September 2007 may prove to be a breakaway month for Fran Hood, who has steadily progressed through the ranks of construction and engineering at ITD.
Most of the professional milestones in her 10-year ITD career coincidentally have come in April:
April 2007 came and went without another major professional step. That followed early this month when Greg Laragan, Assistant Chief Engineer-Operations, introduced Hood as the new state construction engineer. She replaces Gene Wortham who retired after 42 years of service in February.
Hood formally began her new duties Sept. 9.
“I have big shoes to fill,” she admits. “We lost a large body of knowledge and experience when (Wortham) left the department… But he left behind his library.”
The new position will present challenges that extend beyond engineering. It will require a new emphasis in the immediate future and a need for additional revenue sources.
“State transportation departments are in a period of transition. Past focus has been on new construction. With the federal interstate system largely complete, we’re looking at a need to maintain, preserve and expand as necessary what we have as a way of facilitating local and state economic development,” she says.
“The challenge is to optimally use our construction dollars in the face of declining revenues to make sure we’re as efficient as possible. Our section is given the task of helping the districts in managing their contracts.”
To support and assist, Hood explains.
A fourth-generation native of Colorado, Hood earned her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Colorado State University in 1982. She worked for the Army Corps of Engineers and a Philadelphia consulting firm the following seven years while taking post-graduate classes in civil engineering from Drexel University.
She earned a master’s in civil engineering in 1990 and “returned to her western roots,” accepting a job with Morrison-Knudsen in Boise.
Among her responsibilities at M-K were project development and construction support work on a site remediation project and clean-up of a Missouri uranium processing plant.
Her experience at ITD has included construction project oversight for the construction engineer in districts 3, 4, 5 and 6. Hood has been directly involved with the WYE Interchange (stages 1 and 2), the 11th Street overpass in Nampa and the Mountain Home underpass in District 3, reconstruction of I-84 from the Juniper Rest Area to the Utah State Line in District 4 and reconstruction of the I-15 Pocatello Street Overpass in District 5.
She has traveled an upward spiraling career at ITD and strongly endorses the route for other engineers interested in pursuing new challenges.
“The contract administration/local roads engineer position has been a really fun job and I learned a lot from all the consultants, agencies and department staff that I have worked with. It’s a very good, professional track and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to gain more experience, even if it’s a lateral move,” she says.