Much of highway design has very serious aspects to it. For example, the decisions we make oftentimes help protect people from injury…even death. We never truly know how many lives are affected by our design choices; however, we can often measure lives that are lost or forever changed by inactions or failures.
Every now and then, though, civil engineering has an entertaining element that tests our imagination. For example, one of my favorite projects as a highway engineer was a widening project to provide better and safer access to the Renfro Valley Entertainment Complex. The complex is a 55-acre entertainment venue proudly known as “Kentucky’s Country Music Capital!”
To provide better access to the venue, I helped lead the design of the routine roadway widening aspects; however, a fun element of the project started with a straightforward request by the client: design a pedestrian overpass to connect entertainment areas that are separated by a highway. This seemed like a sensible request, though when we began to understand the demographics of Renfro Valley’s customers—many are elderly—I instead recommended a pedestrian underpass to connect points of interest on both sides of the highway. This tunnel, with its gently sloping sidewalk approaches, proved to be a cost effective solution to the pedestrian safety problem. The project was more than just an engineering challenge, it was fun! These are the kinds of challenges that affect lives in a fun way, by bringing people pleasure.
I’ve been blessed to have had the opportunity to serve Kentuckians for 24 years as a KYTC highway designer and planner. Along the way, I tackled a multitude of projects ranging from small bridge replacements to the very large I-66 corridor, and everything in between.
In 2014, when family considerations led me to leave my role as a state highway engineer, I embarked upon the second chapter my career, as a consultant at Qk4. Although I miss the people that I worked with during my KYTC career, I know that we will still have chances to work together when my skills and experience will serve their needs. My transition into the private sector has been made easy because the folks here at QK4 quickly drew me into their family. I’m grateful now to have the opportunity, together with my new work family, to continue to make Kentucky’s transportation network safer for all our families. And to have fun along the way!