A trailblazer in transportation management, an advocate for freight railroads, a former deputy director who championed multi-modal transportation, a mass transit leader, and an innovator in aeronautics are among those who will be inducted Thursday into the Michigan Transportation Hall of Honor. Two of the honorees plan to attend the ceremony, while the other three will be represented by family.
A noon luncheon is planned in honor of the inductees at the Country Club of Lansing. State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle will be the speaker.
The Hall of Honor, a permanent display in the Van Wagoner Transportation Building in Lansing, was established in 1971 to honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions to developing Michigan’s network of highways, roads, streets, transit systems, railroads, airports, and waterways. Members are elected by a committee representing a wide range of transportation industry organizations. With the inclusion of this year’s honorees, a total of 88 people have been inducted into the Hall of Honor.
This year’s honorees are:
G. Robert Adams (1932-2017) helped transform the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) into becoming a world class organization. In 1969, Adams brought public hearings to the forefront so that citizens could have their input into transportation projects. He was instrumental in the 1969 American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Environment Act, which helped address environmental issues and planning around transportation projects. This action led to the creation of an environmental section within MDOT. In the 1990s, he brought new business practices to MDOT, helped develop the first business plan, and introduced quality initiatives for process re-engineering. His leadership contributed to the development of transportation management systems, which led to asset management principles, allowing MDOT the opportunity to distribute resources among alternative investment options and to become a national leader in managing Michigan’s transportation infrastructure. Adams won two national awards for highway design beautification on US-131 in Kent County and on US-31 in Oceana County. Serving as chief deputy director starting in 1989, Adams retired from MDOT in 1996.
Robert J. Chaprnka, Jackson, was known as a true professional among his colleagues, advocating for the freight railroad industry from 1990 to 2013 as president of the Michigan Railroads Association (MRA). He successfully championed for the passage of the Michigan Railroad Code of 1993, which was a complete revision of the law that led to more efficient railroad operations. Working with MDOT and the state Legislature, he advocated for laws to improve the surface and safety of highway-rail grade crossings across the state. Through his involvement in railroad safety issues, Chaprnka helped establish Michigan Operation Lifesaver, a rail safety nonprofit educational organization. His work included a special focus on teaching young people to be cautious around railroads. Prior to joining the MRA, Chaprnka spent 18 years working in the Michigan Senate in various capacities. He also had two years of service in the U.S. Army.
Philip F. Kazmierski, Okemos, was appointed in 1987 by Gov. James Blanchard and reappointed by Gov. John Engler to serve as the deputy director of the MDOT Bureau of Urban and Public Transportation (UPTRAN). He was responsible for statewide public transit, rail and marine programs, as well as regulatory functions for bus and rail. Kazmierski worked tirelessly with elected officials to secure state and federal funding for public transit, intercity bus and ferryboat services, resulting in Michigan providing the sixth-highest level of state funding for public transit.
Under Kazmierski’s direction, the Detroit-Chicago rail corridor became one of five federally designated high-speed corridors, leading to 110 mph passenger operations. In 1998, Senate Resolution No. 231 honored Kazmierski for his involvement in this corridor to “express support for high-speed rail in Michigan.” He also spearheaded various rail freight economic development projects and led the Detroit Intermodal Freight Terminal Project. Kazmierski retired from MDOT in 2002.
Michael G. Mobey (1949-2003) was general manager of the Isabella County Transportation Commission (ICTC) from 1983 to 1995. Mobey pioneered county flexible routing, which became a rural transit system standard in the state. Under Mobey’s leadership, ICTC was the first rural transit agency in the state to offer countywide transit service, become a fully computerized rural service, establish fixed routes, write specifications for procurement of new buses, rebuild buses for other systems, and join the Greyhound Rural Connector Program public-private partnership. Under Mobey’s innovative direction, ICTC was the state’s first rural system to reach the 1 million, 2 million, and 3 million ridership marks. In addition to mentoring successive ICTC general managers and staff, he was instrumental in developing a home-study course for rural transit managers offered through Central Michigan University. In 2014, due to Mobey’s legacy in local, state, and national transit activities, ICTC was nationally recognized as the 2014 Rural Community Transit System of the Year.
Martin “Marty” F. Schultz, Jr. (1927-2012) began his career with the Michigan Department of Aeronautics on Jan. 6, 1947, as an aircraft mechanic. He branched out of his normal work and began repairing state-owned aircraft radios in his basement rather than flying them to other repair facilities in the state. In 1959, Schultz designed, installed, and maintained the first state-owned and operated VHF omnirange station (VOR) in Escanaba. In the next few years under the Electronic Facilities Section, which Schultz established and managed, the VOR program was expanded to eight other airports in the state. Schultz’s career highlights include implementing the nation’s first Non-Precision Instrument Approach Master Plan, patenting an aircraft traffic counter, and serving as a member of a joint committee between the Michigan Aeronautics Commission and the Department of Economic Expansion. Schultz served as the Bureau of Aeronautics Safety and Service Division administrator until his retirement in August 1984.
For tickets to the event, contact the County Road Association of Michigan at 517-482-1189, Michigan Railroads Association at 517-482-9413, Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association at 517-347-8336, or MDOT at 517-335-4408.
For more information about the Michigan Transportation Hall of Honor, including previous inductees, visit the MDOT website at www.michigan.gov/transportationhallofhonor.