Friday, December 21, 2012
After Retirement, Ridley Will Remain Transportation Secretary in Governor’s Cabinet
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) Director Gary Ridley, who also serves as director of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA), announced today that he will retire from both positions in March 2013. Ridley will remain secretary of transportation in Governor Fallin’s administration after his departure from ODOT and OTA.
Ridley has worked with ODOT for 44 years and was appointed director of the agency in August 2001 under Governor Frank Keating. In May 2009, he became secretary of transportation to Governor Brad Henry before adding OTA director to his portfolio in October of that year. Under Fallin, he has continued to serve in all three roles.
“No one has done more for transportation in Oklahoma than Gary Ridley,” said Fallin. “From his start at ODOT in 1965 as an equipment operator, Gary has impressed his colleagues with his professionalism, work ethic and dedication to high quality work. While he will be sorely missed at ODOT and OTA, he will continue to play an important role in improving our transportation infrastructure in his position on my cabinet.”
Under Ridley, ODOT developed the eight-year construction work plan which serves as the states blueprint for addressing critical long-term construction needs. Ridley also oversaw the creation of the Asset Preservation Plan, guarding against the deterioration of the existing infrastructure system.
Recently, Ridley worked with Fallin to launch the Bridge Improvement and Turnpike Modernization infrastructure plan which will practically eliminate structurally deficient state bridges in Oklahoma by 2019. Since 2004, the number of structurally deficient state bridges has already plummeted from nearly 1,200 to 634.
As part of the Bridge Improvement and Turnpike Modernization plan, ODOT is recycling approximately 2,000 beams from the old I-40 Crosstown Expressway, helping to build hundreds of county level bridges throughout the state. The project is one of the biggest state-level direct recycling projects to benefit transportation infrastructure ever executed.
“It’s been a great honor to serve the people of Oklahoma as the director of ODOT and OTA and I look forward to continuing to work with Governor Fallin, the state legislature, and the people to improve our transportation system,” Ridley said. “Governor Fallin continues to improve the business climate in Oklahoma and she understands that transportation is a key factor in increasing economic opportunity and improving quality of life for our citizens.”
Gary Ridley Bio (provided by ODOT):
Longtime transportation executive Gary Ridley was appointed Secretary of Transportation by Governor Brad Henry in May 2009. He was reappointed to that position by Governor Mary Fallin after her election in November 2010. Since August 2001 Ridley has been Director of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and in October 2009 he took on additional responsibilities as Director of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.
Ridley’s journey up through the ranks provided him with first-hand insights into the whole spectrum of department operations. His ODOT service dates back to 1965, when he joined the department as an equipment operator. He moved up to maintenance superintendent at Kingfisher in 1970 and traffic superintendent at Perry in 1979.
In 1983 he became field maintenance engineer at Perry then advanced to Division Five Maintenance Engineer at Clinton in 1986. He became Division Engineer at Clinton in 1995. He was named Assistant Director for Operations in January 2001 before becoming ODOT Director in August.
Ridley worked with the state Legislature when it passed several landmark pieces of legislation to improve transportation funding. At the same time, he worked to conduct programming in a sound, businesslike fashion absent political influences to ensure increased funding is spent prudently.
During his tenure, the number of bad bridges has been reduced and safety features, such as life-saving cable barriers, have become commonplace on Oklahoma’s highways.
Ridley also improved the process of preparing the department’s eight-year Construction Work Plan. With funding increases for transportation, he was able to firm-up commitments made in the fiscally constrained plan, particularly those during the first three years. He also created ODOT’s four-year Asset Preservation Plan aimed at maximizing the life of Oklahoma’s infrastructure.
At the national level, he chaired the committee that celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the interstate highway system, and he has been asked to testify to Congress on several occasions about the challenges faced by state transportation officials.
Ridley is a native of Chicago and a registered Professional Engineer. He and his wife, Eula, live in Yukon and have two grown children, Daphne and Joe and four grandchildren.