Personnel File - September 2009: Engineering
Division Engineer, N.C. Dept. of Transportation
For most people, planning a project involves looking ahead a few months or maybe a year. But for Pat Ivey, 46, a division engineer with the state Department of Transportation, deadlines can be years in the future. A project he began more than eight years ago, replacement of the 54-year-old Yadkin River bridge near Salisbury, remains on hold, even though it has been rated one of the most dangerous bridges in the state. “You need to be patient and be able to think of the long run.”
That’s what he did at N.C. State University. A native of Reidsville, Ivey originally wanted to work in computer science. But after his first year, he looked ahead and realized he had picked the wrong profession. “I couldn’t imagine sitting in a cubicle staring at a computer screen for eight hours a day.” A chance encounter with a civil-engineering professor led him to change his major.
When he graduated in 1986 with a bachelor’s in civil engineering, he went to work for DOT, where he had spent several summers. He started as an assistant district engineer in Graham, rising through the ranks to become division engineer in Winston-Salem in 2000. “I’ve had the chance to work on some projects that, hopefully, have really made life better for people in the state.”
Which is not to say it has always been a smooth road. The $400 million Yadkin River bridge project, which involves rebuilding the bridge and repaving and widening about seven miles of highway from four to eight lanes, is opposed by some local residents who say the site has historical significance because of a Civil War battlefield nearby. Though the DOT decided eventually to proceed, funding ran out in 2004. Construction was supposed to begin in 2008, with work completed by 2012, but has yet to start.
Ivey and his colleagues hope the federal economic-stimulus package will get construction back on track. “It’s frustrating because everybody knows this is such a needed project. But in this line of work, there are going to be setbacks. You just have to believe that, eventually, you are going to be able to solve the problem.”