Originally built in the 1950s, Route 202 was practically outdated the day it was done. Today, PennDOT is widening and upgrading the highway to improve traffic flow and safety. Urban’s David Metcalf is in his third year as PennDOT’s Consultant Project Manager, second in command to PennDOT’s Resident Engineer.
How did you get into this career?
I have been in construction my whole life. I had a 20-year career as a union carpenter until I went back to college in my 30s and got a degree in construction management. In 1989, I began inspecting construction and during the next 10 years worked my way up to managing projects.
What lessons have you learned along the way?
I have learned to appreciate the people I’m working with for who they are. A good manager learns the best way that each person can contribute and doesn’t spend a lot of time asking them to do something that they’re not familiar with.
What do you like most about your day?
Successfully managing and bringing a project to completion is what I like most. What I like least is the amount of paperwork because there is a part of me that still wants to be on the site. But getting the job done requires both.
What is your favorite smell?
I like the smell of freshly turned earth. When you first break ground and walk through an excavated area, it signifies the start of something that I’ll be involved with for years. However, I don’t like the smell of bituminous paving.
Do you have any advice about working with clients?
Staying flexible is important so that you can adjust your style to what the client needs. One can have opinions, but you should be able to accept that things won’t always get done your way. It’s important to understand that you are there to represent both the client and Urban.
What distinguishes Urban from other companies?
Urban makes you feel like you’re really a part of something, whereas working for other consultant firms, you’re just a warm body. I’ve never had that feeling at Urban.