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Long-time road engineer, with decades of impact on Tennessee roads, retires

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Posted at 8:19 PM, Jun 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-17 21:19:16-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A special note to readers: watch the video before reading.

A long-time asphalt engineer, who's tied to decades of roads in Tennessee, is retiring.

In Tennessee, there are many thousands of miles of roadway: concrete, asphalt pavements and their constant maintenance.

However, there are people outside of local governments who play a role in making sure things are smooth.

"I work with TDOT," said Bob.

Bob Horan worked for the Asphalt Institute since the late 90s, advising TDOT employees on how to make better roads.

"We work with the highway administration a lot, done some workshops that we've done nationally and we've done several here for Tennessee DOT," he said.

Think of Bob as a teacher.

Mark Woods is a top TDOT engineer who's worked with him.

"The term institute is in their name. So, they're really big on education and advocacy. Best practices is a really good term," said Woods. "It's difficult to hold people's attention for four hours when you're teaching about quality longitudinal joint construction."

To the everyday driver, the true test of road quality will always be what it feels like to drive on.

"The traveling public, how do they measure quality? Smoothness. When the contractor finishes building an asphalt pavement, if it's smooth, that's quality to the traveling public," said Bob.

Almost every driver has experienced the moment when you transition from a rough road to a smooth road.

Bob's work since the late 1990s has been centered around advising not only Tennessee but almost every southeastern state on achieving this feeling.

He's retiring as many do after long careers on the open road.

But there's one thing that's special about Bob Horan.

He's the father of the reporter for this story, NewsChannel5's Kyle Horan.

The station surprised him to honor his retirement.

He's worked for decades building not just roads, but relationships in Georgia, Kentucky, Virginia, South and North Carolina.

"He has a great amount of wit. Engineers aren't really known for their personalities," said Woods.

Woods said he remembers Bob and his colleagues at the institute being the ones to call if there was a question or problem that needed to be solved.

"He is a really, really likable guy in advocacy and really being a point of contact for such a large amount of people. I think it's important to be likable and approachable. He is certainly that," he added.

Woods even pointed out that Bob's full name, Bob Horan, sounds a lot like the chorus of a popular Beach Boys song, Barbara Ann.

It's a song that's followed the engineer his entire life.

But for Bob, when talking about his career and the roads he's tied to it's the memories that mean the most.

"What I'm going to miss the most is the people," he said. "Really, the people I've worked, my colleagues at the Asphalt Institute, I'm going to miss them a lot. But I'm going to miss these state DOT guys,"

So, this father's day here's to Bob and where ever his road takes him next.