On June 27, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments announced Kanti Srikanth as its new director of transportation planning. Srikanth will lead the team of nearly 60 planners, engineers, and other staff who support the ongoing work of the Transportation Planning Board.
COG's announcement comes three months after it began a nationwide search for a successor to Ron Kirby. Kirby headed COG's transportation planning department from 1987 until his sudden, unexpected death in November 2013.
The search for a new director focused on finding a candidate with three essential characteristics: transportation planning expertise, skill in bringing together people and parties with different interests, and a forward-looking approach to regional transportation planning and how best to integrate it with regional land-use and environmental planning efforts.
Srikanth's expertise is clear: he brings more than 25 years of experience in transportation planning in the Washington region, much of that time spent working directly with COG and the TPB as a representative of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).
Through his involvement on various TPB policy and technical committees over the last 18 years, Srikanth has developed a thorough understanding of the complex regional transportation planning process required to ensure that federal transportation dollars continue flowing to the region. That process includes coordinating various local, state, and regional planning efforts to develop the region's federally required Constrained Long-Range Transportation Plan (CLRP) and six-year Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), as well as to demonstrate compliance with federal air quality standards.
Bringing people together to reach consensus on important regional issues is another of Srikanth's strengths. Recently, he helped broker an agreement between Metro and the local jurisdictions in Northern Virginia to find the funding needed to meet Metro's full state-of-good-repair needs through 2040. Elected officials and agency staff from all across the region routinely recognize his collaborative, diplomatic leadership style in such situations and his ability to serve as an objective and neutral moderator.
Over the years, Srikanth has also provided vital technical advice reflective of a forward-thinking, multi-modal, integrative approach to transportation planning. He has contributed significantly to TPB efforts to highlight the long-term funding needs for Metro, the TPB's work to develop a long-range regional land-use and transportation scenario to relieve congestion and encourage more trips by modes other than car, and an extensive analysis of various strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the region's transportation sector. He has also served on the chief air quality policy committee for the region and on COG's Climate, Energy, and Environment Policy Committee.
As COG's director of transportation planning, Srikanth will oversee a diverse, $18-million portfolio of ongoing planning activities, including monitoring and analyzing congestion on area roadways, forecasting future regional travel patterns, meeting federal planning and air quality requirements, planning for freight movement, bus systems, bicyclist and pedestrian safety, and airport systems, and promoting commute alternatives, among many others.
One of Srikanth's most important responsibilities as director will be to build on the TPB's approval earlier this year of the Regional Transportation Priorities Plan and to more fully integrate that work with COG's larger Region Forward initiative. Both plans call for concentrating more of the region's future development in mixed-use Activity Centers, preferably near transit, to achieve greater transportation and land-use efficiencies and to allow anyone who wants to live in a place with transit access and greater opportunity to bicycle and walk to do so, and do so affordably.
Srikanth received a Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Bangalore University in India. He will officially join COG on August 6.