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Readers share thoughts on surveying trends, more

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Letter to the Columnist
Re: Surveyors as Forward Observers 

Mr. Turner,

I so appreciated your article, “Surveyors as Forward Observers.”

I am a PE in five states and a PS in Ohio, and my work involves designing and applying for permits for a wide range of projects spanning the gamut of whatever comes through the door, including, for example, such items as site plans for new commercial buildings, infrastructure for a subdivision, floodplain evaluations, sports fields, etc.

As we all know, the survey is the first action out of the box and without a good survey, we civil engineers cannot produce a usable design. I am sure we can all agree on the importance of obtaining the correct information the first time out.

Since every project has different requirements, the relationship between surveyors and designers is ever so important in understanding the nature and demands of each project. Your article hits the nail on the head. Early understanding and acquisition of survey info is critical to project designs. For example, the needs to handle floodplain evaluations are quite different than those for designing a baseball field or a small dam.

One big issue for us has been the need to indoctrinate our surveyors to the vagaries of the project. Early on, our surveyors were so used to obtaining the level of accuracy needed for boundary surveys they took that as the standard for all surveying — obviously not needed for, say, defining a drainage area for a hydrology study. I believe upfront and constant coordination, and reminders of the specific project needs must be a goal for all us to give clients our best efforts.

Congrats on your article, and I trust many surveyors and engineers will take it to heart. I call this the “Marriage of Surveyors and Civil Engineers.” I too share your passion for leaving footsteps for those who follow us.


– Les Tinkham