New SDOT Director confirmation moves forward

This morning, the City Council’s Sustainability and Transportation Committee voted to advance out of committee the confirmation of Sam Zimbabwe as Director of the Seattle Department of Transportation.

Zimbabwe has experienced a baptism-by-fire, as he has served as interim Director for the past few weeks while SR99 was closed and then a series of rapid-fire winter storms brought the city to a halt. SDOT has generally received good marks for their response to the winter storms, with some critiques for not plowing non-arterial residential streets and not doing enough to respond to icy sidewalks. In this morning’s hearing. Zimbabwe explained that while he wouldn’t have chosen to organize it this way, the past few weeks gave him the opportunity to establish strong relationships with partner organizations such as WSDOT and Metro right away, faster than he would have otherwise.

Mayor Jenny Durkan briefs the press on winter storm preparations, while interim SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe looks on

Zimbabwe sailed through his confirmation hearings, with no particularly tough questions and no opposition to speak of. His written responses to Council members’ questions are largely uncontroversial.

His confirmation will come before the full Council on February 25th for final approval. At that time, committee chair Mike O’Brien expects to attach an “expectations letter” laying out the Council’s expectations for Zimbabwe as SDOT Director. The expectations letter has become a customary part of the Council’s confirmation process.