Friday, August 25, 2023

A record-setting career reaches the finish line

By Scott Klepach

When Indiana Jones said “It’s not the years, it’s the mileage,” Dan Floyd knew just what he meant. But for Dan, it’s both the years and the miles.

That’s because Dan, who is retiring after a record-breaking career with our agency, has been traveling a remarkable road throughout his life and career. His journey has paved the way for many projects, major changes in the region, and many relationships over the years.

When Dan officially retires on Aug. 31, his 56 years with us will mark the longest any employee has served at our agency. Over that time, Dan has responded to more than 100 natural disasters such as avalanches, landslides, floods, and the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption.

“I’ve even surprised myself with working this long,” he said. “I have enjoyed making a positive contribution in every position I have held and looked at every problem as an opportunity for improvement.”

And in 56 years, he’s held A LOT of positions.

When Dan Floyd finishes his work day on Aug. 31, it will mark the end of a 56-year career with our agency.

A lifetime of service

Dan started his career here as a trainee in our design division in 1968 but after just three months he left on military leave, serving in the U.S. Army for several years in the Vietnam War. In his role as a helicopter medevac pilot, Dan earned the Vietnam Service Medal with four Bronze Service Stars, the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device, and the Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Silver Star.

Dan returned to work in 1971 as an Engineering Technician 2, when he started designing two major interstates in south central Washington: Interstate 82 from Yakima – traversing more than 95 miles to the Oregon border – and I-182 between Richland and Pasco.

Those major interstate projects propelled Dan’s career forward, as we was promoted five times between 1975 and 1978 as he continued to look for new opportunities.

Over his 56 years at our agency, Dan has held many jobs and been a part of many major events and jobs, well earning more time on the golf course in his retirement.

After he saw the completion of both I-82 and I-182, Dan transitioned to the maintenance and operations side of transportation. In 1986, he became a Transportation Engineer 4 and was in charge of special projects, managing the maintenance and operations budgets, and assuming duties of the Facility Manager in the south central part of our state, based in Yakima. When he was promoted again in 1993, he was instrumental in the location, design and construction of several new maintenance facilities and rest areas throughout the region.

In 1996, Dan’s leadership led to securing critical federal emergency relief funding to repair or replace several roads and bridges damaged by major flooding. In 1998, he was took on the additional duties of regional Emergency Manager, where he helped lead responses to many natural disasters and major road closures.

Dan was promoted to Assistant Maintenance Manager in 2003 and was a pioneer in helping create an innovative salt program, which is now a critical part of our overall snow and ice control effort. In 2013, Dan became the acting Assistant South Central Regional Administrator for Maintenance and Operations and in 2016 became permanent. He currently oversees a budget of $141 million and more than 400 employees, and he maintains over 3,400 lane miles in the region.

Recently, Washington Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar presented Dan with an award commemorating his 56 years of service.

Dan has embraced each position as opportunities to help others and better the transportation system. His dedication is evident in everything he does, and his love for every position is unparalleled in his record of service – not just for the years, but also for the mileage he has given. Dan recently received an award from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and a plaque from Washington State Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar for his 56 years of service.


As you can imagine, a lot has changed in Dan’s 56 years. Computers, cell phones, survey equipment and all kinds of other technology has entirely changed the way we do things. Fortunately, Dan is known for always thinking outside of the box to find solutions, and is dedicated to making sure things are done efficiently and on time. He spends extra time to make sure his team has the best information to do their jobs effectively.

“My goal has been to mentor, teach, and learn each and every day with those I work with so that everyone can do their job independently,” he said.

That especially pays off in major emergencies, and he’s experienced plenty of those.

He remembers going to the grocery store and filling up his tub with water as he watched ash from Mount St. Helens reach his home.

“I remember using our snow and ice trucks to plow the ash off our roadways and parking areas,” Dan said. “It was much darker with all the ash in the air obscuring the sun.”

He remembers helping our agency handle the major Nile Valley Slide in 2009 that destroyed a section fo State Route 410 in Yakima County, completely re-routing the Naches River.

“I remember hiring some of the local residents to assist our employees who were stranded on the side of the slide with Chinook Pass being closed,” he said. “There was no way to get resources to the Chinook Pass side since it was seasonally closed.” So what’s next? What does one do when you say goodbye after 56 years? Well, at least for us, we try to figure out how to fill a huge hole. There’s no making up for the knowledge Dan takes with him. But it’s not just that. It’s his presence that will also be missed.

Dan has no shortage of family to spend even more time with in his retirement.

Over the years, Dan has offered what some have dubbed “Dan-isms,” which reveal his sensibility and relationality. Some examples of his “Dan-isms” include: “Where are you going to be in 5 years?”, “There’s always three sides to every story,” and “Go home and sleep on it before you make a decision.”

Dan has done his best to pass on his knowledge and experience to his team and feels good about their ability to keep moving forward.

“I’m confident we have competent employees that take pride and ownership in the work they do,” he said. “I know they’ll continue to provide great service to the public.”

And now, he gets to move on to the next part of his life, which, while we’ll miss him, he’s more than deserved. He’s excited to pursue other interests including spending more time with his family, golfing, boating and working on other projects.

“As I continue my journey, I am looking forward to the new opportunities that will come my way,” he said.

Bon voyage Dan! We can’t thank you enough for your incredible service, and we wish you a fantastic retirement!