Harrell appoints next director of Seattle Department of Transportation

Jul 27, 2022, 2:46 PM
Greg Spotts named Seattle Department of Transportation's next director. (Seattle Department of Tran...
Greg Spotts named Seattle Department of Transportation's next director. (Seattle Department of Transportation)
(Seattle Department of Transportation)

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell will appoint Greg Spotts as the Seattle Department of Transportation‘s (SDOT) newest director, pending confirmation by the Seattle City Council.

Spotts currently serves as the Executive Officer and Chief Sustainability Officer at the Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services.

“I am honored and excited to have the opportunity to lead one of the most forward-thinking transportation departments in the nation,” said Spotts.

“I have visited Seattle several times in recent years and have been deeply inspired by the urban transformation taking place. I intend to draw upon my years of infrastructure experience to ensure that SDOT is an effective and responsible steward of Seattle’s streets, sidewalks, bridges, and street trees.”

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Sam Zimbabwe was the previous director for SDOT, who held the position from 2019, when then-Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkin brought him in from Washington D.C., until December 31, 2021.

On January 1, Harrell announced Zimbabwe would be replaced by current SDOT Chief of Staff Kristen Simpson in the interim as the city “engaged in a robust national search for a new director.”

The Harrell administration stated in a press release they were seeking a replacement for Zimbabwe who would more “align” with Harrell’s vision for the department.

“I am excited that we were able to find a transportation director who recognizes the urgency of addressing environmental justice and equity in our transportation system,” said Yordanos Teferi, SDOT’s Transportation Equity Workgroup Co-chair and Search Committee Member.

“Greg clearly understood the history of how race has shaped and distorted cities across America, and how this has led to lasting consequences which still plague our communities to this day. He expressed a sincere commitment to stand by the department’s Transportation Equity Framework and advocate to make sure the department follows through on its promises.”

SDOT is responsible for maintaining and operating Seattle’s transportation network, including approximately 1,700 miles of roads, more than 100 bridges, 2,300 miles of sidewalk, 200 miles of bike facilities and trails, 500 public stairways, and 640,000 street trees.

The department is currently planning, designing, and building more than 60 major capital projects and also actively manages a variety of ongoing programs to keep people and goods moving safely. SDOT’s infrastructure is estimated to be worth approximately $28 billion, and the department’s 2022 budget includes $422 million for capital projects and $308 million for operations and other programs.

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“The new director has his work cut out for him, but I feel confident that he is up for the job. Seattle needs a transportation director who understands the importance of skilled workers designing and maintaining our roads and bridges,” said Mark Watson, Union Representative at PROTEC17.

“Greg made it clear that he believes the department working collaboratively with the department’s workforce and the community must get the basics right and must make sure that we are caring for the infrastructure which carries people and goods throughout the region and keeps our economy running.”

Spotts graduated cum laude from Yale University and received his Master of Public Policy from the UCLA School of Public Affairs. He has received numerous awards for his work in urban planning, climate, and mobility.

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Harrell appoints next director of Seattle Department of Transportation