Other stories by Pam Broviak

  • Good culverts gone bad

  • A lucky, albeit leaky, find

    In the 1870s, city engineer Major Charles Davis was called to investigate a typical public works complaint—the dreaded “basement backup problem.” We can all imagine what Davis faced when he showed up to investigate—a group of homeowners upset with water flooding into their basements, absolutely...

  • Do you have a Cindy?

    At the city where I used to work, there is a woman named Cindy who handles all the calls for the public works department, providing a front-line response to all requests and complaints. With her knowledge of city regulations and procedures, she is quickly able to determine the proper reaction to...

  • Keeping pace with development

    In Kendall County, Ill., the race is on. As developers scramble to buy farmland, builders scurry to create homes, and people flock to purchase lots, officials entrusted with providing public works must struggle to keep pace with the growing need for services.

  • Designing the school zone

    School may be out for the summer, but I can't stop thinking about picking up my child, who attends the local public school.

  • Wet weather tools

    A downpour can elicit many emotions, but only those in public works think of rain in terms of overloaded sewers and surcharged manholes. Sometimes even the forecast of rain can bring about visions of backed-up basements, overflowing inlets, and angry citizens.

  • The sound of traffic

    Highway design was never easy. Increasing scrutiny and critical public opinion only have added to the challenges facing transportation engineers. With each project, there always seems to be someone upset with the proposed location, the number of lanes, and the type of pavement.