Emanuel Stays the Course with Transportation Pick

Mayor taps CTA exec to head city's Department of Transportation

Telemundo 49

In the wake of last year’s departure of Gabe Klein as Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has named Rebekah Scheinfeld as the new department head.

Scheinfeld is currently Chief Planning Officer and Senior Vice President at the Chicago Transit Authority, responsible for strategic planning for major capital projects and new transit service. Previously, she worked at law firm Mayer Brown and served as Director of Government Relations and Operations Coordinator for the New York City Parks Department.

At the CTA, Scheinfeld was heavily involved in a number of major projects, including the Red Line reconstruction and new Bus Rapid Transit lines planned for the Loop and Ashland Avenue.

She takes over a department that has won accolades in recent years from a number of transportation advocacy groups, both locally and nationwide. Scheinfeld also follows in the footsteps of Klein, who was seen by some as something of a visionary:

Scheinfeld is replacing Gabe Klein, who oversaw many exciting developments for transportation in Chicago. It's unfortunate that Scott Kubly, a key deputy to Gabe Klein, also left CDOT. He and Klein were change agents who deployed savviness, persuasiveness, determination and thick skin to reboot the city's perspective on transportation.

As someone coming directly out of one of the city’s major transportation agencies, some public-transit advocates already feel Schienfeld may be a good fit for the job:

While some of CDOT’s previous commissioners seemed fairly indifferent to public transportation, walking, and biking, Scheinfeld would be coming to the department with a proven track record of promoting transit. She has led planning efforts for the Red Line’s 95th Street station rehab, the North Red Line reconstruction, and the South Red Line extension, and she has been heavily involved in planning the Ashland and Loop bus rapid transit corridors. That means there will be zero learning curve for her on BRT, which CDOT is partnering with the CTA on.

Klein was also noted for supporting a number of bicycling and sustainable transportation projects, a focus that helped get the popular Divvy bike sharing program up and running for Chicago.

Mayor Emanuel remains committed to building 100 protected bike lanes in his first term in office and making Chicago the “best big city for bicycling in America.”

“In two and a half years, Chicago has become a national leader in expanding transportation options and rebuilding infrastructure. Rebekah will continue to build on our successful record and ensure that every Chicagoan has access to world-class transportation systems,” said Mayor Emanuel in a statement. “Her strong management and planning skills will bring a lot to the agency as it continues the critical work of making sure Chicago has a strong, vibrant, accessible transportation network.”

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