Executive Director George Dondero to Retire

The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) announced that Executive Director George Dondero will retire in December 2018.

Since joining the RTC in 2006, Dondero has been instrumental in helping to improve and grow the transportation infrastructure in the county while also looking toward the future and preparing for the transportation needs of the next generation.

“It has been a tremendous privilege to lead the RTC, with the support and guidance of our commissioners, and to help shape the future of transportation in Santa Cruz County,” Dondero said. “I am deeply grateful to have been a part of many important achievements that will continue to transform our transportation system while improving quality of life for our residents.”

As the regional transportation planning agency for Santa Cruz County, the RTC develops and works in collaboration with other entities throughout the region on efforts aimed at improving the county’s multimodal transportation system. During his 12-year tenure with the agency, Dondero has used his expertise in transportation planning to guide projects aimed at long-term sustainability, and maximizing the efficiency of the current transportation system while improving mobility, access and air quality throughout the county.

“George came into the position when transportation was one of the major issues of the day, as it has continued to be,” said Santa Cruz County Supervisor and RTC Commissioner Bruce McPherson. “He’s positioned the county well to get more funding and was an important leader in the successful passage of Measure D that addresses all modes of transportation in Santa Cruz County.”

“George has done an incredible job addressing the transportation needs of our community,” said Santa Cruz County Supervisor and RTC Commissioner John Leopold. “He was instrumental in building a powerful coalition to pass the largest transportation measure in the history of the county.”

Dondero was at the helm of the RTC in its efforts to secure funding for county transportation improvement projects through Measure D. Since the measure passed in 2016, the RTC has led the implementation of numerous Measure D-related projects to improve local roads and maintain transportation infrastructure in the county. Dondero was also instrumental in the purchase of the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line in 2012, after more than 10 years of extensive due diligence and negotiations. This purchase placed a new transportation corridor in public ownership and brought with it a new era of mobility options and opportunities.

Under his leadership, the RTC managed its first construction project, the Highway 1 Soquel/Morrissey Auxiliary Lanes Project, allowing the agency to communicate and minimize construction impacts while implementing locally effective solutions for the community. The project, aimed at improving the flow of traffic through one of the most congested sections of Highway 1, included one mile of new auxiliary lanes and a new bridge over La Fonda Avenue with improved bicycle and pedestrian facilities.

“When George Dondero retires at the end of 2018, he will have left a huge legacy in our county. As CEO of the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, I had the pleasure of working with George on two projects strategic to the Land Trust: The Rail Trail and the Wildlife Tunnel at Laurel Curve. George understood the unique opportunities and value of this public/private partnership and was an open-minded and trustworthy partner,” said Terry Corwin, former executive director of the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County. “Our 2017 local transportation measure, Measure D, which provides partial funding for both of those projects (and much more) would not be a reality today without George’s steady hand at the helm of the RTC. I am deeply grateful for the experience of working with such a dedicated and smart public servant, as well as for his friendship – which I treasure.”

“I have worked with George during the past few years as the RTC and stakeholders of all sectors in Santa Cruz County came together in 2016 to pass the first major transportation improvement sales tax in the history of our county. Measure D was a game changer that brought the community together to address the inefficiencies of our county-wide transportation network,” said Casey Beyer, CEO of the Santa Cruz Area Chamber of Commerce. “George was instrumental as the public face to the RTC, working with his commissioner to craft a transportation initiative that would address our transportation needs but also designed in such a way that it would receive the necessary 2/3 voter approval. I congratulate him on his many years of service to Santa Cruz County residents. His leadership will certainly be missed.”

Dondero has a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Michigan as well as graduate degrees in transportation engineering and regional planning from UC Berkeley. Prior to joining the RTC, he was the executive director of the Calaveras Council of Governments, the regional transportation planning agency for Calaveras County, as well as project manager for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in Oakland, and assistant traffic engineer for the City of Berkeley.