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Oakland’s New DOT Chief

Josh Rowan, formerly head of Atlanta's DOT, coming to Oakland

Josh Rowan at his farewell party when he left Atlanta’s DOT. Photo taken from City of Atlanta’s Twitter feed

Note: GJEL Accident Attorneys regularly sponsors coverage on Streetsblog San Francisco and Streetsblog California. Unless noted in the story, GJEL Accident Attorneys is not consulted for the content or editorial direction of the sponsored content.

Oakland DOT has named former Atlanta DOT head Josh Rowan as its new chief. Advocates were generally happy to see Oakland DOT moving forward with new leadership, even if Rowan's record—aside from what is listed in the city's announcement—is largely unknown in the Bay Area. "I'm looking forward to seeing him at upcoming bike/walk commission meetings to offer an introduction and hopefully start sharing some of his ideas about how to get OakDOT past its long standing issues related to staffing and project delivery," wrote Bike East Bay's Robert Prinz in an email to Streetsblog.

More from Oakland's announcement:

Some of his achievements at ATLDOT included:

  • Completion of major corridor improvements
  • Implementation of smart school zone safety improvements
  • Installation of traffic signal preemption for fire and EMS
  • Development and implementation of $30M streetlight repair and expansion program
  • Leadership of program development for Moving Atlanta Forward capital program ($400M) that was approved with nearly 80% support by popular referendum
  • Investment in community engagement with a “walk and talk” program with community that walked more than 200 miles to address issues
  • Development of strategies to minimize street racing and sideshow activity
  • Implementation of e-scooter permit and enforcement process

Prinz also shared the following YouTube clip from Rowan's interview with Traffic Technology Today:

Rowan was head of Atlanta's DOT for over two years before he resigned in May of 2022. From there he went to work as Deputy General Manager for MARTA (Atlanta's transit operator). However, he was only there for five months, leaving under murky circumstances. Jestin Johnson, Oakland's City Administrator, is also from Atlanta.

Rowan will be Oakland DOT's third full-time leader. Ryan Russo, who came from New York's DOT in 2017, was the then-new department's first director. Russo resigned in 2022. Next came Fred Kelley, promoted from within Oakland DOT, in July of 2022. It was announced in February of this year that Kelley would be moving to Oakland Parks, Recreation, and Youth Development.

“Safety is our business. Everyone should be able to move freely and safely throughout Oakland using their desired mode of transportation, no matter where they live,” said Rowan in a prepared statement about his new post. “All OakDOT team members deserve an organization that prioritizes their physical and mental well-being, creates opportunities for career growth, delivers on commitments, and enjoys our journey.”

Rowan officially takes the helm on April 15 from interim director Megan Wier.

Streetsblog has put out inquiries for more on Rowan's work at Atlanta DOT. Look for followup stories.

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