Michigan ranked dead
last in interstate bridge upkeep and near the bottom in pavement
repair on interstates, despite record spending on road improvements,
according to a report by the Road Information Program. However,
Edzra Gibson is working to change that.
A graduate of the University of
Michigan, Gibson went to work for the Detroit office of the
HNTB Companies, where he has a hand in several highway and
bridge improvement projects. "Being from Detroit, Im
studying things Ive been driving all my life. Its
one of the oldest freeway systems in the country and a lot
of stuff is falling down and now they are rebuilding a lot
of it," says the 28-year-old construction engineer/inspector.
Gibson (left) and Eric Polvi (right) look at a utility
plan of the I-75/I-96 corridor for the Ambassador Gateway
Starting as an intern with HNTB,
Gibson assisted with a study of the Interstate 94 corridor
and maintenance and traffic issues involving the detour for
the M39 project which wrapped construction in 2001.
Currently, he is working on the
reconstruction of Interstate 75 in the metropolitan Detroit
area, which will be completed by September. He is also part
of the design team on a reconstruction project involving North
America's number one international border crossing, the Ambassador
Bridge. Opened in 1929, it spans the Detroit River that connects
Detroit with Windsor, Canada and carries about 8 million cars,
2.7 million trucks and $60 billion in trade a year. The reconstruction
will allow better security and truck passing by adding a second
span to increase the capacity of bridge traffic, which is
expected to double as early as 2012.
Gibson graduated the University
of Michigan in 1998 with a B.S. degree in civil/ environmental
engineering, but he did more than build models as a student.
The Detroit native was a member of the universitys varsity
track team and competed in the 100, 200 and 400-meter events.
In 1995, he and a handful of students created the Black Volunteer
Network, a nonprofit organization that helps the less fortunate
in surrounding neighborhoods. It assists Habitat for Humanity,
mentors high school students, lends a hand at homeless shelters
and organizes an annual basketball tournament for the community.
"Some friends that were on the track team and I felt
we were privileged because we made it to college," says
Gibson. "My parents sacrificed so my two sisters and
I always had what we needed. We decided we needed to give
back to the community."
Gibson also found time to be involved
with the National Black Engineers Association.
The son of a Ford Motor Corp. engineer,
Gibson says he has always been interested in the technical
side of things, which led him to a career in engineering.
During his time with HNTB, he has worked as both a designer
and on the construction site.
"With construction, the gratification
is right there. You can see it in a day, whereas design is
a longer process," says Gibson. "Working at the
job site is more exciting and I think at the end of the day
the fulfillment is a little more."
Over the next couple of years,
Gibson plans to continue on the path hes started and
expand his industry portfolio to include work on buildings,
highways and power plants.
"Im trying to diversify
my design package," says Gibson.