All Politics is Local

Wanted: Highly effective I-5 Bridge czar

This could be the opportunity of a lifetime — or the opportunity for a lifetime of regrets.

Washington and Oregon are searching for a “highly effective leader” to oversee the new effort to replace the Interstate 5 Bridge.

Tedesco & Associates of San Diego has been hired by the two states to lead a recruitment for a program administrator, an I-5 Bridge czar skilled at overcoming engineering challenges, maneuvering past political land mines, sorting through financial perils and managing public involvement conundrums.

The ill-fated Columbia River Crossing struggled with many of these challenges before the project disintegrated in June 2013 when the Washington Senate failed to cough up $450 million to match Oregon’s contribution to construction.

Think you are up to the challenge? The minimum requirements are straightforward: 10-plus years of management experience in a public or private organization, including developing program rules and policies, short- and long-range goals and plans, program evaluation and budget preparation.

That and possessing a valid driver’s license, along with the ability to drive.

Desired qualifications and skills include:

  • 3-plus years of experience leading a transportation megaproject or an equally ginormous program.
  • A bachelor’s or master’s degree in civil engineering, or urban or transportation planning, or public policy and administration, or business administration, or a related field.
  • Registration as a professional engineer or with the American Institute of Certified Planners.
  • Experience in bridge construction.
  • Substantial experience in mega-program development and budgeting.
  • Understanding of the National Environmental Policy Act and environmental impact statement process.

There’s also the usual boilerplate about being an effective communicator, a strategic thinker, a hands-on problem solver, a dynamic mentor and an inspirational visionary.

The job’s “position specification” isn’t very specific when it comes to compensation, only that salary and benefits will be “comprehensive and commensurate with experience.”

Here’s something for wouldbe applicants who question the need to replace the I-5 Bridge and want to build another crossing: There’s nothing in the seven-page recruitment that says “Third bridgers need not apply.”