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Civil engineers get engaged on Memorial Bridge in Portsmouth

Dan Del Tufo proposed to Juila Kallmerten on the Memorial Bridge in Portsmouth.
Dan Del Tufo proposed to Juila Kallmerten on the Memorial Bridge in Portsmouth.New Hampshire Department of Transportation (custom credit)/New Hampshire Department of Transportation

Engineer Juila Kallmerten stepped onto the Memorial Bridge in Portsmouth, N.H. Saturday afternoon thinking her boyfriend, engineer diver Dan Del Tufo, was just there to take pictures of projects he was working on down the Piscataqua River.

Little did she know that she would leave the bridge with a ring, and a soon-to-be husband.

Kallmerten and Del Tufo met as civil engineering students at the University of New Hampshire, where they both graduated in 2015.

“I sat behind Julia in one of our classes," Del Tufo said. "I used to hope the front of her head was as beautiful as the back of it.”

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“He’s been saying that cheesy joke for five years,” Kallmerten laughed.

Del Tufo, now a engineer diver for Appledore Marine Engineering, first worked on Memorial Bridge during his senior thesis. He helped do preliminary research for The Living Bridge Project, which aims to provide researchers, bridge designers, and students with information on the use and performance of the bridge.

Dan Del Tufo and Juila Kallmerten, of Dover, N.H., stood on the Memorial Bridge in Portsmouth after getting engaged there Saturday afternoon.
Dan Del Tufo and Juila Kallmerten, of Dover, N.H., stood on the Memorial Bridge in Portsmouth after getting engaged there Saturday afternoon.New Hampshire Department of Transportation (custom credit)/New Hampshire Department of Transportation

Kallmerten works for Tighe and Bond, an engineering consulting firm in Massachusetts. Shortly after she graduated from UNH, Kallmerten helped design the Harborwalk Park that now sits under the bridge

Even though they have since moved on to other projects, the bridge still holds a special place in the couple’s hearts.

“We frequently like to go Prescott Park, which overlooks the bridge and Portsmouth, and sit and watch boats pass under it," Del Tufo said.

Del Tufo reached out to the New Hampshire Department of Transportation and asked if he could propose to Kallmerten at the bridge.

“This is not something we typically do, but through the description of the work they did at UNH and the work that [Julia] has done, DOT approved the request as long it could be tied to normal bridge maintenance operations,” NHDOT Chief Communications Officer Eileen Meaney said. “They were super cute and we wish them the best.”

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Kallmerten had no idea Del Tufo would pop down on one knee once the lift span of bridge was raised to its highest point at 3:30 p.m.

“Honey, I want you to aggravate me for the rest of my life," Del Tufo started. “Will you marry me?”

She said yes.

“We walked over to the north side of the bridge after and she raised her hand up and our families started cheering,” Del Tufo said. He brought their families to the bridge to surprise Julia after the proposal.

“I had to do something as special as she is-- something that she would never forget.” Del Tufo said.

And he did.

“I’m going to think of that moment every time I see the bridge,” Kallmerten said.

Caroline Enos can be reached at caroline.enos@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @CarolineEnos.