By Steve Page
The event may be called the I-69 Finish Line Project, but for Decatur Central High School students, it could be the start line.
The bottom line is all those companies that are working together on the final portion of I-69 need help.
Help, as in finding more people who are interested in working on this multi-faceted project as well as future endeavors.
With that in mind, seven speakers representing those companies conducted an hour-long seminar for more than 300 students in the Decatur Central auditorium. The program was titled Building Roadways, Building Opportunities.
According to Tim Miller, Deputy Corridor Project Manager, HNTB, “The goal here today is to expose the students to some of the opportunities they might have with their careers in transportation skill trades.”
Joining Miller for the seminar were Andy Dietrick, Public Affairs Manager, INDOT Major Projects; Carrie Burke, INDOT Contract Compliance Specialist-Economic Opportunity Development; William Banik, Project Manager, Walsh; Matti McCormick, Deputy Public Information Coordinator, Walsh Milestone Joint Venture, President, The McCormick Group; Ashly Rieman, Project Manager, Milestone Contractors; and Jordan Bosse, P.E., Road Group, Project Engineer, American Structurepoint.
Miller said this was all about timing.
“Here in Indiana, there’s a lot of opportunities for trades,” he said, “and so this gives them the opportunity to speak one-on-one with the professionals and the staff that actually are doing this, so they can learn what they want to do. Since the project is in their back yard, it gives them an opportunity to really see, and hopefully, have a greater appreciation of the people, the men and women who are working on the project and their various backgrounds.”
Along those lines, the Metropolitan School District of Decatur Township is adding a career pathways building to Decatur Central High School.
“A lot of the trades we’re going to talk about do not require you to go to a four-year university,” said Miller. “You may want to go to a trade school or a specialized school. In today’s environment, that might be an option.”
Miller started working with HNTB (Howard, Needles, Tammen & Bergendoff) in 2001. Founded in 1914, HNTB is an infrastructure solutions firm, serving public and private owners and contractors. Prior to joining the firm, Miller served with the Indiana Department of Transportation for nine years. His education includes a Masters of Public Affairs from Indiana University, with a focus in Public Management. He started working on I-69 in 2004. Currently, he works with INDOT management as the Deputy Corridor Project Manager for the I69 Finish Line project.
“When we started this 142-mile-long corridor from Evansville to I-465, originally, it was broken up into six sections,” Miller explained. “Sections 1 through 5 are now complete and open to traffic. This is what was referred to as Section 6, from Martinsville to Indianapolis.
“With our heritage of racing in the state of Indiana, the I-69 Finish Line is going to be complete and open to traffic by the end of 2024. So that’s been our motto: The I-69 Finish Line.”
McCormick, who made it a point to keep the students involved by encouraging their participation, echoed Miller’s sentiment.
“There are multiple layers of opportunity in the transportation industry,” she noted. “There is a shortage in Indiana. We need more people.”
Miller said the meeting may help find students who will fill some of those gaps.
“It went well,” he said. “They were engaged. I think we opened up some eyes today.”