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Detroit Native Gives Back to The Community

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, I’m studying things I’ve been driving all my life. It’s 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.

Edzra Gibson (left) and Eric Polvi (right) look at a utility plan of the I-75/I-96 corridor for the Ambassador Gateway project.

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 university’s 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 he’s started and expand his industry portfolio to include work on buildings, highways and power plants.

"I’m trying to diversify my design package," says Gibson.


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