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The Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) has named veteran civil engineer Samuel Fitzer the new director of the agency’s Engineering Department.
Fitzer, of Clawson, comes to the agency with more than 14 years of wide-ranging civil engineering experience from across the country. The California native is also a former United States Marine (he did two tours in Iraq during the Iraq War), He holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a master’s degree in structural engineering, both from San Francisco State University.
“We are thrilled to have Sam join our management team,” stated RCOC Managing Director Dennis Kolar. “He is highly qualified, and we are sure he will help ensure that we provide the highest level of service possible for the residents, motorists and businesses of Oakland County.”
The RCOC Engineering Department includes about 70 employees across five divisions: Design, Construction, Right of Way, Programming and Subdivision Improvement and Development (SID). The department annually oversees more than $40 million worth of road-construction projects; oversees approximately 415 bridges and culverts; acquires all the necessary right of way for road projects; pursues and tracks federal, state and local funding sources; oversees all special assessment district (SAD) subdivision street resurfacing projects; and much more.
Prior to joining RCOC, Fitzer served in the private sector as a design manager for various road and transit projects; as a construction technical advisor for Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) projects; and was a lead materials and materials-testing engineer for various California Department of Transportation projects.
“I was the lead materials engineer for the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge replacement project and was part of the program management team for the California High-Speed Rail project,” Fitzer said.
Fitzer replaces long-time RCOC Engineering Director Tom Blust, who retired recently. “I have some big shoes to fill,” he noted. “There are a lot of things that the Road Commission does that it is rightfully proud of, and I want to make sure we continue to do those things well.”
He added he hopes to help ensure that the agency gets the most value for its expenditures, especially in the area of road construction. “Construction is the biggest step in delivering a project. A lot of time and money is spent , and its significance goes up when you factor in safety, quality of life and the economic impact of the roads,” Fitzer noted.
“Ultimately, we are using taxpayers’ money, and we must be good shepherds of that money.” He added that because road construction is a highly visible activity, it’s critical that project costs align with the agency’s vision and intended scope for the projects.
When not working, Fitzer enjoys running and bicycling as well as spending time working on his yard. He also enjoys riding motorcycles, though he sold his bike when he moved to Michigan from California. “I do hope to get a new one,” he said.
Noting he moved to Michigan last August and started at the Road Commission this July, Fitzer said it has been a bit surreal making such big moves in the midst of a pandemic. “Because everything has been shut down, it’s been a little hard to get to know my new community,” he explained. “I’m looking forward to, hopefully, being able to get out a little more when things open up again.”
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Editor’s Note: A photo of Fitzer is attached.