West Central Reporter

West Central Reporter

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Road Warrior: Pike County engineer ensures public safety on more than 1,000 miles of blacktop


By Kasey Schefflin- Emrich | Sep 13, 2019


Civil engineer Chris Johnson is dedicated to ensuring the public can safely travel throughout Pike County.

“My number one goal is public safety for the drivers on the roads and bridges in the county,” Johnson told West Central Reporter. “I work to keep the system in good order and plan for repairs or upgrades when needed with the resources we have available to us.”

Johnson was hired as Pike County engineer in May 2009.

“In my role along with our staff, we interact with several municipalities, 24 townships – with over 1,000 miles of roads – and our 130 miles of county roads on multiple issues that arise in maintaining and improving the roads in the county,” he said. “I would say my favorite thing about the job is the variety of work. Honestly, no two days are the same. We deal with so many things it keeps it interesting.”

Among the things Johnson deals with are coordinating routine maintenance on the county highway system, coordinating the design and construction of bridge and roadway projects, inspecting bridges, maintaining road signs on highways, coordinating with power line and pipeline projects, working with emergency management to coordinate the handling of potential disaster situations, coordinating equipment bidding and purchases and answering Freedom of Information Act requests regarding highway-related topics.

“Like with any job, there are good and bad days but there are way more good than bad for sure,” Johnson said. “A good day would be when our daily job – be it mowing, plowing snow, replacing a culvert or patching a road – goes smooth, no one gets hurt and none of the equipment breaks down. A bad day would be a staff injury on the job, a snowplow breaking down in a storm, a tractor getting stuck mowing, or a flood closing a road or damaging a road. A real bad day is having to close a bridge due to a structural problem found during inspections.”

Johnson was born in Pittsfield and raised in Pike County until he moved to Missouri in the second grade. He currently lives in Pike County near Griggsville. 

Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Prior to becoming an engineer for Pike County, he worked in highway design for public and private engineering firms. 

“I started thinking about becoming a civil engineer when I was 16 years old,” Johnson said. “My dad was in the construction industry and I guess that led me to engineering. I was able to see through his career that there is a need for civil engineers all over the country and the work they do impacts everyone’s lives in many ways. I was always good at math and science, so the engineering track interested me as a way to do some good and make a living.”

When he’s not ensuring the public safety of Pike County drivers, Johnson enjoys spending his time bass fishing and deer hunting.

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