The Ferry Godmother

The Ferry Godmother

Flying over the Willamette River one day for her student pilot training, Susan Bladholm had an epiphany. What if a ferry ran the length of the waterway from Vancouver to Portland’s South Waterfront? Everywhere was clogged with congestion, except the river.

“What I keep throwing out there,” Bladholm says, “is why does every other river city in America have one of these but us?”

The effusive economic development and marketing expert has been tirelessly campaigning for the idea. As the former marketing director for Port of Portland and co-founder of Cycle Oregon, Bladholm is no stranger to how Oregonians move about. Her vision calls for a boat that would carry 149 passengers and bikes, and make up to eight stops along the Willamette River between Vancouver’s Terminal 1 and downtown Portland. The trip would run 38 minutes one way.

Bladholm has assembled a coalition of some 550 ferry enthusiasts. After hundreds of meetings, she says, she’s been promised more than $400,000 worth of pro bono support from lawyers, lobbyists, graphic designers, social media managers, boat captains and others. “It’s really a grassroots effort,” she says. “All these folks are the best in class at the work they do.”

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