COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Director Jack Marchbanks rededicated the agency’s Columbus headquarters to honor Jerry Wray, the agency’s only two-time director Thursday morning.
“Jerry Wray was passionate about transforming ODOT into an organization that displayed what he called ‘excellence in government.’ The changes he ushered in will benefit our state for decades to come,” said DeWine, who served as lieutenant governor during Wray’s first stint as ODOT director.
DeWine and Marchbanks unveiled new signage bearing Wray’s name at the headquarters located at 1980 W. Broad St., which will now be known as the Ohio Department of Transportation Jerry Wray Building.
Wray led ODOT for 16 years under two governors: from 1991 – 1999 under Gov. George Voinovich, and again from 2011 – 2019 under Gov. John Kasich.
“Director Wray came to ODOT with a clear vision of what it could be and masterfully imparted that vision,” said Marchbanks, who served under Wray in various roles throughout both of Wray’s terms. “He believed the job of the department was first and foremost to make people’s lives better. I can’t think of a more deserving person for this honor.”
Wray directed the reorganization of ODOT during his first term and was known for streamlining processes and reducing the number of central office divisions by half. He eased the control the Columbus office had over processes and gave greater authority to the districts to better use the talents of the employees throughout the state.
He initiated a project selection process, referred to as the Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC) where project stakeholders and interested parties could take part – a process which before had been conducted out of public view.
Aside from the accomplishments, Wray’s genuine care for the people within the agency and those the agency served was apparent in everything he did as director.
Internally, he solicited the thoughts of employees by making himself regularly available to them through annual meetings, scheduled chats, and drop-by visits, listening intently and carrying their feedback into new initiatives.
His leadership helped ODOT’s workforce recruit a record number of women, minorities, and veterans. He also established a second-chance apprentice program to help transition ex-offenders from the Ohio Reformatory for Women into employment opportunities to prevent recidivism.
“All people want to be part of something bigger than themselves and to feel they are making a positive contribution to their organization, their community, and their fellow man,” Wray once wrote.
Wray began his career in ODOT’s Engineering in Training Program in 1969. He then began working at the Licking County Engineer’s office in 1977 and was elected to serve as Licking County Engineer from 1980 to 1990.
He lives with his wife, Eva, in Newark, Ohio.