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By Devese “Dee” Ursery
An Illinois Department of Transportation engineer is celebrating 28 years of dedicated service to the agency this month.
Annie Prothro is the project studies engineer for the Locations Studies secretion of IDOT. She has held various positions for the department in District 8 of Region 5, which covers the southernmost part of Illinois.
Prothro started with IDOT in June of 1994, as a engineer technician, where she would visit sites to record survey measurements and other descriptive data. She explains her current position as project studies engineer.
“My job entails performing Phase I studies for proposed transportation improvements,” Prothro said. “Project plans are produced based on the findings and recommendations discussed in the project report.”
In Prothro’s 28-year career, she has held a number of positions, such as construction inspector, plats and plans technician, and quality control/quality assurance plant inspector. Her current job involves her executing phase I studies for proposed transportation enhancements. Phase I is the preliminary engineering and environmental studies portion of a project involving IDOT.
“Depending on the complexities of the project and the characteristics of the surrounding environment, various analyses are performed to identify the preferred improvement,” Prothro said. “The data gathered, study results and recommendations are documented in a project report.”
Prothro received her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering with a minor in Mathematics from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She is also in the final stages of receiving her Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering. Prothro explained that project plans are generated based on discoveries and recommendations discussed in project reports that she has written.
“The most important impact of my work is the recommended improvement that results from the phase I study,” Prothro continued.
Prothro said that she couldn’t decide between crash analysis or public involvement as her favorite part of her job. She believes that the combination of the two ensures more of a universal way to manage project needs.
“Crash analysis gives insight into what occurs at a location from a safety perspective, while public involvement gives context to what the general public feels are key issues.” Prothro said.
When it comes to projects she is most proud of, Prothro said, it’s hard because every project has its own uniqueness about it that makes each special.
“I will say it was fun working on the World Shooting Complex, which is located in Sparta,” Prothro said.
The 1,600 acre complex contains three lakes and includes 120 trap houses and two sporting clay courses. The complex also includes 24 combination trap/skeet fields, a 3-D archery range, and cowboy action shooting, along with 340 campsites.
Prothro said she would like to create internship and co-op programs to garner more interest in civil engineering. She is in the midst of retooling a past internship program to eventually encourage graduating high school and college students to choose careers with the department.
She also helps out in the department by mentoring other civil engineers in training as well as tutoring high school and college students in math and science. “Since I have four children, I spend a lot of time volunteering at our junior and senior high schools,” Prothro said.
Outside of the office, Prothro says that she enjoys reading, traveling, bowling and playing volleyball, but most of all loves to spend time with family. Although IDOT is honoring her time of continued dedicated service, Prothro mentions how she enjoys her coworkers and they make it a comfortable work environment.
“I have some of the best coworkers,” Prothro said. “Everyday is not easy, but there is always someone to bounce ideas around with or to simply tell a joke. This positive work environment makes for a more cohesive work unit.”