I am sad to read that: Former MnDOT Commissioner Richard Braun has died at 91. I held the RP Braun/ CTS Chair in Transportation at the University of Minnesota for 10 years, so in a sense I bore his name, repeating his every time I introduced myself.
Honestly, I didn’t really know him that well at a personal level, we met at CTS events, but the times we met he was both charming and sharp, as well as straight-forward and supportive. While his demeanor was genial, funny, and good-natured, he was also someone for whom no wool would cover his eyes. He was one of the few people whom everyone that I respected, respected. My sense (and the obituary article reiterates this) is the biggest call of his time leading MnDOT was closing the St. Paul High Bridge for safety reasons. I think too many people are afraid to make hard decisions, and the short-term expediency of keeping each and every road rolling takes too high a priority.
I will note that I was also given the Braun Distinguished Service Award by CTS a few years ago (which is normally given to faculty nearer retirement, so I took it as a hint).