Former Engineer celebrates University Drive underpass 50th anniversary

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COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (KBTX) Brazos County’s first underpass interchange was built 50 years ago.

Retired Brigadier General, Joe Hanover, was the District Engineer for the Texas Highway Department at that time. He was also the one who oversaw the project.

Hanover is now 99-years-old.

Many things have come and gone throughout his lifetime, but the memory of the celebration of the opening of the interchange on March 21st, 1967, remains.

"The whole community was pleased. It was something that was badly needed. Everybody wanted to be out, and be a part of it. There was a real big crowd there," said Hanover.

Hanover, along with former Texas A&M President James Earl Rudder and nearly 300 others, opened the revolutionary project.

"It was difficult to get over there. The highway went over the two railroads and they were above the level of the ground. And as you approached the two railroads, you'd go way up, and cross over them, and go down the other side, which was a very hazardous crossing. It was almost detrimental to traffic. At the time, that was about as important of a project as there was," said Hanover.

The construction ensured that traffic would not have to cross railroad tracks at University Drive and Wellborn, allowing drivers to get to the west side of Texas A&M's expanding campus.

"We felt great about being a part of the improvement of the world. Everything we ever built was an asset to transportation,” said Hanover.

The retired District Engineer was a part of numerous instrumental highway projects over his 37 years of service for the Texas Highway Department, including planning for George Bush Drive, University Drive and 112 miles of I-45 through Freestone, Leon, Madison and Walker Counties.

He also led the design and construction of the east bypass (SH 6), which was instrumental in the growth of Bryan and College Station.

Terry Paholek, current Director of Maintenance for the Texas Department of Transportation said that the value of the work accomplished by General Hanover and his team, is invaluable.

“General Hanover’s generation of highway engineers and workers performed some incredible works of engineering. They provided designs that allowed their projects to serve the growing Brazos Valley for over 50 years. More importantly, they also ensured quality construction that has allowed those projects to perform with only limited, normal maintenance,” said Paholek.

On the 50th anniversary of the underpass interchange on FM 60, the City of College Station presented Hanover with a proclamation, declaring March 21st “Joe Hanover Day”.