January 2017 January 2017 - Page 10

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ACEC-NH/ASCE-NH Breakfast Meeting with NHDOT Commissioner Sheehan

By Matt O’Brien, ASCE-NH President-Elect

The joint meeting with ACEC-NH and ASCE-NH has become a winter tradition. Honored by our annual guest speaker, NHDOT Commissioner Sheehan, the support for this event has never been better. With over 120 registered participants, the Currier Museum in Manchester has been a wonderful venue providing spacious room and a classy atmosphere.

The breakfast was buffet style with a spread of egg dishes and crispy breakfast meats. Muffins, fruit and tea were pleasantly displayed as friends, coworkers, and new acquaintances networked and built upon their engineering relationships. Coffee was in no short supply this year as noted by ASCE-NH President Thalia Valkanos during her meeting update, “Engineers are the hardest working professionals, as can be seen by the amount of coffee we consume.” Over 300 cups of coffee were brewed and served at the meeting, and the Currier Event Coordinator informed Thalia that she has never hosted a group who consumed so much coffee.

After enjoying breakfast in the Currier’s Winter Garden, the group ventured down into the auditorium where Commissioner Sheehan provided a recap of last year’s presentation; a review of how the Gas Tax was being spent and a projection of the years to come. She provided charts and data of current and past projects showing the progress and burden of the State’s infrastructure. She touched upon other methods of transportation such as bicycle paths, rail, and aviation. It was clear that Commissioner Sheehan really understands the situation at hand and is the right person to be leading our DOT. She took questions on open road tolling, implementation of a miles driven fee, and emphasized the importance of gathering data before the legislation acted on a new funding scheme. Currently there is very little data if NH residents or out-of-state tourists are paying the Gas Tax.

All participants were welcomed to tour the Mount Washington Exhibit after the Commissioner’s presentation. The Currier’s exhibit, Mount Washington: The Crown of New England, is the first museum exhibition devoted entirely to art featuring the Mount Washington region. It provided a soothing atmosphere and conversational piece for patrons to make a connection and strengthen our engineering community. All participants additionally left the event with a free pass to the Currier Museum to use at a later time.