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Cavalieri promoted to chief engineer at Mackinac Bridge

ST. IGNACE, Mich. ­– It’s a changing of the guard at the Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA): Assistant Bridge Engineer Cole Cavalieri will assume the role of chief bridge engineer, as current Chief Engineer Julie Neph retires after 30 years at the Authority.

Julie Neph, Mackinac Bridge

Neph, who has been with the MBA for most of her career, will retire at the end of December. Cavalieri, who has been working at the bridge since February 2020, will take over as chief engineer at that time.

“Julie’s shoes will be very hard to fill, and she will be greatly missed by everyone,” said MBA Bridge Director Kim Nowack. “I know Cole will continue his excellent performance here at the bridge and he will prove to be an exceptional leader of our engineering and maintenance areas.”

The chief bridge engineer is responsible for management of a variety of both in-house and contracted projects for the maintenance of the Mackinac Bridge and facilities.

“I’m honored to follow in Julie’s, Kim’s, and other previous chief engineers’ footsteps in helping to maintain the bridge,” Cavalieri said. “As the only connection between the Upper and Lower peninsulas, the Mackinac Bridge remains as vital to the Michigan transportation system as it was when it first opened in 1957. I hope to continue and build on the high standards they set in ensuring the bridge’s good condition so that it will continue to unite Michigan for years to come.”

Neph expressed great trust that Cavalieri will do just that.

“Cole will do a fantastic job in his new role,” she said. “He has all the skills needed for this work, and I have great confidence in him.”

Cole Cavalieri, Mackinac Bridge

Cavalieri joined the MBA in February 2020 as the assistant bridge engineer. Prior to his time at the MBA, he worked as a design engineer with MDOT’s Bridge Design Division in early 2019.

Before that, Cole began his career with two consultant engineering companies: Coleman Engineering in the Upper Peninsula where he worked on design, construction inspection and materials testing; and Hardesty & Hanover where he designed and inspected moveable and long-span bridges. A Michigan State University graduate in civil engineering and native Yooper, Cole grew up in Iron Mountain and now calls Kinross home.

Neph joined the MBA after one year in the Michigan Department of Transportation's (MDOT) Engineering Development Program, and spent 27 years in the assistant bridge engineer role before her promotion to chief engineer in 2019. She graduated from Michigan Technological University with a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering.

“It has been a pleasure and a sincere honor to be able to take care of the Mackinac Bridge,” Neph said. “As anyone who works on the bridge knows, it is as complicated of a structure as it is beautiful. I will miss very much the people who work here and the bridge itself.”