In this episode of Insights, J. Richard Capka (BG, USA-Retired), P.E., M.ASCE, F.SAME, shares his reflections and perspectives on the civil engineering profession gained from more than 36 years of managing projects and overseeing federal and state-level infrastructure programs. Listen as he shares the opportunities he has had to make a difference both in the military and the public sector, and his challenge and encouragement to future civil engineers to not just ask “Why,” but to ask ”Why not?”
Rick Capka is the Chief Operating Officer for Dawson & Associates the leading water resources consulting and government relations firm in Washington, DC which continues to assist clients successfully meet the prerequisite federal requirements in advance of undertaking significant projects. He joined Dawson and Associates in 2008 after more than 2 ½ years serving as the Federal Highway Administrator, the Nation’s top highway official, and more than 36 years of managing projects and overseeing federal and state-level infrastructure programs.
Having served in the Federal Highway Administration since 2002, he helped to prepare the Bush administration’s transportation policies, shaped the management of highway mega-projects nationwide and in 2003 was the first U.S. Department of Transportation official to deploy to Iraq. Additionally, he successfully led both the Federal Highway Administration’s response to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the highly acclaimed federal response to the collapse of the I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis.
From 2000 to 2002, Mr. Capka was Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority (MTA) where he oversaw the Boston Central Artery and Tunnel Project. There he brought financial stability to the nation’s largest infrastructure project by both establishing a federally approved finance plan and budget that remained unchanged for more than five years after his departure.
In 2000, he retired from the U.S. Army, having served the nation for almost 30 years with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and achieving the rank of Brigadier General. While wearing the uniform he commanded the Corps’ Baltimore District, the South Pacific Division and the South Atlantic Division.
He is a United States Military Academy (West Point) graduate and holds a Master’s Degree in Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley and a Masters in Business Administration from The Chaminade University of Honolulu. He was the ASCE Civil Government Award winner in 2005 and a member of ASCE’s Advisory Councils for the 2009 and 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. He is to be recognized in March as ASCE’s 2014 OPAL Winner for “lifetime achievements and accomplishments in Management.”
He and his wife, Susan, have two sons, David and Rick, and seven grandchildren.