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Happy Anniversary, Sam!

We recently celebrated our one-year anniversary with SDOT Director, Sam Zimbabwe.

What a year! Sam joined us just two weeks after the Alaskan Way Viaduct closed and then was greeted with a record breaking month of snow. From the get-go he showed his calm, competent, and steady leadership.

One thing that stands out to Sam is the way our staff takes pride in our work.

“From bridges to sidewalks to signs, there is a high level of commitment among staff and people care about getting things done well.”

Sam Zimbabwe

Sam likes to lead by example and he trusts his colleagues, asks tough questions, and challenges us to think bigger. He enjoys inserting humor and values his employees as individuals.

Sam Zimbabwe cutting ribbon at opening of new crossing signal in Fremont.
Sam Zimbabwe cutting ribbon at opening of new crossing signal in Fremont.

Let’s take a closer look at Sam’s first year:

✔️ We kept people moving through downtown as the Viaduct closed and was demolished, the new SR99 tunnel opened and started tolling, and buses came out of the downtown tunnel.

✔️ We continued to build a Center City Bike Network by completing projects on 8th Ave, 9th Ave,  Pike Street, and the South End Connection from 2nd Ave to 5th Ave and King Street.

✔️ We exceeded many of our Levy to Move Seattle goals for the year including completing 8 miles of resurfacing, 10,000 sidewalk repairs, 5,000 signs replaced, and nearly 500 trees planted. Stay tuned for more on our 2019 Levy deliverables soon!

✔️ We completed 29 Safe Routes to School projects so kids can get to school safely.

✔️ We built and documented over 1,250 curb ramps to increase accessibility throughout the city.

✔️ We reached record high bicycle ridership on 2nd Avenue and on the Fremont and Spokane Street bridges.

✔️ We installed or updated over 90 crosswalks with Leading Pedestrian Intervals to allow pedestrians to walk before cars and launched an initiative to reduce speed limits to 25 mph across the city.

People crossing at a crosswalk, in front of the Nordstrom building in downtown Seattle.

Sam has five ambitious priorities for 2020 that guide all the work that we’re doing this year.

✳️ Center equity, prioritize people, and invest in workforce excellence.

✳️ Aggressively make progress towards Vision Zero.

✳️ Maintain mobility downtown and prepare for citywide transportation evolution.

✳️ Deliver on the Levy to Move Seattle, other capital projects, and basic asset maintenance.

✳️ Invest in a robust set of low-carbon transportation options.

An aerial shot of Seattle showcasing the waterfront and downtown area.

2019 may have been defined by the #SeattleSqueeze, but moving around the city is starting to get a little easier this year.

This past weekend we opened a new transit-only lane on Columbia Street that will improve commutes for the 26,000 bus riders traveling between West Seattle and Burien and Downtown Seattle.

Next month the Link light rail will go back to operating as normal after Connect 2020 construction concludes.

The Lander Street Bridge in SODO will open later this year providing a safe, reliable route for people and freight over the train tracks.

This year, we’re breaking ground on the Delridge Rapid-Ride H in West Seattle, the Bike and Pedestrian bridge in Northgate, and other Levy to Move Seattle projects across the city. We’re installing new bike lanes, new sidewalks, new transit lanes, and reducing speed limits across the city.

We’re also continuing to look for new ways to engage with our community around how we make our investments.

Sam Zimbabwe and Ken Ewalt with North End concrete crew members
Sam Zimbabwe and Ken Ewalt with North End concrete crew members

Sam is proud to be leading an innovative transportation department that is an example for cities across the globe.

We’re one of the few transportation departments that has a Transportation Equity Program that aligns with the City’s Race and Social Justice Initiative and we will finalize a Transportation Equity Agenda in 2020.

We’re investing in transit partnerships with King County Metro and Sound Transit and are increasing transit services and access.

We’re using data and predictive analytics to manage how curbside lanes are used including freight delivery, biking, transit, and parking.

We’re managing construction impacts on transportation with an innovative Construction Hub Coordination program.

Despite the challenges of building and maintaining infrastructure in a rapidly growing city, Sam’s first year was successful because of the day-to-day effort and teamwork of nearly 1,000 SDOT staff working to deliver a transportation system that provides safe and affordable access to places and opportunities.

We’re glad Sam is here!