In a move that shows a strong commitment to walkable, bikeable communities, transit, and sustainability in general, Governor Inslee has appointed Lynn Peterson to succeed Paula Hammond as Secretary of Transportation.
Peterson has been Sustainable Communities and Transportation Advisor to Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber since March 2011. She began her career as an engineer for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation in 1988, and has worked in the greater Portland area since 1994: as a Travel Forecaster for Metro Regional Government, as a Transportation Advocate for 1000 Friends of Oregon, a Strategic Planner for Trimet, 4 years with her own consulting firm, and as Chair of the Clackamas County Commission.
Peterson is very unlikely to support highway expansion over transit. She’s been a supporter of rail over road expansion in the past. This is great news for us, for our transit agencies, and for our climate.
2:15pm update: Looking a little deeper, there’s a lot to like here. In Peterson’s 2010 letter to the Columbia River Crossing Review Board as chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners, she was carefully critical of the Columbia River Crossing project, with really solid comments that show clear support for light rail and pedestrian connections, and little support for highway growth. This is the approach I want to see to every highway project:
“Removing a bottleneck on the I-5 bridge and moving it to I-5 in the Central City is not a viable solution, and the region is forced to make additional difficult and unrealistic choices.”
Tolling I-205 (a parallel crossing to I-5 in the project) is a major theme here, and the strong support in the letter shows she’ll be committed to tolling I-90 as well. She also wrote that “evolving environmental expectations” mean that “mega-projects do not reflect the priorities of the communities we are elected to serve,” and disapproves of prioritizing the CRC project over all other regional concerns. That’s exactly the kind of approach Washington needs.