Did you know that several of the streets in Happy Valley were not built by the City? Neither were many of the trails, sewer pipes, or water lines. Most of the infrastructure we depend on for our everyday life was built by the property developer.

How does the City ensure the infrastructure built by developers is high quality, to standard, and accommodates more than one particular development? These are important questions that our city engineers ask with each new development.

Most developments are required to build or upgrade public facilities at their own expense. Developers are not only obligated to provide the water and sewer pipes to serve the new buildings, they often have to construct roads, trails, parks, and set land aside as open space. Examples include the Mt. Scott Nature Park and trail system; the community center, open spaces, and trail system in the Taralon Master Planned Community; and, large open spaces and trail systems in developments such as Jackson Hills and the Reserve. Fortunately, all residents get to benefit from the public facilities and amenities added to the community.

While the general public is not tasked with funding the construction of these projects, the City and Home Builder Associations are required to maintain many of them long after the developer has moved to a new site. In an effort to protect limited financial resources and decrease future maintenance, the role of our city engineers is to ensure the roads, pipes, trails, and other projects are constructed to a high standard.

Once developments are granted their land use approvals, our city engineers work with the developers and contractors to review the infrastructure design guidelines. They ensure the road widths are correct, curb cuts provide ADA accessibility, catch basins allow room for stormwater runoff, and many more standards will be followed. Once construction begins, city engineers inspect the progress.  They make sure the rock base of roads is sturdy enough to handle the weight of asphalt, concrete is cured at the proper temperature, and pipes are installed at the right depths.  The engineering team guarantees that new infrastructure is properly connected to the existing system and that new construction doesn’t damage the public right-of-way.

By reviewing plans against proven engineering design standards and inspecting the construction of infrastructure, our goal is to maximize the life of public infrastructure. City engineers are integral in safeguarding public dollars by making sure we take ownership of high-quality infrastructure that is cost-effective to maintain.