Atlanta Transportation Commissioner Josh Rowan is stepping down

Atlanta Department of Transportation Commissioner Josh Rowan (left) talks to Mayor Andre Dickens about snow preparations at the ATL DOT North Avenue Facility in Atlanta on Friday, Jan. 14, 2022. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

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Atlanta Department of Transportation Commissioner Josh Rowan (left) talks to Mayor Andre Dickens about snow preparations at the ATL DOT North Avenue Facility in Atlanta on Friday, Jan. 14, 2022. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

City now searching for 6 permanent Cabinet-level department heads

Josh Rowan, the first leader of the Atlanta Department of Transportation, is resigning after serving more than two years in his role.

In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Mayor Andre Dickens confirmed Rowan tendered his resignation effective July 1, an unexpected departure for a critical department leader.

Former Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms appointed Rowan in late 2019 to lead the transportation department, which had been officially created a few months earlier, after Dickens proposed the idea as a councilman.

Dickens plans to launch a national search for his replacement.

The mayor did not disclose the reason for Rowan’s departure, saying he didn’t want to speak for the commissioner, though Dickens said he understood his reasoning and accepted his resignation. Rowan did not respond to requests for comment late Monday.

“I’m glad for the time that Josh was here,” Dickens said, adding that he did a good job of getting the department up and running. “We’re going to take some time to be able to work with him through all the transitions that we’ll need.”

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ATLDOT Commissioner Josh Rowan (at right) joined Mayor Dickens and the "pothole posse" ahead of Mayor Dickens' 100th day in office in Atlanta on Monday, April 11, 2022. (Bob Andres / robert.andres@ajc.com)

Credit: robert.andres@ajc.com

ATLDOT Commissioner Josh Rowan (at right) joined Mayor Dickens and the "pothole posse" ahead of Mayor Dickens' 100th day in office in Atlanta on Monday, April 11, 2022. (Bob Andres / robert.andres@ajc.com)

Credit: robert.andres@ajc.com

Combined ShapeCaption
ATLDOT Commissioner Josh Rowan (at right) joined Mayor Dickens and the "pothole posse" ahead of Mayor Dickens' 100th day in office in Atlanta on Monday, April 11, 2022. (Bob Andres / robert.andres@ajc.com)

Credit: robert.andres@ajc.com

Credit: robert.andres@ajc.com

The department, known as ATLDOT, handles pothole repairs, road repaving and redesigns and a host of other transportation-related issues. Rowan was seen as aligned with the mayor on various transportation issues, including the city’s Vision Zero initiative — a policy designed to eliminate traffic fatalities and injuries by reducing vehicular speeds, among other strategies.

A former construction firm executive, Rowan joined the city in March 2019 to lead Renew Atlanta, the city’s infrastructure improvement program.

His departure comes weeks before an election in which Atlanta residents are voting on a $750 million infrastructure package that would put millions toward transportation improvements. Dickens said residents can trust the city will deliver on the proposed projects due to the focus his administration is putting on improving budgeting and procurement processes.

In searching for Rowan’s replacement, Dickens said he will look for someone with a holistic and long-term view of transportation who can prioritize project delivery and construction.

“Now’s an opportunity for us to move toward a phase of having a department that’s good at implementation and moving (the city) forward effectively and efficiently,” he said.

ATLDOT now becomes the sixth city department in need of a permanent leader. Dickens said shortly after he took office that he was launching searches for Cabinet members overseeing the procurement, parks, planning and human resources departments. And police Chief Rodney Bryant announced his retirement last month, sparking a national search for his replacement.