After a national search, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy appointed interim Transportation Department Commissioner James Redeker to the position permanently. 

Redeker joined the Connecticut Transportation Department in 2008 after working 30 years with the New Jersey Department of Transportation and New Jersey Transit.

“I want to be very clear I’m not holding his time in New Jersey against him,“ Malloy joked. It’s well known Malloy and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie don’t get along.

On a more serious note, Malloy said over the past few months he’s gotten to know Redeker and has been impressed with his abilities and management skills “during periods of great uncertainty.”

“It turns out that the right person was here in our own backyard,” Malloy said Thursday at a press conference. Redeker was appointed the interim commissioner when the former interim commissioner Jeffrey Parker resigned. Parker had been moved into the position after then Commissioner Joseph Marie resigned amid accusations of harassment, which he vehemently denied.

But even before Parker there had been a revolving door of commissioners at the beleaguered agency under former Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s administration.

Admittedly the past five months may have been the longest interview of Redeker’s career.

Redeker said he plans on staying for a long time. He said his career has spanned many years, but “last two and a half in Connecticut at the Department of Transportation have by far and away been the best.”

Appointing the right Transportation Department Commissioner was a goal of Malloy’s from the very beginning of his administration, but he seemed hard pressed to find someone with both rail and highway experience.

“I think the acting commissioner has shown some great strength in dealing with his MetroNorth counterparts,” Malloy said. “He certainly helped guide me through the decision process about additional car orders.”

But “there’s lot of reasons my confidence was built that this was the right choice,” Malloy added.

Jim Cameron, chairman of the Connecticut Rail Commuter Council, applauded Malloy’s decision Thursday.

He said he’s been impressed with how Redeker has handled himself at the Commuter Rail Council meetings, which can at times be adversarial.

He also applauded Redeker for holding fare increase public hearings in multiple locations, at multiple times. And he congratulated him for his handling of a meeting regarding the July 22 stranding of trains in 100 degree temperatures. He said when the president of MetroNorth seemed to be squirming in his chair Redeker was very comfortable and quick to offer solutions.

“He’s always been open and candid and helped us understand the issues from the perspective of the DOT side,” Cameron said Thursday.

Prior to being named deputy commissioner, Redeker was chief of the DOT’s Bureau of Public Transportation, responsible for planning and management of the DOT’s rail and bus programs. Its a position he would have retained, if he had not been appointed to lead the agency, Malloy has said.

Redeker will be in charge of 3,000 employees as head of the department and his salary will be $175,000 a year.