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National search underway to replace LUT's Andrew Singelakis, who will head to Washington

SingelakisWashington County's Director of the Department of Land Use and Transportation will leave his position June 4.

Andrew Singelakis has been hired as the transportation director for the city of Bellevue, Washington.

Singelakis has worked all over the country, in seven states. Bellevue is a suburb of Seattle with about 140,000 residents. The Seattle area is in the process of building its own light-rail line through Bellevue.

County officials say a national search will find the next director of the important department, which oversees transportation, planning, permitting and road maintenance across the county.

LUT's current assistant director, Stephen Roberts, will serve as director in the interim.

Singelakis has served as the county head of transportation and land use for the past nine years.

Singelakis said he's proud of the work Washington County has done to address transportation and land-use issues. In the near decade Singelakis has been in Oregon, the county has grown considerably, from about 530,000 residents to 600,000. Singelakis helped bring more adaptive traffic signals to the county, which are able to read how many cars are on the road and adjust traffic signal times accordingly, and brought more estimated travel time signs to highways. The county worked to address longstanding maintenance issues on rural roads and work is underway at several major housing developments across the county from Tigard to Hillsboro.

"North Bethany is finally in a state of being wrapped up, and we did so much work with River Terrace, South Cooper and South Hillsboro." Each of those housing developments are expected to add thousands of new residents to the county.

"The county has become more urban in its focus," Singelakis said. "You can see that with the board (of commissioners). It's a different orientation than we had before."

Singelakis said transportation issues will continue to be major hurdles in Washington County as the county continues to grow.

"(The county's) going to become more congested, because of all the growth," Singelakis said. "It's not going away."

Roads like Tualatin Valley Highway are expected to become even more congested as more and more people move to the area.

The county is looking at the Tualatin Valley Highway as part of the regional government Metro's planned 2020 transportation bond measure. Singelakis said he'd like to expand public transportation in that area and other places and allow buses to pre-empt traffic signals. This would keep buses from being stuck in traffic, which would allow for faster, easier service.

Combating congestion isn't easy, Singelakis said. Adding additional lanes to some existing roads can help, and improving sidewalks and bike lanes can help encourage people to walk or bike, in some cases.

Talk of a highway connecting Highway 26 with Highway 30 has been discussed for some time, as has the much-maligned Westside Bypass, which would connect Hillsboro and the Wilsonville areas.

Both are years away from happening, if ever.

The state also is considering adding tolling on some highways. The study is unpopular with many Oregon drivers, which hasn't used tolling on its state highways before. But Singelakis said tolls, also known as congestion pricing, will be key to addressing transportation issues going forward.

"There really is no other way to fund it," he said. "I don't want to leave the impress that's the solution, but that needs to be looked at, absolutely."

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