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Breaking: DOT Commissioner Weinshall Gets a New Job

weinshall.jpgIt looks like Streetsblog's Weinshall Watch may be over. City University of New York just announced that New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall has been appointed as Vice Chancellor for Facilities Planning, Construction and Management. There has been no resignation announcement from the Department of Transportation. And there is no word as to when Weinshall plans to leave the Department of Transportation. All we know now is that New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall has a new job. The press release:

New York City Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall has been appointed Vice Chancellor for Facilities Planning, Construction and Management at The City University of New York, Chancellor Matthew Goldstein announced today.

An alumna of Brooklyn College, cum laude, Commissioner Weinshall returns to CUNY where she will have responsibility for the University's award-winning design and planning initiatives and a five-year capital construction budget of more than $3 billion for 23 colleges and University professional schools.

Since 2000, Ms. Weinshall has supervised a $5 billion capital program that included the construction of the widely praised Whitehall Ferry Terminal in lower Manhattan and St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island. Under her leadership, the department has moved to consolidate offices to 55 Water Street in lower Manhattan and launch a major program to rehabilitate and maintain the city's huge network of bridges and roadways.

Additionally, the nearly $3 billion rehabilitation of the city's East River Bridges is nearing completion and, thanks to incentive clauses for contractors, much of the work has been completed ahead of schedule. She has implemented programs to improve traffic flow, and upgrade the city's infrastructure, while making the cit's streets and sidewalks safer for millions of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

"I have had the privilege of serving the City of New York for more than 25 years and I look forward to continuing that service at CUNY,â" said Iris Weinshall. "As a life-long New Yorker and CUNY graduate I'm excited about the opportunities and challenges this homecoming presents."

Her appointment was recommended by Chancellor Goldstein and approved by the Board of Trustees following a national search chaired by President Russell Hotzler of the New York City College of Technology. Vice Chancellor Weinshall reports to the Chancellor but is supervised on a day-to-day basis by CUNY's Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer, Allan Dobrin.

Ms. Weinshall was appointed Special Transportation Advisor to Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2003, with responsibility for shaping the city's transportation strategy. Mayor Bloomberg also named her to the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

During Commissioner Weinshall's tenure, pedestrian fatalities in New York have fallen to their lowest level since 1910. Along Queens Boulevard, for example, the DOT significantly reduced pedestrian injuries and fatalities by slowing traffic, changing traffic signal timing and adding new signage and pedestrian fencing.

To enhance traffic flow in the city's most congested area, Midtown Manhattan, Commissioner Weinshall and Mayor Bloomberg initiated the 2003 THRU Streets Program. This program, which prohibits turns off of designated streets between 3rd and 6th Avenues, has reduced cross-town travel times by 25% and increased vehicle speeds by 33%. In addition, DOT filled a record 260,000 potholes in 2005 and was able to respond to pothole complaints reported to the city's 311 line in 4 days, on average.

Ms. Weinshall earned her Master's Degree in Public Administration from New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, with a concentration in Urban Housing and Finance.

A lifelong resident of Brooklyn, she has two daughters and is married to U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.

Ms. Weinshall joins CUNY during a system-wide renaissance on its campuses fueled by state, city and, increasingly, private philanthropic resources, and characterized by bold new interpretations of the "urban campus" ideal by some of the world's best architects. Building for the future and preserving its past, CUNY is providing first class facilities for its students, faculty and staff that are also well-integrated into the communities the University serves. These include:

  • At City College restoration is virtually complete on its five original neo-Gothic structures, all state and national landmarks designed by George Browne Post, which opened 100 years ago. A striking new residence hall was dedicated last fall, two new science buildings are on the drawing boards, and work is underway on a new home for the School of Architecture designed by world-renowned architect Rafael Vinoly.
  • The Brooklyn College Library is a triumph of historic preservation and contemporary design that has given the College a thoroughly modern library while returning LaGuardia Hall to its rightful place as the campus' fulcrum. In the process, renowned architect Alexander Howe knitted together two buildings, restored LaGuardia Hall's main entry from Brooklyn's quadrangle, and added 100,000 square feet of space, including two octagonal towers featuring a grand staircase and double-height reading rooms.
  • Baruch College's award-winning Vertical Campus, designed by the distinguished architect William Pedersen, offers separate "campuses" for the School of Business, the School of Arts and Sciences and a host of shared amenities for students, faculty and staff. Completed in 2002, the Vertical Campus provides 40 percent of Baruch's floor space and features a distinctive curved tower and a four-story sun-splashed atria.

The Vice Chancellor is responsible for physical plant maintenance and operations, facilities planning, and capital programs. In consultation with a broad range of constituencies, as well as the New York State Dormitory Authority and the City University Construction Fund, the Vice Chancellor is responsible for planning, negotiating and implementing a capital construction and rehabilitation program; and monitoring and providing technical assistance and support to the campuses for the operation and utilization of the 26 million square foot, 300-building CUNY plant.

The Vice Chancellor supervises a staff of approximately 75 employees in two departments: Design, Construction, and Management, and Space Planning and Real Estate. She serves as a member of the Chancellor's Cabinet, as staff to CUNY's Board of Trustees, Committee on Facilities Planning, Construction, and Management, and staff to the City University Construction Fund (a separate public benefit corporation).

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