FDOT Chief Tapped to Run Miami International Airport

Jose Abreu, currently the state's secretary of transportation, has been picked as Miami-Dade's aviation director.

Abreu worked his way up the Florida Department of Transportation hierarchy as an engineer, and was FDOT's top administrator in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties from 1995 to 2003, overseeing drainage and canal maintenance to interstate flyovers.

The Cuban-born Abreu has divided his time between Tallahassee and his Miami Lakes home since joining Bush's inner circle. He earned his engineering degree at the University of Miami.

Abreu was born into a transportation family: His father drove a truck; his mother clerked for the Cuban national railroad.

Her grandfather replaced the grandfather of County Hall lobbyist Rodney Barreto as head of the railroad system; Barreto still laughingly refers to Abreu as ''cousin.''

Abreu's wife, Miriam, heads the aviation department's finance division, which means her husband would be her boss.

''We certainly don't want to penalize someone who is making a great contribution in her own right just because of an opportunity presented to her husband,'' Burgess said.

A reassignment is probably in the cards.

Although Burgess said Abreu's salary hasn't been finalized, he won't get a contract, something Gittens demanded.

Bush, in town for the opening of the Ryder headquarters in Doral, praised Burgess' choice.

''It would be an incredible win for Miami International Airport,'' he said. ''MIA needs strong leadership right now.''

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