I was recently reminded of Houston’s growing size. This past weekend I was driving through the galleria and needed to merge onto highway 59 south from Hidalgo Street, which proved more challenging than I anticipated. All three lanes of 610 south were closed, so traffic was forced to exit and take either highway 59 south or highway 59 north. As Houstonians you can imagine the traffic jam that ensued at mid-day on Saturday. I drive on the Westpark Toll Road and highway 59 daily, so experiencing delays due to construction has been par-for-the-course for many months. However, I’ve grown so accustomed to seeing the construction equipment and the steady progress of elevated roadway that I did not comprehend how much work has been ongoing. Houston is a growing city!
According to the Greater Houston Partnership, since 2010, our metropolitan area added 1.1 million residents and is expected to exceed 7 million residents in 2020. We grew by 92,000 residents in 2019 alone. That population growth is a testament to our economy, culture and opportunities.
This explains the need for improved and expanded roadways, single family residential housing, high-rise residential housing, parking garages, retail space, office buildings and so many other structures. Some of this demand can be accommodated by our existing infrastructure and building inventory, and some by necessity will require new construction. There are so many opportunities for our industry to showcase our ingenuity through reuse and retrofit work, through new design projects and through the petrochemical industry that employs so many people.
Our growing city is attracting young and old. The blend of job opportunities and standard of living means graduating engineering students see Houston as a great place to start their careers, and experienced engineers see Houston’s secure job market as the means of confidently and affordably raising their family. We do not want these engineers to be isolated however. A strong network within our at-large community is important to prevent industry stagnation and to keep us offering our best work. This is how we are going to be attractive to the best in our field who choose jobs not by compensation alone, but also by the challenge and variety of their work.
The growth of greater Houston shows that we are an attractive city for many people. At SEAoT Houston/Gulf Coast we are striving to offer a supportive community that extends networking circles beyond companies’ borders. We do this through offering excellent seminars that expand your knowledge and spark your creativity while supplying PDHs, by joining with other industry groups to host networking events that are fun and worthwhile, and by expanding the knowledge of our industry to our community through volunteer outreach.
I encourage you to participate in our association, and I encourage you to tell your fellow engineers to participate, whether with SEAoT, ACI, ASCE/SEI, ICRI, or other groups. Your engagement is important to creating and maintaining our strong engineering community.
Please reach out and tell us your ideas for community engagement, continuing education topics and ways to improve how we offer you support. Be safe among all the ongoing construction and remember that the traffic delays and re-routes are a sign of our thriving community!