Duane Martin was recently named West Hartford's Town Engineer, taking over for Dave Kraus who retired on Dec. 14, 2012 after 38 years of service with the town.
Martin compared his new role to driving a new car.
"It's exciting, but you have to proceed more carefully," said Martin, 38, a civil engineer who has been with the Town of West Hartford's Engineering Division since 2005.
"The biggest thing I'm looking forward to is getting through the first construction year," said Martin. In the past, he has managed traffic signal and drainage projects, and designed major intersection improvements and total road reconstruction projects. He has also been involved preparing plans, specifications, and bid documents. The major difference is that he is now responsible for scheduling all of the department's projects, as well as making financial decisions.
Most of the engineering department's projects are focused on core infrastructure, like roads and bridges, and many are already in progress, Martin said. He thinks the department is already very well run, and doesn't feel the need to make any major changes.
Martin said that this year's agenda includes 13 projects, and reconstruction of a bridge on North Main St. will likely be the most noticeable of them.
Martin said that the bridge, just north of the American School for the Deaf, was built in 1901. It was one of the first of its kind, and is pretty much all concrete, Martin said. "It's very strong, but in need of repair. It's still very safe, though," he said.
Most people don't realize the bridge is even there, Martin, said, since even its sides are not very visible and the deterioration can't be seen from your vehicle as you drive along North Main St. However, the project, which will take a full year and involve step-by-step removal and replacement of the sides of the bridge as well as significant work on the underside of the structure, will limit traffic to one lane in each direction and close the sidewalk on each side of the road as needed.
The engineering department's other major task is road construction, which is coordinated as necessary with the West Hartford Department of Public Works as well as the MDC and utility companies. Martin said he is working on a list of roads scheduled for repaving or complete reconstruction, but it's not ready for release yet.
Road repairs generally take place between April and November, because road temperature must be at least 40 degrees, Martin said. During the winter, they have to rely on patches to hold things together.
“I enjoy working with a team of talented engineers. It is very rewarding at the end of the year to tally up all the miles of road improvements and to see how these changes have made in the community even better than it was,” said Martin.
According to a news release issued by the town, prior to joining the Town of West Hartford, Martin was a project engineer with the Town of Windsor and a Transportation Engineer with Fuss & O’Neill of Manchester, CT.
Martin has a Bachelor of Engineering degree from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He lives in Berlin, CT and has two sons and two step daughters.