Newly minted SDOT director begins tenure with added bike lanes to Aurora

Sep 14, 2022, 11:09 AM


Photo from SDOT

After Mayor Bruce Harrell announced the new Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Director at the end of July, Greg Spotts has officially been confirmed with a unanimous vote from the city council.

Spotts has been working as the Interim Director of SDOT since Sept. 7 and has already announced the construction of a new bike lane around Green Lake on Aurora Ave, a famously deadly section of road for pedestrians and bikers.

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

Harrell appoints next director of Seattle Department of Transportation

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.”

That search concluded with the decision to bring on Spotts, particularly because of his “urgency of addressing environmental justice and equity,” Yordanos Teferi, SDOT’s Transportation Equity Workgroup Co-chair and Search Committee Member, said.

Spotts will now lead the department as they plan, design, and build more than 60 major capital projects and actively manage various 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.

In a blog post, Spotts spoke to his goals for SDOT as they continue to improve the city’s infrastructure, emphasizing the goal of environmentalism and equity for the community.

“I like working with stakeholders to align around a meaningful goal and inviting people to join the journey. The climate crisis can, at times, feel depressing and hopeless due to its scale. I lead with joy and focus on what we can accomplish. I celebrate every win and innovation that helps us become more walkable, bikeable, transit-friendly, and climate-resilient,” Spotts said.

During his confirmation process, Spotts had to submit answers to questions from the City Council’s Transportation & Seattle Public Utilities committee, where he outlined his priorities moving forward, including conducting an extensive listening tour to walk, bike, roll and ride transit with staff and constituents, review of the Vision Zero program — which aims to end traffic deaths and serious injuries on city streets in Seattle by 2030 — and accelerate the work being done to improve the city’s bridge.

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Newly minted SDOT director begins tenure with added bike lanes to Aurora