Transportation and Aviation have lost a brilliant and wonderful thinker, Shirley will be missed

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Loved by many, respected by all

Great mind saw the future in details and goals

Responsible for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Act

and  Virginia’s Public-Private Transportation Act of 1995 

Aviation and, more broadly, transportation have lost a bright, shining star in the horizon of our future. Shirley, with whom I had the privilege of working and the pleasure of calling her friend, brought her intelligence, integrity, insight, and simultaneous command of details plus broad goals in every assignment. Her eyes clearly saw where planes, trains, buses and other vehicles were heading. The route was clear and she knew where the bumps were and ho best to deal with them. She attacked her assignments with great energy and focus. If Shirley was working on an issue, you knew she was there.

Shirley Jean Ybarra  

Passed away peacefully on Sunday, November 10, 2019 in Washington, DC. She was a former senior transportation policy analyst at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets. Ms. Ybarra served as Secretary of Transportation for the Commonwealth of Virginia from 1998 to 2002, overseeing a budget of $3.2 billion and a staff of 13,000 people. Between 1994 and 1998, Ybarra was Virginia’s Deputy Secretary of Transportation. She also served as senior policy advisor and special assistant for policy for U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Dole from 1983 and 1987. In that role, Ybarra managed the transfer and privatization of Dulles and National Airports to the Washington Metropolitan Airport Authority.

She authored Virginia’s Public-Private Transportation Act of 1995, considered the model public-private partnership legislation in the United States.  In 2001, Ybarra received the American Road and Transportation Builders Association’s “Public-Private Ventures Entrepreneur of the Year Award” for her leadership in designing innovative infrastructure financing. She holds a Master’s degree in Economics and a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

Ms. Ybarra was preceded by her parents, Verguet and Myrtle Wentink, and her brother Russell Wentink. She is survived by her sister, Lynette Eversole and her significant other, George Anderson of Neenah, Wisconsin; her niece, Kristah Kohan and her husband, Lawrence of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey; and her great-nephews Ryan and Sean.



Many of us who chose aviation as a vocation enthusiastic about this business. Shirley’s energy suggested that she enjoyed her work on airplane and airport issues. Her academic background and intellect were tools that brought bold answers to big problems.

The best example of her creative power was her solution to the federal government’s ownership and operations of Washington, DC’s two airports. The disassociation of control from the neighbors was a source of great controversy. Every proposed change to either facility, but more heavily as to National Airport (DCA) [as it was then known], stimulated massive complaints from the locals. That response is to be expected, but the clamor was exacerbated by the lack of connection.

At the same time, there was great attachment between Congress and their reserved parking spaces at DCA and Dulles International (IAD). The Members were unusually attentive to the details of the annual budget of the 2 airports. They were sure that their convenient trips back to their constituents were protected. CONTROL was evidenced in many connections between the legislators and their preferred facilities.

Shirley saw this conflict and devised a brilliant win/win solution:

Transfer control to an authority (Metropolitan Airports Authority (MWAA) with a Board with members composed of people from DC, VA and MD

The Authority manages DCA and IAD under the direction of the MWAA Board—local control

MWAA was legally constituted to authorize it to borrow money for construction and development of the 2 airports.

Short description of the laws

The authority was created by the Commonwealth of Virginia (1985 Acts of Assembly, Ch 598, as amended) and the District of Columbia (Regional Airports Authority Act of 1985, as amended).

Metropolitan Washington Airports Act of 1986, Title VI of Public Law 99‑500, which was signed into law by President Reagan

Shirley had master points in bridge; obviously, she played her cards ruffing the needs of one versus the other side and playing her trump card when needed.


Another of her accomplishments was her authorship of  Virginia’s Public-Private Transportation Act of 1995, considered the model PPP legislation in the United States.


Shirley was a prolific writer and her portfolio of papers is significant. Here is a sampling of her thoughts:






Overhauling U.S. Airport Security Screening

Responsibility for passenger and baggage screening should be devolved from TSA to individual airports

By Robert Poole and Shirley Ybarra
July 9, 2013

Virginia Shouldn’t Restrict Its Public-Private Transportation Act

Remarks at the Thomas Jefferson Institute Transportation Roundtable

By Shirley Ybarra
December 19, 2012

Transportation Research Board Publishes Report on Airport Privatization

By Shirley Ybarra
May 29, 2012

Reason Foundation, Bipartisan Policy Center, Building America’s Future and Others Urge Congress to Give State and Local Governments More Transportation Flexibility

Fix the highway bill so state and local governments have flexibility to use pricing, private capital and other needed funding sources

By Shirley Ybarra
May 16, 2012

Tunnel Project Needs to Move Ahead

Improvements are vital to mobility, port commerce and regional economy

By Shirley Ybarra and Leonard Gilroy
April 13, 2012

Congress Passes Short-Term Transportation Bill

How Congress struggled with the billâ??s tolling provisions

By Shirley Ybarra
March 30, 2012

Virginia Needs to be Cautious and Not Ruin Its Public-Private Partnership Track Record

By Robert Poole and Shirley Ybarra
February 2, 2012

Virginia’s High Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lanes Changed to ‘Express Lanes’

An in-depth look at the highway project

By Shirley Ybarra
February 1, 2012

Comparison of the Essential Air Service Program to Alternative Coach Bus Service

Keeping small communities connected cost-effectively

By Shirley Ybarra
September 13, 2011

The Most for Our Money: Taxpayer Friendly Solutions for the Nations Transportation Solutions

By Shirley Ybarra
May 17, 2011

Taxpayer-Friendly Solutions to America’s Transportation Challenges

Seven cost-effective transportation strategies

By Samuel Staley and Shirley Ybarra
May 16, 2011

Putting High Speed Rail into Perspective

By Shirley Ybarra
March 15, 2011

Privatization and Public-Private Partnership Trends in State Government

State Government Privatization Chapter of Annual Privatization Report 2010

By Leonard Gilroy, Harris Kenny, Shirley Ybarra and Tyler Millhouse
February 18, 2011

‘Orphaned Transportation Earmarks? Part II

By Shirley Ybarra
February 2, 2011

It is Time for Public-Private Partnerships in New York

By Shirley Ybarra
January 21, 2011

“Orphaned Transportation Earmarks” Total in the Billions

By Shirley Ybarra
January 4, 2011

Virginia Department of Transportation Abandons the Public-Private Partnership Proposals for the Port

By Shirley Ybarra
September 17, 2010

NOT an Immediate Jobs Program But a Proposal for Infrastructure Investment

By Shirley Ybarra
September 6, 2010

Articles in which she is quoted

‘Who knows if Trump is even aware that he has a Secretary of Transportation?’

“Who knows if Trump is even aware that he has a secretary of transportation?” Naming said person obviously isn’t a high priority in Trump Tower, despite the fact that the president-elect has promised to pour $1 trillion into roads, bridges and other …

Shuster: Trump in favor of privatizing air traffic control

He also campaigned twice with Vice President-elect Mike Pence. Since the election, Shuster has met with Shirley Ybarra, a former Virginia transportation secretary who is working with the Trump transition team on transportation matters. Ybarra and the Trump …

Trump’s Public-Private Infrastructure Vision Rejected in Texas

A bankruptcy doesn’t mean the P3 model is bad — if taxpayers are protected in the deal, said Shirley Ybarra, a former Virginia transportation secretary who authored that state’s P3 law and has worked with Trump’s transition team. Meanwhile …

Will Trump Make Infrastructure Great Again?

“I’m encouraged by what I see,” says Poole, who cites the involvement of Shirley Ybarra, a former Reason Foundation fellow and Secretary of Transportation in the state of Virginia, as a sign that Trump will look to public private partnerships as part of …

The Daily 202: Trump poised to learn the Pottery Barn rule of governing

…secretary: “Former Reason Foundation analyst Shirley Ybarra is the Trump transition team member tasked …

James Hohmann · powerpost · Nov 18, 2016

‘Who knows if Trump is even aware that he has a Secretary of Transportation?’

… want it.” Former Reason Foundation analyst Shirley Ybarra is the Trump transition team member tasked …

Ashley Halsey III · Powerpost · Nov 17, 2016

Shirley, in a rare moment showing her disdain, probably in response for so stupid comment or question. Not her normal look. {note: even google could only find two basic pictures of Shirley}


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