Highway Widening Chief Abdollah Ansari Has Left Metro
Abdollah Ansari, Metro’s Senior Executive Officer for Construction and Engineering, abruptly left Metro last week. Ansari was the head of Metro Highway Program. In recent years, Ansari was one of the agency’s most rigidly pro-freeway and pro-car-capacity leaders.
Streetsblog made inquiries to Metro regarding Ansari five days ago, but has yet to receive the statement that a Metro spokesperson said was forthcoming. If any further information is received, this post will be updated.
In recent years, Ansari’s steadfast commitment to widening freeways/ramps/roads set up clashes with environmentalists, public commenters, cities, Councils of Governments, Caltrans, the federal Environmental Protection Agency, and some Metro boardmembers.
Notably, during the board’s discussion on suspending the 710 Freeway widening last May, Ansari clashed with L.A. County Supervisor (and now Metro Board Chair) Hilda Solis: [meeting video – exchange at minute 6:23:20 – yes, six and a half hours into the Metro board meeting]
Ansari: If I may have just a couple of minutes on this –
Solis [cutting Ansari off]: I’d like to take a vote on this, mister chair. I know it’s already gone on a long time now.
When the 710 widening was suspended, Ansari criticized the EPA, saying, “We will have a follow-up conversation with EPA making sure they’re not holding a grudge,” and grumbled about the project’s lead agency, Caltrans, claiming, “Caltrans director [Toks Omishakin]… all of a sudden, without the knowledge of the district [Caltrans District 7] or us, announced that Caltrans is not going to sign off on the environmental document.” Caltrans leaders disputed this.
Ansari regularly rebuked the Metro board for canceling the North 710 Freeway extension. He was the architect of the opaque process that heavy-handedly forced cities to use remaining N. 710 funding for car capacity, instead of multi-modal projects as directed by the Metro board. Within a day or so of Ansari’s departure, the board approved a Solis motion that again clarified that the N. 710 funds indeed go to multi-modal projects.
According to a biography statement for an upcoming talk (the speaker was later changed and the Ansari bio taken down), Ansari has over 39 years of experience in the transportation industry in Southern California. He started his career at Caltrans in 1982, where he worked for 18 years. He joined Metro in 2000, then worked for the city of Long Beach starting in 2005. From 2008 to 2015, Ansari worked for L.A. transportation consulting firms. In 2015, he came back to Metro as Deputy Executive Officer of the Highway Program. In 2016, he was promoted to Senior Executive Officer, which was his title when he departed last week.