When Tom Farley started with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) in 1978, Northern Virginia was a simpler place, and the main goal of VDOT was to get commuters from the suburbs to the District of Columbia. As Farley prepares for retirement, the shift from a central destination to business districts all around the Beltway has complicated transportation goals.
"A lot has changed since I first came on board in 1978," Farley said. "It's moved out to where we call suburbia. Trying to address that and reorient to a different demographics has been a tremendous challenge."
On July 25, Farley officially ends his career with VDOT where he was one of nine district administrators in Virginia.
The Interstate Interchange in Springfield was one area where Farley continuously examined the construction and traffic, making sure both continued to move forward.
"That is certainly the largest (state project) I've been involved with. The planning of it started before I came on board," he said. "It's been a tremendous success."
Farley was also involved with the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project, which is currently in its early stages and more expensive than the Interchange, but that project is shared by Virginia, Maryland and the federal government. The Interchange is entirely a VDOT project.
FARLEY EARNED a bachelor's degree from State University College at Buffalo and a master's degree in Transportation Planning and Engineering from Polytechnic University in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he had spent seven years with the New York City Department of Traffic. Farley began his VDOT career as a regional traffic engineer in Northern Virginia, where he planned traffic management systems. His career included directing Northern Virginia's planning program from 1984-87, overseeing the Northern Virginia District's maintenance operations in 1987-88, and serving as the Culpeper District administrator from 1988-93 before taking over in Northern Virginia. As the Northern Virginia district administrator for the last 10 years, Farley was responsible for Prince William, Loudoun, Fairfax and Arlington counties and the City of Alexandria.
With these areas growing and continuing to be an economically viable area, transportation never slowed down. Farley was doubtful that a state-maintained transportation system could outpace development.
"I don't know of any successful area in the country that doesn't have congestion," Farley said. "Construction is still outpacing needs for transportation facilities."
Some pioneering feats Farley has experienced in the Northern Virginia region included the "smart traffic center" on I-66 in Arlington and the Interstate Interchange Information Center in Springfield Mall, manned by Steve Titunik. When construction was beginning at the interchange, VDOT was faced with all the engineering obstacles as well as sharing the progress and problems with the public. Larry Cloyed, the project engineer, was the only one in line to address all the elements, so they came up with the idea for the information office.
"That really is more than one person can handle," Farley said.
Cloyed worked with Farley over the years, but with the big-dollar interstate interchange project, their contact has been more frequent.
"I always thought Tom had the ability to coordinate a lot of issues," Cloyed said.
Mary-Ellyn Perkowski has worked in the office with Farley for 11 years and sensed his ability to motivate people. Having the big picture in mind was a skill that distinguished Farley.
"He would have a vision of what it should be and would motivate people to get it done," Perkowski said.
Over his career, Farley has been faced with developments including clean air actions by the Environmental Protection Agency, Gov. Mark Warner's reorganization of VDOT, emphasis on public transportation, and more attention to pedestrian traffic.
"There's been an evolutionary change since I came on board," Farley said. Although he is retiring, he wouldn't rule out working in the transportation field in some capacity in the future.