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Role of the Manager in Highway Road Projects

written by: David Jr • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 3/20/2011

Highway road project management is not an easy task. It is a demanding job that requires good communication skills, knowledge in geometric design, experience, working knowledge of AASHTO guidelines, dealing with local authorities, labor and material management.

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    Highway Road Project Management

    Highway road project management can be defined as the discipline of planning, organizing, securing, and managing resources to bring about the successful completion of road project goals and objectives.

    The road project manager is the person who will apply their road project management skills to the construction of roads. His or her tasks are to make sure the completion of road project is not delayed, is successful, and meets the requirement stated by AASHTO’s guidelines and standards for road construction.

    Road Construction 

    Image Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

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      Required Skills for Road Project Managers

      The following are skills that are required for a road project manager handling road construction.

      Having Good Communication Skills and Proper Written English

      Proficiency in communication and writing is important for a road project manager, especially when dealing with local authorities. Road project manager will deal not only with local authorities, but construction workers as well. Thus, he or she must have the ability to communicate effectively at all levels both in writing and orally.

      Knowledge about Road Design (Geometric Design/Pavement Design)

      A good road project manager must be able to read construction drawings very well, and that includes understanding the geometric and pavement design of roads. Whenever there is some discrepancy or errors in the construction drawings, the road project manager should reach out to the road design engineer, discuss the problems thoroughly, and a find a good solution for it.

      Experience in Supervision of Road Construction

      Experience can be defined as taking part in activities where knowledge and skills are gained. In the engineering world, it is one of the measuring sticks of a person’s ability. This concept applies to the road project manager as well, because with experience he or she learns what is good or bad and the effects of certain implementations or methods on the road project.

      Working knowledge of AASHTO

      AASHTO’s standard guidelines must be followed whenever road construction is going to be made. AASHTO’s guidelines on road construction cover from road and pavement design to soil investigation and testing, which is called the “AASHTO Soil Classification System." Thus a working knowledge of AASHTO’s guidelines are important for the road project manager, and he or she should refer to the guidelines whenever there is doubt about certain implementations or methods that are going to be used.

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      Job Activities for Road Project Managers

      The job activities for a road project manager consists of:

      • Material Management - The ability of a road project manager to manage construction materials that will be used on site, and coordinate the progress of road’s construction to it, is crucial to the efficiency and smoothness of the construction progress. Road construction is done phase by phase. For example, the road’s subbase must be done first, before the base course materials are poured onto the subbase. Before that can happen, the material for the subbase should be provided a few months early, because you will never know when the hardware store has ran out of base course materials.
      • Labor Management - A good road project manager is one who can utilize labor efficiently and at the same time, improve the productivity of the labor.
      • Dealing with Local Authorities - Water sources for road construction must be supplied to the road construction site at a reasonable distance, but this water source cannot be simply connected to the existing main water supply at any convenient time. Instead, the road project manager must deal with local authorities over this matter before connecting a pipe from the existing main water supply.

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      Conclusion

      Being a good project manager requires years of experience. It is a continuous process of study and research. Even though this article provides job activities and skills required for a road project manager, the problems in road building are varied and there is usually no right answer to particular problems. With this in mind, road project manager should always continue learning and developing their management skills, so that the decisions that they are going to make are accurate as possible.

      References

      1. Project Management for Construction by Tung Au Chris Hendrickson

      2. Author’s Experience

      3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Construction_management

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