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Don Billen named Sound Transit’s Executive Director of Planning, Environment and Project Development

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Don Billen named Sound Transit’s Executive Director of Planning, Environment and Project Development
Billen will lead key efforts delivering voter-approved expansion projects

Don Billen has been named executive director of Sound Transit’s Planning, Environment and Project Development (PEPD) department. He previously served as PEPD’s deputy director and since September 2017 as its acting executive director. 

“While deeply rooted in the successes of our past, Don has played an instrumental role in shaping the agency’s plans to retool our agency, culture and processes as we implement the largest transit capital expansion program in the nation,” said Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff. “The System Expansion Implementation Plan that Don and his peers from other departments established sets a more collaborative and strategic paradigm for advancing ambitious and simultaneous system expansions to the north, south, east and west”

Professionally, Billen has literally “grown up” at Sound Transit, joining the agency in 1996 when he started as a graduate intern and later that year earning a permanent role after voters adopted Sound Move. Billen’s other positions have included systems integration project coordinator; project manager for the Capitol Hill and Beacon Hill light rail stations; program manager for the East Link light rail extension; and director of the Office of Capital Project Development.

“I am greatly honored to serve the people of our region in this role as we work to build sustainable communities by expanding high capacity transit” Billen said. “It is an exciting time for public transit and transit oriented development in our region.”

PEPD’s responsibilities include long-range planning and advancing voter-approved capital projects from their earliest stages through environmental review and preliminary engineering.   During the project development process, PEPD defines station and alignment locations, access improvements, station area plans, and sustainability features. The department works closely with partner organizations, community members, and internal design, engineering, construction and operation staff. Other responsibilities include, but are not limited to, leading the agency’s environmental compliance, transit oriented development, innovation and sustainability efforts.

Billen holds master’s degrees in public administration and transportation systems from the University of Washington. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, and is a 2009 graduate of the American Public Transportation Association Leadership Program. 

For a photo of Don Billen