Ray LaHood, a big supporter of high speed rail and the Dulles Silver Line project, plans to step down as Transportation Secretary after a successor is nominated and confirmed by the Senate.

LaHood, who's future has been a big guessing game among reporters for the past few weeks, said in an interview with the Associated Press that he had told President Obama a week after the November election that he needed to move on but that he was "conflicted" by the decision because he liked his job.

He said he expected it may take about two months for a successor to be put in place.

LaHood, 67, a Republican who represented  Illinois' 18th congressional district from 1995 to 2009, has led DOT throughout Obama's tenure. He told AP that he would not run for public office in Illinois and that he has no specific plans.

"I have had a good run," he said during the interview. "I'm one of these people who believe that you should go out while they're applauding."

LaHood is the latest of several cabinet members to be replaced by Obama at the start of his second term.

Possible replacements for LaHood include Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Debbie Hersman, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

Obama issued a statement Tuesday thanking LaHood for his service.

"I want to thank Secretary LaHood for his dedication, his hard work, and his years of service to the American people - including the outstanding work he's done over the last four years as Secretary of Transportation.  I also want to thank Ray for his friendship.  Years ago, we were drawn together by a shared belief that those of us in public service owe an allegiance not to party or faction, but to the people we were elected to represent.  And Ray has never wavered in that belief," Obama said.  "As Secretary of Transportation, he has fought to create jobs and grow our economy by rebuilding our roads, bridges and transit systems.   Under his leadership, we have made significant investments in our passenger rail system and laid the groundwork for the high-speed rail network of the future ....  I am grateful to Ray for everything he's done, and I wish him only the best going forward.

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