Wanted: A New Traffic Boss for New York City

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You won’t have Primeggia to kick around anymore.

The New York City Department of Transportation is posting a job ad seeking a new Deputy Commissioner of Traffic Operations. That’s because Michael Primeggia is retiring. After 30+ years in city government, New York City’s chief traffic engineer, a man who referred to the city’s streets as "my streets," will work his last day on Friday, February 13. DOT staff threw a party for him on Friday evening.

Primeggia leaves a mixed legacy. Many livable streets advocates will forever know him as "Dr. No," the classic, cars-first traffic engineer who repeatedly argued against car-free parks, delayed and killed bike, pedestrian and traffic-calming improvements and sought to convert slow-moving, neighborhood-friendly two-way streets into one-way thruways. Yet, in recent years, under the leadership of Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, Primeggia has been instrumental in helping to implement progressive projects like Summer Streets, physically-protected bike lanes and new pedestrian plazas.

Regardless of what you think of him, Primeggia’s retirement provides Sadik-Khan with an opportunity to hire a powerful and potentially long-lasting member of the city’s transportation bureaucracy. What kind of employee should she be looking for?

Here’s one thought: How about a planner instead of an engineer?

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