Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s new administration is doing a comprehensive job in finding a new Director for the Department of Transportation. I think it is important to be involved in the process (especially as an urban designer) and I completed the survey available to help in the search process. Following, I have posted the survey questions and my responses.
I encourage all Seattle residents to consider taking a few minutes in the next several weeks to complete the survey as the selection committee establishes their criteria.
Seattle’s Next Transportation Director
What are the qualities, skills, abilities, and experience you think are important in order to succeed as the next Seattle Department of Transportation Director?
The new director should have interdisciplinary experience and be innovative and willing to work with other city agencies to impact changes in the right-of-way. They should have combinations of experience related to public administration, engineering and urban design. They should be a risk taker, unafraid to experiment and develop new public space programs. They should also have experience implementing complete street projects and have a desire to make Seattle more walkable and bikeable.
What are the 3-4 key challenges or opportunities facing the SDOT Director in the next several years?
- Raising funds in new ways to overcome the significant maintenance shortfall.
- Implementation of the new bicycle master plan, in coordination with the freight and pedestrian master plans.
- Working with the transit agencies and the Department of Planning and Development to coordinate urban planning and service that increases density while alleviating congestion.
- Adapting the 27% of the city land that is our right-of-way for new uses and in support of active transportation.
What are the 2-3 things SDOT (the department) does well? What are 2-3 things SDOT the department) can do to improve?
SDOT Does Well
- Public outreach and process
- Good systems and response to minor road repairs in light of a significant amount of deferred maintenance.
SDOT Can Improve
- Increased funding and support for the public space management and bicycle programs
- Stronger interagency collaboration on complete street policy implementation
For the city’s transportation system as a whole, what is working well and what needs to be improved?
The city’s transportation system as a whole is improving as priorities shift from car centric thinking to a more multi-modal approach. However, this progression is slow and requires more funding and support. There should be strong leadership that can debunk the falsehood of more roads and capacity equals less traffic.
With some targeted input from the community, perhaps the new Director will more aggressively and holistically pursue the agency’s mission: “to create and maintain for Seattle a safe and reliable transportation system which enhances neighborhoods, the environment and the economy.”