A WELL-PAVED PATH Spotlight on Georgia Department of Transportation Deputy Commissioner Mike Dover Born and bred in Georgia, Mike Dover has really gone places – without having to stray very far. Growing up in the small town of Toccoa, Georgia, he learned the inherent values of integrity, sincerity and a strong work ethic. As a child, he was inquisitive, quick at problemsolving, had a knack for math, and, maybe not so surprisingly, favored Matchbox cars. This led him to pursue an engineering degree, first at Young Harris College, and eventually further south to Southern Polytechnic State University (Southern Poly) where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering Technology. Fresh out of college, Dover accepted a position on a location survey crew with the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT)… and he’s been with GDOT ever since. “Southern Poly offered a lot of handson experience and that proved a terrific fit for GDOT, which also offers its young hires a lot of immersive experience,” recalled Dover. “At that time, the path to civil engineering was through surveying – and, I actually think it’s great advice for recent civil engineering grads to get a strong basis in that field first. I moved on from surveying to construction. I loved seeing projects come to fruition – there’s nothing more rewarding than to watch a project you’ve worked on for years become operational and that’s still true today.” As someone who has been at the start of groundbreaking managed lanes projects, Dover is eagerly anticipating the realization of the managed lanes on I-75. Beginning with the design phase during 2010-2011, these lanes are expected to be up and running in early 2017 for tolling. Among other projects of which Dover is most proud – and perhaps best known – is his involvement in managing the first phase of the Transportation Investment Act (TIA) projects. He credits TIA with immense growth – both personally and professionally. Because TIA works at the local level, Dover was able to strengthen his ties with stakeholders in communities throughout the state. The referendum passed in the Central Savannah River Area, Heart of Georgia-Altamaha and River Valley in 2010. In turn, these regions implemented a one percent regional sales tax to fund transportation improvements. Collection of these TIA funds began January 1, 2013. “The Transportation Investment Act took a lot of hard work,” said Dover. “It’s a fantastic program and accomplishment – building confidence in the Department and with our stakeholders. It proves that we can deliver projects when additional revenue is provided.” Of course, topping the list of his proudest accomplishments is his appointment to Deputy Commissioner, which became official on August 1, 2015. From his first days on a survey crew, Dover has steadily climbed the ladder of success in a number of various and diverse roles, including Engineering Project Manager, Executive Staff Engineer/Executive Assistant to the Commissioner, Assistant Innovative Program Delivery Engineer, Transportation Investment Act Administrator and finally, Deputy Commissioner. Over the course of his career, he has served as a member of the Innovative Delivery Team in the General Office, where he implemented the Department’s Public Private Initiative (PPI) program. As Assistant State Innovative Program Delivery Engineer, he served as the Program Manager of GDOT’s designbuild program. When reflecting over the past 26 years at GDOT and looking ahead to the coming years, Dover cannot deny his enthusiasm for the recent passage of The Transportation Funding Act of 2015 (House Bill 170) and what that means for the state. “Implementation of The Transportation Funding Act of 2015 allows us to look at the big picture from a funding perspective,” stated Dover. “[Georgia’s] been dealing with a lack of funding in transportation for 15 years. Now, we can look forward to the continued implementation of TIA, the realization of exciting projects like the managed lanes on I-75 and deepening of the Savannah Harbor and enhancements to our routine maintenance program. Most importantly, we can begin building our capital maintenance program and tackle projects that have been on the books for a long time. We can fix things we haven’t been able to fix, rather than watch them deteriorate further. We can take a strategic look at projects for which we wish to use state funding and apply federal funding to finance maintenance. We need to take care of our bridges with bridge bond funds. It’s time to reclaim our infrastructure, and House Bill 170 will allow us to do that.” Dover also points to technology playing a major role in the future of transportation. What began with the Georgia Navigator System during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta will grow exponentially in the coming years as GDOT ventures further into the digital age for the safety of Georgia’s citizens and relief of congestion throughout the state. Among the changes within sight – or currently underway – are tolling and reversible express lanes, variable speed limit signage, adaptive signaling projects, interstate weighin motion devices and, ultimately, autonomous vehicles. A major challenge for the Department will be keeping up with technology as it continually changes, but Dover believes this can be lessened with the hiring of an everevolving and dynamic workforce. Dover is optimistic that Georgia’s transportation future is bright and looks forward to watching it progress over the course of the next 26 years.
Published by American Council of Engineering Companies of Georgia. View All Articles.
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