Saturday, January 19, 2019

State's Chief Autoist Resigns; Time for New Leadership at ODOT

Remember this from back in 2015?

Doubt about ODOT
(See "Former Government Official Blasts ODOT in Today's Paper" and "David Bragdon's Reforms for ODOT and our Transportation System.")

Yesterday ODOT, the Governor, and the OTC shared big news for transportation here:
SALEM — Oregon Transportation Director Matthew Garrett announced today that he will resign as Director of the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) on or before June 30, 2019. “I’m eager to take the next few months to explore the opportunity to do something new,” Garrett remarked. “It was important to me to provide enough notice to allow time for a search to identify my replacement and provide a smooth transition to the new Director,” he added.

In his resignation letter to Governor Kate Brown and Oregon Transportation Commission Chair Tammy Baney, Garrett noted that he has been at ODOT for 22 years, the last 13 of which he has served as Director. Garrett has led the 4,700 person department under three Governors -- Kate Brown, John Kitzhaber and Ted Kulongoski. Garrett is the longest continuously serving department of transportation director in the nation.

Governor Brown thanked Garrett for his service: “Matt Garrett has driven Oregon forward through his steadfast commitment to improve transportation for his fellow Oregonians, both today and in the future. He has led ODOT with distinction, guiding the agency through the implementation of a historic transportation package, and we will reap the benefits for decades to come. I have deeply appreciated his thoughtful counsel and collaboration and want to extend my gratitude for his service to our state.”

“Matt has been a dedicated public servant in our state for almost a quarter of a century,” said Transportation Commission Chair Tammy Baney. “He is highly respected throughout Oregon and in transportation circles around the country. The Commission appreciates Matt’s many contributions to modernizing Oregon’s transportation system. We will work closely with him in the coming months to ensure a smooth transition from Matt to his successor.”

The Oregon Transportation Commission has the statutory authority to hire a new director for the department.
The laudatory tone is at odds, of course, with that editorial from 2015, and indeed with our efforts to reform transportation for walking, biking, busing, and greenhouse gas reduction. Which have failed badly.

It's time for a new vision at ODOT, one that is not so bull-headedly autoist.

Remember the huge backlog of bridge repairs.

In 2017
All the cost-overruns and delays.

ODOT's recent history of cost overruns on big projects
via BikePortland and Joe Cortright
The audit.

The Legislature doubted
and commissioned an Audit
And in House Bill 2017, the omnibus transportation package just passed, the Legislature starts with "Accountability." That's the very first part of it.

They captured doubt in the Legislation
And of course our struggle to reduce traffic death and injury, and to improve walking, biking, and busing as not merely fringey alternatives, but as core mobility.

The failure at ODOT is broad, and not merely the complaint of those of us who want better walking, biking, and busing.

You will notice how at the end of the release quoted here, it underscores that the OTC will do the hire. They grasped that from the Governor, and there may be interesting maneuvering between the Governor and the OTC as the decision moves.

Hopefully someone much less autoist will be selected and will bring ODOT into the 21st century.

1 comment:

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

BikePortland has a note about a letter from a coalition of 14 groups asking for better leadership and outlining a job description.