Rhett A. Desselle, P.E., CFM
Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development
What is your background and area of expertise?
I graduated from LSU in 1983 with a degree in civil engineering, and I have been working for the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) for 38 years. My time with the Louisiana DOTD includes:
- 17 years of construction contract administration, construction project management, construction engineering and inspection, construction layout/survey and quality control/assurance for new interstate, major river crossing, major corridor expansion, bridge replacement, airport improvement and drainage improvement projects.
- 17 years of program management of highway, bridge, building, physical plant, fleet, equipment maintenance and operations, which include national bridge inspection program; bridge maintenance and repair; traffic engineering and operations; asset management and maintenance; building and physical plant construction, repair, operations and maintenance; fleet/equipment repair, maintenance and management; project development, cost estimating and contract administration of numerous maintenance, operations and repair contracts and projects; and emergency response.
- More than 3½ years as the Louisiana DOTD chief operations officer responsible for 3,600 employees, a $350 million operating budget, 16,600 centerline miles of highway, 8,000 bridges, 101 movable bridges, 10 rest areas, 10 ferry crossings and two toll facilities.
How did you become interested in doing what you do?
My father worked for and retired from Louisiana DOTD as a construction inspector. My experience and knowledge of his work honed my interest in the transportation industry.
What types of projects do you typically oversee?
Currently, my group handles the heavy and specialized maintenance in the Alexandria District. We regularly replace existing, short-span timber trestle bridges or deteriorated cross drains with large diameter precast RCPs or RCBs. We also use precast concrete bridge components to replace one or two longer span timber trestle bridges each year.
What are some unique or noteworthy projects on which you specified precast concrete?
Our replacement of existing short-span timber trestle bridges with precast reinforced concrete box culverts is challenging. The work requires a large crane and track-hoe along with lots of planning, lifting calculations and deep excavations.
What benefits does precast concrete offer your projects?
Precast concrete significantly reduces the construction time involved, which minimizes the traffic disruption and exposure to the ever-changing weather in Louisiana. Additionally, precast concrete RCP or RCB, if constructed correctly, lasts and perform for decades with little operation and management costs.
How do you see the role of precast concrete as a building material changing in the future?
I am hoping to see the use of precast concrete pavement panels soon in Louisiana.