Monday, November 29, 2010

Movin' On

I brought this up in a post a month or so ago, but it bears repeating.

Tomorrow, November 30th, will be my wife's final day working for the Lower Columbia River Ports. She signed on there ten years ago, based out of the Port of Portland, to shepherd  to completion one of the largest-ever public works projects in the Pacific Northwest. 

Not to spend too much time on the details, but the basic effort was to deepen the Columbia River ship channel another three feet. The channel has been dredged to forty feet for decades, since the mid-1970's, but the extra yard became necessary for the ports to stay competitive -- to allow larger ships to call, and to load the smaller ones heavier. Talking billions of dollars. Thousands of jobs.

The notion started twenty years ago, and mostly nothing happened until five or six years had elapsed. There were some good folks working it, but they weren't getting traction. The Colonel on the Corps side, Bob Friedenwald, retired, then went to work for the ports.

Dianne signed on to something called the Channel Coalition, ran that for a time, then was hired by the ports to manage the project from their end. 

These days, every "i" must be dotted, every "t" crossed, the environmental regulations, at local, state, and national levels are so convoluted as to be nearly impossible to satisfy. Every agency and its kid sister had input and the ability to offer roadblocks. The elected officials in the Northwest had to work their asses off to keep the money coming in, and the two primary managers -- Dianne, at the ports, and Laura Hicks, at the Corps of Engineers, had to produce documentation that started with a slim notebook and eventually ran to shelves equaling thirty feet. Wetlands, mitigation, crab fishermen, dredge material disposal, town meetings, environmentalists, it was a long, long road, many bad stretches and blocks, and if not for the work of a bunch of folks, wouldn't have happened.

Chief among those who made it happen were Dianne and Laura. Without them, it would have died, more than a few times.

It's a big, big deal. 

It moved forward. Eventually dredging began. And this month, the last of the 103-mile stretch was finished. This seem to be a perfect time for Dianne to walk away, to retire on a high note that wasn't going to be topped. 

She did a thing, and it was of great import. It wouldn't have happened without her, and it will echo and reverberate through time for as long as there is ship traffic on the Columbia River. Something to be proud of, this.

And someone to be proud of, too.


MrE2Me2 said...

To Dianne,

Well Done!

Joshkie said...

Would you mind if i put a link to this post on my Blog as away to inspirer myself and others. As I have all to often settled for less then I could have achieved.

Steve Perry said...

Link away ...

Joshkie said...

Thank You Both.

Anonymous said...

Mega-grats on a job well done,Dianne!

J.D. Ray said...

Yay, Diane! I said before, and will repeat, as a Portlander, I very much appreciate the effort you went to in keeping our city competitive.

Happy retirement.

Ed said...

Congratulations to Dianne - what an accomplishment!!! A logistical nightmare on so many levels. She made it better for others - not just ships. And she had to deal with you too Steve - She is amazing! Sorry - I don't know you that well - I'm just guessing ;)

Did they find any D.B. Cooper money or parts? I bet there are some good/not so good stories on both ends of the dredging and administrative sides of the operation. I wonder what the yearly ton totals are on depostits going into the Columbia from upstream, other rivers, stream bank errosion and just plain jerks dumbing stuff in that river, etc - never ending pursuit comes to mind - but job security for a bunch too.

Enjoy a probably busy ( I hear that happens a lot) but fun retirement Dianne!

Steve Perry said...

Retired less than one day, and already the phone is ringing off the hook with offers of consulting jobs. She has unique knowledge and they know it.

That's how you know they'll really miss you when you're gone -- when they are willing to hire you for more than they were paying you before ...

Dan Moran said...

Truer words. Half the reason I take full time jobs is for the consulting work it leads to.

Congrats to Dianne. :-)

aa said...

Hi Steve, I used to work as a Steamship Agent and this was always talked about to get the bigger ships into port. Please tell your wife her work is appreciated. Anthony