Research is not a new concept to the Idaho Transportation Department. It’s been fundamental to highway maintenance and construction almost since Idaho’s highways first received hard surfaces.
A Feb. 18 Transporter story incorrectly introduced Matt Moore’s as the department’s first full-time Research Manager. Indeed, his appointment significantly expands the role research will play in all facets of ITD operations (beyond highway maintenance and construction) and will enhance the exchange of current information.
But, as several ITD veterans pointed out this week, the department has supported a full-time research position in the past. Bob Smith and Stephen Loop provide historical perspective:
“Jim Hill was the full-time Research Engineer, originally in the Materials and Research Bureau under Lief Erickson,” writes Smith.
“Following Lief’s retirement, the Research Section was downgraded and absorbed into the Materials Section. The Materials and Research Bureau was eliminated in favor of an Operations Bureau under (at that time) Don Cox. Prior to the creation of the Research Section, Lief was the primary proponent of Transportation Research. Much of the research at that time was done in-house.”
“Prior to the Research Manager position being combined with the Assistant Materials Engineer position, the Research Manager position was a full-time position,” Loop adds. “There was also a separate Research Section at that time.
“Jim Hill was the Research Manager and became the Research/Assistant Materials Engineer when the positions were combined and the Research Section was abolished. When Jim Hill retired, Bob Smith replaced him in the combined position. The previous Research Section, while smaller than the Planning Section, was on an equal footing with the Planning Section within the Bureau of Management and Planning.”
Moore apparently has a solid legacy to build upon in his new position. His charge remains, however, to elevate research to a new level and improve access to information across ITD’s many disciplines.
The lesson provided by Smith and Loop affirms the important role long-time employees serve in keeping ITD’s history alive.