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

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


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
broadband rectangle 2_0

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.

Untitled design

CADD: It’s not a game

CADD: It’s not a game


CADD: It’s not a game

CADD: It’s not a game

By Kathy Cline / ADOT Communications
February 24, 2023
CADD engineer

At first glance, Computer-Aided Design and Drafting ‒ or CADD ‒ looks like a really cool video game: cool colors, neat graphics, and the ability to change just about anything at the push of a keyboard button. However, CADD is not a game for the engineers in ADOT’s Roadway Design Division. CADD is where all ADOT roads and structures, such as roundabouts, begin to take shape.

“If changes are needed, or alternatives need checking,” Roadway Design Manager Doug Smith said, “we can look at that as projects develop.”

Used at ADOT since 1987, also allows 3-D modeling of structures, such as bridges and freeway interchanges. This allows engineers to see what the highway will look like in the landscape.

Ken Brown, Transportation Engineering Specialist with ADOT’s Roadway Technical Support Section, says many other groups within Infrastructure Delivery and Operations (IDO) use CADD.  Bridge Group, Roadway Group, Traffic Group, Right of Way Group, Utilities and Railroad Engineering, Districts, etc.

Once designs and plan sheets are made, developed and drafted they’re used in the office and the field. For example, Brown said, a CADD design can be loaded into the computer of construction equipment and programmed to work from the design. That saves time, as well as confusion, on job sites. In the office, teams check and double-check measurements and figures to make sure work conforms to national standards and the design needed.

CADD began life in 1957, when Dr. Patrick J. Hanratty developed PRONTO, the first commercial numerical-control programming system. Since then, the program has been through numerous refinements and standardization. Right now, Brown says, CADD training takes up to three weeks; engineers learn how to use the program, what can be done with it, and standards that are used and applied throughout the program.

Like all technology, CADD will continue to evolve. It’s come a long way since it was first used at ADOT in 1987 and improvements will benefit Arizona motorists.

“It’s a great design tool,” Smith said.

A salute to engineers 

A salute to engineers 


A salute to engineers 

A salute to engineers 

By John Halikowski / ADOT Director
February 21, 2022

As a young boy, my favorite thing was to build rivers and reservoirs and dams from big puddles after a rainstorm, and channel the water using old pieces of pipe my dad had lying around. Little did I know back then that I would be leading a state agency, made up of the best and brightest engineering minds who build and maintain an efficient and safe transportation system for the traveling public.

Feb. 20-26 is National Engineers Week. I wish to congratulate and extend my thanks to our Arizona Department of Transportation engineers for the work they perform each and every day. 

ADOT employs engineers with diverse backgrounds and fields of expertise. We have engineers who are environmental planners, bridge designers and surveyors, while others specialize in fields such as civil, utility, railroad, transportation systems, traffic and roadway. All of them work together to create a safe and reliable transportation system we can be proud of in Arizona.

To be an engineer requires an interest in math, science, technology…the STEM-related courses, and then applying that knowledge in a particular field of study. For some it starts as a love of Legos or building bridges with toothpicks. No matter where the interest comes from, ADOT looks to foster engineering skills. Sometimes that starts with an ADOT Kids activity or it might be the mentoring an engineer-in-training receives. 

While I didn’t pursue an engineering degree, I still get the opportunity to work alongside engineers and marvel at their ingenuity in building infrastructure to last for years to come.

Again, congratulations to all the engineers in Arizona! If you see an engineer, tell them thanks for a job well done and ask them why they became an engineer. I wouldn’t be surprised if they say, “I like to build things.”

Gregory Byres named incoming State Engineer

Gregory Byres named incoming State Engineer

I-17 101 traffic interchange

Gregory Byres named incoming State Engineer

Gregory Byres named incoming State Engineer

January 13, 2022

Gregory Byres named incoming State Engineer

ADOT veteran succeeds retiring Dallas Hammit

PHOENIX - Gregory Byres, P.E., has been named the incoming Deputy Director for Transportation and State Engineer for the Arizona Department of Transportation. He will succeed Dallas Hammit, who is retiring after 22 years with ADOT. 

Byres is a seven-year veteran of the Department, having served as a senior project manager, State Roadway Engineer and in his current position as Director of the Multimodal Planning Division. As State Engineer, he will support and coordinate operations of all ADOT transportation divisions to provide a safe and reliable transportation system for the state. 

Prior to coming to ADOT, Byres owned an engineering consulting firm, which provided design services for transportation, airports, utilities and development projects for both private and public sectors. He also has a background as a consulting engineer on transportation, airport and utility projects and as a geotechnical/materials engineering consultant. 

“Greg Byres is bringing a wealth of knowledge, experience and a diverse engineering background to the vital job of State Engineer,” said ADOT Director John Halikowki. “ADOT has a lot of innovative projects underway statewide to expand and improve our transportation infrastructure. Greg’s professional expertise will be invaluable to fulfilling our mission to ‘Connect Arizona. Everyone. Everywhere. Every Day’.” 

Byres is a graduate of New Mexico State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering Technology and he studied Geotechnical Engineering at the University of Missouri – Rolla.



For these trainees, the road to engineering starts with ADOT

For these trainees, the road to engineering starts with ADOT


For these trainees, the road to engineering starts with ADOT

For these trainees, the road to engineering starts with ADOT

By Laurie Merrill / ADOT Communications
July 30, 2021

When it comes to hiring promising young engineers for the Arizona Department of Transportation, there’s probably no bigger cheerleader than Candee Samora.

After all, Samora, ADOT’s Engineer-in-Training and Intern Program manager, has landed her dream job and brings her considerable enthusiasm to work every day.

“I’ve wanted to work for state government since I was 12 years old,” she said. “And I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but ADOT.”

She gets to work with young engineers in training, who also bring considerable enthusiasm to their roles.

“They bring excitement, new blood, new ideas,” Samora said. “They are fabulous.”

In interviews, engineers-in-training (EIT) extolled the virtues of a program that provides so much education and training in so many areas and allows them to see the role of engineering in major projects from start to finish.

“Working with projects so large-scale and critical for the traveling public has been very interesting to see and be a part of every step of the way,” said Brandy Wagoner, recently assigned to Deer Valley Construction.

In the video above, we interviewed Jimmy Naujokaitis, an ADOT resident engineer in Phoenix, who is an enthusiastic graduate of the EIT program. 

"Being in the EIT program allows you to get integrated into ADOT culture and see how things are run," he said. 

Like a lot of future engineers, when he was a kid he excelled in math, science and Legos! 

ADOT can choose from a wide pool of applicants since the agency no longer requires a Fundamentals of Engineering certificate for eligibility.

Recently, the criterion shifted and trainees are required to pass the exam during the 2-year-program, Samora said.

ADOT also sets the trainees on the path for passing their Professional Engineer license, which is considered the highest standard of competence. 

They receive an apprentice-style education that provides hands-on experience and side-by-side mentoring in such disciplines as roadway design, environmental planning, multimodal planning and materials lab. Every few months, they rotate between Roadway Design, Project Management and outlying rural construction projects.

We recently asked a few engineers in training about what they like best about ADOT’s EIT program. Here are some of the highlights:

Wagoner, also quoted above, added that she likes seeing “first-hand how massive transportation projects travel from a vision, to a project, to each design team and how they work together to complete the design, to bid, and finally to construction.”

And the work environment is excellent.

“The atmosphere of being an ADOT EIT is so welcoming, encouraging and creates an environment that I have always felt comfortable and supported in,” Wagoner said.

Diana Palma, recently assigned to the Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO) Division, enjoys learning first-hand about each unit’s responsibilities and the potential for career progression within the state. 

She also listed “the opportunity to apply principles of the Arizona Management System to everyday activities and to see the positive impact on practices.”

Babak Dehghani called the program “an amazing introduction into the professional world.”

He enjoys seeing how ADOT brings construction projects from beginning to finish and how, by working under registered professionals, he has gained the training and experience to become registered as a professional engineer.

Steven Neher, recently assigned to the Multimodal Planning Division, listed the opportunity to work with many different groups, field visits, chances to grow and career development.

“All of these reasons culminate in this grand chance to better myself as a person, an engineer, and a professional, laying the foundation for techniques and habits that can help serve me to my benefit for years to come,” Neher said. “Every road starts somewhere and I'm glad mine began with ADOT.”

ADOT Kids: Legos and treehouses led to this engineer's career!

ADOT Kids: Legos and treehouses led to this engineer's career!


ADOT Kids: Legos and treehouses led to this engineer's career!

ADOT Kids: Legos and treehouses led to this engineer's career!

By David Rookhuyzen / ADOT Communications
June 7, 2021

What do Legos and treehouses have to do with growing up to work for ADOT?

Well, for Micah Hannam, the assistant district engineer for the Central District in Phoenix, those helped him start on the path toward becoming an engineer. From an early age he knew that he liked math and numbers, and loved to build treehouses and play with Legos. That's why he knew he would grow up to build things.

Does that sound like you?

Then maybe you have a bright future as an engineer too! There are so many different engineers working for ADOT, from civil engineers that prepare technical drawings on how to build roads and bridges, to utility engineers who make sure water, gas and electricty are not disrupted during construction. You can read all about the different types of engineers we have in this previous blog post.

What has Hannam been able to do so far?

He was part of the team that designed and built a new bridge on State Route 347 in the City of Maricopa, where the road needed to go over some railroad tracks that trains were using up to 60 times a day!

He also helped with a project to repave State Route 88 between Apache Junction and Canyon Lake. You can see in the video above how that road looks now.

Imagine what you could make!

Hannam said the best way to get started is to just keep doing what interests you now, whether that is building treehouses, programming computers or playing with robotics. 

"As long as you are enjoying what you are doing, there's something for you in engineering," he said. 

If you are really interested in being an "engineer-as-a-career," watch for more ADOT Kids videos, blogs and activities. Also, make sure to check out the Engineer as a Career section of the ADOT Kids website or find #ADOTKids on social media!

ADOT’s dust detection system named as a ‘Gamechanger’

ADOT’s dust detection system named as a ‘Gamechanger’

I-17 101 traffic interchange

ADOT’s dust detection system named as a ‘Gamechanger’

ADOT’s dust detection system named as a ‘Gamechanger’

March 24, 2021

The first-of-its-kind dust detection and warning system installed by the Arizona Department of Transportation has been named one of the “Infrastructure Gamechangers” by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

The detection system, which was completed by ADOT on a 10-mile stretch of Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Tucson in 2020, is among only four highway-related projects recognized nationally this year by the ASCE. The organization recognizes groundbreaking projects that represent the latest advancements in the way engineers plan, build and adapt to infrastructure needs. 

In announcing the national “Gamechangers,” ASCE President Jean-Louis Briaud said, “With resources stretched thin, finding solutions that can make the most of the tools afforded us can driver safety, variable speed corridor, be a challenge, but is an essential component of improving the built environment. ADOT’s dust-monitoring system will keep drivers safe and I-10 drivers moving efficiently. This project highlights the innovative nature of civil engineers, adapting to unique challenges to ensure our systems better serve the public.”

ADOT State Engineer Dallas Hammit added, “This recognition by our engineering peers is gratifying because it acknowledges the tremendous innovation and creativity that has gone into developing a system that will greatly enhance safety for drivers travelling through what can sometimes be a very challenging environment.”

Driving on Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Tucson during summer monsoon months can be hazardous when windblown dust reduces visibility, causing dangerous driving conditions. This technology has created an unprecedented innovation that helps increase driver safety. 

“Safety is our first priority and this first-of-its-kind technology answers a real need to make a very busy portion of highway much safer for motorists. It has already proven its effectiveness in recent dust storm events,” said Brent Cain, the director of ADOT’s Transportation Systems Management and Operations Division “Being chosen as an ASCE Gamechanger is a great honor.”

Drivers passing through the detection and warning zone encounter signs saying “Caution: Variable Speed Limit Corridor.” Soon after, a series of programmable speed limit signs every 1,000 feet can change the legal speed limit from 75 mph to as low as 35 mph. Additional variable speed limit signs are placed every 2 miles.

Overhead electronic message boards in and near the corridor alert drivers to blowing dust and warn them to slow down. Speed feedback signs inform drivers of their actual speeds.

Thirteen visibility sensors mounted on posts along the freeway use light beams to determine the density of dust particles in the air. Once visibility drops to certain levels, the system activates overhead message boards and the variable speed limit signs.

The sensors are complemented by a weather radar on a 20-foot tower at I-10 and State Route 87. It can detect storms more than 40 miles away, providing additional warning of incoming storms to ADOT and forecasters at the National Weather Service.

This technology is monitored by ADOT’s Traffic Operations Center in Phoenix, where staff can see real-time information on conditions such as the speed and flow of traffic. Closed-circuit cameras provide visual confirmation of conditions along the roadway and in the distance.

For additional information on dust storms and safety:

Celebrating women in transportation and at ADOT

Celebrating women in transportation and at ADOT


Celebrating women in transportation and at ADOT

Celebrating women in transportation and at ADOT

By Angela DeWelles / ADOT Communications
March 1, 2021

Did you know that March is Women’s History Month? Because women have made so many major contributions to the transportation field, we asked several women at ADOT to share the reasons why they entered into a transportation career.





"I have been passionate about engineering ever since I can remember. Transportation engineering includes planning, design, construction, maintenance and operation of facilities that improve people’s lives every day. Being a part of this industry gives opportunities to be involved in the cutting-edge technologies that keep evolving. I am proud to be a part of the industry, especially ADOT. And I am proud to be working with those who share the same passion."

Tazeen A. Dewan, project manager, Multimodal Planning Division








"I initially 'fell into' the transportation sector as an environmental consultant, consulting for ADOT and railroads. The nature of the work and the opportunity to serve the public as part of something so integral to their daily lives are what have motivated me to work at ADOT."

Julia Manfredi, manager, Environmental Programs










"When I applied to ADOT 19 years ago, I did not think of it as trying to get a job in transportation. I saw it as another opportunity to be of service, only this time it would be for the citizens of Arizona. My passion is helping others and I knew that I could impact ADOT in a positive way and it would also give me the opportunity for career growth. ADOT has a great reputation as being family friendly, which also factored into my seeking a career with the agency."

Sonya Herrera, director, Administrative Services Division









"I credit my career in transportation to my college internship with the regional planning organization, where I conducted transportation modeling and forecasts. I couldn’t believe there was a career path where I could play SimCity all day! I’ve since enjoyed planning and designing roadway improvements throughout Arizona."

Susan E. Anderson, systems technology group manager, Transportation Systems Management and Operations Division








"Having spent years practicing law in the private sector, I had a desire to take the next step to become a judge. I was fortunate enough to be hired with the Executive Hearing Office in 2017, which has opened me up to the world of transportation. I enjoy dealing with the many interesting laws and regulations and working with a wide array of divisions and agencies."

Allyssa B. Reid, associate presiding judge, Executive Hearing Office







Shoutout to the engineers who make transportation happen

Shoutout to the engineers who make transportation happen


Shoutout to the engineers who make transportation happen

Shoutout to the engineers who make transportation happen

By Ryan Harding / ADOT Communications
February 26, 2021

In case you haven’t noticed, engineers are kind of a big deal at ADOT. That’s why we’re taking time during National Engineers Week to thank and recognize all of the important contributions they make to transportation in Arizona.

As we told you about earlier this week, engineering at ADOT takes different forms: civil engineering, traffic engineering, utility engineering, geotechnical engineering and bridge engineering just to name a few. 

That seemingly flat highway you’re traveling on requires the expertise of various engineers to ensure the materials are good quality and that the ground the road is built on can support the vehicles that travel on it through elevation changes and different types of landscapes. So thank you!

Traffic signals require knowledge of electrical systems and computer communications. Innovative solutions like roundabouts and diverging-diamond interchanges are designed by traffic engineers to keep traffic flowing as smoothly as possible. That's always appreciated!

Even behind-the-scenes engineering that utility engineers perform is needed to keep electricity, gas and other utilities flowing to your house while nearby highways are being constructed or upgraded. We truly appreciate it!

When problems arise, like a landslide that sidelined a portion of US 89 south of Page in 2013, engineers, like geotechnical engineers, are crucial to solving the problem and getting traffic flowing again. You guys rock!

The contributions of our transportation engineers help keep commerce flowing and make everyday items like getting to the grocery store or dropping the kids off at grandma’s more convenient. Thanks a million!

That’s just some of the many reasons why we want to say thank you to those who use their skills to help our society and help ADOT fulfill its mission to connect Arizona and help ensure everyone gets “Safely Home.” 

Happy National Engineers Week!

ADOT Kids: Meet Engineer-in-Training Babak Dehghani

ADOT Kids: Meet Engineer-in-Training Babak Dehghani


ADOT Kids: Meet Engineer-in-Training Babak Dehghani

ADOT Kids: Meet Engineer-in-Training Babak Dehghani

By John LaBarbera / ADOT Communications
February 25, 2021

Have you ever wondered what it's like to be an ADOT engineer? 

Meet Babak Dehghani. He’s a construction engineer in ADOT’s Engineer-In-Training (EIT) program. He decided to become an engineer because “you could literally change the world.”

That’s barely a brag! Our engineers certainly make Arizona move by ensuring that every road, bridge, airport, water supply and mass transit system is well-planned and completed.

Babak entered the EIT program in January 2020 and in just over a year has worked for a lot of different groups ranging from roadside development to the bridge group.

“Currently I am in construction operations,” Babak said. “The ADOT EIT program is an amazing introduction to the professional world. By working under registered professionals you get the training and experience you need to become a professional engineer. ”

How did he get here? Well, first, Babak went to school. To be accepted in the EIT program, you must have a bachelor’s degree in engineering. A few lessons Babak picked up from his time attending the Fulton School at Arizona State University have stuck with him. 

“The important things you learn from school are in the methods of learning and working well with others,” Babak continued,  “The most important lesson is how to deal with the real world.”

Engineers play an important role for all ADOT projects. Babak says. “It is the transportation engineer's responsibility to plan, design, build, maintain and operate these systems of transport, in such a way as to provide for the safe, efficient and convenient movement for the public.”

He says he’s most happy with his work to build a brand new type of freeway interchange at I-10 and Houghton

“I was very proud to work under registered professionals and paraprofessional staff members to see the first diverging diamond interchange built in Tucson.”

Do you have an interest in becoming an engineer? Well, Babak has some tips for you.

“Take the FE exam before graduation.”

That’s the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, and passing it is one of the first steps you’ll take to become a professional engineer. Babak also said it’s important to pick exactly what type of engineer you want to be. Plus, when you are in school, you can find engineering groups to be a part of on campus. Groups like the American Society of Civil Engineers, American Concrete Institute, and Construction Management Association of America will help when you go searching for your dream job.

“It needs to be on your resume,” Babak said.

Just what does Babak want to do when he graduates from the EIT program in 2022?

“I would love to be part of the I-10 Broadway Curve Improvements project.” He may well get that chance, as the project is slated to start soon and last until 2024.

For now, though, he’s thrilled to be part of the EIT program.

“I’m lucky to work alongside extremely capable and experienced engineers who are always willing to help, guide, and prepare you for the professional world of engineering.”

And he’s keeping a positive outlook as to what’s on the horizon for transportation in Arizona.

“Future technologies can improve the safety, efficiency, reliability, and resilience of our transportation network."

 If you are interested in being an "engineer-as-a-career," stayed tuned for more ADOT Kids videos, blogs and activities running this week for National Engineers Week. And make sure to check out the ADOT Kids website or find #ADOTKids on social media!