Linea Laird made her mark at WSDOT leading construction of the 2007 Tacoma Narrows Bridge before becoming administrator of the Highway 99 tunnel project.
Linea Laird, the former administrator of the Highway 99 tunnel project, has been picked to temporarily lead the Seattle Department of Transportation — with a special mandate to help travelers survive waterfront construction.
Sometime this fall, the new four-lane tunnel will open, without downtown exits. That’s preceded by a three-week total closure when the old Alaskan Way Viaduct is shut down and the tunnel isn’t open yet.
Afterward, viaduct demolition will block streets in the first half of 2019.
Laird made her mark leading construction of the 2007 Tacoma Narrows Bridge, a classic suspension span completed on budget and only three months late.
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Later as Highway 99 administrator, Laird managed the contract and bid competition won by a partnership of Spanish-based Dragados USA and California-based Tutor-Perini to build the unprecedented 57-foot-diameter tunnel — a contract that’s now key to whether the state withstands up to $600 million in lawsuits to pay cost overruns.
In 2013 she was promoted to chief engineer for the entire Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). She retired from the agency within the last year.
Laird’s management style can be characterized as calm and attentive to detail, including frequent visits to job sites.
She succeeds Goran Sparrman, who stepped into the Seattle DOT role in January to replace the departing Scott Kubly, now an executive at LimeBike. Sparrman has always said he would leave after August.
Among other challenges, Laird takes over as several projects in the $930 million Move Seattle levy slide behind schedule, prompting a “reset” by the Durkan administration. In addition, the mayor suspended work on a roughly $200 million First Avenue streetcar line that remains in limbo. Drivers and safe-streets activists alike routinely flame the agency in blogs and social media.
“As we head into upcoming construction that will constrain our downtown streets, Linea will bring strong experience to oversee the delivery of Move Seattle levy and our City’s major capital transportation projects as well as expertise around Center City mobility challenges,” Durkan’s statement said.
Meanwhile, an 11-member search committee, which includes King County Metro Transit General Manager Rob Gannon, has been named to find a permanent director.