The first female city engineer in Columbus history soon will begin full-time work for the city, tackling revisions to the city thoroughfare plan and supervising major upcoming road projects.
Beth Fizel, a Purdue University graduate, was chosen as the new city engineer this month by Mayor Kristen Brown and is scheduled to start full-time duties in January.
Fizel has worked in Lafayette and West Lafayette in various roles, from assistant engineer to assistant city engineer.
“We are excited to have her join the city of Columbus,” Brown said. “She has great municipal experience, that is her whole career, from two communities that invest heavily in their infrastructure and are forward thinking. We think she is going to be a great addition to the team.”
The city engineer is in charge of street and sidewalk maintenance and improvements, traffic control, stormwater management and ensuring the city complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Brown said Fizel’s top priorities will include updating the street repaving and thoroughfare plans and overseeing major upcoming road projects such as those on Carr Hill Road and Indiana Avenue.
“Priority number one is moving the motor vehicles around,” Brown said.
Fizel said she expects Columbus’ attention to design and aesthetics will make her job more fun.
“It kind of gives a little bit more excitement, and I think the people of Columbus appreciate the aesthetics,” Fizel said. “You are not just doing something for the functionality of it.”
Fizel originally went to school to study aeronautical engineering but found civil engineering fit her interests better. She began working for West Lafayette right out of college.
“I really like this work,” she said. “It is just different from day to day, and the
projects are each unique in their own way. I like working with the public, and I like the different perspectives, where I am not cooped up in an office all the time.”
Brown said Fizel’s experience with bicycle and pedestrian projects will fit well with the direction of Columbus. Fizel said her experience working in West Lafayette was that engineers had to incorporate pedestrian routes in the planning because the large student population meant that those routes were going to be established even without city oversight.
“If you didn’t, they would create their own,” Fizel said. “That is definitely something that was always considered in the design and scoping.”
Fizel said her previous responsibilities ranged from right-of-way approvals to construction inspections, and from writing project specs to overseeing design of Indiana Department of Transportation funded projects.
Fizel started Dec. 2 and has been working in the local office two days a week. She will begin full-time work in Columbus next month.
Dave Hayward, the former city engineer, resigned in July after more than two years in the position to take a job with Christopher B. Burke Engineering in Indianapolis. He also served as city engineer from 1991 to 2002.