Jerry A. Bridges has been chosen to become the Virginia Port Authority’s next executive director, succeeding the VPA’s long-time leader, J. Robert Bray, who will be retiring next year.

Bridges met members of Hampton Roads maritime community, the VPA staff and local media at a meeting held on Nov. 3. John G. Milliken, chairman of the VPA’s Board of Commissioners introduced Bridges to a standing-room-only crowd that gathered in the VPA’s board room.

‘As a former US Marine, Jerry Bridges will be able to lead this agency as it climbs onto the next plateau. Bobby Bray and his team, in partnership with VIT (Virginia International Terminals Inc.), the Virginia Maritime Association, labor and state and federal governments have brought us to the edge of greatness,’ Milliken said. ‘And it will be Jerry Bridges’ task to lead us in taking that final step to make The Port of Virginia the premier port on the East Coast.’

Bridges is an experienced port leader having been in the maritime industry on various levels for nearly 20 years. He is currently the executive director of the Port of Oakland. In that position he is responsible for the overall operations, management and financial performance for the Oakland seaport, its airport and its extensive commercial real estate holdings. Oakland is currently ranked as the nation’s fourth largest seaport.

‘The Port of Virginia is a very successful operation that has an international reputation as one of this nation’s leading seaports,’ Bridges said. ‘We can capitalize on that reputation and all the growth this port is undergoing and I firmly believe we can make this the nation’s leading seaport. The future here is very, very bright.’ Bridges will be confirmed as executive director on Nov. 28, by vote by the 12-member VPA Board of Commissioners at its regularly scheduled meeting. He is expected to begin in January 2007.

In addition, Milliken announced that Jeff Keever will remain as the VPA’s deputy executive director. Keever is the former executive vice president and secretary of the Virginia Maritime Association. In fiscal 2006, The Port of Virginia handled more than two million teus and in doing so made it the US East Coast’s second largest port.