Tuesday Jolt: New WSDOT Director
Gov. Jay Inslee's transportation director pick could signal a new direction for historically highway-centric department.
Today's winner: Bike and transit advocates.
A big jolt for transit, bike, and pedestrian advocates today: Gov. Jay Inslee announced today that he is replacing Washington State Department of Transportation director Paula Hammond (who worked at the agency for more than three decades) with Lynn Peterson, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber’s top adviser on transportation and sustainability and a former Clackamas County chairwoman.
Peterson's appointment is welcome news for alternative-transportation advocates (who'd been nervous about Inslee's choice); according to Willamette Week, Peterson has worked as a transportation consultant, a strategic planning manager for TriMet (Portland's public transit agency), a transportation advocate for 1000 Friends of Oregon and a transportation planner for Metro, the regional government for the Portland area. She also worked on an unsuccessful early push for light rail in Portland.
State Sen. Ed Murray (D-43), who once served as chair of the house transportation committee, called Peterson's appointment "exciting," adding, "the governor appointed someone who is not just going to be the director for the department of highways. She's going to look at all modes of transportation for moving people and goods—not just cars."
Evan Manvel, the new policy director for the Cascade Bicycle Club, is familiar with Peterson from his years as a transportation advocate in Oregon, where he worked for 1000 Friends of Oregon, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, and the Oregon League of Conservation Voters; Peterson campaigned, un
Manvel says Peterson has "a long record of thinking about our issues and working to improve transportation. ...While she's a traditional engineer, she has an ability to think beyond the old road-building approach and see how congestion pricing, transit choices, biking, and walking can make the whole system work."
And Rob Johnson, director of the Transportation Choices Coalition, expects Peterson to be "a change agent, because there's got to be some intention behind the governor changing directors. I don't know what kind of change it will be, but judging from her strong background in transit, land use, and health," he's optimistic.