Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward, who is credited with jump-starting the stalled development at the World Trade Center site, is reportedly stepping down next month after three years on the job, leaving Governor Andrew Cuomo to find a suitable replacement. NY1’s Courtney Gross filed the following report.
He's been an arbiter of 9/11 reconstruction efforts, while also overseeing the region's airports, ports and major bridges, but Chris Ward's tenure as the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will reportedly end next month.
Some say it's a loss.
"That's really the art of the Port Authority is getting two governors who may not always agree on things to agree on things, which he succeeded in doing," said Robert Yaro of the Regional Plan Association.
Ward has not officially announced his departure, but it’s been seen as a fait accompli for months.
Governor Andrew Cuomo was rumored to want to put his own stamp on the agency. Ward was a holdover from David Paterson's administration.
"You have a new governor — a newish governor — that wants to put his own person in. That's his right to do," said Nicole Gelinas of the Manhattan Institute.
When Ward released a proposal for steep toll hikes last month, Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie pushed back, fueling rumors they wanted to dump the agency head.
Ward is widely credited for turning around the development at the World Trade Center. When he took the reins back in 2008, the project was primarily stalled. Ward was able to kick start it.
Last month, Ward delivered a fiery speech, blasting leaders who refuse to invest in the nation's infrastructure.
"Unfortunately you cannot always do more with less. Sometimes you simply must do more and until that reality becomes part of our political conversation, we're going to continue to be playing catch up with the rest of the world,"' said Ward.
That also fueled speculation he was on his way out.
Now experts say they hope the authority can stay on track.
"We're hopeful that the kind of track record and performance that Chris Ward has achieved there can be sustained under the next director," said Yaro.
It's now up to Cuomo to find a replacement. He is also saddled with selecting a new head for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Its leader, Jay Walder, announced his departure in July.
Cuomo's office did not return phone calls for comment.