Steve Walsh, director of the Baltimore County Department of Public Works, is retiring at the end of May after heading up the department for four years and spending more than 30 years in the county government.
Thomas Kiefer, chief of the department’s Bureau of Engineering and Construction, has been appointed to serve as acting director, effective May 22, until a permanent replacement is hired.
Walsh oined Baltimore County government as a water resources engineer in 1990 and worked his way through department ranks, appointed as director in 2016.
As Public Works’ engineering and construction bureau chief and then director, Walsh oversaw an ongoing $80.1 million project to build three reservoirs in Fullerton to replace the open-air reservoir at Baltimore’s Druid Hill Park, a plan that had been on the books for 60 years before the county broke ground on the reservoirs in 2017.
That construction will be finished by the end of the year, said county spokesman Sean Naron, and will provide 62 million gallons of treated drinking water for Baltimore and Baltimore County.
Under Walsh’s leadership, Public Works — in partnership with Towson University, Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Sheppard Pratt Health System and University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center — “improved traffic flow and enhanced safety” through road widening and the redesigning of the intersection at Towsontown Boulevard and Osler Drive in 2016 at a cost of $2.3 million, Naron said.
The department also installed a $1.1 million traffic circle at the highly congested intersection of Tufton, Greenspring and Worthington avenues in Stevenson and Reisterstown in 2017, and is continuing to build out the Campbell Boulevard corridor in the White Marsh and Middle River area connecting Pulaski Highway to Bird River Roadwith three bridges and widened roads.
Walsh prioritized sustainability in new county infrastructure design and planning, and focused on improving the county’s responsiveness to residents, Naron said.
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. in a statement lauded Walsh for being “a steady hand, a thoughtful leader, and invaluable partner in our work to build a better Baltimore County.”
Under Walsh’s direction, Public Works paved 612 miles of lanes, filled 190,000 potholes and completed 95 miles of curb and gutter repair, Naron said.
In a statement, Walsh said, “The hardworking people of this department have inspired me every single day and I’m confident that the department will continue to provide services for the residents of Baltimore County in the years to come."
Kiefer has worked for Public Works since 2006 and was tasked to help modernize the county’s sanitary sewer system, according to a news release.
He is the first person in Baltimore County to work as chief of Public Works’ Bureau of Utilities and Bureau of Engineering and Construction, and has more than 40 years of design, construction and operations experience, according to the release.
Kiefer will oversee 957 employees and a $400 million operating budget that funds highways, utilities, engineering and construction, solid waste management and transportation.