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Posted at 9:27 AM ET, 12/ 8/2010

Gabe Klein to leave DDOT

By Washington Post Staff Writers

gabeklein.jpgDDOT Director Gabe Klein will leave the post. Jan. 1.
(Mark Gail / The Washington Post)

[This post has been updated]

Gabe Klein will leave his post as chief of the District Department of Transportation chief Jan. 1. The move comes as Mayor-elect Vincent C. Gray prepares to take over from departing Mayor Adrian M. Fenty.

"I think it's probably not a good fit for me going forward," Klein said during a press conference Wednesday morning.

Klein has been selling an urban lifestyle that depends less on cars and more on trains, buses, bicycles and walking. He is following the credo of like-minded transportation planners in Portland, Seattle and New York that public transit can revive ailing cities.

After receiving undergraduate and business degrees from Virginia Tech, Klein served as D.C. regional vice president for Zipcar, the car-sharing company, from 2002 to 2006, then co-founded On the Fly, a boutique company that specializes in healthy on-the-go meals sold from green carts around Washington.

He had never held a government job when tapped by Fenty in December 2008 to lead the Department of Transportation and its workforce of 1,000.

Klein's most ambitious project is a throwback to the days when streetcars were the city's primary mode of transportation: a 37-mile light rail line powered by overhead wires that would connect H Street, Benning Road NE and Anacostia. Full service is years away, but Klein fast-tracked a project he said would act as a catalyst for economic growth.

The city has also been adding bicycle lanes and storage facilities in recent years. The District partnered with Arlington this summer to launch a regional bike-sharing network that is expected to grow to a fleet of 1,100 at more than 110 locations.

"A lot of what we're doing is back-to-the-future type stuff," Klein recently told the Post's Tim Craig. "People are demanding more and more, and we are just trying to give it to them."

What do you think about the transportation projects the city has undertaken during Gabe Klein's tenure -- especially the expansion of bike lanes and the return of streetcars? Post a comment below.

Dr. Gridlock on D.C. transportation after Gabe Klein

By Washington Post Staff Writers  | December 8, 2010; 9:27 AM ET
Categories:  District  
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Comments

"A lot of what we're doing is back-to-the-future type stuff," Klein recently told the Post's Tim Craig. "People are demanding more and more, and we are just trying to give it to them."
_________________________________________

That was the problem, the city was giving to "the people" what the city couldn't afford, hence a current $188 million deficit for FY11 and up to $500 million projected for FY12.

Klein was careless with the DOT budget, overspending it, but claims it a success by the expansion of boutique sunny day projects that should have been reserved for better financial times. Today, DDOT faces a cut in it's roadway maintenance budget which is the nuts and bolts of transportation responsibilities.

If you give anyone an open pocket book and say spend as you wish, of course, they can produce impressive results. A true manager understands budgets and the importance of living within them. Klein's budget director should be fired as well.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | December 8, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Can we pave over the bike lanes now? The three or four people who use them will survive just fine without them and traffic will improve for the majority of people who have to drive.

Posted by: PepperDr | December 8, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Darn shame. Hope his successor and Gray keep up the progressive policies, but with a more systematic and planned approach.

Posted by: TheBoreaucrat | December 8, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Duh, PepperDr -- bike lanes are ALREADY paved. We need less boneheaded comments like yours and even fewer cars congesting DC streets. DC has the worst traffic because so many people who can take public or alternative transportation refuse to do so. There are too many cars in DC with just the driver and no passengers, and building more roads is not the answer -- it'll create more congestion. Walk, bike, or take the bus/metro!

Posted by: ShareTheRoad | December 8, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

A lot of people who kvetch about non-automotive transportation planning in DC forget that for the DC government, a far lower percent of their constituents commute by car than for the suburban jurisdictions. What incentive do they have for allocating all of their dollars to making life easier for commuters from DC and Virginia, at the expense of people who live, recreate and commute in other manners in DC?

Bikes are here to stay, and they are growing in numbers because they just plain make sense.

Posted by: krickey7 | December 8, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

I am not in favor of this, I really liked what Gabe Klein has done. Better bike safety, better road signs, better pedestrian walkways, potholes filled in - and not just on commuter highways. Acch well, transition is transition.

"That was the problem, the city was giving to "the people" what the city couldn't afford,"

Yeah, like the useless summer jobs kickback. That is a 100% useless program if I've ever heard of one.

Posted by: Greent | December 8, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Dammit, dammit, dammit (and Pepperdr, I won't dignify your stupid remarks - bike lanes are not affecting your driving one bit, but make biking radically more safe and pleasant, so piss off).

The stuff Klein was doing requires vision and leadership. Someone pushing. Apparently Gray doesn't think Gray was doing the right things. To me, those things were what DC feel greater almost by the day. This news does not bode well for the direction of the city.

Bill
http://dccycling.blogspot.com/

Posted by: petworthdc1 | December 8, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

This is bad news for DC, it feels like creativity is being sucked out government. I don't think most people about how important thinking outside of the box will be to the livability of this city.

Posted by: Brooklander | December 8, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

This is bad news for DC, it feels like creativity is being sucked out government. I don't think most people about how important thinking outside of the box will be to the livability of this city.

Posted by: Brooklander | December 8, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Klein brought innovative thinking and a focus on results to his illustrious tenure in DC government. As a result, in just a few short years, there has been explosive growth in the number of people riding bicycles to work, school, shops and other destinations.

He put resources where they were needed most. By making it safer and more convenient to walk, bicycle and take transit in DC, Klein understood that the city's future is best served by providing affordable, clean and healthy transportation options. The 37% of DC households that lack access to a car need these options, and the vast majority of the rest of us very much want them.

Klein's vision has made DC a more vital and attractive place in which to live and work. He set out to provide the mobility choices people want rather than assuming that everyone seeks streets built with only the automobile in mind. Within the tight space constraints of the city, it would be an expensive fool's errand to try to simply build our way out of congestion with greater road capacity.

Posted by: kpmills | December 8, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

The people on my block have been trying to get DDOT to remove a metal plate from the road for close to 2 years. No matter who we call, no matter what DDOT promises, nothing happens. They're going to call PEPCO, they're going to fine PEPCO, they're going to remove the plate and bill PEPCO -- all promises and no action. Maybe now that Klein is gone, DDOT will pay attention to something besides bike lanes and streetcars.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | December 8, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

All of the Klein fans still have their proverbial heads in their tail. The Fenty Administrations deficit spending on luxury and pet projects during a recession, and it is deficit spending if your are raiding the city's reserves to fund them, was textbook reckless.

I'm not saying things like bike lanes, dog parks, streetcars, etc. aren't nice, but we just couldn't AFFORD them now. The biggest problem actually wasn't Klein. He was given an open check book from Fenty and he cut plenty of checks. The problem is you citizens that sit back and, so long as you like what the deficit spending was being applied to, applaud irrespective of what it was doing to our financial health as a city.

Gray was/is right to remove the fiscally challenged city leaders of the Fenty era. Short of a complete turnaround in the rate of spending we are doing, we are knocking at the door of a new era of federal control over District financing. Nobody wants that, even the selfish liberal 'progressives' who, themselves, appear a bit math deprived.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | December 8, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Be progressive, ban all cars from DC.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | December 8, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

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