Utah Transit Authority
New Utah Transit Authority Executive Director Carolyn Gonot

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Transit Authority has chosen Carolyn Gonot, the chief planning and engineering officer for a San Jose-area transportation agency, to serve as executive director.

Gonot is set to take over for UTA's interim executive director, Steve Meyer, who delayed his retirement for the six-month nationwide search to fill the position created as part of a legislative overhaul of the transit agency.

UTA's new three-member board of trustees will vote Wednesday on her appointment, including a $221,423 base salary and benefits including moving costs plus up to an additional $16,200 for housing and other relocation expenses.

Gonot has worked for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority in San Jose, California, since 1996 in a variety of positions. Most recently, she oversaw planing and programming as well as engineering and construction.

UTA Board Chairman Carlton Christensen said her Silicon Valley experience helps her understand "the pressures of growth on a transit agency and the need to continually work to align UTA's services with the needs of the community."

Christensen also praised the breadth of Gonot's work in the transit industry, which includes project delivery of the Silicon Valley extension of the Bay Area Rapid Transit rail system.

"Service is the key to what we do," Gonot said, pledging in a statement to "be focused on advancing the board's vision to ensure the agency is aligned with the anticipated growth along the Wasatch Front" and community transit needs.

Her three-year contract calls for her to start work on Aug. 19. Gonot will be the first woman to lead UTA and the only boss not to be promoted to the post from within the transit agency.

UTA's longtime president and CEO, Jerry Benson, whose position was eliminated by lawmakers, was paid some $50,000 more than Gonot will be making and also received additional benefits.

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Benson was also able to collect more than $200,000 in severance pay last year after the former board chose to terminate him without cause, rather than have him resign or retire, a decision that sparked controversy.

The 2018 Legislature approved sweeping changes to the transit agency that has been the subject of critical legislative audits as well as an ongoing federal probe into development deals.

UTA signed a nonprosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah in exchange for cooperating in the probe and agreeing to three years of federal monitoring.