Saving Grace

[ The horrors of Snowpocalypse 2008 ]

One of the smartest decisions the next mayor of Seattle could make would be to retain Grace Crunican as the director of the Seattle Department of Transportation.  But sadly no, both Mallahan and McGinn have said said they would not.  Given Crunican’s record, it’s hard not to interpret that positition as pandering.

Since being appointed by Mayor Nickels in 2002, Crunican has completely transformed the heart and soul of SDOT.  What had been an inflexible, close-minded, car-centric, typical American big city transportation department, has been reborn as an agency that embraces the concept of “complete streets;” that produced the bicycle and pedestrian master plans; that delivered Seattle’s first modern age street car; that has been dedicating significant resources to slowly but surely chipping away at the task of improving infrastructure for non-motorized transportation.

Crunican has been consistently pushing for a two-way boulevard to fix the “Mercer Mess,” a proposal that sends the “all developers are evil” crowd into convulsions.  But when you have urban designers, transportation engineers, and bike/ped advocates all agreeing, you can be pretty sure you’re on to something good.  All indications are that Crunican would also promote a balanced solution for the waterfront after the viaduct comes down.

Crunican is arguably one of the most progressive city transportation directors in the entire country.  So why all the zealous calls for her head?  Because of “Snowpocalypse 2008?”  The infantile reaction that some Seattleites had to the snowstorm is an embarrassment to humanity.  Or simply because she’s a convenient scapegoat to appease car-headed whiners?  Because she’s tainted by Nickels?  Somebody help me out here.

For two outsider candidates lacking experience in City Hall, saving Grace would demonstrate a recognition that in some cases stabilty and continuity are as important as renewal.