Civil Designer Roads Design Showcase

A BORN ENGINEER

SOME people have an addiction to golf, or a need for the great outdoors, but Erich Funk from Goba Consulting Engineers has an addiction to his work. He believes that you can't create Engineers or train them to be one if they are not already engineers at heart.

Erich's choice to become a civil engineer happened purely by accident when he applied for a computer science qualification and then as a second choice civil engineering. "I ended up doing Civil Engineering because I felt that it would be more challenging," he says. "Today I can look back and know that I made the right decision," says Erich as he remembers the early years.

Erich's working career first began at KBK Consulting Engineers in Pretoria where he spent eight long years learning the civil engineering ropes. His move to Goba Consulting four years ago to pursue a deep routed passion in geometric design was of course a logical step. "I've acquired a great deal of knowledge in terrace design and mass earthworks for large terraces and acquired extensive experience in roads design for provincial and urban roads. It was also at Goba that I was first exposed to Civil Designer and I have since come to love the program."

One of the projects that Erich has worked on and which he describes as "a project unlike any other", was the T15 mountain pass upgrade in the Eastern Cape. The 80km road, near the area of Mount Frere was divided into three sections. "We were responsible for the section between Mount Frere and Matatiele in conjunction with Manong & Associates and did the last 20kms of the road design with Manong & Associates completing the first 8kms of road."

"What made this project so challenging, was the geometric standards that would test the skill of any engineer. When I see a grade of 5%, warning lights usually flicker, but with this project there were grades of up to 12% with certain access roads having grades of between 16 and 18%. This is very steep, but geometrically there was just no other way to construct the design," he explains.
  The project was requested by the Eastern Cape Provincial Administration after it was found that the area was impassable, posing numerous dangers. "We went through quite an involved process to optimise the design of the road according to design standards without increasing the cost. The process started with the road being divided into three uniform sections where the various design speed standards could be applied. The result was a section of road that was designed to 80km/h with the Buffalo Nek Pass section of the road designed to 50 km/h. There were also 20kms of diversions from the area of Mount Frere all the way down to Buffalo Nek Pass, making this project a highly complex one."

"We used Civil Designer to create an accurate model of the terrain. With Civil Designer your imagination is the only limitation to what can be created. Today we have better tools and can produce a better quality of design than ever before. Even the environment has changed. If you look at a typical engineer's office today, there is less paper whereas engineers previously worked with 2m desks and rulers to accommodate the long reams of paper designs. Much has changed in this new age and the change has definitely been for the better," notes Erich.

The complicated R200 million T15 mountain pass upgrade is currently in the process of construction and is likely to take at least three years to complete. "As an engineer the projects that seem to stand out the most are the ones that seemed the most impossible. They force you to think up new ways of achieving objectives. This is what I love about my job. You are constantly being challenged to apply yourself to a problem and then come up with a sustainable long term solution. There is nothing more rewarding than achieving the right result," says this true engineer at heart.


 
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