The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has been sans permanent director for around four months now, and today, Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office announced a national search for candidates to fill the role.
In preparation for the search, the mayor’s office has launched a survey to collect public input on a potential new director. It asks what “professional qualities” you’d like to see in the director role, and asks what changes you’d like to see a new director implement.
The department’s previous director, Scott Kubly, resigned in mid-December, and now works for bike-share company Limebike. Goran Sparrman, who previously served as interim director in 2014, has been filling the role temporarily since early January.
The search seems especially important with laser-focus on the SDOT—and especially its budget. Durkan ordered a hold on the Center City Connector streetcar project after learning the project was facing a $23 million shortfall. Then last month, the Durkan and Sparrman called for a “reset” of the Move Seattle Levy in light of losing some expected grant funding—not to mention a higher-than-expected project cost for a downtown bike lane expansion.
It’s also a critical time in regional transportation planning; aside from the possibly still-happening streetcar, SDOT is going to have to help orchestrate new traffic flows for downtown as tunnel buses come up to the surface. The director will also have to contend with a long-delayed bike network; Sparrman announced last month that a bike lane on Fourth Avenue would be delayed until 2021. Meanwhile, SDOT is getting ready to present the results of its private bike-share pilot.
That’s in addition to working on major regional projects, like light rail expanding to West Seattle and Ballard.
“For decades, our region has been playing catch-up on its transportation needs,” said Durkan in a statement.
After collecting survey data, the city will start next steps in June, including working with a national search firm and launching a review committee.