Engineering Department: Critical, Consistent City Resource
As the city engineer and head of the Engineering Department for the City of Auburn, Daryl McConnell has a job like no one else’s in the community. He provides input and guides other city departments on a variety of development and reconstruction projects throughout Auburn.
“I enjoy being able to make an impact right in my local community,” shares Daryl, who worked for years at private engineering firms before joining the city staff in 2008.
He initially joined the Engineering Department as a technician, performing a variety of inside and outside field work. In 2020, he was appointed interim city engineer, and was officially promoted to the position last summer.
The Engineering Department, Daryl says, touches all the other city departments in a way that none of the others do. With deep expertise in civil engineering, land surveying and the construction utilities industry, Engineering is involved in the design, bidding and construction staking/inspection phases of most city projects.
“We work with practically all the departments in one way or another because we’re involved in every development or reconstruction project,” he explains. “We work a lot with Street, Water and Water Pollution Control. We also interact with Parks and even Fire and Police. It’s great to have that exposure and interaction on a citywide basis.”
Street reconstruction, water main replacements, sewer separations and trail development are all examples of projects where Engineering has had a significant role. Their work, however, is behind-the-scenes as they prepare bid specifications and design drawings, work with contractors, apply for Community Crossings Matching Grants and ensure compliance with grant guidelines.
The Engineering Department is also responsible for maintaining the city’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) database that tracks all water, sewer and electric utilities for public and private entities. It is a necessary community tool for city building, planning and development.
Bridging to New Opportunities
This year, Engineering is embarking on a project that the city has not done in a long time: building a bridge. The bridge, to be located on Lenora Lane, is part of the development of the Astral Senior Living Center. The project is expected to kick off this summer and be completed by late fall.
The department is also in the planning stages for some 2022 projects, including a sewer separation downtown and several street projects.
“There’s a lot of planning that goes into these projects, well before we’re ready to begin implementation,” Daryl explains.
In addition to Daryl, the Engineering Department includes three technicians:
- Troy Ackerman, who is responsible for preparing bids and submitting grant proposals
- Nate Crowl, who focuses on outside field inspection and field data collection
- Sam Graves, who focuses on design drawings
All technicians cross-train so they can fill in for one another at any point.
Being able to work with many city departments means Engineering gets a front-row seat to the work being done throughout the city. The Engineering team is leveraging its strong community relationships, broad skill set and problem-solving mindset to make a positive impact on the infrastructure projects that directly impact the residents and businesses of Auburn.