Dave Jones knew he was in good company in the early 1990s. He and three fellow engineers were shaping their young careers under the tutelage of District 6 Engineer Jim Ross.
Although miles separated them in the years that followed, three of the engineers went on to share common professional titles – Tom Cole became district engineer in District 6, Ed Bala achieved the same status in District 5 and Devin Rigby was chosen District 4 engineer.
Jones is back in that good company.
This week he learned that he will rejoin his esteemed colleagues as a fellow district engineer – assuming responsibilities for the state’s most populous area, District 3. Chief Engineer Steve Hutchinson announced Jones’s selection Thursday.
“I’ve always had two professional steps that I wanted to take – to become a resident engineer where I could build projects and to become a district engineer,” Jones explained.
In more than two decades since graduating from the University of Idaho with a civil engineering degree, Jones has experienced periods of intense construction activity and an era of relative calm when District 6 focused on processes under Ross.
After he graduated from the UI in 1985, Jones accepted an engineering position with the Washington Department of Transportation in Vancouver and Bellevue. While with WSDOT, Jones worked on a major seven-mile expansion of Interstate 90 from downtown Seattle to the 405 interchange near Bellevue.
He returned to Idaho after four years in Washington and entered the Engineer in Training program at ITD. He finished the professional EIT program in an accelerated seven months, with credit awarded for his tenure in Washington. Jones worked in District 3 as a resident engineer for 18 months before transferring to District 6 as a resident engineer and later advanced to project development engineer.
That period was marked more by process and innovation than construction. Cole initiated the concept of QA/QC, where the district assumed responsibility for quality assurance on projects and contractors were responsible for quality control. ITD also introduced a new concept of recycling highway surfaces by reapplying the material as a base for new highways. It became known as Cement Recycled Asphalt Base Stabilization – CRABS.
The District 6 interlude prepared Jones for the demands of assistant district engineer in District 2 during an active bridge construction era. While there, he worked on five major bridges – the Ahsahka, Kooskia, Kamiah, Orofino and Goff (also known as Time Zone Bridge near Riggins).
“Those were exciting times,” Jones recalls.
He returned to Boise in 1999 to serve as the state maintenance engineer at Headquarters, a position he held for six years until transferring to the GARVEE Program office.
He was one of two internal finalists for the District 3 engineer position vacated by Eric Shannon.
Jones accepts his new position fully aware of the demands of the rapidly growing Treasure Valley. “I know what I’m walking into – a district that has a lot of challenges. Growth and access management are at the top of the list. Human capital is also near the top – making sure employees feel appreciated and challenged.
“But those aren’t my challenges; they’re our challenges,” he explained.
As is common at all levels of government in Idaho, especially agencies overseeing roads and highways, revenue is a pressing issue. “It’s really limiting what we can do in terms of enhancements to the system,” he said.
“There’s a lot of need. The needs and wants are competing with each other, and the needs are limiting the wants. We don’t have the freedom to address the wants because the needs are so great.”
District 3 will receive a significant share of the GARVEE projects in the next four or five years as ITD looks at expanding I-84 from Caldwell to Meridian and plans enhancements to Idaho highways 44, 20 and 16.
It promises to be the dawn of another era of active construction for the new district engineer.