By Mark Wight, Wight & Company
September 2, 2021
Collaboration has been ingrained in the culture of Wight & Company since our storied history began more than 80 years ago. Although we originally started as a civil engineering and land surveying firm, architecture was added in the 1960s. Construction rounded out our portfolio in the 1990s, leading to the launch of our Design Led-Design Build model. Today, this integrated approach enables us to better communicate and cultivate success as a singular, cohesive team while providing our clients with unprecedented cost and time savings.
While the triumphs of Design Led-Design Build in the vertical market are a highlight of Wight & Company’s overall narrative, our story is still unfolding. As today’s chapters begin taking shape, we are circling back to our roots of transportation and infrastructure. Not only have we invested in an influx of talented, experienced Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) team members, but we’re upping the ante in terms of innovation and new technology applications.
Under the leadership of President Mike McMurray, our Transportation and Infrastructure team has begun incorporating tools like 3-D and 4-D modeling and visualization, LiDAR scanning, drone imagery, and Graphic Information System integration into their projects. In addition, the T&I group recognizes the potential of a wide array of new and emerging technologies, such as traffic data collection from connected vehicles.
Using today’s technology, we can gather more reliable information to facilitate our designs and then build models to help us better visualize those applications. By centering all of these processes—from planning to construction to lifecycle asset management—around a model-based environment, we can achieve more sustainable, efficient, and future-forward results.
The country’s renewed interest in infrastructure and transportation inspires our team to constantly look for better ways to do their work. We’re excited about the number of projects on the horizon. For example, Chicago’s capital improvement plan will spend $11.7 billion over the next five years and the largest component of it will be $2.6 billion for transportation projects. Another $1.7 billion will be allocated to neighborhood infrastructure projects and streetscaping. Illinois’s historic capital improvement plan will make $45 billion worth of investments over the next six years, with $25.3 billion of that appropriated for roads & bridges. Then, add what the federal government is going to spend on top of all that.
There is no better time for companies like ours to invest in new equipment and technology as well as in our people. It’s especially prudent to attract younger talent. For example, most recently graduated engineers learned 3-D modeling techniques in college and will be looking to apply those skills on the job.
Now is also the time for the industry as a whole to find more efficient and sustainable ways to achieve the best results. Rather than continuing to use old, outmoded methodologies, the industry owes it to communities and taxpayers to bring a more holistic approach to planning and design that considers equity, the environment, and sustainability. It’s vital that we do the right thing for our clients and their constituents, not just be the most inexpensive solution.
Wight & Company is uniquely positioned to take on a leadership role within the industry because, as a mid-sized firm, we’re not only nimble, but we have the resources to try new things. We can approach clients with innovative ideas and cutting-edge solutions to problems they often do not even realize exist yet.
We also care about getting things done the right way because we are invested in Illinois. We live here. We work here. We use the roads, trains, and bike lanes to get around. We pay taxes here, too.
The work we do at Wight & Company touches millions of people every day. Many times, we are seen as an extension of our clients, so we owe it to the public, to ourselves, and to our children to view our work as an investment in the future. We have been presented with a once-in-a-decade opportunity to do a lot of needed infrastructure improvements, so we know we need to invest wisely.
Our Transportation & Infrastructure team is weaving a new chapter into Wight & Company’s already successful storyline. By seeking out-of-the-box solutions via cutting-edge technologies, we are able to merge our collaborative nature with our pioneering spirit to achieve creative, cost-effective, and equitable real world results.