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Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
From Left to Right: Fran K. O'Connor, incoming NJDOT Commissioner; Kenneth Mobley, Group Director, HNTB; and Jim Bowers, winner of the ASLRRA 2024 Schlosser Distinguished Award.

From Left to Right: Fran K. O'Connor, incoming NJDOT Commissioner; Kenneth Mobley, Group Director, HNTB; and Jim Bowers, winner of the ASLRRA 2024 Schlosser Distinguished Award.

Francis (Fran) K. O’Connor has been nominated to serve as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT). Also, Kenneth Mobley joins HNTB as Group Director; and the American Short Line and Railroad Association (ASLRRA) selects James A. “Jim” Bowers as its 2024 Schlosser Distinguished Award winner.


Gov. Phil Murphy on Jan. 26 announced his intention to nominate Fran K. O’Connor as NJDOT Commissioner, following the transition of current Commissioner Diane Guiterrez-Scaccetti to her new role as Gov. Murphy’s Chief of Staff.

A seasoned transportation executive with more than 40 years of shared public and private sector experience, O’Connor has established himself as “a respected and trusted advisor in the development and execution of transportation projects,” according to NJDOT. With a strategic focus on toll road agencies, O’Connor has “a firm grasp of the project delivery process and has been responsible for delivering complex, multi-million-dollar projects for public sector clients across the country.”

“With more than four decades of experience working within transportation agencies across the country, Fran is immensely qualified to advance my Administration’s efforts to continue building a transportation system that is more modern and more accessible than ever before,” said Gov. Murphy. “As a New Jersey resident and former New Jersey Turnpike Authority employee, Fran shares my commitment to safe, efficient transportation for all New Jersey residents and commuters. I thank Diane for her exemplary service as DOT Commissioner, and I am confident she will continue to excel in her role as my Chief of Staff.”

“It has been an honor to lead the New Jersey Department of Transportation for the past six years,” said current DOT Commissioner Gutierrez-Scaccetti. “I am turning the reins over to an extraordinary transportation leader in Fran O’Connor, who will continue to advance NJDOT’s important mission.”

“I am truly honored to be considered to serve the Governor as the Commissioner of the Department of Transportation,” said incoming DOT Commissioner O’Connor. “I am excited to be able to help implement the Governor’s transportation vision for New Jersey and to build on the great work that Commissioner Gutierrez-Scaccetti has done over the past six years for transportation in our state.”


HNTB announced Jan. 31 that Kenneth Mobley has joined as Group Director of Transit and Rail.

With more than three decades of experience in the transportation industry, Mobley brings “significant leadership experience and a wealth of knowledge to further strengthen HNTB’s capabilities in delivering innovative transportation solutions in the Capital Region,” the company said.

In his new role, Mobley will work closely with clients to “identify project needs and evaluate strategies to ensure project goals are met to advance all aspects of their transportation programs and strategic initiatives.” Serving as an advisor to rail and transit agencies across various levels, including local, regional, state and Federal, he will “advocate for increased utilization of rail and transit facilities to promote a sustainable, resilient multimodal transportation system,” according to HNTB.

Prior to joining HNTB, Mobley served as a Vice President for another consulting firm where he managed engineering, architecture, planning and construction management operations across Virginia. He holds a master’s degree in public policy and management from Carnegie Mellon University and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Davidson College.

“As we continue to work alongside clients to enhance and optimize regional transit services, Kenneth’s extensive experience in the industry, combined with his leadership skills, will be a tremendous asset, benefiting both our team and our valued clients,” said Mike Voinis, PE, HNTB Capital Region Office Leader and Senior Vice President. “His ability to seamlessly collaborate with diverse teams and stakeholders will ensure positive outcomes aligned with the needs of our clients and the communities they serve.”


ASLRRA on Jan. 31 announced that it has selected Jim Bowers, founder of Bowers CPAs & Advisors, as the 2024 Schlosser Distinguished Service Award winner.

The Schlosser Distinguished Service Award, named for former ASLRRA Chairman Thomas L. Schlosser, is the highest individual honor bestowed by the ASLRRA, “recognizing long-term, significant service to the ASLRRA and the short line industry.” Bowers will be honored on March 25, 2024, at the ASLRRA Annual Conference and Exhibition in Kansas City, Mo.

Bowers has spent decades serving the short line railroad industry through his work as a certified public accountant (CPA) in the accounting firm he founded—Bowers and Company CPAs, now called Bowers CPAs & Advisors—and in service to ASLRRA, including chairing the Finance & Administration Committee, and many years of presenting at and supporting ASLRRA events. In addition, Bowers has encouraged employees of the firm to participate in the ASLRRA, with several chairing committees such as the Finance Committee and the Young Professional’s Committee, guiding the work of the Association.

“Jim has followed the path of many a small railroader, persistently applying his talent, building a one-man shop into a sustainable enterprise that creates value for many,” said ASLRRA President Chuck Baker. “Alongside growing Bowers & Company, Jim has been a willing partner and friend to many in the industry, and most especially to our Association, where his measured counsel has been instrumental in many successful initiatives such as the 45G Tax Credit, to helping our members understand the tax impacts of their actions, particularly during COVID, and to the Finance & Administration Committee. Jim has also had an eye on knowledge transfer in our industry, actively supporting others in his firm in taking committee leadership positions at ASLRRA, ensuring the next generation of railroaders will be similarly well-counseled.”

Before starting Bowers CPAs, Bowers earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting from St. John Fisher University and started working as an accountant at Deloitte, where he eventually was named Manager in Charge. While at Deloitte Bowers also spent several years as an adjunct professor of accounting at St. John Fisher.

Bowers decided to forge a new path in 1980 as one of the founding partners of the accounting firm Bowers CPAs and Advisors. In the 44 years since its inception, Bowers CPAs and Advisors has now expanded to three office locations in New York and features a staff of more than 130. The company’s railroad arm offers short lines assistance in financial reporting, mergers and acquisitions, grant administration, tax planning and compliance, and payroll.

Bowers has also been active with other railroad organizations, such as Railroads of New York (RONY) where he serves on the Board of Directors as an associate member. He is a member of several professional organizations, including the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA).

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