Women in Construction: Ashley Neighbors-Evans

“Success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.”- Michelle Obama

The Drive288 project prides itself on establishing a work environment of diversity and inclusivity, with equal and fair treatment for everyone on the project. Mirroring the unique diversity of Houston, its team of workers come from all walks of life and take pride in the individual challenges and triumphs that brought them to the Drive288 project.

There is one worker in particular who knows a thing or two about overcoming a challenge. Meet Ashley Neighbors-Evans. Hailing from Chicago, Illinois, Ashley is a traffic engineer and a graduate of Florida A&M University. As a teenager, she slowly developed a passion for the construction field, spending her summers renovating old homes with her uncle. With five years of construction experience under her belt, she has also worked on the massive, $2 billion I35W-I820N North Tarrant Expressway project in Fort Worth—moving up the ranks as a Project Engineer/Project Manager to infrastructure, as a Traffic Coordinator/Traffic Engineer.

“I chose to be an engineer because I knew it would be exciting and challenging,” said Neighbors-Evans. “Engineering is a field that not only solves world problems but also impacts people’s lives.”

Entering a male-dominated industry, the road to Drive288 was not always easy for Ashley. She knew she had hurdles to overcome, but she was more than “up for the challenge.” Fresh out of college, she found herself applying to jobs without receiving any leads in return. Eventually, she took a step of faith and purchased a one-way ticket to Virginia in search of a job. Knocking on door after door aggressively job-hunting, she received her first job offer with a small 8A firm in Washington, D.C.

“Being the only woman in a group of men is a challenge, but it has been important for me to realize that people who do not respect me because I am a female are the exception and not the rule. I honestly embrace those experiences now because they have empowered me to be more assertive and straightforward.”

The Drive288 project is grateful to have workers like Ashley, and she is just as grateful for the cohesive atmosphere on the team.

“I really love the work environment. I like how everyone works together, as a team, coming from all different backgrounds, to get the job done,” she said. “Everyone has been very welcoming and respectful.”

 

A note from Ashley:

“I would like to thank all the strong women in my lineage who inspired me to be the best I can be, and who also taught us that we could be whoever we wanted to be. Because of you, I am where I am today and I thank you!”

Drive288 Summer Interns Spotlight

 

In The Median

Drive288 Summer Interns Spotlight

The Drive288 team has been pulsing with new energy and skills that four summer interns have brought from their diverse backgrounds and experiences. We would like to spotlight our valued team of interns and hear about their summer experience at Drive288. Read more below!

 

Name: Matthew Bryant
“The road to success is always under construction” – Lily Tomlin

Age: 23

Hometown: Angleton, TX

Education: Winter 2018 – Texas State University (Construction Science and Management)

Reason why you got into this field?:
I have always thought construction was fascinating; the way that people build these huge amazing structures always amazed me.  I want to be involved in that process, be able to look at a project that I have completed, and think to myself “Wow, I had a role in building that!”

What did you like about your internship with the Drive288 project?:
The part that I enjoyed the most was getting to be involved with the structures team. I have done earth work and paving operations before but I have never been around structures, such as columns, being built from the foundation up. It was a huge learning experience to see that in person and not just from a book in class.

What segment did you spend your time working on during your internship?
I was assigned to the North Segment. However, I did get to see the whole project and spent time with the field engineers for each aspect of the project from the South Segment all the way to the roadway team.

 What are your plans after graduation?
When I graduate, I am going to try to find a job in the Austin, Texas area since my girlfriend already has an established career in the area. I feel like I will be able to find a good job there, since there is a large amount of construction going on in the Austin area.

 


 

 

Name: Samir Wahab

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – Wayne Gretzky

Age: 20

Hometown: Houston, TX

Education: Spring 2019 – Texas A&M University (Civil Engineering)

 Reason why you got into this field?: 
Civil Engineers are responsible for designing and creating the infrastructure that supports our way of life, which is why enjoy the work in this field. Civil Engineers innovate to directly serve the people.

What did you like about your internship with the Drive288 project?:
My internship experience with the Drive288 project, and more specifically AGC, has taught me a great deal about the construction industry. At the same time, I have enjoyed getting to know the people I work with. I have enjoyed being part of such a critical roadway project that serves so many people, because it has given me insight into the development of cities.

What segment did you spend your time working on during your internship?
I was assigned to the South Segment team, but I made an effort to experience and work with a variety of teams such as the roadway team, North Segment and even the safety team. By diversifying my exposure, I now have a well-rounded understanding of the different engineering process required to successfully build an infrastructure project, according to TXDOT requirements.

What are your plans after graduation?
After undergrad, I plan to pursue a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering to further my capacity as an engineer and become closer to gaining my Professional Engineers License or PE.

 


 

Name: Adreanna Broussard– “Who Dat?! A-G-C!”

Age: 25

Hometown: Houston, TX

Education: December 2017 – The University of Texas at San Antonio (Civil Engineering)

Reason why you got into this field?:
For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed math and art. When I arrived at UTSA I knew I wanted to do Architecture. There was just something about the idea of designing a house, a building, or sky scraper that just really sparked my interest. Unfortunately, at the time, there was not a high-demand for architects. So, I switched my focus to Engineering. I chose to go the Civil-route, because I felt that it was the closest thing to architecture; in that, there is still that major influence in design and innovation.

What did you like about your internship with the Drive288 project?:
One of the things I have absolutely loved about this internship is the independence and the respect that I have received here. The opportunity, and freedom, to have all the information I could ever need in my field of work…right here… at my finger-tips, had to be the most amazing part of this experience. I’m a nerd, I love to learn; and I’m actually pretty sociable. So, being surrounded by so many people that have worked in this industry for so many years… was a real treat as far as I’m concerned.

 

What segment did you spend your time working on during your internship?
I spent majority of my time with the Safety department during my internship. But I did take it upon myself to go and tease the brains of the field engineers for tips, tools, and understandings of what they do on a day to day basis. So I guess you can say I had a pretty good mix between my Safety field-time and my Engineering field-time.

What are your plans after graduation?
My immediate plans are to clean and get a lot of sleep. Ha-ha! But I definitely plan to get a job and start work as soon as I can. I am eager to get into the field and start to apply the things that I’ve learned in class. It’s one thing to see it in a book and read about it, but it’s another thing when you’re actually putting that study into application.

 


 

Name: Ammar Osman
– “When in distress, I do my best!” – Rene Sanchez, 288 Project Equipment Manager

Age: 22

Hometown: Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.

Education: Spring 2018 – University of Houston (Civil Engineering)

Reason why you got into this field?:
As I was younger, I was always fascinated by buildings or man-made structures in general. Once in high school, my physics and math grades were not that great, which deterred me from joining the engineering program in college. Instead, I pursued the medical path. Two years into college, I realized I needed to at least give it a try. I got A’s in all of my math and physics classes and now I am just one year away from finally becoming an engineer.

What did you like about your internship with the Drive288 project?:
I honestly really enjoyed the people and the work environment here. I expected the work environment to be very uptight, since this is a big project that demands constant attention. This was not the case at all. People did finish their work on time but it did not let it stress them or the other employees out.

What segment did you spend your time working on during your internship?
I was assigned to Fabio’s team, who is in charge of the roadway. I had the pleasure to go out onto the field countless times with the field engineers.

What are your plans after graduation?
My plan is to work for a better world. It is certainly a cliché term but the other reason I wanted to become an engineer is because a majority of the structures we build are for the community. For that purpose I feel like, in a way, I am giving back to my community.

Drive288 Project Partners with Houston Launch Pad

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Drive288 Project Partners with Houston Launch Pad

Intervention Program Finds Employment Opportunities for Veterans with the Drive288 Project

NEWS RELEASE

Media Contact:
Raynese Edwards
raynese@btg288.com

 

HOUSTON, TX—August 15, 2017—The Drive288 project is committed not only to improving the flow of traffic along 10.3 miles of SH 288, but also to enriching the surrounding community whenever possible. For this reason, the project has partnered with The Houston Launch Pad, an organization that improves the lives of local veterans and others who are looking for employment, an end to homelessness, and a better life.

 

Because veterans make up 9% of the overall population but 23% of the homeless population, the services at Houston Launch Pad help veterans from the ground up. From providing a place to sleep, nutritional sustenance, and employment training, the non-profit organization is then able to work with organizations like Drive288 to get these men and women into the job force. Thanks to a generous grant from the Texas Workforce Commission, Launch Pad provides veterans with training that prepares them for work in carpentry, concrete finishing, construction, and heavy equipment operator occupations.

 

“These grants lead to skilled training and future job opportunities which expands our state’s workforce, benefiting our communities,” remarked state Sen. Borris L. Miles.

 

Drive288, along with Williams Brothers Construction and ISI Infrastructure Services, partnered with Houston Launch Pad to help 150 individuals make the transition from dependency to becoming hard-working members of the local workforce. These veterans are finding work on the highway construction project, which will ready SH 288 and the Houston area for its continued growth.

 

“This grant partnership delivers workforce solutions that will help improve workers’ job skills and is an impetus for job creation for our communities,” added state Rep. Shawn Thierry.

 

About Drive288

 

The Drive288 construction project, also known as the SH 288 Toll Lanes Expansion Project, encompasses a 10.3-mile stretch of SH 288. The project, which spans from US 59 in the north, to just past Beltway 8, includes three expansive new interchanges at Beltway 8, Loop 610, and the Texas Medical Center. The project is owned by the Texas Department of Transportation, and the lead developer is Blueridge Transportation Group. More information can be found at Drive288.com.

 

About Blueridge Transportation Group

 

Blueridge Transportation Group (BTG) was formed to deliver the design, build, finance, operation and maintenance of the SH 288 project. BTG is a preeminent group of worldwide and local companies with proven performance delivering large-scale P3 transportation projects. Get more information on BTG’s Drive288 project at Drive288.com.

 

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DBE Spotlight: Lazer Construction Company, Inc.

In The Median

DBE Spotlight

Lazer Construction Company, Inc.

Because Drive288 is dedicated to enriching the communities around our project, we value employing Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs) when choosing subcontractors. Of the project’s $815 million budget, $97.8 million is specified for employing certified DBEs. This quarter, we are featuring Lazer Construction Company, Inc. as our DBE Spotlight. Lazer Construction is currently responsible for the excavation and hauling of 800,000 cubic yards of soil, as well as base and asphalt for detour lanes to keep the freeway moving during the Drive288 construction.

Lazer Construction is a civil construction company that has been in business since 1992. The company works all around the greater Houston area, as well as in Beaumont and Galveston. As a certified DBE, MBE, and SBE, Lazer Construction certainly qualified to be hired from Drive288’s DBE budget. However, the owner, Ousley Lacy, was quick to point out this doesn’t mean getting the contract was easy.
“Yes, the certification can help get you in the door, but you must prove yourself and be competent,” said Lacy. “You must be able to present your credentials and be capable to perform. Be persistent!”

Lacy credits his company’s success to both their moral and ethical backbone, as well as their commitment to new and evolving technology. Between their hard work, and the dedication to provide customers with the most efficient new technologies, Lazer Construction ensures their customers are satisfied. By fostering a positive company culture that results in happy employees with low turnover, Lacy and his team are able to maintain the factors that makes their company great.

“As a native Texan- who moved to Houston in 1978, I’ve been driving 288 for more than 20 years, and I’m glad to be a part of Houston’s expansion,” said Lacy. “Drive288 has been fair to work for, and I look forward to working with them through the end of the project.”

In addition to the Drive288 project, the Lazer Construction Company has been a part of projects for Dynamo Stadium, IAH Airport, George R. Brown Convention Center Superbowl Improvements, the Houston METRO light rail, UTMB, and Beaumont ISD.

Drive288 Crew of Quarter: Q2 2017

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Drive288 Crew of the Quarter

Our Q2 2017 Crew is Setting Standards of Excellence

Congratulations to the Q2 Crew of the Quarter and their team members, Jose Orellana, Chad Toungate, Alejandro Arteaga, Jose Aguilar, Kevin Sturhan, Dario Ortiz, Elmer Lobos, and Joel Lopez.

 

 “To be chosen as Crew of the Quarter, a Drive288 work crew must have
no safety violations, good attendance, no quality non-conformance, and
their supervisors must complete their
Supervisor Safety Audit.”

In the Median: Quinton Salisbury

In The Median

In the Median: Quinton Salisbury

Former TSU Football Player Advances in Career

The Drive288 team is made up of people from all walks of life, and from all across the world. Although originally from Louisiana, one of the project’s engineers has since made Houston his home. Meet Quinton Salsberry, a graduate of TSU and a promising young Field Engineer on the ongoing Drive288 highway expansion project.

After attending high school in Grambling, LA, Quinton moved to Houston to play football for Texas Southern University. There, he completed two Bachelor of Science degrees, one in Civil Engineering Technology and the second in Civil Engineering. The doors opened by these degrees left Quinton able to move directly into a Field Engineer position on the Drive288 project. This construction is improving the functionality of 10.3 miles of SH 288 by implementing new toll lanes, which will enable the highway to handle traffic better than ever before.

“I really enjoyed a smooth transition from college into my career,” said Quinton. “Texas Southern did a great job preparing its students for what is expected after graduation.”

This is Quinton’s first job on a major highway construction project, and he enjoys the opportunities and challenges the position presents.

“Construction has always been something I took interest in,” he remarked. “The opportunity to get to see something built from the ground up is amazing and takes a lot of patience. I particularly like that Drive288 is a design-build project, which makes it more challenging and interesting, from an engineer’s point of view.”

As a young engineer starting out, Quinton has a leadership role on the project. In spite of some language barriers and having to earn the respect of seasoned laborers in the field, the challenges of the position have made it even more rewarding. Working with the Drive288 team has solidified Quinton’s belief in the effectiveness of the Drive288 project.

“Being a part of this team, I can see how the SH 288 construction is going to make a major impact for surrounding communities and Houston itself,” said Quinton. “The construction so far is coming along well.”

Drive288 Project Reaches Out to Community

News

Drive288 Project Reaches Out to Community

SH 288 Toll Lanes Expansion Project Gives Hope to Houstonians

NEWS RELEASE

Media Contact:
Raynese Edwards
raynese@btg288.com

 

HOUSTON, TX—May 01, 2017—Blueridge Transportation Group (BTG), lead developer on the Drive288 expansion project, has undertaken several community outreach efforts to enrich the community they serve: the people of Houston, TX. Project outreach began in 2016, launching with a donation to Turkeys for Seniors, a charity organized by Councilman Larry Green of District K; donations and a gift-giveaway to children and families through Change Happens!, a Houston-based community enrichment center; and a Saturday sponsorship of Sheila Jackson Lee’s charity, Toys for Kids.

 

Recently, the Drive288 team endorsed diversity in STEM careers to students at Southwest High School. This Career Day focused on educating future generations, like 9th grader Nathaniel Avilez, on the career options available to them in construction—both in the field and in the office—specifically for minorities and other underrepresented groups. Presenters from the project included Enrique Martin (CEO, Blueridge, Transportation Group), Fabian Iglesias (Financial Controller, Almeda-Genoa Constructors), Carla Bight (Human Resources, Almeda-Genoa Constructors), Sam Sauceda (Engineering Assistant, Blueridge Transportation Group), Ninouska Poonam (Design Engineer, Almeda-Genoa Constructors), and Raynese Edwards (Public Information Coordinator, Blueridge Transportation Group).

 

As an EEOC project and employer, Drive288 is dedicated to supporting diversity, and highlights non-majority groups who work with the project. Their Women in Construction human interest series highlights some of these individuals, such as Field Engineer, Jaclyn Tran. Along with these outreach efforts, Drive288 recently held its own Job Fair, which sought Field Supervisors, Superintendents, and Laborers to join the project. As well as supporting individuals, the $815 million project has a 12% DBE goal, and has expressed a strong commitment to work with disadvantaged businesses. These efforts are meant to build and rally the community around the construction on SH 288 through unity and inclusion, and to help the community and highway grow together. “Everyone who is working with this project is passionate about leaving a positive impact on the communities we serve,” said Raynese Edwards, Public Information Coordinator for BTG. “Our proactive involvement reflects that passion, and the willingness we have to go above and beyond for Houstonians.”

 

The construction project, which includes the Harris County section of SH 288, will add toll lanes and expansive new interchanges to a 10.3-mile stretch of roadway, from US 59 in the north to the Harris County/Brazoria County line at Clear Creek. The interchanges and 18 new direct connector/ramp bridges will improve connectivity to and from Beltway 8, IH 610 South Loop, and the Texas Medical Center. Construction is expected to last until mid-2019. Detailed updates and project information are available at Drive288.com.

 

About Drive288

The Drive288 construction project, also known as the SH 288 Toll Lanes Expansion Project, encompasses a 10.3-mile stretch of SH 288. The project, which spans from US 59 in the north, to just past Beltway 8, includes three expansive new interchanges at Beltway 8, Loop 610, and the Texas Medical Center. The project is owned by the Texas Department of Transportation, and the lead developer is Blueridge Transportation Group. More information can be found at Drive288.com.

 

About Blueridge Transportation Group

Blueridge Transportation Group (BTG) was formed to deliver the design, build, finance, operation and maintenance of the SH 288 project. BTG is a preeminent group of worldwide and local companies with proven performance delivering large-scale P3 transportation projects. More information about BTG and about the Drive288 project can be found on Drive288.com.

 

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Safety Takes Heart

In The Median

Jose Aguayo with Superintendent, Chad Toungate

Safety Takes Heart

One Drive288 Worker's Quick Response

The SH 288 construction team always keeps safety top of mind, but they’re not usually who you think of during an emergency. Last February, however, construction worker Jose Aguayo was installing piping for drainage south of the Holly Hall intersection, when something happened. A driver pulled behind the barrels near where Jose was working and waived him over. While driving on SH 288, she experienced severe chest pains, and needed help. The Drive288 worker, Jose, called 911 immediately and stayed with the driver until emergency responders arrived.

What could’ve been a disastrous situation was aided by Jose Aguayo’s quick actions. Because of his dedication to the safety of everyone who drives along the Drive288 project, one Houstonian received the vital medical care she needed promptly. Jose went above and beyond his job duties as an employee of the project, and his sharp-witted actions made the entire crew proud to work alongside him.

SH 288 Undergoes $815M Overhaul to Reduce Congestion

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SH 288 Undergoes $815M Overhaul to Reduce Congestion

Texas Contractor Magazine Details the Drive288 Project

Texas Contractor recently published an article that details the Drive288 construction project. Take a look at their take on the project by clicking the link below. 

Commonly referred to by nicknames like “Space City” and “H-Town,” the city of Houston pulses with historic prominence, a robust economy and an ever-growing multicultural population. This epicenter for business and international commerce holds the title as Texas’ most populous city – with a whopping 2.2 million residents – and draws additional visitors with attractions such as cultural events and exhibitions, renowned medical treatment facilities, higher learning institutions, and space exploration activities.

It is no wonder that Houston is home to 11 of …

Read More at Texas Contractor

Women in Construction: Jaclyn Tran

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Women in Construction: Jaclyn Tran

Work Ethic Has No Gender

The Drive288 project is a reflection of Houston itself: a combination of local and international companies, with a team of workers who represent the diverse and unique nature of our great Texan city.

One of these workers, Jaclyn Tran, is a field engineer and a graduate of Kerr High School and University of Houston—Downtown. Before joining the Drive288 project, Jaclyn started her construction career working with Houston Rapid Transit, the lightrail project which included civil works components and associated transit systems. As a Field Engineer, she has also worked on County Road 48, a 2-mile roadway and bridge expansion project, which included both civil and structural works.

“I’ve worked many different types of jobs to find where I belong now,” said Tran. “I started as an engineering intern in the construction field; I found it to be very challenging, yet satisfying to see the impact it had on the community.”

The demands of the construction field can be extreme, and many variables come into play. Weather concerns, working with subcontractors, equipment failure, and other inconveniences all must be managed while keeping the project on schedule and in line. Working effectively and efficiently is Jaclyn’s main focus, and she doesn’t let these complications deter her from the bigger picture.

“It is a gratifying feeling to see what I’ve built and the impact that it has on our community; from providing safe and quick public transportation systems, to expanding roadways and bridges to ease commute times and get our highway’s travelers home to their friends and family quicker.”

In addition to being young in her career, the dynamic of being a minority woman in a predominately male-dominated field brings its own challenges. Working with an older generation of blue-collar workers requires establishing a firm demeanor, what Jaclyn calls her “work persona.” When getting things done on the job site, or having to send someone home, being strict is often required.

“Some people may think I come across mean, but realistically I’m saying the same things and giving the exact orders as anyone in this position would,” she shared. “I always try to be approachable, but it’s not always possible to be relatable. What I’ve learned is how crucial it can be to separate my work life from my personal life.”

Despite this dynamic of the construction industry, Jaclyn is quick to point out how rewarding working with the Drive288 team has been.

“The Drive288 team really believes in inclusivity—equal, fair treatment for everyone on the project, and this really makes me feel like part of the group.”

“This type of industry thrills me,” she said, “and I cannot see myself in any other.”

Jaclyn resides in Houston with her red nose Pitbull, Riddick.