An urban visionary who cuts through the gridlock. [via Slate]

Janette Sadik-Khan, New York City Transportation Commissioner

An urban visionary who cuts through the gridlock.

Janette Sadik-KhanBefore Janette Sadik-Khan came along, the job of the New York City transportation commissioner was pretty straightforward: Keep the traffic moving.* In her four-year tenure, Sadik-Khan has transformed the position. She is transportation commissioner as real estate developer, urban beautifier, bicycle advocate, and environmentalist. In the process, Sadik-Khan—"JSK" to those who revere her—has begun to drag the city's transportation infrastructure into the new century.

When Mayor Michael Bloomberg named Sadik-Khan in April 2007, Broadway was still a vehicular thoroughfare, Bronx to the Battery. Now it is a pedestrian mall in the heart of midtown, forcing cars to detour. Whether this makes traffic run more smoothly is a matter of debate. That it has made money for Times Square merchants, however, is widely agreed. In a Slate interview, Sadik-Khan noted that the Department of Transportation is also the city's largest builder (of bridges, roads, ferry terminals, and the like). She has brought a private developer's sensibility to the role, using her power to turn her personal vision into reality. It has worked; for all the initial opposition to the Broadway project, the New York Timescalled it "perhaps the swiftest re-engineering of a major New York roadway ever."