You could say the city engineer works for all city departments because, well, he does really. When you get right down it, where the rubber meets the road – and the city engineer deals with plenty of road projects – the city engineer is a consultant to any department that has a project need. He facilitates design and construction on projects from street paving and other maintenance to bridge replacement to water tower construction to building renovations to recreational trail rehabilitation, as well as a wide variety of other projects the various city departments might come up with.
City Engineer Louis Najar, with assistance from his skilled staff, is the go-to man for these kinds of infrastructure and related projects. He’s the guy that helps determine the needs, perform feasibility studies and economic reviews, place and prioritize projects on appropriate departments’ project lists, design the projects, finalize funding means, send the project out to bid to get a contractor, and oversee the construction or other execution of the project plans. In addition to working closely with the department associated with a specific project, Najar guides each project through the approval process, usually involving review in the city’s Infrastructure Committee before heading to City Council for final approval.
Welding of the pedestal and water tank portion as a part of the RAC (Roswell Air Center) Water Reservoir project. Twin water towers will be installed to meet fire protection needs of current and future development. Project is estimated to be completed in April 2021.
“Overseeing of projects is a diverse set of tasks,” Najar explains. “Projects are in different stages of their life. Some projects are in design and as city engineer I direct and review all the plan sheets, details and specifications for each project. Some projects are in the bidding process and as city engineer I answer questions from perspective bidders who are asking very finite questions.”
Bidding a project is a very important part of the overall project process. A good set of plans and bid documents are key. Those will help ensure the city and the contractor are on the same page when it comes to how the project is to be carried out, its timetable for completion and what the final product will include.
“During the construction, I’m in contact every day with city inspectors and contractors reviewing the daily tasks,” Najar says. “This includes field review of projects, inspection during construction, review and approval of materials, review and approval of testing data, and review and approval of monthly payment estimates. Kuddos to the Engineering Department Staff, Butch Hefner, Bernadette Lopez, Louis Romero, Juan Salas, Jim Sexe and Lendon York. They are committed to quality of the projects and serving the needs of Roswell. With the help of Engineering Staff, I have eyes and ears on every project. The Engineering Department is a team of hardworking City Employees."
“Every project has its own set of problems, and as city engineer, sometimes I make the decisions that no one else wants to make.”
The city engineer is also the person who coordinates with federal and state entities who may be participating in a project’s funding. Each outside entity has its own set of rules and administrative processes that the city must adhere to when using the entity’s financial assistance.
Garden Avenue Bridge Project
There is usually no shortage of street projects on Najar’s plate at any given time, and that means street closures or other traffic detours. He realizes delays and other changes in street project schedules can be frustrating to the public and so he simply tries to be as up-front and accurate with his estimates when it comes to completing projects and getting streets reopened and traffic flowing again in a normal pattern. In the end, Najar aims to make sure the final product is worth the time, work and potential public inconvenience that went into the project.
Written by: Todd Wildermuth, Public Information Officer