Coffee Break: Episode 5

Social distancing Coffee Break is back! To celebrate National Public Works Week, we sat down with an engineer and a planner to learn how they work together to create great places for communities to enjoy.

Previously on Coffee Break

CB: Thank you guys for being our first social distancing Coffee Break! I think it’s… *cut off*

Currently on Coffee Break

CB: Thank you both for taking time out of your I’m sure very busy, and very different schedules to be a part of the second social distancing coffee break!

Coffee Break – Social Distancing Edition

Episode 5 – Strategic Planning for Communities

RS: Greg, just as a side note, I see your fancy coffee press in the background.

GB: Yeah, yeah!

RS: You should have featured that!

Featuring Greg’s super cool coffee setup

Name and position at Bolton & Menk?

RS: I’m Rose Schroder and I’m a senior urban planner and I take my coffee black – no frills, no additives.

GB: I am Greg Broussard, I’m a principal engineer, and I take my coffee black as well.

CB: There are a lot of moving parts with projects that involve both engineering and planning. Can you tell me a little bit about your specific roles in these project and what skills you provide just to make sure everything goes smoothly?

GB:  I think one of the first important roles is just communication between both engineers and planners. Communicating early and often is very critical – I think Rose would agree with that.

RS: Sometimes details get lost in the weeds, so it’s very important to make sure that you’re constantly talking with one other no matter who the actual project manager is, depending on what the overall project type is; and also making sure that you keep other disciplines that are on the team looped in as well.

CB: How beneficial is it to the client to have people with different specialties working on projects together?

RS: Taking a longer-term view, sometimes on a project, [it’s important to ] make sure they are only expending resources one time, they’re doing the project one time, or at the very least, they’re planning it incrementally or it’s being designed so that expansion or an increase in capacity, whatever the case may be, can be accommodated for those future planning and growth scenarios.

GB: As we look at those different projects and being able to take the bigger vision that maybe the planner has and being able to make sure that the city is planning for them for the infrastructure costs or the roadway improvement costs and working together between the engineering and planning to help the cities develop a plan to get to the ultimate goal.

CB: Do you guys have an example of a project where you worked together to solve a problem (or a few problems) for your client?

GB: Kind of the first thing that jumps to my mind for that question would be the City of Marshalltown. We’ve done a lot of projects in Marshalltown that have had a lot of varying disciplines involved with the projects.

RS: We looked at things about redevelopment and land use and better pedestrian connectivity. When you put all of that together into one sort of multidisciplinary corridor plan and you come out of it with a series of recommendations or implementations which Greg can kind of touch on right now some of the engineering-related pieces that are very much underway right now.

GB: Yeah, we’ve been able to take that long-range big plan for Marshalltown for Highway 14 and take bits and pieces out of it and start the process of building those.

RS: See this is how it really works with planners and engineers – or at least with Greg and I.

CB: The most important question of them all – can planners and engineers do more than just coexist?

*Crickets*

RS: Uhhh… yes, absolutely they can! I really didn’t mean to hesitate in my answer!

*Laughter*

RS: For me, at the end of the day, engineers and planners really are tasked with doing the same thing. We’re either trying to provide solutions to existing issues or problems, or we’re trying to anticipate what some of those issues or problems might be in the future and help lay the groundwork to solve some of them.

GB: Working together gets us a much better product than if we work alone or in our own box. Being able to have all of those services in one roof with Bolton & Menk allows us to provide a very well-rounded, wholistic approach for our clients.

CB: Let’s do.. I’ll do 1, 2, 3, thanks for watching. So after 3.

All (not at all together): Thanks for watching!

Nailed it.

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