Mayor Durkan creates new transportation role ahead of Viadoom

Jan 3, 2019, 12:10 PM | Updated: 12:28 pm

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, stat of the city...

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (AP)


Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced the creation and hiring for a brand new “Director of Citywide Mobile Operations Coordination” position.

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Retired Air Force Major General Mike Worden will fill the role. Worden was one of a trio of finalists for the head of the Seattle Department of Transportation role, before it was given to Sam Zimbabwe in December.

Worden’s new job has him acting as a liaison to regional transit agencies, and as another set of eyes overseeing the department.

The city cited “decades of global experience in crisis planning, logistics coordination, and operations leadership” as Worden’s most significant qualifications for the role in a news release. The job was created with the upcoming closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct in mind.

“After the many years of tunnel construction, the viaduct will finally be coming down and work on the waterfront of the future will begin. But this also marks the beginning of a period of significant mobility challenges that will require coordinated, efficient response that delivers for the people of Seattle,” said Mayor Durkan.

For KIRO Radio’s resident transportation reporter Chris Sullivan, there are a few aspects of this appointment that raise doubts, specifically Worden’s salary on the taxpayer dime.

“Seattle already has a mobility director and a new transportation director that hasn’t even taken office yet,” Sullivan pointed out. “It seems awfully redundant to create this position at a cost of nearly $200,000.”

Beyond that, there’s the question of Worden’s background in transportation — or lack thereof.

“He has little transportation experience — his expertise is in aviation, intelligence and business strategies,” said Sullivan. “I’m not sure if General Worden’s background translates into managing cars, buses, signal timing, light rail, freight, and bike lanes.”

Worden started in the role on Jan. 2, 2019, and did not require confirmation from the Seattle City Council.

RELATED: WSDOT lays out new routes for SR 99 tunnel

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Mayor Durkan creates new transportation role ahead of Viadoom