County Council Approves New Montgomery Transportation Director

County Council Approves New Montgomery Transportation Director

Conklin taking over position as Roshdieh exits

| Published:
Conklin

Chris Conklin, the new director for the Montgomery County Department of Transportation, at his confirmation hearing on Tuesday.

After nearly two months of uncertainty, County Council members on Tuesday unanimously approved Chris Conklin as Montgomery County’s new transportation director.

Conklin succeeds Al Roshdieh, who announced in early September his plans to leave his position at the end of October.

Roshdieh told County Executive Marc Elrich that he would leave for a job as the director of general services for the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission.

On Oct. 8, Elrich formally nominated Conklin as Roshdieh’s successor. When it came time for the vote on Tuesday, council members congratulated Conklin for his experience with the department, where he’s spent three years as the deputy director for policy.

“Transportation touches every life in the county,” Council Member Tom Hucker said. “And while people are not always happy with the pace of construction on [U.S.] 29 or the amount of money we have for neighborhood resurfacing, they’re always happy with your performance.”

The council interviewed Conklin a week ago in a wide-ranging discussion that touched on intersection safety, reducing carbon emissions, and increasing road capacity, among other transportation priorities. He emphasized several environmental initiatives, including the importance of analyzing existing infrastructure for its ability to withstand the pressures of climate change.

Heavier rain and more extreme temperatures will shorten the lifespan of roads, he said — an issue the department has yet to seriously consider. And while government efforts to reduce carbon emissions have largely focused on county-owned vehicles, Conklin emphasized that private car ownership was the more significant contributor to greenhouse gases.

“The truth is, the county’s fleet contributes almost zero emissions compared to privately owned vehicles,” he said in his interview with the council last week. “So, incentivizing the purchase of electric vehicles is going to be a much bigger factor in reducing carbon emissions.”

Prior to joining MCDOT, Conklin spent more than 20 years with Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, a civil engineering firm with offices throughout the country. He left the company as the managing director of the National Capital Region, according to his resume.

Conklin will be paid $208,000 as transportation director. His appointment leaves at least two county departments for which Elrich has yet to nominate a permanent director.

The Departments of Finance and Permitting still have acting directors. Elrich also created two executive positions — chief technology officer and chief equity officer — that he has yet to fill.

At least six department heads have left since Elrich took office in December 2018. They include former Police Chief Tom Manger, who retired in April after 15 years in the role.

In late September, the county executive named Acting Chief Marcus Jones as his nominee to take over the position. Jones is awaiting confirmation by the council.

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