What do you want to see in SDOT’s new boss? Plus, hear from its interim boss in West Seattle

With so much reporting on, and talking about, transportation matters here on SDOT, we thought this announcement from the mayor’s office might interest you:

Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced today the City of Seattle has launched a new national search and public input process for a permanent director of the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT). Interim Director of SDOT Goran Sparrman will continue to serve in the role through the end of August 2018.

Beginning today, the public can now submit their input on their transportation priorities and what they would like to see in the next SDOT Director by clicking here. The City will engage a national search firm in June and launch a review committee to evaluate applicants and provide a recommendation on finalists.

“As the Interim Director, Goran has worked tirelessly to deliver on our transportation priorities with the utmost accountability and transparency,” said Mayor Durkan. “For decades, our region has been playing catch-up on its transportation needs. As more public and private mega projects lead to serious traffic disruptions downtown, the next few years will be critical for creating more safe, efficient and well-connected transportation choices that make it easier and safer for residents to get around on foot, by bike and via mass transit for decades to come.”

“With a number of significant projects in the pipeline, our next SDOT leader must be ready to deliver on investments and protect taxpayer dollars. Our residents and businesses expect our officials to make progress and deliver results, and this administration will continue to be accountable to the people we serve,” concluded Durkan.

It’s been five months already since word that Scott Kubly had left the SDOT director job after 3 1/2 years.

Meantime, acting SDOT director Sparrman will be the guest at this Thursday’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting, 6:30 pm at Neighborhood House High Point (6400 Sylvan Way SW).

28 Replies to "What do you want to see in SDOT's new boss? Plus, hear from its interim boss in West Seattle"

  • A May 21, 2018 (2:28 pm)

    Less corruption!

    • a May 21, 2018 (5:58 pm)

      Less Cascade Bicycle Club influence!

  • fiz May 21, 2018 (3:05 pm)


  • West Seattle Hipster May 21, 2018 (3:09 pm)

    Fiscally responsible.

    Proactively work to help ALL modes of transportation move efficiently through Seattle.

    Strong ethics.

  • MJ May 21, 2018 (3:13 pm)

    A licensed Professional Engineer with expertise in Traffic Engineering, such as a certified Professional Traffic Operations Engineer would be a good starting point!

  • lj May 21, 2018 (3:19 pm)

    I want a pro car person but I know that would disqualify  them from ever being considered  to run SDOT

    Most of us drive and that is a fact.  Public transportation  is not a practical option for me and I will continue to drive even if they toll every public road in this state as they are currently planning to do.


  • flimflam May 21, 2018 (4:24 pm)

    how about stick to promises re: plans (financial and the actual physical work), less focus on bikes as they move such a small % of the cities population, quicker work…

  • Peter May 21, 2018 (4:31 pm)

    Someone with the guts to hire private contractors to provide the expanded bus service Seattle is paying King County for but not getting. 

  • T May 21, 2018 (4:36 pm)

    I would be happy if the new director just answered email. Don’t have one or don’t publish it if you aren’t going to respond to questions/concerns. Looking at you Kubly..

  • sam-c May 21, 2018 (4:57 pm)

    How about “don’t use ‘Bridging the Gap’ levy money for street trees/ beautification projects, and actually fill in some gaps instead, like putting sidewalks in areas that have none.

  • A May 21, 2018 (5:45 pm)

    Fix/repave our disgusting roads. 

    Don’t lie to the public and tell them bike lanes will cost $800k per mile and then come back and say you miscalculated and they are actually $12 million per mile. 

    Do actual research and see what percentage of the population commute by bicycle before deciding to cater to them and put bike lanes in. 

    Do NOT let groups such as the cascade bicycle club and other special interest groups get into your pocket and determine what you do to our roads. I’m willing to bet that 5 percent at most of the population commute by bicycle. Seattle is not an easy city to commute by bike. We have a ton of hills and the weather is not desirable for biking 8 months out of the year. Please be considerate to the majority unlike your predecessors. 

    • Nolan May 21, 2018 (11:26 pm)

      Induced demand. We have a couple nice trails, and the rest is a mediocre patchwork system of paint and sharrows, most of which are dubiously safe, and there are *still* hundreds if not thousands of bicyclists on it every day. I’d say “imagine how many bicyclists there would be if every major artery had a protected bike lane”, but you don’t have to — just look up the Netherlands.

      Alternately, imagine how much anger-vomiting you’d be doing if car lanes got the same treatment: mostly disconnected from one another; regularly subjecting you to unnecessary life-threatening hazards; and whenever a bad road gets renovated, car-haters get out the torches and pitchforks because they’re conflating the cost of laying down new asphalt with the cost of tearing up and redoing an entire section of infrastructure.

      Frankly, your level of entitlement is unimpressive.

      • BJG May 22, 2018 (9:17 am)

        Nolan, your “anger vomiting” has no place here. Let the responses just be. You have your turn. They have theirs.

        Fankly your “level of entitlement” has become boring.  Were you ever taught to be polite to strangers? 

        • Nolan May 22, 2018 (11:56 am)

          I will respond to as many people as often as I like on this commenting system that explicitly allows responses; if that’s a problem for you, petition the site owner to stop allowing responses on comments.

          Horrible things said nicely are still horrible. Civility is not the same thing as decency; don’t mistake the two, because people will absolutely hide behind civility as a shield to deflect criticism of the awful things they say.

      • Helpful May 22, 2018 (9:27 am)

        However it’s done in Netherlands is not relevant to ‘Merica, as it’s more culture than roads/paths. Thailand has terrible roads, but you might routinely see a family of 5 on one dirt bike- also carrying a cooler and a mattress..!

        Re: your entitlement comment-certainly, the bicycle community projects a far more entitled stance, what ?

        • Nolan May 22, 2018 (9:59 am)

          Ah, the culture “argument”, more accurately called a belief. Somehow, there’s some intangible, significant difference between their humans and bikes versus our humans and bikes that you can’t articulate, yet outweighs all data we have — including from the US! — that bike ridership increases dramatically with a more comprehensive network because our network is American.

          Conveniently, that belief is only invoked when people want to maintain status quo. Your non-argument is noted and subsequently dismissed. 

          • a May 22, 2018 (1:47 pm)

            What you are failing to mention and it’s a pretty important fact that mutes your argument, is that the Netherlands(Amsterdam) is flat. Seattle has these things called hills and lots of them. Therefore, in my entitled opinion, Seattle will never be the biking city that Amsterdam is. You could put a bike lane on every road in the city and that doesn’t mean it will get used except for by a very small minority. The city can try all it wants to force us onto bikes but it’s not gonna happen. Just look at all the green and yellow ride share bikes littered everywhere. If Seattle were a biking city and bikes were in high demand, I wouldn’t see the same green bike laying on the sidewalk for over a week. You call me entitled, I call me a realist

          • Nolan May 22, 2018 (2:46 pm)

            Ah, so when you said “culture”, you actually meant to say “topography”. That’s quite a typo.

            No one claims that *everyone* will be riding bikes with good bike infrastructure, just like not everyone drives their own car or walks to downtown. But if you want space for you to drive anywhere you please, you should be pushing as hard as you can for highly connected bike infrastructure: congestion will cease to be a problem for people who want to use bikes instead of driving, e.g. me, and that frees up more space on the road for you. Is that not a win-win situation?

          • heartless May 23, 2018 (8:19 pm)

            A:I really don’t want to get dragged into this, but a couple points:1) San Francisco is hillier than Seattle and has more commuting by bicycle per capita.2) Parts of the Netherlands are quite hilly, and cycling in those areas is still ridiculously high per capita.That said, I personally don’t see Seattle become a big biking city until ebikes gain in popularity and lower in price (so probably in 3 to 4 years).  

  • MrB May 21, 2018 (6:42 pm)

    Can we please get the roads repaved in West Seattle?  It’s like off roading.  

  • 1994 May 21, 2018 (9:34 pm)

    Take the survey to voice your thoughts! The link is above in the 2nd paragraph of the mayor’s announcement. 

    Question 8 seems out of place and not sure how that relates to hiring a new transportation director.

  • Chemist May 21, 2018 (10:18 pm)

    How about one that visions a sdot website with a filing system that doesn’t rename all the directories/destroy links every few years and includes versioning so there’s a bit more accountability about when plans change?

  • Mike May 22, 2018 (11:50 am)

    Someone with a strong backbone who isn’t afraid to make some enemies in pursuit of progress. Also, someone who will clean house and get all the holdovers from prior administrations to buck up and earn their keep. 

  • D May 22, 2018 (1:20 pm)

    “As the Interim Director, Goran has worked tirelessly to deliver on our transportation priorities with the utmost accountability and transparency,” 

    So, if I read this quote, we had a person in the SDOT who knew the troubles with our projects (streetcar, bike lanes), but did not make his boss or the mayor aware there were massive financial problems with multiple projects, or was quashed by these two people to avoid further embarrassment to the city. Sounds like we need two new people to lead.

    • Jethro Marx May 23, 2018 (5:45 pm)

      Employing two people to do the job of one would be very Seattle of us; now, perhaps, we will even employ a third to empanel a committee comprised of stakeholders to advise the other three, in a bizarre and recursive hierarchy.

  • MJ May 22, 2018 (3:00 pm)

    1994 agreed there were a few questionable questions that have no relation to a new Director.

    Nolan even if a very connected bike system were in place bike ridership while it would go up a bit still would not make up a significant portion of commuter trips.  Winter weather sucks, the hilly terrain is challenging and if you have kids drop off pick up from daycare is far easier via car.  Further some people simply cannot ride due to physical health reasons.

    I do ride extensively during nice weather and providing an appropriate bike system is important, but not at the expense of taking existing street space away from other uses when it significantly compromises capacity.

    A new SDoT Director needs to be PE that fully understands traffic with a backbone to follow the technical, not political, criteria.

  • TJ May 23, 2018 (12:03 am)

    Metro on Alki.

  • rob May 23, 2018 (7:26 pm)

     hey nolan were not in the Netherlands

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