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June 2004
PBS&J Raises Charlotte Profile with Light Rail Project
By Ellison Clary

     If you’ve followed Charlotte’s light rail efforts, you’ve noticed a name with a jumble of consonants – PBS&J.
    
The letters refer to the 70-person Charlotte office of PBS&J, a firm specializing in transportation planning and design, environmental engineering, civil engineering, site planning, surveying and construction management.

     Established in 1960, PBS&J is currently ranked 21st among design firms nationwide by the Engineering News-Record. It has operated in Charlotte since 1988 when it opened with fewer than a dozen people. The Queen City office has grown steadily and has been involved with more than a few major area projects.

     In 1998, PBS&J raised its Charlotte profile when it began conceptual planning work for the city’s south corridor light rail project. PBS&J signed on with the city’s transportation department even before the creation of CATS, the Charlotte Area Transit System.

      “We’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to work on this exciting project from conceptual planning through environmental impact statement preparation and into final design,”  says Mark Boggs, the firm’s national transit planning manager.

      “Working closely with a prime contractor, we are preparing roadway design plans, coordinating all utility relocation and managing the right-of-way acquisition program,” continues Boggs.

     “We are also a major team member of the South Corridor Infrastructure Program (SCIP),” adds Michael Dozzi, senior project manager. “This program compliments the Light Rail Project by improving pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular accessibility to seven major transit stations.”

     Thus, the pace of name recognition is picking up for PBS&J in the Charlotte region and is expected to continue its acceleration. That’s because PBS&J expects to be involved in the southeast and west corridors of the 2025 Integrated Transit/Land Use Plan for Charlotte-Mecklenburg, starting this summer.

     Meanwhile, PBS&J’s Charlotte employees are getting more attention.“For the first time, just about everybody in this office has worked on the same project,” Boggs says, speaking of the south corridor light rail line that includes 15 stops.

    “CATS has set an aggressive schedule and they expect their design team to meet their schedules,” Boggs adds. “So over the Christmas holidays, I bought a lot of pizza for folks who were putting in a lot of extra time. We had a deadline to meet, so the lights were on.”

     David Leard, CATS project director for the south corridor, chuckles when he hears that. PBS&J was working on a major interim plan involving bridges and drainage and other details. The total package was 1,262 pages long.

     “I’m impressed with their work,” Leard is quick to say. “They respond well to our changing needs on a project of this scale.”

    Besides that flexibility, Leard says he also likes PBS&J’s willingness to tap resources in its 60 offices around the country, when necessary. (The firm was started in Miami and is still headquartered in Florida.)

    For the most part on the south corridor, Boggs says, the Charlotte office has used what he calls home grown talent, people hired here. “Still, one of the things we are able to do is draw people from other offices when the deadline demand is so high that we just can’t get it done here.”

     And that’s a good thing in more ways than one, he adds. “After all, we go all the way back to design and construction of the Miami rail system 20 years ago.”

 

Expanding into Larger Digs

    With Boggs and Dozzi is David Tibbals, a program manager. They’re seated at a large conference table with a pleasant view of pines and honeysuckle that just barely obscure the south rail corridor.

    It’s part of PBS&J’s expanded office on the fifth floor of 5200 77 Center Drive, just off Tyvola Road in south Charlotte and only a stone’s throw from the light rail line. At the end of 2003, PBS&J moved into nearly 21,500 square feet in the building that neighbors I-77.

    The Charlotte office had been on Woodlawn Road since 1991 and, as its employee base rose, that space had become cramped, Dozzi says. The new digs feature lots of light and open areas, much better for employees and clients alike.

    “We encourage our clients to hold meetings here and they take advantage of that,” Dozzi says. A recent open house drew more than 100 clients and friends. “They (clients) thought the place was great,”  Dozzi grins. “It was a fun way to thank our clients, peers and civic leaders.”

     Dozzi moved from PBS&J in Orlando 14 years ago when the Charlotte office was established. It was the firm’s first presence in the Carolinas. Later, offices were opened in Raleigh and Columbia. The Charlotte office has grown mostly with local hires, with about 20 percent of the workforce here imported from other PBS&J sites.

    Today, the Charlotte unit ranks in the firm’s top 25 percent in size, behind Florida offices in Miami, Orlando and Tampa and other sunbelt juggernauts such as Atlanta, Houston and Austin.

     Nationally, PBS&J employs 3,300 people and had $389 million in gross revenues in 2003. The company doesn’t break out financial figures by individual office.

     “An office is not really a profit center,” Boggs explains. “We have several different programs and each, whether transportation or land development, is a profit center. We are a functional organization as opposed to geographic. Business plans have their own financial goals.”

     Although Boggs is quick to point out, “The company has been profitable for 28 consecutive years.”

    The Charlotte office has grown consistently, Boggs adds. It’s been bolstered by such public sector projects as environmental impact studies for both the Garden Parkway contemplated for southern Gaston and western Mecklenburg counties and the Monroe connector. That stretch of asphalt would route Highway 74 traffic around that bustling Union County seat and could connect with I-485 at a possible interchange PBS&J is studying for Prosperity Church Road. All these projects are for the N.C. Department of Transportation.  

    PBS&J’s Charlotte unit is also preparing a feasibility study for upgrades to NCDOT truck weigh stations and is involved in design for a phone system that will allow motorists to dial 511 for traffic information throughout North Carolina. That is scheduled to be in operation this summer.

     The Charlotte office also led the study for NCDOT that resulted in creation of the new N.C. Turnpike Authority, which may be building toll roads in the Charlotte region soon.

    In Charlotte proper, PBJ&S’s office is working with the city to plan a more  pedestrian-friendly environment along  Stonewall Street. “It will feature enhanced ‰  eight-foot-wide sidewalks and bike lanes,” Dozzi says. Part of the plan may also include creation of a new intersection with the I-277 off-ramp at Kenilworth Avenue and South Independence Boulevard.

     The Charlotte office is also preparing a planning study for the widening of Beatties Ford Road from Capps Mill Mine Road to Lakeview Road.

    “I’d classify Charlotte as a fairly open market, where you’re able to go and prove your abilities,” Dozzi says. “If you do that, the opportunities are endless.”

 

Regional Successes Include Private Projects

     And that goes for private sector projects, as well, says Tibbals, who has been a Charlotte resident for 10 years and who concentrates on both public and private development projects.

     A big one is just across the state line in York County, where PBS&J has helped Clear Springs Development Company create the Village of Baxter, a mixed-use project at the intersection of I-77 and Highway 160 in Fort Mill, S.C. A 1,000-acre development, Baxter is part of a Springs family property master plan that encompasses more than 4,000 acres.

    “We’re actually planning the town center project,” Tibbals says. “We were  given criteria for lot sizes and we assisted in the cost estimating, engineering and construction.”

     Don Killoren, Clear Springs chief executive, praises PBS&J for attributes similar to those that impress Leard of the city of Charlotte. “PBS&J is a very strong organization and the Charlotte office will import talent as needed,” Killoren says.

      When analysis of a complex grading and utilities situation was necessary last year, Killoren says, Tibbals didn’t have to be asked to bring in a PBS&J expert from Orlando and another from Atlanta.

     Also in York County, Charlotte PBS&J worked with Crescent Resources in designing the corporate headquarters for Muzak in the Lakemont Business Park. In northern Mecklenburg, PBS&J is designing several phases of the mixed use town of Vermillion for Bowman Development Group.

     Tibbals got involved in the public sector with design as well as construction management for a CATS park-and-ride facility in the Huntersville Gateway master planned community. It features a 200-space parking facility with covered and secure bicycle storage.

     He worked with noted Asheville sculptor Hoss Haley to provide a focus element for the park-and-ride. It’s a six-foot-high metal disk that represents motion.

     Even with this high-profile work, there are PBS&J attributes that Tibbals, Dozzi and Boggs hope they can make better known throughout greater Charlotte.

     For instance, Tibbals likes the ownership opportunities for every employee. Since many do invest in the company, he says, they promote the corporate culture of integrity, hard work and loyalty.

     Boggs points out that trade publication CE News listed PBS&J second nationally on its list of best engineering firms to work for in 2003.

     Communication is open throughout the firm, Dozzi adds. “I can call Mr. Zumwalt (President and Chief Executive John B. Zumwalt III, based in Miami) and speak to him directly anytime,” he says. 

    Dozzi also likes PBS&J University, a program of on-line training courses in

areas such as leadership and project management.

    In Charlotte, as well as throughout its system, PBS&J encourages employee involvement in volunteer projects. Paige Yandle, senior marketing coordinator, is proud that many Charlotte employees participate in community betterment organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Charlotte, Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte, the American Red Cross Charlotte chapter, Junior Achievement of Central Carolinas and Mecklenburg County Special Olympics.

     That brings the executives around to PBS&J’s overall profile in Charlotte.

     “Locally, we have been known as a transportation firm,” says Dozzi, “and we have a pretty good reputation. However, we have been working toward becoming recognized as a multi-disciplined office.

     “I am proud of what we accomplished,” Dozzi adds. “We’re getting there. I can definitely see that (expanded recognition) happening in the next five years.”
      
The letters refer to the 70-person Charlotte office of PBS&J, a firm specializing in transportation planning and design, environmental engineering, civil engineering, site planning, surveying and construction management.

      Established in 1960, PBS&J is currently ranked 21st among design firms nationwide by the Engineering News-Record. It has operated in Charlotte since 1988 when it opened with fewer than a dozen people. The Queen City office has grown steadily and has been involved with more than a few major area projects.

     In 1998, PBS&J raised its Charlotte profile when it began conceptual planning work for the city’s south corridor light rail project. PBS&J signed on with the city’s transportation department even before the creation of CATS, the Charlotte Area Transit System.

    “We’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to work on this exciting project from conceptual planning through environmental impact statement preparation and into final design,”  says Mark Boggs, the firm’s national transit planning manager.

    “Working closely with a prime contractor, we are preparing roadway design plans, coordinating all utility relocation and managing the right-of-way acquisition program,” continues Boggs.

    “We are also a major team member of the South Corridor Infrastructure Program (SCIP),” adds Michael Dozzi, senior project manager. “This program compliments the Light Rail Project by improving pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular accessibility to seven major transit stations.”

     Thus, the pace of name recognition is picking up for PBS&J in the Charlotte region and is expected to continue its acceleration. That’s because PBS&J expects to be involved in the southeast and west corridors of the 2025 Integrated Transit/Land Use Plan for Charlotte-Mecklenburg, starting this summer.

     Meanwhile, PBS&J’s Charlotte employees are getting more attention.“For the first time, just about everybody in this office has worked on the same project,” Boggs says, speaking of the south corridor light rail line that includes 15 stops.

     “CATS has set an aggressive schedule and they expect their design team to meet their schedules,” Boggs adds. “So over the Christmas holidays, I bought a lot of pizza for folks who were putting in a lot of extra time. We had a deadline to meet, so the lights were on.”

     David Leard, CATS project director for the south corridor, chuckles when he hears that. PBS&J was working on a major interim plan involving bridges and drainage and other details. The total package was 1,262 pages long.

    “I’m impressed with their work,” Leard is quick to say. “They respond well to our changing needs on a project of this scale.”

    Besides that flexibility, Leard says he also likes PBS&J’s willingness to tap resources in its 60 offices around the country, when necessary. (The firm was started in Miami and is still headquartered in Florida.)

    For the most part on the south corridor, Boggs says, the Charlotte office has used what he calls home grown talent, people hired here. “Still, one of the things we are able to do is draw people from other offices when the deadline demand is so high that we just can’t get it done here.”

   And that’s a good thing in more ways than one, he adds. “After all, we go all the way back to design and construction of the Miami rail system 20 years ago.”

 

Expanding into Larger Digs

     With Boggs and Dozzi is David Tibbals, a program manager. They’re seated at a large conference table with a pleasant view of pines and honeysuckle that just barely obscure the south rail corridor.

      It’s part of PBS&J’s expanded office on the fifth floor of 5200 77 Center Drive, just off Tyvola Road in south Charlotte and only a stone’s throw from the light rail line. At the end of 2003, PBS&J moved into nearly 21,500 square feet in the building that neighbors I-77.

      The Charlotte office had been on Woodlawn Road since 1991 and, as its employee base rose, that space had become cramped, Dozzi says. The new digs feature lots of light and open areas, much better for employees and clients alike.

    “We encourage our clients to hold meetings here and they take advantage of that,” Dozzi says. A recent open house drew more than 100 clients and friends. “They (clients) thought the place was great,”  Dozzi grins. “It was a fun way to thank our clients, peers and civic leaders.”

     Dozzi moved from PBS&J in Orlando 14 years ago when the Charlotte office was established. It was the firm’s first presence in the Carolinas. Later, offices were opened in Raleigh and Columbia. The Charlotte office has grown mostly with local hires, with about 20 percent of the workforce here imported from other PBS&J sites.

     Today, the Charlotte unit ranks in the firm’s top 25 percent in size, behind Florida offices in Miami, Orlando and Tampa and other sunbelt juggernauts such as Atlanta, Houston and Austin.

      Nationally, PBS&J employs 3,300 people and had $389 million in gross revenues in 2003. The company doesn’t break out financial figures by individual office.

     “An office is not really a profit center,” Boggs explains. “We have several different programs and each, whether transportation or land development, is a profit center. We are a functional organization as opposed to geographic. Business plans have their own financial goals.”

     Although Boggs is quick to point out, “The company has been profitable for 28 consecutive years.”

     The Charlotte office has grown consistently, Boggs adds. It’s been bolstered by such public sector projects as environmental impact studies for both the Garden Parkway contemplated for southern Gaston and western Mecklenburg counties and the Monroe connector. That stretch of asphalt would route Highway 74 traffic around that bustling Union County seat and could connect with I-485 at a possible interchange PBS&J is studying for Prosperity Church Road. All these projects are for the N.C. Department of Transportation.  

     PBS&J’s Charlotte unit is also preparing a feasibility study for upgrades to NCDOT truck weigh stations and is involved in design for a phone system that will allow motorists to dial 511 for traffic information throughout North Carolina. That is scheduled to be in operation this summer.

     The Charlotte office also led the study for NCDOT that resulted in creation of the new N.C. Turnpike Authority, which may be building toll roads in the Charlotte region soon.

    In Charlotte proper, PBJ&S’s office is working with the city to plan a more  pedestrian-friendly environment along  Stonewall Street. “It will feature enhanced ‰  eight-foot-wide sidewalks and bike lanes,” Dozzi says. Part of the plan may also include creation of a new intersection with the I-277 off-ramp at Kenilworth Avenue and South Independence Boulevard.

     The Charlotte office is also preparing a planning study for the widening of Beatties Ford Road from Capps Mill Mine Road to Lakeview Road.

      “I’d classify Charlotte as a fairly open market, where you’re able to go and prove your abilities,” Dozzi says. “If you do that, the opportunities are endless.”

 

Regional Successes Include Private Projects 

   And that goes for private sector projects, as well, says Tibbals, who has been a Charlotte resident for 10 years and who concentrates on both public and private development projects.

     A big one is just across the state line in York County, where PBS&J has helped Clear Springs Development Company create the Village of Baxter, a mixed-use project at the intersection of I-77 and Highway 160 in Fort Mill, S.C. A 1,000-acre development, Baxter is part of a Springs family property master plan that encompasses more than 4,000 acres.

  “We’re actually planning the town center project,” Tibbals says. “We were  given criteria for lot sizes and we assisted in the cost estimating, engineering and construction.”

    Don Killoren, Clear Springs chief executive, praises PBS&J for attributes similar to those that impress Leard of the city of Charlotte. “PBS&J is a very strong organization and the Charlotte office will import talent as needed,” Killoren says.

     When analysis of a complex grading and utilities situation was necessary last year, Killoren says, Tibbals didn’t have to be asked to bring in a PBS&J expert from Orlando and another from Atlanta.

     Also in York County, Charlotte PBS&J worked with Crescent Resources in designing the corporate headquarters for Muzak in the Lakemont Business Park. In northern Mecklenburg, PBS&J is designing several phases of the mixed use town of Vermillion for Bowman Development Group.

     Tibbals got involved in the public sector with design as well as construction management for a CATS park-and-ride facility in the Huntersville Gateway master planned community. It features a 200-space parking facility with covered and secure bicycle storage.

     He worked with noted Asheville sculptor Hoss Haley to provide a focus element for the park-and-ride. It’s a six-foot-high metal disk that represents motion.

     Even with this high-profile work, there are PBS&J attributes that Tibbals, Dozzi and Boggs hope they can make better known throughout greater Charlotte.

     For instance, Tibbals likes the ownership opportunities for every employee. Since many do invest in the company, he says, they promote the corporate culture of integrity, hard work and loyalty.

      Boggs points out that trade publication CE News listed PBS&J second nationally on its list of best engineering firms to work for in 2003.

     Communication is open throughout the firm, Dozzi adds. “I can call Mr. Zumwalt (President and Chief Executive John B. Zumwalt III, based in Miami) and speak to him directly anytime,” he says. 

     Dozzi also likes PBS&J University, a program of on-line training courses in

areas such as leadership and project management.

      In Charlotte, as well as throughout its system, PBS&J encourages employee involvement in volunteer projects. Paige Yandle, senior marketing coordinator, is proud that many Charlotte employees participate in community betterment organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Charlotte, Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte, the American Red Cross Charlotte chapter, Junior Achievement of Central Carolinas and Mecklenburg County Special Olympics.

    That brings the executives around to PBS&J’s overall profile in Charlotte.

     “Locally, we have been known as a transportation firm,” says Dozzi, “and we have a pretty good reputation. However, we have been working toward becoming recognized as a multi-disciplined office.

     “I am proud of what we accomplished,” Dozzi adds. “We’re getting there. I can definitely see that (expanded recognition) happening in the next five years.”

Ellison Clary is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.
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