By Doug Taylor, VP, Practice Leader | Transportation
As we kick off the beginning of National Transportation Week, celebrated May 13-19, I like to look back on where we started and how far we have progressed.
In 1800, the only practical way to travel and trade long distances was by boat. That is why settlements were on waterways. The few roads available connected major cities, but they were difficult to travel. The 1900’s brought railroads, providing connectivity that led to the growth of towns and cities along the thousands of miles of tracks.
Then, in the early part of the century, cars entered the fray. Initially a luxury item, mass production led to an increase in cars from 8,000 in 1900 to eight million in 1920. With cars came the need for infrastructure to support the increased travel demands. People were no longer confined to their small communities; the world was opening up to them.
Today, we enjoy the benefits of those pioneers that paved the way to the transportation network we currently enjoy. I am proud to be part of that history and the continuing evolution of our transportation network. I have been blessed with a 34-year career in the Transportation industry and I have seen significant evolution myself. When I started my career, we did our designs manually on Mylar using triangles, straight edges, Leroy pens and a “box of curves.”
Then, we got our first CADD stations in the 1980’s and began creating computer-aided designs. Now our designs are all computer generated with 3D models, and the designs are more complex because of increased traffic volumes. Interchange reconfigurations, synchronized street designs, innovative intersection designs and multi-lane widening projects are the norm today to improve the existing infrastructure.
But, even with today’s technology and more complex designs, the engineering principles that I learned at the start of my career are still pertinent today. As we celebrate National Transportation Week, let’s celebrate the history of our industry, the innovations of today and the bright future ahead of us.