• Durkan nominates new director of SDOT

    By: Graham Johnson

    Updated:

    As Seattle enters the ominously named "period of maximum constraint," Mayor Jenny Durkan on Tuesday announced her choice for a new leader of the Seattle Department of Transportation.

    Sam Zimbabwe is chief project delivery officer for the District Department of Transportation in the District of Columbia.

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    "We've had some of the same challenges of meeting the day-to-day needs of the citizenry while the city is literally under construction," Zimbabwe told reporters.

    Prior to his current role, Zimbabwe was associate director of the DDOT's planning and sustainability division.

    He previously specialized in transit-oriented development at Reconnecting America.

    "We needed someone with a bold vision for transportation in Seattle, someone who had worked across all modes of transportation and proven that he knows what a growing city needs and how we build that urban environment of the future," Durkan said.

    The mayor said Zimbabwe will be in Seattle the second week of January to participate in briefings on the closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct for three weeks.

    He comes aboard as big construction projects will put the squeeze on downtown traffic for several years.

    A major transportation levy is being rebooted, and the mayor is reviewing the Center City Connector streetcar project because of cost overruns.

    "That's one place where I feel like I need to be able to understand what's been going on and be able to provide my input and my outside guidance as well," Zimbabwe said.

    The mayor has not yet announced whether the streetcar project will go forward.

    If he's confirmed by the city council, Zimbabwe will earn an annual salary of about $200,000.

    Durkan’s choice of a transportation director comes after she’s been in office for more than a year.

    The SDOT is currently being led by the second interim director of Durkan’s administration.

    Previous SDOT Director Scott Kubly left shortly after Durkan took office.

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