As an Assistant Engineer with RETTEW, I have had the opportunity to see the designs worked on in the office come to life in the construction process. I drive past one of these projects every day and have worked on it extensively – the Bavington Bridge replacement project. This project involved relocating a bridge 25 feet from its original placement, while staying operational during construction. Operational use was needed due to the bridge acting as a major route for school buses, with the closest detour adding extensive time to trips. This posed many challenges in design from multiple aspects. One issue was deciding how to properly deconstruct a bridge that must maintain one lane for traffic. Another was due to the change in placement, resulting in an alteration in the geometry of the roadway curve. This alteration is to ensure that the road properly ties in to the new bridge. These challenges acted as a good learning experience and exposed me to areas of projects I wasn’t used to dealing with.
One of the coolest things about working on this for me was how involved I got to be in every step of the design process. I worked with software to analyze bridge designs, as well as create computer drawings to develop roadway plan sets and cross sections. Getting to work with both the bridge and roadway engineers allowed me to get more insight on the grand scope of projects that most don’t get to experience. Generally, I would work on different projects based on whatever task I was doing, so getting to be on the bridge and roadway side of the same project was a neat experience.
Being able to witness the construction of the bridge in person really materialized the importance of my work at RETTEW, and moreover civil engineering as a whole. America’s infrastructure was graded a D+ by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), indicating poor quality. This can be contributed to years of neglect when it comes to maintaining structures and allowing infrastructure to far outlive its planned service use. With more and more structures degrading over time without proper upkeep and replacement, civil engineers are growing increasingly important in combating the current trend of de-evolution in American infrastructure. The past few summers that I’ve interned with RETTEW have enabled me to utilize skills that I have learned in school towards real world applications that make a difference for society.