John D. Porcari, a former Maryland cabinet secretary who has held the No. 2 job at The U.S. Transportation Department for more than four years, said Wednesday that he will leave that position at the end of the month to take a job in the private sector.

Porcari, 55, served two stints as Maryland's transportation secretary under Govs. Parris N. Glendening and Martin O'Malley. In 2009, President Obama appointed him deputy secretary of transportation -- the official who typically runs the day-to-day operations of the department.


In a letter to colleagues, Porcari called his service in the federal post "one of the great honors of my life."

Porcari told The Sun he will go to work for the international engineering firm of Parsons Brinckerhoff, working out of its offices in Washington and Baltimore.

For most of his time in the Obama administration, Porcari served under Ray LaHood, one of two Republicans in the original Obama cabinet. LaHood was recently succeeded by former Charlotte, N.C., Mayor Anthony R. Foxx, who praised Porcari's efforts as cutting through government red tape and stepping up enforcement of the department's Buy American program to the promote the use of domestic materials.

When Porcari joined the Obama administration, it was right as the government was rolling out a transportation-heavy stimulus package to deal with a crushing recession.

"Walking in the door and having a small  part in putting people back to work was especially rewarding," he said. He said the department had done so by building needed projects "and not a Bridge to Nowhere anywhere."

Porcari said he was leaving because it was the right time for his family. He said he and his wife have five children, two in college and two still to go.

Four and a half years is a long time to stay in a deputy secretary post, Porcari said. He noted that he was one of only four of Obama's original deputy secretaries stiil serving.

Porcari said he couldn't rule out a return to  public service in the future. He noted that as a high-ranking administration, he was precluded from becoming involved in outside organizations.

"I'm looking forward to a lot of community activities," he said.