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Boston Mayor Announces 'Chief of Streets' Role

Chris Osgood from the Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics will serve as Boston's first chief of streets.

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh announced on Aug. 6 a new position within the city's Public Works and Transportation Departments to lead the repair of city roadways. On Aug. 24, Chris Osgood of the Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics (MONUM) will become Boston’s first chief of streets.

"Boston is experiencing unprecedented growth, and with that growth comes the opportunity and the need to modernize our transportation network and make our basic city services the best in the world," Walsh said in a press release. "I am excited for Chris to bring his knowledge of the city and his experience leading innovation in Boston to this challenge."

According to the press release, Osgood’s roles will include working alongside Public Works to plan, design and maintain the city’s roadways and ensure the city has the tools it needs to best do its job, while also serving as a liaison to the Boston Water & Sewer Commission.

Osgood will also lead Go Boston 2030, the city’s interdepartmental initiative to improve transportation for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists in the next five, 10, and 15 years. 

The new position also marks Osgood’s departure from MONUM, which he co-founded along with co-chair Nigel Jacob in 2010.

Through MONUM, Jacob and Osgood launched a series of interdepartmental projects, including Citizens Connect, DiscoverBPS and ParkBoston. For his work, Osgood was named a Public Official of the Year by Governing, Government Technology's sister publication, in 2011 and a White House Champion of Change in 2012. Though Osgood will leave MONUM, the city reports the office will continue, and Osgood assured Government Technology that transportation will remain a key part of what that office does as he moves on.

Osgood explained that the sorts of projects he will lead through his new role will be similar to the transportation and technology projects that MONUM and its partner agencies have completed in recent years, such as Citizens Connect and City Worker. Projects like the city’s Public Space Invitational, which endeavors to improve the city streets by canvassing the city’s artists, thinkers and architects for new designs and concepts, embody the type of work they want to pursue, Osgood said.

“What we’ve often found is that it is so valuable to focus on those things that residents most value,” he said. “How predictable your commute is, or how clean your street or how smooth your ride is, how beautiful your block is — these are the sort of things that make a huge difference in city living, and there’s a lot of great ideas right now for how that can be done. And in many ways, I think that the greatest opportunity of the smart cities movement is really in the transportation and infrastructure arena.”

Colin wrote for Government Technology and Emergency Management from 2010 through most of 2016.