Ron Coles, P.E.
W. R. Coles and Associates
Mr. Coles has devoted his career to port and economic development projects, on business issues as well as physical programming, design and development. Mr. Coles earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering degree from the University of Memphis and a Master of Science in Engineering Administration degree from the University of Tennessee. After working for two large international engineering and construction companies, he founded W. R. Coles and Associates in 1990. His understanding of inland river navigation, river port development and operations, economic development and government policy issues comes from completion of over 182 projects around the country for a variety of both public sector and private sector clients and from holding leadership positions in international, national and regional ports, navigation and economic development organizations.
Services provided by Mr. Coles for port and navigation projects have included: target market assessments; strategic planning; state and federal policy assessments; multi-modal freight transportation planning; master plans for ports, intermodal facilities and industrial parks; permitting, engineering design and construction management for river terminal infrastructure such as barge docks, and mooring structures; materials handling, and storage; road and railroad improvements; cranes; and port operations and business consulting. Clients have included: local public port authorities; private sector terminal owners/operators; state port authorities and state Departments of Transportation; chemical, steel, minerals, power, wood and cement companies; barge lines and railroads; the US Army Corps of Engineers, US Department of Transportation and other federal agencies.
Mr. Coles has served in elected leadership positions with several waterways and economic development organizations. He is past Chairman of the Tennessee River Valley Association (TRVA); currently serves on the Board of Directors and is a past president of Inland Rivers Ports and Terminals, Inc., (IRPT); has served on the Executive Committee and as Treasurer for the National Waterways Conference, Inc. (NWC); is a past Chairman of the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway Development Council; and has served as a Governor appointee on the Tenn-Tom Waterway Development Authority Board of Directors. Within PIANC, he has served as alternate US Representative for Inland Navigation Committee (INCOM), served as principal US representative on PIANC Working Group 158 which completed “Masterplans for the Development of Existing Ports” in 2014, and has recently been appointed as principal US representative on PIANC Working Group 185 “Site Selection and Planning for New Ports and Specialist Marine Terminals on Greenfield Sites – Technical Guidelines“.
Over his career, Mr. Coles has authored and delivered 62 presentations to national and regional meetings and seminars on waterborne transportation and economic development topics. He is currently registered to practice engineering in several states and has held Chartered Engineer (CEng MIEI) registration in Ireland.