After a six-month search, the Oregon Transportation Commission has offered the top position at the state’s transportation agency to Kris Strickler, an experienced administrator of major road projects for two state governments. 

Strickler rejoined the Oregon Department of Transportation last year, to supervise the highway division, after four years overseeing the southwest region for the Washington Department of Transportation. 

Strickler directed ODOT’s involvement in the Columbia River Crossing bridge project in the first half of this decade, before the $3.4 billion effort to replace the bridge connecting Portland and Vancouver collapsed in 2014. 

In a statement, Strickler said he was looking forward to modernizing the state’s transportation network and fully implementing a transportation package approved in 2017, which promises $5.3 billion for projects over 10 years. 

“I’m eager to lead the agency in this dramatic time of growth in our state and to work to modernize our transportation network, diversify the department’s workforce, and bring innovative solutions to achieve Oregon’s transportation, environmental and economic goals,” Strickler said in an ODOT press release. 

Strickler beat out finalists Victoria Sheehan, the commissioner in charge of New Hampshire’s transportation department, and Randell Iwasaki, the executive director of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority in the Bay Area. 

“[Strickler] was chosen from a very competitive field of candidates from around the country,” said OTC Chairman Robert Van Brocklin in a statement. “He has driven the agency’s vision for how to address the complex mobility needs of our region and brings strong interstate partnerships to bear.”

Strickler replaces Matt Garrett, who stepped down from the ODOT leadership post this year after directing the agency since 2005. In addition to the transportation package, the new director faces challenges, such as a controversial proposal to expand Interstate 5 through Portland’s Rose Quarter and a possible resumption of discussions of a replacement bridge between Portland and southwest Washington