County Road Engineer vs. County Road Administrator

From the Desk of Judge Tom D. Bonn

Pursuant to Texas law (Section 252.304 – Transportation Code) Caldwell County is required to appoint a County Road Engineer. This engineer must meet the same qualifications as a TxDOT District Engineer. If the County is unable to employ a licensed professional engineer then it can appoint a County Road Administrator.

Once Caldwell County stopped the Commissioner Road system and went to the Unit Road System the County appointed a County Road Administrator. I am unsure, but assume, that the County did not feel like it could hire a licensed professional engineer at that time and therefore appointed a County Road Administrator.

We do now, however, have a licensed professional engineer in our employment that also meets the requirements of a TxDOT District Engineer. Because the statute does require us to appoint a County Road Engineer, if possible, I have discussed this position with our current part-time County Engineer. Mr. Bill Gardner has agreed to become our County Road Engineer, on a full-time basis, which will replace our existing County Road Administrator in running the Road and Bridge Department. Once the County had a licensed professional engineer in its employment, which is willing to work full-time, the County could not legitimately claim it was not possible to appoint a County Road Engineer.

Our existing County Road Administrator will be retained and will serve under our County Road Engineer. The position name will be changed and this position will report to the County Road Engineer. Doing this will allow our County Road Engineer to also stay responsive to our subdivision department and to assist with other engineering issues that occur within our County operations.

I am very pleased that we can now meet our statutory obligation and that we will have a licensed professional engineer overseeing the aggressive chip seal project we want to get completed in this budget year. Like, all road projects, this year’s chip sealing project will take a great deal of coordination and planning to get accomplished in this year’s weather window.

Additionally, I want to open up our lines of communication and cooperation with TxDOT and their engineering department which can be a great asset for Caldwell County. Our current Road Administrator does not have this communication. Mr. Gardner, however, was a former TxDOT District Engineer and has maintained many relationships with TxDOT which will be a benefit to our County.

Mr. Gardner will also assist us in engineering issues related to all of our County buildings and facilities. Many times we have needed engineering and technical assistance for specification writing and bidding for many of our projects. Mr. Gardner will help with any engineering issue we face not just roadway issues. It should also be noted that Gardner is a Gulf War Veteran, having served as a Lieutenant in the US Navy.

Because of savings achieved in other areas of the budget taking Mr. Gardner from part-time status to full time status will not require any spending in excess of our adopted budget. We will shift funds from other areas of the budget, where we have achieved savings, to cover the expense for this full time position in this budget year.

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