Post-21 – Presentations in the FHWA Region 6 States

The FHWA SUE Promotion Team took a few months off after making presentations promoting SUE to state DOTs in the FHWA’s Region 5 and then hit the road again, this time going to FHWA’s Region 6. The team consisted of Joe Bissett (State Utilities Engineer, Maryland State Highway Administration), Jim Anspach (So-Deep, Inc.), and Paul Scott (FHWA-HQ). FHWA Region 6 states to we visited were Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas,

We flew to Memphis, Tennessee on a Monday morning, met up, rented a car, and drove across the Mississippi River on Interstate 40 to Little Rock, Arkansas, to prepare for our first presentations the next day at the Arkansas DOT (ArDOT).

On Tuesday morning we addressed upper management personnel at the ArDOT headquarters office. 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 ArDOT to use it, and Joe Bissett explained how SUE had benefited the Maryland SHA. Joe, being the DOT guy, was the star of the show. The ArDOT people really liked him and asked a lot of questions.

After lunch we met for a few hours with the ArDOT utilities and surveying 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.

On Wednesday morning we headed west on I-40 to Oklahoma to visit ODOT; spent the night in Oklahoma City; and made our presentations. Then on Thursday morning we travelled west again across the Texas panhandle to New Mexico; spent the night in Sante Fe; and then visited the NMDOT on Friday.

We were well received everywhere we went and had some nice visits with all the people we met. For me, it was nice to add some faces to the voices of those I had talked with over the telephone. As best I remember, that would have been Ralph Williams Assistant State Utilities Engineer) in Arkansas, Kurt Harms (Director of Right-of-Way) in Oklahoma, and Lester Cisneros (State Utilities Engineer) in New Mexico. I worked with all of them for many years afterwards on utilities and committee matters, learned a lot from them, and always felt privileged to be in their company.

We drove back to Texas on Saturday morning, talking about SUE and utilities all the way, and spent the weekend in the Dallas-Fort Worth area where our next presentations were scheduled to begin on Monday morning.

We will continue the story next week with our visits to the Texas and Louisiana DOTs. We met some outstanding people and had some interesting experiences that I will share with you.