Mayor Mike McGinn announced today that he would appoint Peter Hahn as the director of the Seattle Departments of Transportation, thereby replacing the beleaguered former department head, Grace Crunican, who was widely chastised by daily papers for her poor handling of the 2008 snow storm. Hahn is currently the public works director of Renton, and was previously Snohomish County’s director of public works, where he managed a staff of about 650 employees and an annual budget of $200 million. By comparison, SDOT has 750 employees and a $310 million annual budget.
But not everyone is glad to see Crunican go. Cary Moon, director of the People's Waterfront Coalition, has advocated that McGinn retain Crunican, who helped advocate the surface/transit replacement for the viaduct. Moon isn't familiar with Hahn's work, but, she says, "We need a person with an excellent ability to pull funding together from city, county, state, and federal sources and knows how to continue leading the department in the less car-focused direction that Grace had." Moon adds that Hahn will also need to be able to tackle big transportation problems like building an alternative to the Alaskan Way Viaduct, "because I'm pretty sure the tunnel will die."
Hahn will take office on January 19. Crunican, who resigned last week, will stay on for three weeks during the transition. Assuming the city council upholds Hahn's appointment, he will receive the official title of SDOT director with a $155,000 salary—which is $32,000 less than Crunican's current pay.