Chris Ward Responds to Port Authority Audit and New Role as Dragados Exec

“My job is to identify and then win some of these large public works projects that are on the planning boards or ready to go around the country,” Mr. Ward said, citing plans to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge as one among many potential jobs that will be up for bid in the coming years. “There are major highway projects down in Texas that we’re keen on, some tunnel projects out West that we’re looking at.

Hydro plants in Canada. There’s a good $35 billion of major public infrastructure that will need to get built in the next five years and we’d like to get a significant part of it.”

When Mr. Ward left the Port Authority late last year, he didn’t have his new position lined up yet. He said he went to the gym and caught up on reading. More than anything else, he said, he walked. As a high official, Mr. Ward said he was cloistered.

“Three and a half years at the Port Authority, you don’t have a lot of time to yourself,” Mr. Ward said. “I walked the Hudson River Park, which is so beautiful. I walked new neighborhoods that I hadn’t been to. I hadn’t really been over to Williamsburg and so I saw that part of the city, just walked the whole thing. I walked Madison Avenue one day, which is such an eye opener. With everything that is going on in the world there’s this one little place that remains protected from the economic recession.”

Mr. Ward went to Macalester College in Minnesota and when he graduated in the late 1970s, he said he went to work as a ranch hand in NewMexico, leaving to then do a stint on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

“We were about 150 miles offshore, out there for seven days on and then off for seven days,” Mr. Ward said. “There was every walk of life,

South Houston blacks, West Texas cowboys, Chicanos. At the time I had to be a working-class hero, I wanted to live the authentic life. I came to work for the city after graduate school at Harvard.”

One point that always stands out in his résumé is the focus of his studies. Mr. Ward has spent much of his career in public service roles involved with transit, infrastructure and construction, but in college he primarily studied theology.

“I always get questions about that,” Mr. Ward said. “All I can say is, it equipped me to ask critical questions and try to find answers to hard questions. Whether it’s an answer for a construction project or economics, it’s just a useful skill for problem solving.”

dgeiger@observer.com

Chris Ward Responds to Port Authority Audit and New Role as Dragados Exec