Post-20 – Presentations in the FHWA Region 5 States

The FHWA SUE Promotion Team was off to promote SUE.  The team consisted of Bernie Levin (Maryland SHA), Jim Anspach (So-Deep, Inc.), Paul Scott (FHWA-HQ), and Clair Hendrickson (FHWA-R5). FHWA Region 5 states to be visited were Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

We flew to Chicago O’Hare on a Monday morning, met up, rented a car, and drove south to Springfield, Illinois, to prepare for our first presentations the next day. Springfield is the capital of the State of Illinois and headquarters for the Illinois Department of Transportation.

On Tuesday morning we walked confidently into the Illinois DOT (IDOT) offices and were directed to a conference room where upper management personnel awaited us. We introduced ourselves and I kicked off the meeting with an overview of the purpose of the meeting. Jim Anspach followed with a description of how SUE worked and how it would benefit the Illinois DOT to use it. Bernie Levin then explained how SUE had benefited the Maryland SHA.  Bernie, by the way, was not a utility person. He was assigned to the construction office and had witnessed many utility conflicts. He was the star of the show, though, as the IDOT people really took to him.

The meeting ended quickly after the Chief Engineer declared that SUE sounded like a good thing, but IDOT would never use it in Illinois unless the utilities paid for it because they were required to provide information about the location of their facilities.

We talked about it over lunch and someone at the table suggested that it was IDOT’s project, and they had more to lose from utility delays than the utilities did. As a side note, almost a year after our meeting, IDOT moved a new engineer, Cheryl Cathey, into the utilities position and she went on for many years representing IDOT exceptionally well within the state and on national highway/utility committees. I always thought she was responsible for IDOT beginning to use SUE on its projects and paying for it.

After lunch we met for a few hours with the IDOT utilities people and people from other offices that interacted with utilities. We essentially followed the morning format, but much more casually, and had lots of individual discussions with those that were most interested in SUE.

We then packed our bags and headed down the road to the next state. And so, it went in the other states. By 1999, maybe somewhat because of our meetings, all the State DOTs in Region 5 were using SUE. Providers working in those states, to name few that I remember, were So-Deep, TBE Group, Geotrack, and a few new local firms. SUE is expanding exponentially.

Next week, the team goes to Region 6.