FHWA GOES TO WORK
Last week I recalled some of the early history of Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE). This week I want to begin talking about the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and its role in the history of SUE.
I mentioned in a previous post that we prepared a memo for FHWA Division Administrators asking them to meet with their State DOT counterparts to discuss SUE. We knew that some of them would do this, and some would not. So, one morning Jerry Poston called me into his office and said, “Paul, you remember when you took the utilities job, I told you that unlike most FHWA activities, you will be working directly with State DOT utilities engineers rather than with FHWA Division Office engineers with utilities responsibilities. That is because utilities are just a collateral duty in the Division offices and a very low priority. You are therefore going to have to do that now and visit as many of the states as you can over the next few years.”
Jerry continued, “I don’t know how to prioritize the states for you to visit or to get the money to pay for one of two visits each month over the next four or five years, but we will take it a day at a time and see what happens. You also need to identify other stakeholders, such as SUE providers, SUE clients, manufacturers of SUE equipment, leaders in the industry, and more.”
Well, as fate would have it, two things happened. One, Jim Anspach was planning to visit lots of states to promote SUE and he asked me if I would be interested in joining him. Two, Janet Coleman, Chief of the State and Local Programs Branch in the Office of Technical Applications, came to my cubbyhole office and offered to help with funding. Future posts will contain more information about both of these opportunities.
ATTENTION SUE PROVIDERS:
When FHWA began promoting SUE in 1991, I was only aware of five SUE providers – So-Deep, Geotrack, SoftDig, Accurate (InfraMap), and Tampa Bay Engineering (TBE Group). Jonathan Tan and John Krause have contacted me recently about Geotrack. They are presently in the process of telling me when they began, who the early leaders were, what services they provided in the late 1980s and early 1990s, difficulties they had to overcome, what they added to the growth of SUE, and more. I will be doing an entire post about Geotrack in a few weeks.
DO YOU KNOW OF ANY OTHER SUE PROVIDERS THAT EMERGED IN THE LATE 1980S AND EARLY 1990s? If so, please contact me through LinkedIn or at my email address (firstname.lastname@example.org).
THANKS TO ALL FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT.