Worden will be director of citywide mobility operations, a new role created by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan to coordinate between 29 city departments.
Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Mike Worden, a finalist for Seattle Department of Transportation director, will lead city departments as they navigate the traffic squeeze expected with the coming Alaskan Way Viaduct closure.
Worden will be director of citywide mobility operations, a new role created by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan to coordinate between 29 city departments. His salary is $195,000 annually, according to the mayor’s office.
“After the many years of tunnel construction, the viaduct will finally be coming down and work on the waterfront of the future will begin,” Durkan said in a statement.
“With his decades of experience in planning, operations and fast-changing periods of uncertainty, General Worden will help ensure we are meeting the challenge for the public, freight mobility and critical services like public safety.”
The viaduct will close for good Jan. 11, but the replacement Highway 99 tunnel won’t open for another three weeks.
The retired general was one of three finalists to head the Seattle Department of Transportation, Crosscut reported in December, but the mayor ended up picking Washington, D.C., transportation official Sam Zimbabwe for the role.
Worden retired from the military in 2009 as vice commander of air-combat command at Langley Air Force Base, after more than 30 years and 2,600 flight hours with the U.S. Air Force. He was director of integrated intelligence solutions for defense contractor Lockheed Martin for six years before becoming an independent consultant, according to his LinkedIn.
Worden’s first day was Wednesday, according to the mayor’s office. He will serve on the mayor’s cabinet and report to Senior Deputy Mayor Michael Fong.
At a news conference Thursday about the city’s plan to remake the downtown waterfront, reporters asked Durkan why she needed to hire Worden shortly after nominating a new transportation director.
The mayor said Worden and Zimbabwe will have different duties, as Worden will work with the city’s police and fire departments and utilities in addition to its transportation department.
“The general will be providing that one point of contact in the city across all departments,” she said.
“Sam will have full authority and responsibility to carry out all his projects,” she added. “But this coordination goes far beyond the Seattle Department of Transportation.”
The mayor said she discussed the plan with Zimbabwe.
“He was very much in favor of having a person who would coordinate,” she said, adding, “What I think the public wants to know is that there’s somebody who’s going to make sure that things get done.”
In October, Durkan created a consulting position for Seattle police chief finalist Cameron McLay, who had withdrawn from consideration. In the role, McLay makes $180,000 annually.
Seattle Times staff reporter Daniel Beekman contributed to this story.