Town Engineer Retires After 32 Years

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Jerry Turbet retired in January 2021 as Suffield’s Town Engineer after 32 years of service. He started his tenure here on August 15, 1988, bringing his expertise from 14 years of work with construction firms.

Retired Town Engineer Gerald Turbet is pictured at his desk shortly before he retired
Photo by Lester Smith

When he started, many of the roads and bridges in town were in poor condition. Because there was not a lot of town money budgeted for these projects, the work on setting up and designing these jobs was slow, and only smaller projects were carried out. Over time, as budgets increased, many larger road and bridge projects were completed.

As the budgets increased the projects became bigger and more complicated. Jerry’s job included design, working with consultants and surveyors, and, toward the end of his career, he worked on several larger projects as project manager.

When Jerry started, the town work force was considerably smaller. There was no Public Works Department at that time, but he developed good working relationships with other departments, especially the Highway Department. And as you might expect, the job description changed over time as technology made it easier to do work, but also expanded what could be done.

As state and federal grant programs became more available, four bridges in town were started in the 1990s – on Taintor Street, Hill Street, Suffield Street and South Grand Street. Most were not finished until the early 2000s. Grant submissions required more paperwork and the process included submitting designs as well as selecting construction firms who bid on the construction projects. By the time Jerry retired, seven bridges had been repaired or constructed, the last being the Remington Street bridge.

Another project Jerry worked on was a design for the Suffield section of the Farmington Valley Trail project in West Suffield, which was also a grant project. Anyone who has had the opportunity to walk that trail can appreciate the work that went into that.

Road projects that Jerry originally started on were Overhill Drive and the Views. Most of the technology in the 1980s and 90s would be considered primitive now, but as the technology improved it became easier to design plans for the roads so the projects could be put out to bid more quickly. State and local road programs supported by grants included the Canal Road, Harvey Lane and Thrall Avenue projects.

Jerry also worked closely with the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z), since they looked to him for information regarding regulatory expectations. He attended almost all these meetings to provide information on the engineering requirements that P&Z needed in order to take a project through to acceptance. He also worked with the Conservation Commission from 2002-2008 as the conservation consultant, which turned out to be helpful when projects might have concerns regarding wetlands.

Some of Jerry’s favorite memories involved road and drainage projects, since the network of roads in certain areas required design skill which he enjoyed. The bridge projects were long and drawn out, but satisfying to see completed, some of which took five to six years. The design and estimates worked up by Jerry for some of the town roadwork was done by our Highway Department, another satisfying job.

Most of the roads in town had been improved/upgraded by the time Jerry retired, and we thank him for all his time, effort and dedication.

In retirement, Jerry is catching up on all the home projects he’s put off and hoping to get some travel in as the weather improves.

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