The Low and Slow Tour, as of June 14. Click the image to enlarge.

(scroll down for the updated Low and Slow itinerary)

While working away at my desk at ENR’s home office in New York City, in spirit I have been touring the nation’s infrastructure with transportation editor Aileen Cho and author Dan McNichol, on special assignment for the cross-country expedition.

Happily, I did get to sit in the driver's seat when Mrs. Martin visited Penn Station during the pretour. And I’ve had lots of opportunity to stay involved, working with the team on the itinerary and helping make connections with projects and people across the country.

It’s hard to keep up with Mrs. Martin & Co. on the move.  But as I write this, the tour is in Kansas City, visiting the home office of our association partner, the American Public Works Association. Here’s an update on where the tour has been, and where we think it will be heading in the next two weeks.

Many future visits are still pending confirmation from sources and project teams about proposed meetings.  We’re giving you an advance on where we hope to go. Watch this column for updates!

And when driving a 66-year-old vintage vehicle, there can be other unpredictable demands for maintenance—just like the nation’s infrastructure.

Janice L. Tuchman is Editor-in-Chief of the Engineering News-Record.


Low & Slow Across America's Infrastructure: An Updated Itinerary

Note: annotations by ENR Senior Transportation Editor Aileen Cho are in italics.

May 6 Aileen visits Boston to meet Mrs. Martin, visits APWA’s Rick Stinson, Northeastern University’s Ming Wang and Beverly Public Works Commissioner Michael Collins.  Is this seriously happenning? Momentum building...

May 13 Dan departs Boston, bringing Mrs. Martin to the New York City area, visits the Rockville, Long Island Dept. of Public Works.  Mrs. Martin sat pretty in the DPW garage.

May 14 Aileen and Dan visit $1-billion project raising the roadway of the Bayonne Bridge, interview Port Authority’s Dennis Stabile.  An amazing project in my own backyard!

May 15 Dan visits Rockville Centre, N.Y., Dept. of Public Works and interviews Mayor Francis X. Murray. Mrs. Martin visits Penn Station, gets tour decals and meets ENR staff.

May 16 Drive to Philadelphia.

May 18 Visit historic bridge site with Philadelphia DPW. It was hot and Philly was crowded.  We struggled to get to the 300-plus-year-old Frankfurt Bridge to meet engineer Chris Menna. It was a rough start for me and Dan personally.

Tour Kickoff

May 19 Tour kickoff ceremonies in Washington, D.C., with DPW Director Bill Howland along with opening of National Public Works Week.  The DC DPW folks just fawned over Mrs. Martin. We checked out their green fleet of shiny vehicles. The contrast with rusty Mrs. M really emphasized what our infrastructure is and what it should be.

May 19  Depart D.C. for Louisville, Ky.  We stayed in tiny inns throughout West Virginia. The Clarion Inn in Fairmont had a surprisingly good turkey & grilled cheese, and beef barley soup!!

May 22 ENR Deputy Editor Tudor Van Hampton joins the tour to visit the $2-billion Ohio River Bridges projects in Louisville, Ky.  WOW! Toured Downtown and East End crossings. KTC engineer Jeremiah Littleton cracked irreverent jokes and engineering factoids non-stop, often almost simultaneously. Elmer Lee whiskey is awesome. My colleague Tudor Van Hampton joined us for far too short a time. Ate fried pickles for the first time ever.

May 26 Visit CityArchRiver 2015 project site in St. Louis with Patrick Boyle, Program Construction Manager for Alpha Corp. Project. The project will connect the Gateway Arch to downtown. A visit to the top of the arch! Interview MoDOT district engineer Gregory Horn.  What a blast to visit with the CityArch team. Unbelievable that the arch and the city were disconnected for so many decades. We rode to the top of the arch, of course. We stayed in a nice hotel, the Magnolia, but the turkey sliders tasted like reconstituted vomit. Sorry.

May 27 Kansas City: U.S. 69 Missouri River Bridge upgrade site visit.

May 28 Kansas City Street Car development site visit.  

May 28 Kansas City APWA home office visit and photo opp at Union Station with APWA staff.  Two incredibly action-packed days in KC. A bridge, a streetcar job, MoDOT, DPW…plus a public radio interview and a webinar. I only had one time to try BBQ. The ribs were as big as my head.

May 29 Visit Abilene, Kansas Dept. of Public Works, drive on toward Denver.  Lon Schrader, Abilene public works director, is the epitome of a solid, rugged, handsome, honest, straightforward Midwestern hero, IMO. We ate at the Farmhouse Restaurant, where if you have a birthday, you get a free "paddling" on your posterior. We also visited the resting site of Dwight D. Eisenhower.

May 30 Continue the drive to Denver.  We saw a wind farm in Kansas that stretched for miles. We escaped potential hail in Russell, KS and ate at a fabulous Mexican restaurant there where a farmer named Big John announced our dinner was on him. So awesome!

June 1 Denver DPW office visit (ENR Mountain States Editor Mark Shaw joins the tour for Denver area stops).

June 1 Denver FasTracks light rail project visit, press conference with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock at DIA announcing airport hotel (at commuter rail stop) opening date.

June 2 Tour U.S. 36 expansion lanes project from Boulder to Denver with CDOT.  We met up with Mark and tried to save a baby bird that was trying to learn to fly. Finding the nearest pho restaurant at this point became a priority. Denver is booming. I mean, BOOMING.

June 3 Glenwood Springs—Visit Grand Avenue Bridge with CDOT and AMEP.  Stan and Cindy Orr treated us to a fabulous meal, complete with elk venison in puff pastry. Mrs. M puffed up into the Rockies at 20 mph. Glenwood Canyon is beyond belief in its beauty.

June 4 Drive from Glenwood Springs to Salt Lake City.

June 5 Afternoon in Salt Lake City, tour SLC airport, visit DPW LEED building.  I was pleasantly surprised to visit Salt Lake City’s airport and run into Holder Construction pals from Atlanta’s big expansion efforts over a decade ago. SLC is investing $2 billion over the next decade into a new terminal and facilities. We ate at a carniceria that had an eating space—two Mexican ladies cooking up the very best refried beans I have ever had in my life. And I’m from LA.

June 6 Start drive from Salt Lake City to Reno, Nev.  We stopped in Elko, NV. If you are ever there, eat at Chef Cheng’s. Phenomenal Chinese food.

June 7 Continue to Reno, Nev.  The Golden Flower near Circus Circus is Vietnamese/Chinese cuisine – surprisingly authentic, popular and good.

June 8  ENR Multimedia Editor Luke Abaffy joins the tour. Project site visit to Virginia Street Bridge (demolition and replacement of 100-year old iconic structure).  Visited Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center. This is like the modern-day version of Galt’s Gulch (mind you, I’m not an Objectivist, but healthy capitalism is good, if you can get it). We hooked up with the Drone Guy, who graciously let Luke and I load up ourselves and our luggage up for the drive over Donner Pass, to let Mrs. M make the climb as unencumbered as possible. We ended up in Colfax, CA and our dinner was nuts, boiled eggs, corn nuts and beer from the local gas station

June 9 Morning interviews with Reno city officials about rapid growth, data centers, Tesla battery factory.

June 9 Drive to Folsom Dam, 20 east of Sacramento for site visit.  This $900-million job is something even the Army Corps admits it hasn’t publicized enough—it only means the potential saving of the entire city of Sacramento should there ever be a flood event.

June 12 Drive to SF to visit San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s $2.7-billion enhancement of its sewer system with numerous upgrades to existing facilities and interesting green infrastructure.  We visited the Association of  California Water Agencies in Sacramento before heading out. A great visit with SF DPW folks and the SFPUC sewer plant. It was a “$h!tty way to end the visit, and in a very good way. ☺

Extended Tour

Date TBD: Mrs. Martin makes her way to the Phoenix area where she will be housed over the summer at the Peoria, Ariz., DPW, awaiting her display at the APWA International Public Works Congress & Exposition Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 at the Phoenix Convention Center.

This Low and Slow itinerary is current as of June 14.