Lancaster County Engineer Pam Dingman was our speaker on February 15, 2019 at Lincoln South Rotary Club. The primary focus of her presentation was the preservation of bridges.
According to the County Engineer Mission and Goals: The office designs, constructs, inspects, maintains and repairs county roads, streets and bridges. Streets in unincorporated villages are part of the county road system. The office prepares a one- and six-year road and bridge improvement program and budget. The County Surveyor, who is appointed, makes and records land surveys, reviews land subdivision requests and land access approvals. Other duties include: preparing plat maps and drawings; filing land surveys performed by private land surveyors. 
Dingman is the first woman to be elected County Engineer in Nebraska.  As Lancaster County Engineer she oversees 100 employees in 18 locations around the Lancaster County. 
Pam started by talking about the difficulty of women in the male-dominated field of Engineering. She was first appointed to the vacated engineer position in 2015 and then elected in 2018. She said that she was not welcome by all - as she discovered on her first day in office that her desk drawer and county truck had been rigged with razor blades. She said there were times in the past when plans and papers were submitted without first names to ensure the recipient was not aware if it was submitted by a male or female. In some cases the female contributors had their names removed.
Even though it is a male-dominated field, the Society of Women Engineers was founded in 1950. The organization has 35,000 members. They focus on education and professional development.
Pam commented that her office is working very hard at improving environmental awareness. They have changed the type of blade that they use on their vehicles - they now last longer and use more environmentally friendly materials. The county is using about 30% less salt on roads in the winter than in the past. It is better for the environment but still provides safety for the traveling public.
Looking at the status of bridges, Dingman reported that in 1975 95% of the Lancaster County bridges were unsafe. It was reported in 1978 that 40 bridges may be closed. Also in 1978 there were 5 bridges failed with people on them. 
The estimate in 1975 was that it would take $9million per year for the next 20 years to bring the bridges into compliance. Yet this year they only have $2.5 million to use on bridge maintenance.
Pam shows us photos demonstrating the status of bridges with washed out areas and corrosion of the materials. She referred to Scour Critical Bridges - those where the material behind / beneath the bridges has washed away. As those areas wash away we find that there is no longer an "approach" to the bridge - the road is washed out.
Because of the condition of our bridges, her staff has to spend a great deal of time inspecting and certifying bridges instead of designing. Any time there is a rain of 4 inches, or if any creek is above normal level for 10 hours or more, all bridges need to be inspected.
Dingman's hope is that within the next year we can remove 34 bridges from the list of bridges needing immediate attention.
Pamela Dingman is the first woman to be elected County Engineer in Nebraska.  As Lancaster County Engineer she oversees 100 employees in 18 locations around the Lancaster County.  She is responsible for the design, maintenance, and construction of nearly 1300 miles of county roads and over 300 bridges.  Prior to being elected Lancaster County Engineer she was the owner of Engineering Design Consultants a Civil Engineering firm in Lincoln, Nebraska.  She has received the Society of Women Engineers Entrepreneur Award, American Business Women’s Association Top 10 Award, and the University of Nebraska Distinguished Young Alumni Award.  She has two adult children.