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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Sources Say…

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DOT Commissioner Kate Ascher: "It’s not happening. It’s not possible. That information is incorrect." DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald: "It’s a very complicated agency, a huge bureaucracy with lots of moving parts and serious work to be done. If they took someone who has been here before, already had knowledge of the agency and who has […]