Public Works Director Steve Kotke to Leave City After 27 Years
Mayor Hodges, Council Members Praise His Leadership
November 18, 2015 (MINNEAPOLIS) Public Works Director Steve Kotke has announced that he will leave the City in June of 2016 after 27 years of service including nearly ten years as Director and City Engineer.
“I was looking forward to re-appointing Steve to another two year term, because his leadership of the department has been superb. He assembled a great team of managers and transformed the department from one with many challenges into one that benefits residents tremendously,” said Mayor Betsy Hodges. “I'm grateful to have his skills at work for our residents for another seven months, while we search for a new Director.”
In the past nine years, The Department of Public Works has worked with MNDOT, Metro Transit and Hennepin County on projects including Central Corridor (Green Line) LRT, major infrastructure changes around the new Target Field Ballpark and U.S. Bank Stadium, as well as planning for future projects like Orange Line BRT, including the 35W Transit/Access Project, the Nicollet/Central Modern Streetcar and planned extensions of Blue and Green Line LRT projects.
Steve Kotke led City efforts to implement Access Minneapolis, the City's Ten Year Transportation Action Plan which began with the MARQ2 project completed in 2009. The MARQ2 project rebuilt Marquette and 2nd streets through downtown with two dedicated transit lanes on each. MARQ2 improved bus speed and reliability, more than tripled the bus capacity of these streets and allowed the City to reduce peak hour bus volumes on Nicollet Mall by 40 percent. Downtown Minneapolis is now ready for BRT service on 35W. Most of the downtown components of the Access Minneapolis plan will be completed or underway by the time Director Kotke leaves in June.
“Steve Kotke developed a team of division leaders and managers who together work to maximize the efficiency, effectiveness and financial stability of Public Works; a solid legacy of talented people in the multiple roles of the department,” said Council Member Kevin Reich, Chair of the City’s Transportation and Public Works Committee. “But in a far-reaching sense, his initiatives, from improved water quality and large scale bridge projects to bike infrastructure, advancing recycling and the creation of a new planning division within the department, have positioned Public Works and the City to meet the challenges of the future and continue to reap national and international recognition.”
Steve Kotke’s tenure has included a major expansion of bicycle facilities in Minneapolis which has increased bicycling and bicycle safety. Since 2006, more than 100 miles of bikeways, including off-street bike trails and bike lane, have been added in Minneapolis – a 44 percent increase. Bike lanes alone were added to nearly 49 miles of street during his time at the City - a 55 percent increase.
Accomplishments of Public Works in recent years include separation of storm and sanitary sewer to dramatically reduce combined sewer overflow (CSO) events, major improvements to the City’s water plant and successful roll-out of one sort recycling.
“Steve Kotke has ably spearheaded the City’s largest and most complicated department. Public Works, with over 1,100 employees, eight divisions and an annual operating budget of $428 million, is far-reaching in its impact on everyone who lives and works in Minneapolis, from the streets that move people from one place to another, the safe drinking water we rely upon, our outstanding solid waste and recycling collection and so much of what makes a city tick,” said Council President Barbara Johnson. “He has been an outstanding leader who met the challenges of aging infrastructure, and leaves the department and our City in far stronger shape than when he started.”
Among the challenges Steve Kotke faced during his nine year tenure as director were multi-agency recovery efforts after tornados and other severe storms, water main breaks and the collapse of the 35W bridge over the Mississippi.
“Our residents have gotten a much better value for their tax dollars thanks to Steve Kotke's financial leadership of our largest department,” said Mayor Hodges. “From better accounting to job classification reform he has squeezed the most bang for the buck despite having too few resources. There is a nationwide challenge with street infrastructure and we are not immune from that. In a few weeks, Director Kotke will report on that challenge to our Transportation Committee. But we are better positioned to meet that challenge because of Steve’s leadership. He not only bought us time with wise use of limited dollars for our city streets, he also built confidence in Public Works. They manage their budget very well.”
Published Nov 18, 2015