A Conversation with David AzzatoSenior transportation leader, Traffic Planning and Design Inc.
David Azzato joins Traffic Planning and Design, Inc., as senior transportation leader in the firm's Harrisburg office.
He spent 36 years with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, in various roles across several divisions, most recently as chief of the highway design and technology section in the department’s bureau of project delivery. He has earned the Governor’s Award for Excellence and the Secretary of Transportation’s Award for Excellence.
Azzato holds a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Penn State and is a registered professional engineer in Pennsylvania.
He and Pamela, his wife of 28 ½ years, live in Lower Paxton Township and have five children.
Q: After 36 years with Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, what led you to TPD and this new role?
A: I wanted to keep working in the private sector and I felt I still had a lot to offer. TPD’s mission is to improve the quality of life for the public. I feel like I’ve been doing that my whole career in transportation. TPD has a vision to be recognized as an industry leader and PennDOT is recognized as a world leader in transportation.
Their core values align with mine; they are committed to professional development, actively engaged in shaping policy, they are committed to their clients and they want to better their communities. They are based in Pottstown and have eight offices, seven in Pennsylvania and one in New Jersey. I was born and raised in Pennsylvania and I am all for Pennsylvania. I prefer to work for a small-to-medium-sized company, and TPD has about 150 employees.
What do you expect will be different for you, moving from the public sector to the private sector? What will be the same?
I think the private sector is more business- and more profit-oriented. The private sector is more business development-oriented. My new position encompasses more of a variation that I find satisfying, intriguing and challenging in both getting work and in providing quality products and services that meet and exceed client expectations. As senior transportation leader, I’ll be providing oversight for highway engineering processes and procedures, conducting quality assurance reviews and assisting in the development of new projects. Based on my previous experience, I feel I bring a lot to the table.
As with PennDOT, TPD is based in Harrisburg, and I work with quality people all working to improve transportation in Pennsylvania. I like being on a schedule, I like getting up in the morning and going to work, and enjoying quality time with my family. That’s still the same.
What are the biggest challenges when dealing with highway design and engineering in Pennsylvania?
I think the biggest challenge facing Pennsylvania has always been funding. Being the fifth largest transportation agency in the country with more than 44,000 miles of roadway and 25,000 bridges, there is continuous building, rebuilding and repaving. That all costs money and takes time.
Technology is continuously advancing as we are seeing with autonomous vehicles, and these require new policies and procedures to be developed and tested to ensure our safety. Another challenge is the competition. There are hundreds of firms in Pennsylvania and outside, trying to get projects. To me the challenge is just getting the work itself.
Describe your dream road trip.
To load up the family and tour the U.S., to see Mount Rushmore, Yosemite with Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon, the redwood forest and the giant sequoias. Then eventually cross the Atlantic and trace our roots through Italy, Germany, France, England and Ireland. We always talked about walking where our grandparents walked.