LOCAL NEWS

Mayor-elect Harrell announces new leadership for Seattle Department of Transportation

Dec 17, 2021, 6:03 PM | Updated: 6:06 pm
Zimbabwe, seattle department of transportation...
Sam Zimbabwe, SDOT director (left), with Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan at his confirmation in February 2019. (Photo courtesy of SDOT/Flickr)
(Photo courtesy of SDOT/Flickr)

Seattle Mayor-elect Bruce Harrell announced Friday that there will be a leadership change at the Seattle Department of Transportation.

When Harrell takes office in January, he says a national search will start to find a new director who is aligned with his vision “for this critical department.” As that search gets underway, he will appoint SDOT Chief of Staff Kristen Simpson to serve as interim director.

The current SDOT director is Sam Zimbabwe. He was confirmed to the role in February 2019.

In a statement from Harrell, the mayor-elect thanked Zimbabwe for “his service and dedication to the City of Seattle.”

“His leadership and quick action closing the West Seattle Bridge no doubt saved lives and has put the bridge on track to open in mid-2022,” Harrell continued. “His response to the pandemic — thoughtful and meaningful efforts like Stay Healthy Streets and outdoor dining permits — should be celebrated.”

Why Seattle is permanently closing 20 miles of streets to through-traffic

Read the full statement from Harrell below:

“Today, I am announcing that when I take office in January, I will be making a change in Seattle Department of Transportation leadership. We will embark on a robust national search for a new director who is aligned with my vision for this critical department. As we embark on that search, I will appoint SDOT Chief of Staff Kristen Simpson to serve as interim director. Kristen has let me know that she will not be applying for the permanent position.

“Going forward, my vision is for a Seattle Department of Transportation that centers equity throughout our transportation network across every street and sidewalk, in every neighborhood and community. We must create a balanced transportation ecosystem – increasing safety and decreasing travel times by bolstering transit, improving sidewalks, protecting bike lanes, and recognizing the role of cars and new electric vehicles.

“From Vision Zero to net zero, we will prioritize climate resilience and lead at the intersections of accessibility, reliability, safety, and sustainability.

“I want to thank Director Zimbabwe for his service and dedication to the City of Seattle. His leadership and quick action closing the West Seattle Bridge no doubt saved lives and has put the bridge on track to open in mid-2022. His response to the pandemic – thoughtful and meaningful efforts like Stay Healthy Streets and outdoor dining permits – should be celebrated. I wish him all the best in the future.”

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Mayor-elect Harrell announces new leadership for Seattle Department of Transportation