Like Gabe Klein, Deputy Commish Scott Kubly Is Calling It a Wrap at CDOT

Kubly with Klein at a conference. Photo: John Greenfield

Last Tuesday was Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein’s last day on the job. Three days later Deputy Commissioner Scott Kubly, one of Klein’s key lieutenants, announced his resignation as well.

Kubly, who has been central in implementing many of Klein’s progressive transportation initiatives, had seemed like a strong candidate to serve as the next commissioner. “Scott … is doing a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes to make projects happen,” Klein told Streetsblog in a recent exit interview. “Without Scott, there’s no way that automated enforcement would have happened, no way that the riverwalk would have been funded, and Divvy would not have been as smooth a rollout.” Klein declined to make a statement about whether his deputy should be the next commissioner.

However, 47th Ward Alderman Ameya Pawar endorsed Kubly for the job. “The way to cement [Klein’s] legacy is to make sure his successor carries on Mayor Emanuel’s vision for a globally focused transportation policy,” he told Streetsblog. “Someone like Scott Kubly would be a great choice.”

Kubly will be staying on the job until December 27 to wrap up various projects. These include making sure the speed camera rollout continues to go smoothly, and overseeing the bid process for a contractor to activate 50 underused plazas. First Deputy Commissioner Pat Harney, who has been in charge of in-house construction and infrastructure management, is currently serving as the acting CDOT commissioner.

Kubly said his decision to leave CDOT was not tied to Klein’s departure. “I came in two-and-a-half years ago and was asked to get a bunch of things off the ground,” he said. He noted that Divvy and speed cameras have been launched, the Chicago Riverwalk extension is financed, about 50 miles of buffered and protected bike lanes have been contructed, and another 50 should be designed by next spring. “I view my career in milestones, and we just hit a ton of them. I’m really happy with what we got done. I’ve been thinking about this since May or June, and this really seems like the right time to step away.”

A curb-protected bike lane in Montreal. Kubly says Chicago PBLs will be getting curbs next year. Image: zmtomako/Flickr

He declined to say who the next commissioner will be, but noted that Rahm Emanuel is up for reelection next year, and he doesn’t think the mayor’s transportation agenda is going to change over the next year. “Whoever the next commissioner is, that person is going to execute the mayor’s vision,” he said.

For example, Kubly said there’s no danger that plans to install concrete curbs next year between the Dearborn and State protected bike lanes and car traffic will be derailed. “It’s been part of the plan all along to quickly install the lanes with paint and [flexible plastic] delineators, but over the long term we’d like to put in permanent infrastructure. We just need to find the right funding for it.”

Kubly said its possible he’ll be sticking around Chicago. He has family in the area and bought a house in Logan Square. “But there’s opportunities all over the country to do interesting stuff, so I’m open to any area where it seems like there’s a really fun, attractive opportunity.”

It’s reassuring to hear Kubly say he thinks Emanuel will continue to set a progressive transportation agenda. However, losing Kubly in addition to Klein makes it even more important for Chicagoans to make sure CDOT is staying on the right course for creating safe, efficient, livable streets.

  • Brian

    Thank GOD! Another one down! I guess he’s tired of trying to justify that speed cameras are about safety. Pretty hard to do that when they ticket park cars. Yes, very accurate and the public can be assured that no other mistakes will ever be made.
    Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!

  • Anne A

    Disappointing news. I really hoped that he’d stick around a while.

  • JKM13


  • Fred

    The devil you know vs the devil you don’t. Mayor Emmanuel is likely to replace these guys with people with similar, if not more “extreme”, views on transportation. Be careful what you wish for… you very well could end up with someone “worse”!

  • Brian

    Doesn’t matter, both Scott and Gabe have done great harm to this city. A perfect example is ticketing a parked car for speeding. That’s a sign of things to come. Those two deserve no accolades and I can only wish the worst for both of them.

  • Fred

    The system has ticketed thousands of legitimate speeders but is a colossal failure because it issued a single ticket to a parked car? Should every system that is only 99.99% but not 100% accurate be labeled a colossal failure?

    That’s it! I’m starting a petition to ban Lysol for only killing 99.99% of germs and condoms for only being 98% effective!!!

  • Brian

    The fact that it issued a ticket to a parked car is a complete failure.
    I guess I could send you a notice in the mail, Fred, and you would just pay it? I mean, hey, it might be accurate, but the government says this is good for me, so I guess I’ll pay it? Is that how you operate, Fred?

  • Fred

    The fact that it issued a ticket to a parked car is **A** failure.

    Mistakes happen. One person now has the inconvenience of fighting an erroneous ticket so that the roads are safer for all. Seems worth it to me.

  • Chicagio

    Just so long as that parked car was yours.

  • duppie

    Before we get all upset at Brian, let’s remember what he is: A troll. Not interested in a real discussion, he dispenses fact-free comments designed to elicit a response from regular readers. Not worth your time.

  • duppie

    Mike Amsden for CDOT Commish!

  • JKM13

    As a driver, I found going down Foster such an improvement Saturday night. Normally going down that stretch on a Saturday evening meant dealing with assholes flying around all over the place, tailgating, etc. With the cameras though, people drove calmly, within their lanes and at the 30 mph speed limit.

    I’ve noticed the same thing on Irving with the cameras near Portage Park. I was honestly ambivolent about the cameras before their installation, but am 100% behind them now. I didn’t really appreciate how reckless drivers in this city were until the cameras forced everyone to drive within the law (in a few spots).

    Hopefully CDOT can keep the momentum left to them from Klein and Kubly.

  • Alex Vickers

    Come to LA Scott!

  • Brian

    That’s not true- a speed camera issued a ticket to a parked car – that is a FACT. Or, maybe, duppie, in your world, it isn’t, since it doesn’t support YOUR pro-government beliefs. I’m sure if Gabe Klein said the the sky is red, you’d agree with him.
    I am interested in REAL discussion.

  • Guys, please refrain from personal attacks or your comments will be deleted. Here’s the Streetsblog comment moderation policy if you need a refresher:

    Here’s an article about the ticketing incident Brian keeps bringing up: CDOT said this was the only incident of this kind they’re aware of.

  • duppie

    Brian, you should have listened to Fred’s advice (“The devil you know v. the devil you don’t”) before gloating about Gabe and Scott’s departure:


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