Professional Qualifications and Duties of the County Engineer
In order to be a County Engineer in the State of Ohio, the officeholder must have a dual registration — Professional Engineer (P.E.) and Professional Surveyor (P.S.) — as required by Section 315.02 of the Ohio Revised Code:
“No person holding the office of clerk of the court of common pleas, sheriff, county treasurer, or county recorder is eligible to hold the office of county engineer. No person is eligible in any county as a candidate for such office or shall be elected or appointed thereto unless he is a registered professional engineer and a registered surveyor, licensed to practice in this state.”
“Provisions of this section are mandatory, and one who is not a registered professional engineer and registered surveyor licensed to practice in state is not eligible as candidate for office of county engineer or to be elected or appointed thereto unless he shall have previously served as county engineer immediately prior to his election.”
“It is not contemplated under the provisions of this section, that two persons, one being only a registered professional engineer and the other being only a registered surveyor, may be candidates for or elected to or appointed to the office of county engineer.”
This is what the Ohio Revised Code has to say concerning a person’s eligibility for the Office of County Engineer. No other public office in Ohio commands as strict requirements for the officeholder’s duties as does the position of County Engineer.
What is a Professional Engineer?
The National Society of Professional Engineers offers this definition of a P.E.:
“Like doctors who have passed the medical boards or lawyers who have passed the bar exam, professional engineers (PEs) have fulfilled the education and experience requirements and passed the rigorous exams that, under state licensure laws, permit them to offer engineering services directly to the public. PEs take legal responsibility for their engineering designs and are bound by a code of ethics to protect the public health and safety.
“Engineering licensure laws vary from state to state, but, in general, to become a PE an individual must be a graduate of an engineering program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, pass the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, gain four years of experience working under a PE, and pass the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam.
“A state engineering licensure board regulates the licensed practice of engineering within a state.”
What is a Professional Surveyor (P.S.)
According to the State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Surveyors, a registered Professional Surveyor in Ohio is “a person who is registered as a professional surveyor as outlined in the Ohio Revised Code. The ‘practice of surveying’ means any professional service that requires the application of special knowledge of the principles of mathematics, the related physical and applied sciences, and the relevant requirements of law for the adequate performance of the art of surveying, including, but not limited to, measuring the area or the contours of any portion of the earth’s surface, the lengths and directions of the bounding lines, and the contour of the surface, for their correct determination and description and for conveyancing for recording, or for the establishment or re-establishment of land boundaries and the platting of lands and subdivisions; and like measurements and operations involved in the surveying of mines, commonly known as mine surveying.”
The State of Ohio requires that any person who holds the office of County Engineer must be a registered Professional Engineer (P.E.) and a registered Professional Surveyor (P.S.). This dual registration requires years of study, practical experience, and passing several examinations.
Duties of the County Engineer
Section 315.08 of the Ohio Revised Code states:
“The county engineer shall perform for the county all duties authorized or declared by law to be done by a registered professional engineer or registered surveyor…He shall prepare all plans, specifications, details, estimates of cost, and submit forms of contracts for the construction, maintenance, and repair of all bridges, culverts, roads, drains, ditches, roads on county fairgrounds, and other public improvements, except buildings, constructed under the authority of any board within and for the county.”
“The engineer shall not be required to prepare plans, specifications, details, estimates of costs, or forms of contracts for emergency repairs authorized under section 315.13 of the Revised Code, unless he deems them necessary.”
There are four distinct roadway systems in Ohio: The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is responsible for the State Highway System. This includes federal highways, such as interstate and U.S. routes, and state routes; Within each county, the County Engineer is responsible for a network of County roads; Township trustees oversee maintenance of their individual township systems; and, municipalities maintain streets and alleys within their boundaries.
The County Engineer works with the County Commissioners and Township Trustees to carry out a wide variety of obligations.
County Roadways: The County Engineer is responsible for all maintenance, repair, widening, resurfacing, and (re)construction of pavements and bridges in the County roadway system. Maintenance duties include traffic control, safety projects, mowing, and snow and ice control.
Township Roadways: The County Engineer serves as the engineering advisor to the township trustees for the maintenance, widening, and repair of their roads.
Bridges and Culverts: The County Engineer is fully responsible for the bridges and culverts on the County roadway system as well as certain bridges within municipalities. The Engineer is also responsible for bridges on the Township roadway system. Annual bridge inspections and evaluations of the condition and load-carrying capacity of each bridge are part of this responsibility.
The County Engineer participates in county and regional planning commissions and provides tax map drafting services for the county. In unincorporated areas, (s)he may also be involved in the establishment and maintenance of petitioned and assessed ditches, sidewalks, and even county airports. In some cases, the County Engineer also serves as the County Sanitation Engineer, supervising construction of sewer and water lines.