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Polly Trottenberg, Biden’s pick for deputy transportation secretary, transformed NYC streets

January 20, 2021 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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After serving as New York City transportation commissioner and also working for the federal government at several high-level jobs, Brooklyn resident Polly Trottenberg has been named to by the incoming Biden administration as deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Trottenberg was the longest-serving DOT commissioner in the city’s history, having been appointed in 2014, when she resigned in December. Among the programs she, along with Mayor Bill de Blasio, sponsored were the city’s Vision Zero program, a multi-pronged effort to decrease traffic fatalities. 

Among its components were speed-limit reductions, increased enforcement, increased use of speed cameras, quicker repair of broken traffic signals and pedestrian countdown timers, which tell pedestrians how many more seconds they must begin crossing the street.

Other initiatives she helped implement include reducing the speed limit on city streets and seeing the city’s first busway, on Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn, installed. In addition, she represented the city as a member of the MTA board.

Before being named city DOT commissioner, she worked under U.S. Senators Charles Schumer, Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Barbara Boxer, according to WABC.

Then-DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, Peter Bray of the Brooklyn Heights Association and NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer at a rally urging fast-tracking the rehab of the BQE. Eagle file photo by Mary Frost

In September 2016, during a talk at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering that was also sponsored by the Downtown Brooklyn partnership, Trottenberg, who lives in Park Slope with her husband, joked that she had a “truly Brooklyn experience” that morning. 

She couldn’t find her car near her Park Slope home. It had been moved because a TV crew was shooting an episode of the show “Billions.” She had been told it was on Lincoln Place, but it wasn’t there.

“So listen, it’s a beat-up Honda Civic hybrid, with a bunch of bumper stickers that are kind of falling off,” she said, according to an Eagle article published at the time. “So if you see it, call me, okay? ‘Because I don’t know where the hell my car is.”

At the same meeting, Trottenberg said that DOT’s five-year strategic plan focused on the “incredible growth that is happening in New York, and nowhere more so than in Brooklyn.

“Brooklyn is the epicenter of the growth in the city and here in Downtown Brooklyn you’re the epicenter of the epicenter,” she said. “And so in transportation, we’re really focusing on what that growth means.”

“Polly Trottenberg made New York City fairer, safer and more accessible. Now, she’ll do the same for the entire country. … Polly, your city is cheering you on!” tweeted de Blasio this week.


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