Jan. 21--NEW HAVEN -- Mayor Toni Harp appointed Alder Doug Hausladen as the head of Transportation, Traffic and Parking Tuesday.
Hausladen will begin his 4-year term on Feb. 1 after Jim Travers steps down as acting director. Travers served as director of the department since 2008 but recently accepted a position as the vice president of resource development at United Way.
Harp called the appointment a "continuation of my desire to seek and appoint the best people for important jobs in my administration."
"We all know what a fine job Jim Travers did these past few years and I wanted to find someone with the same love for New Haven and passion for the issues this job covers," she said.
The department oversees many areas in the city from traffic lights, to parking meters, to bike lanes and more.
Hausladen actively served the downtown area of New Haven as the Ward 7 alder since 2012. He advocated for transportation issues and safe streets for all, regardless of mode of transportation. Hausladen advocated for a makeover at the intersection of Whitney Avenue and Audubon Street in 2013 after he and resident Erin Gustafon submitted a Complete Streets application asking the city to create a raised sidewalk in the area similar to the one on the corner of Canal Street. The city announced they would overhaul the intersection later that year.
Before becoming an alder in 2012 Hausladen worked on the New Haven Safe Streets Coalition as chairman of the Downtown-Wooster Square Community Management Team.
Hausladen said his interest in "transportation as a civil rights issue" was sparked by the tragic deaths of Mila Rainof, 27, and Gabrielle Alexis Lee, 11, in accidents in 2008.
"The role of transportation system is to make sure that New Haven citizens and stakeholders of all abilities, age and neighborhood have the ability to travel to, travel from, and travel through our city no matter how they commute," he said.
Hausladen said the department should "make it easier to live here, work here and to visit here."
Economic Development Administrator Matthew Nemerson said Hausladen approaches problems from the point of view of the citizen.
"He really understands where the citizen is coming from on almost all issues," Nemerson said.
"I know and applaud Doug for his enthusiasm, his idealism, his ability to drive his fellow politicians and many people here at city hall absolutely nuts," Nemerson said. "I think that's a wonderful kind of energy that we need, he refuses to take no for an answer and now that he's on our team, that's going to be very important."
Hausladen said he looks forward to advocating for Harp's priorities at the state level and building relationships with the state. He said he is interested in increasing bus ridership in the city through use of TransLoc, an iPhone gps data visualization application the Yale transit system uses. He said the app has increased ridership and user experience.
"People truly appreciate being able to see on their phone or on their computer, when things are going to happen," he said. "What I'd like to do is see more people able and willing to take the bus as an option."
Hausladen said the city has 75 percent of the region's jobs and it's important to "make sure people can get where they need to go."
Hausladen supported fellow Alder Justin Elicker in his Democratic primary fight and later in the general election as he ran against Harp. Elicker did not run again for the Ward 10 seat.
Hausladen thanked Harp for the opportunity and said he was excited to help move her vision for the city forward.
"Together we can do even more," he said.
Hausladen will step down from his seat on the Board of Alders as he takes office on Feb. 1. Ella Wood, a Yale student who ran against Hausladen with the backing of the unions, and Abigail Roth, public safety chairman of the DWSCMT, have expressed interest in his seat, according to Ward 7 Co-chairwoman Alberta Witherspoon. Witherspoon said both co-chairmen will talk to potential candidates and will nominate someone at a later date. That date is not set yet, she said.