Washtenaw County Road Commission director set to retire. Here’s who will take her place

Washtenaw County Road Commission plows clear highways, subdivisions after snowstorma

This file photo shows a snowplow truck at Washtenaw County Road Commission's Yard 2, 555 Zeeb Road in Scio Township Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019.Jacob Hamilton

WASHTENAW COUNTY, MI - This fall, a new managing director will take the helm at the Washtenaw County Road Commission, the agency maintaining some 1,650 miles of public road outside of city or village limits in the county.

Current Managing Director Sheryl Soderholm Siddall will retire, ending a five-year run in the position and a career that began at the road commission in 1997, the agency announced on Wednesday, Aug. 23. County Highway Engineer and Director of Engineering Matthew MacDonell will take the top position in October.

“My time at the Washtenaw County Road Commission has been rewarding, especially working with a team of people who care about their community and strive to provide top-notch service to Washtenaw County,” said Siddall in a statement.

New Washtenaw County Road Commission managing director

Sheryl Soderholm Siddall, left, will retire as managing director of the Washtenaw County Road Commission in late December 2023, and County Highway Engineer and Director of Engineering Matthew MacDonell, right, will take her place, the agency announced on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023.Provided by Washtenaw County Road Commission

Siddall started at the road commission 26 years ago, beginning in traffic and safety and working her way up through the engineering department. As county highway engineer, Siddall oversaw the building of the Jackson Road boulevard from Baker Road to Honey Creek and Carpenter Road from Textile to Ellsworth roads.

She has served as managing director since 2018, when she became the first woman to hold the position in the agency’s more than 100-year history.

During her time leading day-to-day operations, Siddall helped develop the four-year countywide road and non-motorized millage, passed in 2016 and renewed in 2020. The tax has helped the road commission improve more than 330 miles of roads, according to the agency’s website, and has also powered the expansion of the Washtenaw County Border-to-Border (B2B) Trail across the area.

Read more: With 38 miles and counting, Washtenaw Border-to-Border Trail continues to grow

Siddall also led the commission’s 100th anniversary celebration in 2019 and guided the road commission board during its expansion from three to five commissioners.

“Sheryl’s legacy at WCRC will have long-lasting effects in the future of transportation in Washtenaw County,” said Barbara Fuller, chair of the board, in a statement.

Stepping up in her place will another road commission official with some 17 years of experience in the Washtenaw County transportation agency. MacDonell joined the road commission in 2006 as a supervisor in the engineering department, which he now oversees, including managing design and construction, permits, traffic and safety and geographic information systems.

“I am excited to embark on this new journey as managing director of WCRC, and I am ready to listen to WCRC staff, residents, and local leaders, while sharing ideas and leading this organization into the future,” he said in a statement.

MacDonell, a Dexter resident, holds a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from Michigan Technological University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Michigan.

The road commission posted the managing director job publicly, and its board interviewed four people, including mix of internal and external candidates, in special meetings in mid-August, according to Fuller. “Our goal was to be very transparent and inclusive,” she said.

The board ultimately approved the promotion of MacDonell on Aug. 15, allowing contract negotiations with him for the managing director position to proceed. He’ll transition into his new role in October, with Siddall’s last day coming on Dec. 27.

“Matt brings a deep knowledge of Washtenaw County roads and has built strong relationships with our township partners. He is well prepared to take WCRC forward,” Fuller said.

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