September 29, 2022

What is the Role of Civil Engineers in Transportation Projects?

On nearly every site development project, a portion of the design will be devoted to designing transportation infrastructure. This is oftentimes when a transportation engineer is brought into the fold. But where does the civil engineer’s role stop and the transportation engineer’s begin? How do they work together to complete a project? Keep reading to find out.

The Team

Civil Engineers

The role of a civil engineer can vary from project to project. Roles will typically include the development of an initial concept plan, preparing a set of engineering plans, and oftentimes managing the site permitting process.

Most civil engineers who work on land development sites will be exposed to many different types of transportation projects. On these projects, after a transportation engineer has identified the transportation design criteria, the civil engineer will work alongside them to complete the actual design of the roadways and other transportation infrastructure, such as sidewalks.

Transportation Engineers 

The process of adding new developments to transportation systems in existing communities can be a complicated journey. All of the potential after-effects must be considered. Because this portion of design development is so dependent on specific technical knowledge and skills, there is an entire subspecialty dedicated to it—transportation engineering. Transportation engineers are often responsible for taking the project’s initial concept plan, assessing the site’s access management, and determining the transportation and roadway improvements required to accommodate the development. 

By analyzing trip generation and trip distribution alongside site conditions, transportation engineers support the project by ensuring that the site will not greatly impact the surrounding community. After this, they will review the design through a multimodal lens to identify what vehicular, pedestrian, and public transit aspects need to be considered. The research studies that these engineers complete enable a development team to effectively add to complex transportation systems.

Two Engineers, One Project

Being aware of the roles in the engineering field is one thing, but understanding how they work together on projects is another. After working with their client to begin the initial development of site plans, an experienced civil engineer will bring a transportation consultant into the conversation early on. 

Once the transportation engineer has analyzed the plans, completed the necessary modeling, and delivered their transportation report, the civil engineer can see how those considerations will affect the individual property. The two experts will then collaborate to find the right transportation solutions for the project. The transportation engineer will design systems to safeguard the area that include signalization timing, speed limits, and bike/pedestrian infrastructure recommendations. After coordination with the transportation consultant, the civil engineer will design any necessary transportation and site improvements, including roadways, sidewalks, site grading, and stormwater management infrastructure.

Just like site design, the permitting process requires a significant amount of communication between the transportation and civil engineers. Securing site permits is already a weighty undertaking, so it’s important that the civil consultant team has a collaborative approach. While the civil consultant will be the one taking the lead on the permitting process, they need to be able to effectively communicate the findings of the transportation engineers to the permitting agencies. In addition, the civil engineer will have to communicate with the transportation engineer throughout the project to make iterative site plan changes based on agency feedback. Managing these changes and considering the perspectives of the project owner, local governments, and transportation engineers is critical to the success of a civil engineering consultant.

With the right team and a collaborative spirit, development projects end with a set of design plans that satisfy every party while serving the interest of the project owner.

How JBPro Can Guide You Through

Some projects have complex transportation engineering issues that may even require multiple consultants to get the job done well. Finding the right consultants can be overwhelming if you aren’t sure what your development needs are – but JBPro can help. 

Having a great team of civil engineering experts will ensure that you end up with a well-designed site that meets your needs for years to come. Our consultants will assist you in finding the best experts for your project’s transportation engineering design. We have over 25 years of experience building collaborative relationships with government agencies that benefit our clients. 

If you are in need of a civil engineering team who will be with you every step of the way, partner with JBPro on your next project.