(Washington D.C. - David Schultz, WAMU) In news that has come as a shock to many—especially myself—Chris Zimmerman announced this morning that he will be stepping down from the Board of Directors of Washington D.C.'s Metro system at the end of this year.
Zimmerman had served on the Board for more than a decade, and he had been instrumental in guiding Metro through the darkest period of its 34 year existence. Over the past 18 months, Metro has faced multiple budget crises, a rapidly crumbling infrastructure, federal condemnation and a train collision that killed eight of its passengers. Zimmerman, whose main job is as a local politician in Arlington, Va., was there through it all, rarely—if ever—missing a Board meeting.
Before I joined WAMU, I reported for a weekly newspaper in Arlington, so I got to know Zimmerman fairly well. And I can say definitively that he lives and breathes transportation. His influence in the D.C. region far exceeds that of his job title, as he sits on no fewer than four regional transportation bodies. (Although, after today, that number is reduced by one.)
Zimmerman has become something of a boogeyman for the pro-roads set in Northern Virginia. Many believe he is the man pulling the strings behind Arlington's efforts to block the expansion of several major highways that lead in and out of the District. But he is also a hero to the burgeoning transit-oriented anti-sprawl community in D.C.
We will continue to follow this story and watch to see if other changes are coming to Metro's leadership.