Fifty Years of Diversification: The Evolution of Civil Engineering and Traffic Engineering

When Sain Associates opened its doors in 1972, the business consisted of consulting engineering services and land surveying. Many projects included site engineering for enclosed shopping malls across the southeast. Believe it or not, some of the mall projects from the 1970s are still in operation today, including the Santa Rosa Mall in Mary Esther, Florida; Decatur Mall (formerly Beltline Mall) in Decatur, Alabama; Eastdale Mall in Montgomery, Alabama; Uptown Hot Springs Mall in Hot Springs, Arkansas; Towne Mall in Elizabethtown, Kentucky; and the Quintard Mall in Oxford, Alabama.

Wal-Mart Distribution Center in Cullman, AL

Sain later developed a relationship with Walmart Inc., a high-profile company, which set the stage for the next decade of business. Walmart built hundreds of stores throughout the eastern United States. Sain completed site engineering for projects from Maine to Florida and from Indiana to Colorado. Our team worked on Walmart projects through the introduction of the Supercenter, Sam’s Club, and Murphy USA (formerly Murphy Oil) by designing sites for distribution warehouses, urban redevelopment sites, and greenfield sites.

In 1992, Sain diversified its services by adding traffic engineering. We built a robust client list with traffic engineering, transportation planning, and roadway design services. We were fortunate to obtain the very first continuing service on-call contract with the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) for traffic engineering services in 1994. The first roadway design project was a section of SR-5 in Rainsville, Alabama. In 1997, Sain was awarded a planning contract with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), and soon after that established our office in Pulaski, Tennessee. Both ALDOT and TDOT contracts have been continuously renewed since being first awarded.

As we entered the new millennium, our Transportation team branched out to safety work with Road Safety Audits and Access Management studies. The Site team tackled some large, challenging commercial site projects, such as Patton Creek Shopping Center in Hoover, Alabama; Kendall Town Center in Miami, Florida; the Eastwood Mall Redevelopment in Birmingham, Alabama; and the Colonial Promenade Tannehill in Bessemer, Alabama. In addition, we completed the survey, site engineering, and roadway design for some large industrial projects like the Jefferson Metropolitan Parks at McCalla and Lakeshore, Jasper Industrial Park, Gadsden Airport Industrial Park, and Prattville South Industrial Park.

In 2012, we became the city engineer for Irondale. Our team began pursuing more federal opportunities, and we were awarded projects like the Treasury Building in Birmingham, the Veterans Affairs Clinic in Montgomery, and Martin Army Community Hospital in Fort Benning, Georgia. We also focused on safety work and completed a safety and corridor study for McFarland Boulevard in Tuscaloosa and a safety study on Highway 280 in Phenix City.

A whirlwind of uncertainty happened in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic, and we learned new ways to adapt and be flexible. Although 2020 included many unknown challenges, our team reached several milestones throughout the year. Sain opened its Huntsville branch office in July 2020 and expanded its expertise in aviation planning and design. We also received a National Recognition Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies for our work on the Interstate 20/59 Central Business District Bridge Replacement in Birmingham. In addition, we continued to grow and diversify our transportation planning and design services in Alabama and Tennessee.

As we reflect on the last 50 years, we are proud of the projects we have completed, the communities we’ve helped, and the strong client relationships we have built. Sain has provided engineering/consulting services to various agencies, including ALDOT, TDOT, Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham, and numerous cities and counties. In our civil and survey work, we are proud to work on federal, healthcare, industrial, residential, and utility projects. Our team also enjoys serving communities in a City Engineer capacity to help shape and build better communities. We are grateful for the client relationships that have lasted throughout our multiple decades as a multi-disciplined engineering firm.

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