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CHICAGO—Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot today named Gia Biagi as the new Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and will submit her nomination for City Council approval in December. Biagi brings more than 20 years of experience in urban design and planning, including over ten years of service to the Chicago Park District. At CDOT, Biagi will leverage her deep understanding of City infrastructure and planning to lead the department’s efforts to bring sustainable, accessible transportation to every resident in Chicago.
Biagi was identified as part of a national search based on her deep understanding of transportation challenges related to urban communities, including those in Chicago. Thomas R. Carney has served as Acting Commissioner of CDOT after Rebekah Scheinfeld stepped down in May, and he will transition back into his role as First Deputy of the department.
“Gia’s expertise and years of on-the-ground experience make her the ideal choice to lead our ambitious agenda for CDOT through the coming decade,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “I want to also thank Tom Carney for his dedication and service as Interim Commissioner over these past months. As we move ahead, I look forward to working side-by-side with Gia and the entire team at CDOT as we implement our vision for equitable, comprehensive urban planning and transportation that supports every one of our residents, neighborhoods, and businesses, and helps our entire city thrive.”
Biagi joins the department from Studio Gang, a world-renowned architecture and urban design firm headquartered in Chicago. As Principal, she led the urbanism and civic impact practice, which specialized in urban design, planning and strategy on urban planning projects across several cities. Biagi will also draw on her expertise from over a decade in public service, with roles held in planning and as Chief of Staff to the Chief Executive Officer for the Chicago Park District, as well as with the Department of Planning and Development (DPD).
“The City of Chicago already has a strong reputation for having one of the world’s best transportation systems, and I am honored to work alongside Mayor Lightfoot to ensure we provide the same level of accessibility and reliability for every resident in every neighborhood,” said Biagi. “I look forward to drawing on my past experiences to lead CDOT in making continued investments that will enhance mobility for all of our communities, while increasing sustainability for the future.”
Biagi will be charged with leading and implementing a comprehensive strategy for building modern infrastructure that advances the Mayor’s vision for accessible, reliable and affordable transportation systems supporting every community. This includes studying and recommending solutions to address congestion issues facing downtown as well as the neighborhoods; and working with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) to implement the city’s Bus Priority Zone Program which is designed to make bus service faster and more reliable on core routes.
“I am proud that Gia has answered the call to return to public service. It is always rewarding to see the members of our team harness the skills they have cultivated in the studio to effect positive change in the world,” said Jeanne Gang, founding principal of Studio Gang. “Gia has been a critical partner in maturing the Studio’s unique approach to our urban scale work that emphasizes mutuality and equity. She remains part of the Studio Gang family, and I am confident that she will accomplish great things for our City.”
Biagi will work to align CDOT's transportation investments with other planned capital projects in the city, including affordable housing. CDOT’s role in broader citywide capital plans will help to support revitalization of priority areas, including the commercial corridors that are the focus of the Mayor’s INVEST South/West initiative.
“We are confident Gia Biagi’s leadership at CDOT will assist the department in creating a comprehensive transportation network that is accessible and reliable for all residents,” said Mary Sue Barrett, President of the Metropolitan Planning Council. “Her extensive background in urban planning and development combined with her intimate understanding of Chicago’s transportation landscape will lead to increased mobility in close coordination with city infrastructure and planning.”
CDOT is responsible for more than 4,600 miles of streets, 200 bridges and viaducts, 275 miles of on-street bikeways, 300,000 streetlights and 3,000 signalized intersections citywide. The department is currently overseeing several critical infrastructure projects, including the Chicago Smart Lighting Program, the Vision Zero Plan, the citywide Divvy expansion, and other initiatives designed to make Chicago safer and more accessible for pedestrians as well as cyclists.
“Gia Biagi brings a deep understanding of transportation and urban planning that make her uniquely qualified to lead the City’s transportation network—the lifeblood of our city,” said Joe Schwieterman, Director of the Chaddick Institute & Professor at DePaul University. “The Mayor’s choice to lead CDOT is an important one as she makes enhancing access and equity a top priority for her administration and the city.”
Biagi attended the University of Michigan for her Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature and has a Master’s in Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago.