Four transportation professionals share how their work impacts the communities they serve, the challenges they face, and how they respond to challenges.
How would you describe your role to a kindergartener?
I would start by explaining the need for traffic control devices on the road. I would describe the use of pavement markings on the road to designate lanes, the necessity of signs to communicate with the drivers, and the use of stoplights to help drivers communicate with each other in order to cross busy intersections safely.
K. Lee Juelfs
I design and make the instructions for road construction. I work with many great engineers and scientists who determine where the roads and sidewalks will go, and what will happen to rainwater when it rains so that yards and parks don’t flood. We study the existing area to see what works and what needs to change to help the community, then as a team we decide what will work best. Once those decisions are made, the instructions or plans are used by road construction workers to build the roads, sidewalks and drainage systems.
My job involves helping everyone travel safely! I help determine the safest way for people to cross the street, how to reduce car crashes on the road and design traffic signals so people don’t have to wait too long at a traffic light.
Whenever you leave your house, it is a transportation engineer’s job to make sure you can get where you want to go safely and quickly. As a transportation engineer, I draw the plans that show construction workers how to build the sidewalks and paths that you walk and ride your bike on, the roads your parents drive their car on, and the bus stops where you wait to ride the bus.
How does your work impact the communities you serve?
The traffic design work I complete most immediately impacts the communities I serve. I see how the senior engineers I am working with are creating safe commutes to and from work for drivers, bikers and pedestrians by the specific configuration and type of devices they install such as traffic signals and rectangular rapid flashing beacons.
K. Lee Juelfs
Building safe intersections and roadway segments have impacted communities by providing pedestrian and bicycle facilities where they are needed. Communities can thrive when all users have safe access to roads and sidewalks. When these facilities are designed with all users in mind, it helps people be more active in their day-to-day lives. Some of the safety measures we provide that impact communities include wider shoulders in rural areas; ensuring Americans with Disability Act standards are met for sidewalks and crosswalks in downtown areas; and adequate acceleration and deceleration lanes on highway interchanges.
Ensuring that roads and sidewalks are designed and built well results in healthier and happier communities.
Most of the traffic studies I work on ultimately end up as construction projects, and I really enjoy helping clients understand the “why” behind the project and the “how.” These projects range from improving signal timings to reducing severe crashes at an intersection or prioritizing pedestrians, redesigning the circulation in a school parking lot to improving traffic flow, or recommending crossing enhancements to supplement bike trails or school crossings.
All projects – large and small – can help achieve the goals of a community. I love having the opportunity to play a small part in helping these projects reach these goals.
Transportation projects directly impact their community every day. The projects I have had the opportunity to work on improve the safety and functionality of intersections and roadways within various communities. Whether the project is to improve the safety of a rural highway, the capacity of a busy intersection or the provision of low-stress pedestrian and bicycle facilities, the communities and surrounding communities directly benefit.
It’s always exciting to see a project progress from the preliminary planning stages to full design and construction. It’s also exciting to see the positive reactions from the community.
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