The state transportation commissioner, a holdover from the Pawlenty administration, is departing.

Commissioner Tom Sorel announced Thursday that he is resigning to take over at AAA Minneapolis.

Sorel's tenure leading the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) began in 2008 as an appointee of then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty. His duties as president and CEO at AAA begin Dec. 1. Succeeding him at MnDOT on an interim basis will be Bernie Arseneau, the agency's deputy commissioner and chief engineer.

"Tom Sorel has served the state of Minnesota with excellence, and I thank him for his dedicated public service to the people of Minnesota," Gov. Mark Dayton, who reappointed Sorel, said in a statement. "Tom's strong leadership, depth of knowledge, and decades of experience will serve him well in this new venture. I wish him well as he takes on this new role."

Sorel, 56, said that "as I move into the next phase of my life's journey, I will always cherish my time serving as MnDOT commissioner."

Before taking over MnDOT, Sorel was the division administrator in Minnesota for the Federal Highway Administration. A civil engineer, he managed a 22-person federal office in Minnesota and received a presidential honor for coordinating the federal transportation response to the Aug. 1, 2007, collapse of the I-35W bridge over the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis.

MnDOT is an agency of about 5,000 people, with its most visible role being the oversight of much of the state's highways.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482