Bob McFarlin, who served as acting state transportation commissioner for a couple of months this year, was named Tuesday by Gov. Tim Pawlenty to the Metropolitan Council, the regional planning and transportation agency.

McFarlin, who was a finalist for the commissioner job after Carol Molnau was removed from the post, is a vice president of corporate, community and public affairs at Weber Shandwick public relations firm. The part-time job on the 17-member Met Council pays $20,000 a year.

In addition to his job as acting commissioner, McFarlin served in a number of positions at MnDOT during two stints, including assistant commissioner of policy and public affairs, and director of public affairs. For much of the time after the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in August 2007, he was the public face of the agency as it was hit with criticism about whether it had properly maintained and inspected the bridge.

McFarlin, 51, who lives in Minnetonka, will represent a district in western Hennepin County and will assume the post Jan. 2.

The vacancy occurred with the resignation of Mary Hill Smith; McFarlin will fill her unexpired term. Sixteen of the council members are appointed by the governor to four-year terms that coincide with the governor's term.

The Metropolitan Council coordinates planning and development in the seven-county metro area and operates several regional services, such as Metro Transit, the regional bus and light rail service.

MARK BRUNSWICK