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DDOT director and chief engineer are leaving

A source in the DC government just passed along the news that District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Director Terry Bellamy and Chief Engineer Ronaldo "Nick" Nicholson are leaving the agency.

Bellamy and Nicholson are the two men in ties. Photo by DDOT DC on Flickr.

We don't yet have information on exactly when they will leave, or where they are going. This is another step in what is likely to be a long string of high-profile departures. Nicholas Majett, head of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs which enforces regulations, is also stepping down.

Under Bellamy's leadership, DDOT has not made progress on a lot of important initiatives—cycletracks, bus priority, residential parking, trails, and much more. Still, will this mean DDOT will achieve even less for the remaining nine months of Mayor Gray's term?

A lot will depend on who Gray picks to run the agency in the interim. He chose former planning director Ellen McCarthy to run the Office of Planning after Harriet Tregoning. McCarthy has had the job before, and knows the lay of the land (literally and figuratively). She did a good job under the Williams administration.

Planning will at the very least keep moving along in a positive way for the rest of 2014, and maybe McCarthy can spearhead some important initiatives that wouldn't have gotten as much attention otherwise or which are more politically palatable in a lame duck administration.

Is there a similar figure for DDOT?

Overall, having the primary on April 1 was a bad idea, and not just because of low turnout, which Gray cited in his concession speech. Despite Gray's statements that he will keep working hard to improve the District for the rest of his term, many of his political appointees are already looking for new jobs.

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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DDOT's unfortunately even managed to create problems with the G St contraflow bike lane. They have painted the lane but no arrows, so many cyclists are riding in them as if they're a regular flow lane. Pretty much every day someone either asks or yells at me about why aren't I riding in the bike lane. I realize I don't have to even if it was a regular flow lane, but it would be great if they would get around to painting the arrows, and maybe putting up a few signs, so people know what's going on. Contraflow lanes are still not very common so there sure seems to be a lot of confusion. But the lanes have been down for a week and still no arrows.

by harold on Apr 8, 2014 11:51 am • linkreport

Gray should resign to mitigate the hemorrhaging. Let Mendo, who people have faith and trust in, stabilize things, as he's done on the Council.

Having a corrupt administration at the top of your cv wont help any of these people. Low level staff have been denying who they work for for years now in social settings.

Better for Bellamy to leave now since Bowser said she'd find someone better to provide leadership for the agency.

Sucks to be Gray for the next 8 months. How do you run a city w/o your best picked directors to manage problems at agencies? Even worse to be a councilmember depending on agencies to delivers services to your ward. Still worse to be a resident. What a nightmare.

by cycletracker on Apr 8, 2014 11:54 am • linkreport

Please elevate James Cheeks to director. He would clean that place up and get project moving!

by joe on Apr 8, 2014 12:00 pm • linkreport

I guess at least this will give an interim appointee a few months to prove themselves up to the job or not. Whether Bowser will be willing to inherent anyone, competence aside, is another question.

by BTA on Apr 8, 2014 12:03 pm • linkreport

I wonder if Damon Harvey and his boss who were fired may come back now. I never understood his firing as he was really popular with all the ANC's and neighborhood groups he dealt with and seemed to get quick responses and results.

by Tom Coumaris on Apr 8, 2014 12:17 pm • linkreport

Good riddance to Bellamy. He seemed to lead a highly schizophrenic and sluggish agency, that came up with some bold sustainable planning efforts while at the same time dragging its feet on every alternative transportation initiative and pushing through some highly car-centric designs.

While I agree that the next 9 months might suck, the agency right now is pretty mediocre, and I'd rather get someone who will get the agency moving in the right direction for the next 4 years.

by TransitSnob on Apr 8, 2014 12:23 pm • linkreport

Well, Gabe Klein is back in town doing things for ULI. Not sure if elevating an internal person is in the best interest of the DDOT or our community...including some of the names here.

by Some Ideas on Apr 8, 2014 12:44 pm • linkreport

Say it isn't so, Joe! James Cheeks would be a disaster. I'm surprised he's still around. HIs stubbornness is exceeded only by his obtuseness.

by Alf on Apr 8, 2014 1:14 pm • linkreport

While not a Cheeks fan, I would recommend Karina Ricks. She was one of the smartest, more responsive and least bureaucratic officials to have worked at DDOT in the last number of years. They should try to recruit her back!

by Alf on Apr 8, 2014 1:17 pm • linkreport

All you have to do is look at the next article posted to see what DDOT has become under Gray.

As many unnecessarily feared, there were no widespread rollbacks of the gains under the Fenty administration. Instead it's been just over three years of delay, study, foot dragging, and excuses. The M Street Cycletrack is over a year delayed and safety was sacrificed up for Sunday morning parking. The streetcar is opening soon but years delayed and with directionless expansion plans and no connection to Union Station. Pedestrians are still risking their lives to cross Florida Avenue NE. The MBT is just as unsafe and incomplete as it was in 2010. And despite years of advocating otherwise, we now have plans to continue cutting off the Anacostia from its neighborhoods with a rebuilt SE Freeway stub and a racetrack/traffic circle on South Capitol.

Move DC, Sustainable DC, and all the Master Plans are great policies but relying on implementation by DDOT means very little if anything will be accomplished under this administration.

by Corey H. on Apr 8, 2014 1:37 pm • linkreport

Man, the hemmoraging didn't take long after Gray lost.

These folks could see the writing on the wall and were obviously looking before he officially lost. Expect the next solid year to be a textbook case of lame duck disfunction for the entire city government.

by Van Ness on Apr 8, 2014 2:16 pm • linkreport

No one wants to work for Muriel.

by William on Apr 8, 2014 2:19 pm • linkreport

Bellamy's tenure at the helm of DDOT was a failure by almost every metric. Gray was a good mayor who would be looking at another term if not for Uncle Earl. But his biggest mistake outside of the campaign was to underestimate the importance of a forward thinking and competent DDOT. And as the city grows it will only become more important. Let's hope Bellamy's permanent replacement (whoever that is) is up to the task.

by dno on Apr 8, 2014 3:00 pm • linkreport

As soon as the Director of the Executive Office of Mayor leaves — and drags the director of community engagement with her — we're all going to be in peril of having no group or resident LIEaisons in the Mayor's office to effectively connect agencies to address local concerns. Not that those offices were of any use anyway. They should just abolish the EOM and save a lot of tax payer dollars.

by Emily O'Brien on Apr 8, 2014 3:20 pm • linkreport

William wrote:

No one wants to work for Muriel.

Just one question - why do you make that assertion?

I am not questioning your motives, but I am curious.

Full disclosure: I know Muriel slightly from long ago, but have not spoken with her in many years.

by C P Zilliacus on Apr 8, 2014 4:13 pm • linkreport

I wonder if this means the extremely car-centric McMillan plan will be turned into something even remotely appropriate for an area with no metro and only 3 streets?

by Jeff on Apr 8, 2014 4:38 pm • linkreport

I have friends who used to work in her Council office and I have friends currently in different roles and agencies across the DC government.

Her former employees claim she is very difficult to work for. The current employees are sending out resumes. She hasn't articulated a vision and they don't want to get caught undoing work they have spent the past 2-8+ years putting together to move the government forward.

by William on Apr 8, 2014 4:38 pm • linkreport

@harold, to be fair they just started that striping work late last week. It's been raining the past few days and obviously they can't paint wet asphalt. Also, it's a contractor doing the actual work, not DDOT themselves.

by dcmike on Apr 8, 2014 7:14 pm • linkreport

Bringing back Karina Ricks would be disastrous. There were many blunderous decisions and implementations during her time at DDOT. She defied common sense. Let her stay in the league of consultants, where, sadly, she is still being paid by tax payers for boondoggles.

by martin on Apr 8, 2014 10:44 pm • linkreport

how about sarah campbell as interim director, another back-to-the-future
pick, like ellen mccarthy at OP

by Robert Miller on Apr 9, 2014 2:05 am • linkreport

DDOT’s only apparent mission has been to remove driving lanes and create a car free city. They no longer enforce any rush hour parking violators, the roads are in worse condition than 30 years ago, and the I-66 bridge to DC which is controlled by DDOT is completely falling apart. Abandoning the west side of the City to focus on the east side may be overdue politically but the there will be no way to catch up with the tens of billions of dollars in stonewalled repair projects now or down the road. Maybe cutting all links to Virginia is someone’s plan because that’s just about where this is headed when the TR bridge fails.

by AndrewJ on Apr 9, 2014 7:28 am • linkreport

Ricks may have made mistakes occasionally (everyone does), but she was much better than her successor, Sam [name of klepto-dictatorship in Africa].

by Alf on Apr 9, 2014 7:50 am • linkreport

Sorry, but unsafe bridges and roads should take priority over bike/bus lanes, etc. The new 11th St bridges/interchanges were a must. DDOT also began to redo the NY Ave bridge, lay the useless streetcar infrastructure and built many miles of trails. DDOT under Bellamy has literally done more than ever before.

Clearly the attention DDOT has given these major projects came at the expense of our other roads, which are riddled with potholes, and in the worst state I've seen in many years.

by Burd on Apr 9, 2014 2:51 pm • linkreport

We need new blood instead of career guys like Cheeks. If the next Mayor (Bowser/Catania)wants to promote someone from within then they should consider some of the young guns like Sam Zimbabwe or Wasim Raja. An outside perspective wouldn't hurt either.

by David Small on Apr 10, 2014 7:02 pm • linkreport

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