Emanuel Appoints CTA’s Chief Planning Officer to Be New CDOT Chief

Rebekah Scheinfeld, CTA
Scheinfeld at an MPC roundtable on BRT. Photo: .Ryan Griffin-Stegink, MPC

It looks like the next Chicago Department of Transportation commissioner will be following in Gabe Klein’s progressive footsteps. This morning the mayor’s office announced that Rahm Emanuel has selected Rebekah Scheinfeld, the CTA’s chief planning officer, to fill the vacancy, pending city council approval.

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.

“In two and a half years, Chicago has become a national leader in expanding transportation options and rebuilding infrastructure,” Emanuel said in a statement. “Rebekah will continue to build on our successful record and ensure that every Chicagoan has access to world-class transportation. 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.”

“Chicago has proven itself as one of the most innovative, dynamic cities in its approach to transportation, and I am committed to cultivating this spirit of innovation to implement even more creative and effective ways to plan, build and maintain the public way,” Scheinfeld said in a statement.

Scheinfeld is a lawyer who previously at Mayer Brown, representing public and private sector clients on infrastructure and transportation projects like transit systems, toll roads and ports. She has also helped develop mixed-income housing in East Saint Louis, and worked for the New York City parks department as director of government relations and operations coordinator.

While it’s likely Scheinfeld’s appointment will be approved by the city council, since most of the 50 aldermen tend to go along with the mayor’s will, it’s possible there will be some resistance from reps who previously grumbled about Klein’s speed camera and protected bike lane initiatives. Scheinfeld will start work in an interim capacity in late January.

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