A Day in the Life of a City Engineer

Posted by on Mar 22, 2016

city engineerHave you ever wondered what the duties of a city engineer are and what role he or she plays in your city? A city engineer typically works at the request of the mayor, city council or city manager to review issues related to public safety and welfare. Generally, the duties involve organizing and supervising engineering work in the office and the field; planning, design and review of community development projects; preparation and review of technical studies; and serving as project engineer for capital improvement projects.

This person acts daily as an engineering or technical advisor to other city departments as requested, collaborating with them to meet the city’s needs. Some of the duties may include planning and design of new projects, addressing questions from concerned citizens, participating in meetings with the mayor or city council staff, or responding to contractors requesting building permits. Fieldwork itself can range from construction observations to traffic data collection to land surveying and construction stakeout. It is not uncommon for the city engineer to perform site visits and fieldwork in the morning, followed by engineering plan review in the afternoon, and then public meetings in the evening.

City engineers can be direct employees of the City or hired as a consultant.  Even with a city engineer on staff, cities often contract out engineering services, due to a number of reasons, including heavy workload and limited availability of the on-staff engineer. Sometimes cities hire specialists for tasks such as traffic studies, traffic planning projects, municipal design projects and large drainage projects. Sain Associates has performed these types of assignments for numerous cities across the State of Alabama, and for many cities in the Birmingham metropolitan area. Currently, Sain Associates works as a consultant to the City, and we perform daily activities, such as review of engineering plans submitted for construction permits. We also conduct special projects upon request, such as master planning and design of capital improvement projects, ranging from large commercial developments to roadway projects to city building projects. There are certain activities that are considered “standard” city engineering activities, such as plat reviews, building permit reviews and public works-related activities. We perform these types of tasks on a daily basis. On occasion, we are requested to consult on planning for larger projects, which we do only as authorized by the mayor and city council.

Over the past year, Sain Associates has been working with the City of Irondale on master planning and consulting related to projects at the Grants Mill Road/I-459 exit ramp. Some of the challenges have been master planning/design of traffic access to the new Mercedes, Maserati and Fiat dealerships; design of a new traffic signal in this area; and coordination with the Alabama DOT for excess right-of-way.

One of our many strengths is the diversity of services that we can provide a municipality like Irondale and many others.  We offer surveying, GIS services, traffic/transportation engineering and civil engineering under one roof.

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