressed and was unable to perform at the level expected.

“I have decided that, for my long-term health, it is best I resign at this time,” Nutt said in a statement.

He is the father of Corbett’s longtime adviser and former campaign manager Brian Nutt. As the turnpike’s CEO, he made a salary of $196,000.

Roger Nutt

His resignation comes at a time when the turnpike is under fire from a number of sides.

Auditor General Jack Wagner has warned repeatedly in recent months the turnpike commission is in danger of drowning itself in debt. The commission has seen its level of debt climb 180 percent since 2007 as the result of a state law that used turnpike toll revenue to cover debt service on borrowing for other transportation projects.

The debt has forced tolls to increase for five consecutive years and prompted some lawmakers to call for resignations of turnpike officials.

The turnpike commission is under investigation by the state attorney general’s office, according to recently unsealed court documents.

The attorney general’s office is trying to determine if the commission “violated any criminal statutes in connection with its employment practices, procurement practices, and use of Commission resources to conduct political activities.”

Before joining the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Nutt worked in senior-level positions at various New Jersey transportation agencies for 28 years, including serving as executive director of the N.J. Turnpike Authority, the N.J. Highway Authority and the state’s Transit Corporation.

Click here to read Nutt’s resignation letter in full.

Contact Boehm at [email protected] and follow @PAIndependent on Twitter.