The Fredericksburg region has a new representative on the Commonwealth Transportation Board.

Cedric Rucker, University of Mary Washington associate vice president and dean of student life, has been appointed to the position by Gov. Ralph Northam. He replaces Hap Connors, who left the position in January to pursue a new job that would have created a conflict with his spot on the CTB, a 17-member board that oversees transportation initiatives in the state.

Rucker, a 1981 graduate of UMW, also served previously on the state’s Board of Medicine from 1998 to 2003.

“I look forward to my service to the commonwealth,” Rucker said in a Tuesday interview.

Rucker said he understands the importance of Virginia’s transportation network and the role it plays in the economy and its impact on the people who depend on it. He also is well aware of the leviathan that is Interstate 95 and its impact on travel in the region.

“I’m on 95 constantly,” he said with a chuckle.

While the interstate is a crucial part of the system, Rucker added that other roads and modes of transportation are vital as well.

Rucker also said he understands the Fredericksburg District, in which more than 5,200 miles of roads stretch through 14 counties, reaching as far east as Mathews and Gloucester counties.

“The region is broad,” he said, adding that it “has all sorts of challenges.”

He noted that “it’s a brand new appointment” so he is just settling in and will have to juggle the position with his busy schedule. Rucker plans to listen to a “cross-section” of people and keep an open mind.

“Folks can always learn,” he said.

The existing state of transportation is important, Rucker added, but he also wants to “keep looking over the horizon” to plan for the future.

Rucker believes his extensive travel—he has visited 113 countries—will allow him to bring a unique perspective of “the positives and negatives” he has seen in so many different areas of the world.

“It’s phenomenal to see what is done in one place and not in another,” he said. “There are places that do things better” than the U.S.

He pointed to train travel as one example, especially high-speed rail.

Connors thinks Rucker will be a strong addition to the CTB, especially with his background in higher education. He thinks the UMW administrator will help the state plan for changes coming as a result of technological advances.

Connors noted that the Virginia Department of Transportation is conducting a review of the workforce and how it will be changing with emerging technologies.

“I think Cedric will help tremendously” with that kind of planning, Connors said.

He also thinks the state could use Rucker to create more partnerships with colleges to develop transportation technologies and improvements.

“We’ve got to ramp that up, and I think Cedric will help do that,” Connors said.

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Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436

sshenk@freelancestar.com

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