Every member of the SAM team makes a difference, not just to the company but also to the entire community.
With decades of experience, Zeke Zieschang, P.E., SAM-Construction Services (SAM-CS) Austin Office Manager, gives his perspective on construction work zones. He discusses how construction work impacts each one of our daily lives, the great work SAM-CS does, and the importance of safety.
What part of construction services do you believe has the greatest impact on projects and why?
Work-Zone Traffic Control, without a doubt. As construction managers, we are responsible for verifying that projects are constructed per the plans and specifications and verifying that contractors follow the traffic control plans in the approved plan set which are designed to minimize adverse impacts to the traveling public. As an extension of the owner’s staff (usually a DOT), we perform daily inspection and testing on the contractors’ activities to verify that owner is receiving the quality project for which the contractor is being paid.
What do you appreciate most about the work that SAM-CS does?
Our focus is on quality. We hold ourselves to high standards, and we consistently meet our goals, which is greatly rewarding. By delivering quality inspection and testing services, we verify that contractors are constructing projects in accordance with approved plans and specifications. We conduct thorough reviews of the implementation of approved traffic controls established in work zones. Ultimately, both our clients and the public appreciate a successful project, which means a safe one.
Which SAM-CS project that you have worked on do you think has had the biggest impact on the local community?
Frankly, nearly all projects are initiated because of traffic congestion and safety concerns. Because of that, virtually all projects we work on ultimately have a positive impact on the local community. Therefore, it is difficult to rank one project as having a larger effect than another; they all have their unique set of circumstances. However, I would say the I-35 project through Temple, TX, may have had the largest impact due to the sheer volume of traffic passing through on a daily basis. Driving through that region used to be a major bottleneck, and that is now a thing of the past.
What do you enjoy about your role, and how do you see SAM-CS’s impact changing in the future?
One thing I have always enjoyed about working in the transportation industry is that it allows you to work in various parts of the state. So then, 5, 10, 20 years later, as you travel about, you can say, “That’s a job that SAM-CS built, and I worked on that project.”
Even better, over recent years, SAM-CS has expanded our Construction Engineering and Inspection (CEI) services outside of Texas and into areas including North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, amplifying our impact even more.
What is some important work that you think most people don’t realize construction workers do?
Simply put, night work. Not that people don’t realize night work is performed, but I’m not sure the average driver is aware of how much planning, coordination, and attention to safety is required in performing night work. It takes a well-orchestrated and safety-conscious team of our construction inspectors working with contractors to work effectively at night. We ask that people be aware of their surroundings when driving through work zones, especially at night.
Finally, what can the public do?
First and foremost, read the advanced warning signs and slow down. Not to lessen the seriousness by using a cliché, but construction workers, inspectors, and technicians have families too. Slowing down through construction zones helps keep everyone who went to work that day safe and allows them to go home to their families. It doesn’t get any better than that!