Wayne Smith, senior civil engineer and program manager for the Port of Long Beach, stood atop the fruition of his (and many other’s) labors – the new bridge being built to replace the Gerald Desmond Bridge – and acknowledged what a once in a lifetime opportunity the project has been for those working on it. Nearby construction workers, overhearing him, expressed their agreement. Since joining the port in 2010, the new bridge has been the main focus of Smith’s career. “We won’t see this type of project in Southern California for a long time to come. That said, this is a career defining project for a lot of people, especially myself,” he said. As a program manager and engineer, Smith is responsible for managing infrastructure and maintenance projects at the port. “We establish the [project] schedules and the budgets, and then we begin the procurement process,” he explained. Prior to becoming a permanent employee of the port, the Carson-native and California State University, Long Beach graduate worked for a consultant tasked with retrofitting the existing Gerald Desmond Bridge, which was built in 1968. “I volunteered to perform inspections of the fatigue modifications which was essentially the work performed to strengthen the steel truss. So I used to have to climb the bridge,” he said. As a program manager assigned to the bridge replacement project, he now manages numerous critical related efforts, including the design-build effort for the new bridge and planned demolition of the existing structure. “I love problem solving. I love working with people,” Smith said. “I am not going to be corny and say it’s a dream come true, because I didn’t dream this. But I can say I really do enjoy what I do here.” He added, “I am constantly trying to improve the quality of work that I produce.”