1 year in, South Carolina transportation director resigns

South Carolina Department of Transportation Director Janet Oakley speaks to reporters after Gov. Haley, left, announced her appointment on Monday, April 7, 2014, in Columbia, S.C. Oakley has resigned from the job.

COLUMBIA — The director of South Carolina’s Department of Transportation resigned Monday, just 13 months after Gov. Nikki Haley put her at the helm.

Janet Oakley’s two-paragraph letter to Haley gave no reason for her departure. She offered to stay in the position, which pays an annual $156,000 salary, until Haley finds her replacement.

“I have appreciated the opportunity to lead the department and now look forward to spending time with my husband at our home on Edisto Island,” she wrote.

Oakley’s resignation comes amid months of debate about how to fund road and bridge construction. The DOT has said it needs an additional $1.5 billion yearly just to bring roads to good condition.

The provision of a 2007 restructuring law that let Haley appoint the director is set to expire July 1. Legislators expected to deal with the sunset provision as part of a road-funding bill. But, with three days remaining in the regular session, that bill is almost certainly dead for the year. Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, is filibustering to prevent a gas tax increase.

But the state budget is expected to include a clause extending Haley’s power to choose who leads the DOT.

Oakley replaced Robert St. Onge, who resigned in January 2014 after being charged with driving under the influence.

Oakley came to South Carolina from Maryland. She had worked since 1999 as a lobbyist for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.