Photo of NJT locomotive

New Jersey Governor-elect Phil Murphy has announced his new Secretary of Transportation, and made no bones about what will be her top priority: tear down NJ Transit and rebuild it. Murphy used the large central hall at NJT's vast Secaucus Junction station to introduce the new Secretary, Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti; the event took place on Wednesday, Dec. 20, and was reported by Larry Higgs for nj.com (Star-Ledger, Dec. 21) and Curtis Tate for northjersey.com (Gannett papers -- USA Today Network). Murphy slammed NJT, calling the vast bus and rail agency a "national disgrace," and referred to questionable office space deals and "undeserved pay increases" at NJT, both of which have featured in recent journalism.  Introducing Gutierrez-Scaccetti, Murphy said "We need a strong leader to take hold of the national disgrace that is NJ Transit, turning it upside down and shaking it up so we can make it right again."  Murphy also alluded to other duties of the Department of Transportation, saying that the state's roads and bridges "are ranked worst in the nation."  Gutierrez-Scaccetti, the fifth woman of six appointees to the governor's Cabinet, joins the state government from her most recent job as executive director and CEO at Florida's Turnpike; previously, she had worked 21 years at the NJ Turnpike Authority before retiring in 2010. For her part, the new Secretary, who must be approved by the State Senate, declined to commit to specific plans of action before she studies the situation, but said, "It's not going to be easy, it is not going to be simple; but I promise you 100 percent of my time and dedication to the task." Murphy backed her up, saying that neither he nor she had had time to study the workings of NJ Transit. But Gutierrez-Scaccetti will have a lot to deal with at NJ Transit, including federal safety investigations of NJT's rail operations; a "brain drain" of senior supervisors and front-line employees, including a shortage of locomotive engineers that has caused train cancellations; the recent firing of NJT's chief compliance officer, who then took the witness stand in Trenton to attack NJT; and NJT's behind-schedule installation of Positive Train Control, mandated by Congress.