A Day in the Life of a Civil Engineer – Day 9

Day 9

Welcome to Day 9 – a day filled mostly with emails and meetings which is ok because it helped me take care of a lot of correspondence and make a pretty big dent in my emails.

Parking Lot Meeting

This morning a few of us met with the consultant who is designing the lighting for the new parking lot we are planning for our downtown. The project engineer on staff has finished most of the other design elements, and others have worked on contacting adjacent owners and working out preliminary, verbal agreements. And as I mentioned yesterday, our city attorney now has the legal documents to begin working on finalizing these agreements. So the main task remaining is the lighting design, well that and getting our special use. So we first met at our office to discuss the design, then we went out to the site to look at conditions there. While there, we saw one of the adjacent property owners and were able to update them on where we are at in the process. They also helped answer some questions we had about some storm basins near their property that looked abandoned.

Smart Metering

Most of the afternoon was spent meeting with a smart meter provider. We have been researching the implementation of a smart grid system in our city for some time. Right now we mostly have the older model of dial reads mounted on homes. Our meter readers walk the routes inputting these reads into handhelds then download the reads to a computer. Billing then picks up these reads with their software to generate the bills. The dial reads have become obsolete so we need to replace them with something so it only makes sense to upgrade to smart meters. I implemented an automatic meter read system in the last city where I worked, and it proved to be very beneficial. And now the technology has advanced to the point that I think a smart meter system here will offer us significant benefits. 

Because the two cities lying adjacent to us are also looking at implementing these types of systems, we have been pooling our efforts and meeting as a group with vendors. So far we have explored about five different providers of these systems. I've been disappointed with most of them though because I eventually expected these vendors to realize their systems can offer much more than just raw data. But so far only one vendor has realized this and offers services addressing the operational side and not just the billing. The one we looked at today seemed to be one of those taking the traditional data-collector-only approach.

Railroad Work

I also had a person from the railroad stop by to discuss some repair work they want to schedule for some time in September. They needed to discuss the work with us and have me sign a statement indicating I was aware they would be pursuing a permit from IDOT for the work. They will be closing a state route to do this, so we reviewed their detour and offered some suggestions.