TIFTON, Ga. – Joe Sheffield, who has led Georgia Department of Transportation operations in the southwest district for 10 years, is retiring Friday.
Chad Hartley has been named the new District Engineer for southwest District 4. Hartley comes from the District 5 office in Jesup, where he has been Assistant District Engineer.
Sheffield leaves the Department with a total of 35 years of service. He’s had a hand in practically every activity within the DOT. He has overseen construction, supervised maintenance activities and directed preconstruction, including surveying, project scheduling, design and right-of-way acquisition. He is a licensed professional engineer, the profession’s highest standard of competence.
Sheffield received his Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from the University of Illinois. His parents are from Early County, but his father’s military service took the family north. After graduation Sheffield worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and private companies before coming to the Department. The job opening at the district office in Tifton put him closer to his roots, but that wasn’t the only reason he joined the DOT.
“I wanted something more challenging than what I was doing at the time,” he said.
It probably doesn’t get more challenging than the reconstruction of Interstate 75 through Tifton, a project Sheffield oversaw in the late 80s. The reconstruction of seven interchanges and three railroad bridges took about three years and would equal $150-$200 million in construction costs in today’s dollars.
The I-75 project highlights what Sheffield found to be most rewarding during his Department career.
“I like to see an idea develop into a project and become something that you can drive on. You can look at it 20 years later and it’s still there. There is a certain reward to being able to see what you’ve done,” he said.
Sheffield progressed through the ranks of the Department and was appointed District Engineer in December 2004. At that time the district encompassed 32 counties; last year it was redrawn and includes 31 counties. Sheffield supervises 438 employees, manages an operating budget of $35 million per year and oversees contractor payments of $100 million in a given year. He is also the liaison between the Department and local, state and federal officials. It’s a job he likens to being the superintendent of a school system spread over 31 counties.
Sheffield’s advice for incoming District Engineer Hartley is simple: “be kind, be fair and seek wisdom.”
Tifton is a homecoming for Hartley. He is a Tifton native, he has previously worked in the southwest district and his father was once District Engineer here.
“I followed in his footsteps. I always enjoyed working with him and seeing his work,” Hartley said.
Hartley is a graduate of Southern Polytechnic State University and Valdosta State University. He joined the Department in 1989. He oversaw construction projects throughout District 4 and moved to District 5 in 1995. He held numerous positions there, including Area Engineer, Assistant District Construction Engineer and Assistant District Maintenance Engineer. He was promoted to District Maintenance Engineer in 1999 and became the Assistant District Engineer in 2011.
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