Behind every highway project, an engineer is translating plans into pavement

Behind every highway project, an engineer is translating plans into pavement

By Garin Groff / ADOT Communications
February 24, 2023
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The next time you trek to Las Vegas and notice work crews are widening another section of US 93, you might pause for a moment to think of the work of Kara Lavertue.

Lavertue’s role at ADOT includes working on high-profile improvements like widening that busy highway between Sin City and Phoenix, but her job doesn’t involve grading the roadbed or running asphalt paving machines. That’s because Lavertue is one of many engineers at ADOT whose work is more behind the scenes, in this case overseeing construction projects.

It’s important work because engineers like Lavertue ensure every element of the preparation and construction are done to precise specifications so the pavement, bridges and even drainage are reliable and safe for decades to come.

“We hold contractors to specifications and plans and make sure projects are built the way they’re supposed to be built,” she said.

Lavertue is a resident engineer in ADOT’s Prescott Valley office. She holds a civil engineering degree from the University of New Mexico and has worked at ADOT since 2000, first as part of a design team. She’s been a resident engineer since 2018, overseeing construction projects once they’re awarded to a contractor.

Her projects span parts of northwestern Arizona and have included pavement preservation, roadway widening and installing broadband along Interstate 17. The broadband project is not a routine highway project, as it is in cooperation with the Arizona Commerce Authority to create more affordable opportunities to provide rural communities with high-speed internet service. However, ADOT plans to use the fiber to provide “smart highway” technology for things such as overhead message boards, traffic cameras, weather stations and wrong-way driving detection technology.

The job means more than straightforward engineering, as a great deal of management work goes into successfully completing projects. And the projects can be about more than just improving or adding pavement. When building a wildlife overpass, ADOT engineers worked with other stakeholders such as the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service.

“We see a little bit of everything,” Lavertue said.

EDITOR'S NOTE: As part of National Engineers Week, which calls attention to the importance of engineering and career opportunities in engineering, ADOT is featuring different aspects of engineering at ADOT.

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