More than 40 years ago, John Meehan’s family moved to Long Island. Meehan’s father, a metal lather, worked on the Long Island Expressway (LIE) construction project from Exit 61 to Exit 73.
“Today, I’m inspecting the bridges that my Dad helped build on the LIE,” says Meehan, a bridge inspection team leader for the New York State Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Region 10, which encompasses Nassau and Suffolk Counties in Long Island.
January 2007 marked Meehan’s 18th year with DOT. Since he started his career, the New York State Public Employees Federation member has worn many hats. Meehan has worked in three of the department’s 11 regions, starting as a senior engineering technician and working his way, both at DOT and through college, to a civil engineer I and, today, civil engineer II.
As a team leader, Meehan is required to have a professional engineer license—a two-exam process that spans several years. The first exam is taken before graduation from college, followed by accredited experience and the second exam. “It takes about four years to get the experience so you can take the other eight-hour exam,” Meehan explains.
“I love my job,” says Meehan. “There are accomplishments every day. The day-to-day job is rating elements on a one-to-seven scale—inventorying a bridge. All the information gets put into a database so [DOT] can plan and prioritize repairs. But that starts with me, my team, my assistant.
There are more than 700 bridges in Meehan’s DOT region. During any given year, Meehan inspects upwards of 100 bridges.