News

New Palo Alto chief transportation official named

City fills position after one year of post being vacant

Jaime Rodriguez, a traffic engineer who has worked for Milpitas and several other Bay Area cities, has been named Palo Alto's new "chief transportation official."

He replaces Gayle Likens, who retired July 1, 2009.

"I'm looking forward to probably expanding our already innovative bicycle network," he said.

"I'm also excited to work on larger regional projects and work with the residents to make the community a safer place to move around. I want to make it accessible for guests to come to the community."

Rodriguez worked as a city traffic engineer in Milpitas for five years. After leaving Milpitas in 2009, he consulted on projects for cities around the Bay Area, working on traffic-signal systems for Oakland, San Leandro and Walnut Creek. He also worked with Placer County in the Sierra foothills.

He started work in Palo Alto on Friday, July 16.

Curtis Williams, Palo Alto director of planning and community environment, said the primary function of the chief transportation official is to oversee transportation planning. His job includes taking on neighborhood requests for traffic calming, conducting bike and pedestrian studies, measuring existing parking-permit programs and handling complaints about signals and stop signs.

Likens held the position for four years until she retired last July, and the city has been looking for someone to fill the spot since. When Likens took on the position in 2005, the position was retitled "transportation manager." But the city restored original name and reorganized the position this year.

"We decided we needed to increase the salary and responsibility level," Williams said. "We chose [Rodriguez because he has a great combination of technical knowledge of transportation and traffic issues and he also has considerable experience working with the community to work through issues that they have."

Williams said Rodriguez also has a good relationship with the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) that gives him an advantage.

"He interacted and was a part of the technical community," Williams said. "He has good knowledge about how to apply for grants or other regional issues we have to deal with. Those connections are useful in this job."

Rodriguez said he decided to take on the job in Palo Alto because of its positive reputation.

"I love the community and thought it would be an innovative one to work with," Rodriquez said of Palo Alto. "The city is known for being innovative and progressive when it comes to technology. That's mainly what attracted me."

He said main philosophy is to plan ahead.

"You gotta make sure all the projects move together to develop a local community," he said.

"When I think of planning I think of how the esthetics of the project will impact the surrounding life of the neighborhood. I want to do what it takes to improve the quality of life of the citizens of the city."

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by best wishes
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 21, 2010 at 2:57 pm

I wish Mr. Rodriguez success at his new job. Bicycle transportation projects around town have really floundered in the last decade. That new bike path from Paly to downtown was crippled when NIMBYs refused to let the city add eastbound bike lanes on Homer Street. The Bryant Street bicycle boulevard (built in the 1980s) was supposed to connect south into Mountain View, but it has stalled at East Meadow for 20 years. A new bicycle boulevard reaching the parks west of I-280 has been in the early planning stages for a similar length of time. And a huge lack of secure bicycle parking in all city business districts has strongly discouraged people from bicycling around town.


Like this comment
Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 21, 2010 at 6:09 pm

The comments above are true, but part of the issue is that all the easy steps have been taken and we are left with a much harder set of problems now. That has led to a slowing of progress. Palo Alto's bike facilities are not perfect but I would still rather bike in Palo Alto than any other community I frequent regularly. I look forward to seeing Jaime bring some life and leadership back to a department that has been rudderless for a year.


Like this comment
Posted by ct'n'all
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 21, 2010 at 9:49 pm

Welcome, Jaime. You should get to know where you'll be spending most of your time: Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 22, 2010 at 4:55 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

How about finally dumping "Traffic Calming" and, finally, lure traffic away from neighborhoods by offering better, quicker alternatives. If people want to privatize their street, let them buy them.


Like this comment
Posted by Welcome Jaime
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 22, 2010 at 11:36 am

Welcome, Jaime.

I am excited to see new leadership in a department at has been, as an earlier writer stated, "rudderless" for some time. Our transportation system carries the lifeblood of our city, people, via multiple modes every day. We need creative, informed, technically ept leadership in this area. I am so glad to see you on board!


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2010 at 11:42 am

Glad to see some new blood on this one.

As for bicycle parking, I would like to see some signs indicating where the bike parking is located, a few signs similar to signs indicating car parking lots would be really helpful. I have asked stores and businesses as well as cops hanging around where I can lock my bike and most have no idea.


Like this comment
Posted by Jay Johnson
a resident of another community
on Jul 26, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Having worked with Jaime for a number of years at Milpitas, I know Palo Alto will come out a winner on this. He is a very talented person.

Jaime: Congratulations!


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