Sam Zimbabwe confirmed as SDOT Director

This afternoon, the City Council unanimously voted to confirm Sam Zimbabwe as Director of the Seattle Department of Transportation.

SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe, with Mayor Durkan, December 2018

Zimbabwe faced no real opposition, though he did have a baptism by fire as he served as interim SDOT Director during the winter storms earlier this month.

As has recently become its custom, the Council attached to his confirmation a “letter of expectations” that details the Council’s performance expectations for Zimbabwe in his role as SDOT Director. About half of it is generic and could apply to any city department head, but the other half relates specifically to what’s going on with DOT and the city today. That includes:

  • Under an “equity” rubric, commitments to implement the city’s “age-friendly action plan” and the new “ALEGRA” push for services to maximize mobility, safety and accessibility for people of all ages, languages, ethnicities, genders, race, and abilities.
  • As part of personnel management, addressing the morale issues among SDOT employees, and implementing recommendations from the Mayor’s Anti-Harassment inter-departmental team.
  • Address several of SDOT’s deficiencies with regard to capital projects:  complete the Center City Bike Network; implement enhanced reporting on SDOT capital projects; achieve targets in the “reset” Move Seattle Levy plan; deliver streamlined and consistent reporting to the Levy Oversight Committee; share more information with the Pedestrian, Bike, Transit and Freight Advisory Boards; and commit to transparency on cost estimates and resource constraints.
  • Prioritize implementation of “Vision Zero” strategies, and the movement of goods and people instead of vehicles.
  • Ensure that deployment of “emerging technologies” (read: adaptive signals) are designed to serve pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit riders.
  • Integrate new mobility options (e.g. bike share and scooters) into the transportation network safely and sustainably.
  • Plan for a system that “prioritizes high-quality options for getting around without a car.”


Here’s is Mayor Durkan’s statement to the press following the Council’s vote this afternoon.