City public works director Chris Carrier dies in motorcycle crash

Chris Carrier, director of public works for the city of Wichita, has died following a motorcycle crash Sunday afternoon in Riverside Park.

Carrier, 62, was riding his motorcycle on the west side of the park when the bike struck a curb at Murdock and Gilman, authorities said. He was taken to Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis, where he died later on Sunday.

"Yesterday, we all lost a friend and dedicated public servant in Chris Carrier," Wichita City Manager Robert Layton said.

"Simply put, Chris made a difference — to his community, colleagues and friends. His positive approach to life and constant smile will never be forgotten by any of us who knew him. Chris loved Wichita and tried every day to make it a better place for all of us to live. "

Carrier began working for the city in 1997 as the stormwater utility engineer and was appointed public works director in January 2005. He oversaw major projects that reduced flooding across the city, facilitated suburban growth and improved traffic in a city recognized for some of the nation's best commute times.

Those projects included the award-wining Central Rail Corridor, improvements to the Keeper of the Plains, recovery related to the 1998 Cowskin Creek Halloween flood and continued expansion of Kellogg Expressway.

According to city officials, the Central Rail project raised two miles of track above the roadway in the city's core area, providing five new bridges that carry trains over five arterial streets. The improvements allowed traffic to pass freely below the tracks, improved motorists and pedestrian safety and reduced vehicle emissions.

Layton selected Carrier to lead a larger public works operation in March, when the public works and water utilities departments merged.

As head of the merged departments, Carrier was responsible for 10 divisions, 840 employees and a $41 million budget.

"Chris led by example," said Joe Pajor, assistant public works director. "He was creative and determined in his work to address many of the most challenging issues facing our community. He always brought out the best in others and challenged them to figure a way through difficult issues and projects."

A native of Newton, Carrier served as public works director and city engineer in Dodge City, public works director in Ford County, city engineer and superintendent of streets and drainage in Shreveport, La., and city engineer in Newton.

Carrier also served as assistant county engineer in Polk County, Iowa, and the water resources engineer and supervisor of the regulation section for the Iowa Natural Resources Council. He also worked in the private sector as vice president and division manager for D.C. Construction Corp. of Louisiana and a project engineer for Snyder & Association.

Carrier had a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the University of Kansas. He was married to Sandra and has two adult children.

Related stories from Wichita Eagle