For Infrastructure Week, we’re celebrating the incredible innovations and people building critical infrastructure around the world. Andrew Pangallo, Major Projects Construction Manager for the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), is one of these individuals.
Andrew is currently working on the $2 billion I-69 Finish Line Corridor project, which spans nearly 30 miles and includes 70 bridges. He calls it a “once in a generation” type of project and has set high expectations for himself and his team in order to meet deadlines and produce an exceptional end product. Of course, technology is playing a significant role in a project of this magnitude.
In this special Infrastructure Week spotlight, we chatted with Andrew on his career in construction, pushing the technological envelope, what it’s like working on a massive roadway project, and the future of infrastructure projects, among other topics. Here’s a look at what all he had to say:
Tell us about your career journey so far. How did you end up in construction and INDOT?
I studied civil engineering at Purdue and interned with INDOT during my time there. When I graduated, I was hired on full-time with INDOT. I completed a year-long rotation working in the organization’s different departments to get a taste for what it was like and what path I wanted to pursue. I did that and quickly realized that I needed the construction experience as a civil engineer. I spent my first four years out in the field and the last five years primarily out of the office in a construction management role. I support the teams in the field, handle dispute resolution, policy, and work with tools such as BIM 360.
Tell us about your role as Major Projects Manager. What is your day-to-day like?
Right now, I am managing the I-69 Finish Line Corridor, a $2 billion project that spans 29 miles and includes 70 bridges. It’s a total corridor-wide redesign. It takes an extreme amount of coordination, trust, and communication.
The number of people it takes to complete the design and construction of this entire corridor is significant. It’s all about staying organized and planning. It is vital that we are proactive in the planning aspect of this while we’re out there. There’s a lot of work, but we’re talking hundreds if not thousands of people, all working at once. To do that, everybody needs to know what their role is. They need to be informed, and we need a way to facilitate that. We have goals and objectives, and we need to figure out how to meet them. We have been tasked to complete this project in four years, by 2024.
We would love to hear more about the project you’re working on now: I-69 Finish Line Corridor. Why has this been an exciting project to work on?
It’s the only brand-new interstate and system interchange project in the nation right now that is under construction. It’s not often you get to actually be on a project that’s new infrastructure like that. Oftentimes, we’re in this mode of rehabilitation, maybe adding travel lanes, but this is actually brand new construction. Projects like this do not come around often. When they do, they’re often once-in-a-generation-type work. On top of that, this is the route I take to work every day. I live a couple of miles away from the jobsite, and it’s one of those things where I can look back after the job was done and say, ‘I was part of that project.’
We’re setting very high expectations for ourselves with this corridor. It’s the last stretch of I-69 to finally connect to Indianapolis. This vision started nearly 20 years ago, all the way down the southwest part of our state. It took six different sections and projects and different governors to get it here. To be the one that finally connects it to the 465 loop around Indianapolis is a big deal.
How does construction technology enable your team to be successful?
It goes back to the question of ‘How do you lower your risk? How do you get this done?’ The answer is not, ‘I’m just going to try harder. I’m going to put more time in.’ Instead, it’s looking at what tools and technology exist to work smarter.
The benefits of technology also come from creating clear expectations and a sharing environment.
When you have hundreds of people on one job, you have to figure out a way to make it an environment of collaboration and transparency.
You have to find ways to reduce the traditional means of communication because you only have so much time. If technology can help you cut that amount of time, it’s worth it.
What makes working on infrastructure projects unique and fulfilling to work on?
I get immense personal satisfaction when I can drive by something and say that I was part of it. But it’s also about the opportunity to better the community as well. Infrastructure projects can change the quality of life for many people: real-time savings, real money savings, better economic opportunities, community growth, and significant improvements to safety which is most important. Knowing we have a significant community impact with what we are building is very fulfilling to me.
With more investment going into infrastructure, what are you most excited about for the future of infrastructure construction?
I’m most excited about the opportunity to enhance and capitalize on our ultimate resource: time. The ultimate limiting factor in ourselves is not money, it’s the time. We’re getting smarter, and we’re cutting down planning time and collaboration. With that time saved, we could do other things that we didn’t think were possible.
I’m also excited about the improvement infrastructure construction can make in cities. People always ask why there are potholes in the road. It’s because we could do better. Some cities have no chance to keep up. We can find ways to do that and keep on improving. I think the only way to do it is to let technology help you. It’s proven it in other cases, and it should be the same for infrastructure.