Iowa DOT's Mason City employees settle into their new space

Mason city facilityAfter years of operating out of five different buildings across two counties with as much as 40 miles in between, employees in Mason City from the Iowa Department of Transportation’s District 2 Office, annex, materials lab, garage, and employees in the Britt construction office are hitting their stride in one location, without a hiccup in service.

Coordinating the move of 46 office staff and 12 garage employees from five locations into one has been part of Field Services Coordinator Pete Hjelmstad’s job for the past 18 months. “As our operations changed over the years, we dealt with our facilities the best we could,” said Hjelmstad. “The Iowa DOT owned the Mason City buildings that housed the district office, materials lab, and garage, but leased space for the annex in Mason City and the Britt construction folks.”

The combined facility is already showing benefits just weeks after the official move-in date of Jan. 25. Hjelmstad said, “It is much easier and quicker to walk down the hall and pop your head in to ask a question or clarify a point rather than emailing and waiting for a response.”

The move also allows the folks in Mason City to establish personal connections with co-workers. Hjelmstad said, “I think our office communications and teamwork will be much stronger now that we are all together.”

Mason city - Aprils new spaceCommunication was an emphasis area during the planning of the move. District 2 Engineer Jon Ranney  sent an update every other week to all affected employees about the progress of the new facility. “Jon really tried to keep people in the loop,” said Hjelmstad. “When it came time to load up the trucks, I think people were ready and it was all hands on deck to move all of the file cabinets and other things employees need to get the job done every day.”

IMG_4857The move also gave District 2 employees a chance to go through all the file cabinets and purge unneeded or outdated documents to make the move easier. Hjelmstad said, “Because we now store most documents electronically, we were able to purge the redundant paper versions of records we already had saved on the servers. Now that everyone is moved, we’ll be able to start new and make sure everything is filed appropriately.”

Possibly the biggest change occurred for Mason City garage employees who moved from a facility owned by the Iowa DOT since 1929, when the agency took over a horse barn. Hjelmstad said, “Obviously, the equipment we use now is significantly larger and more complicated than what the old building was designed to accommodate. The garage employees did the best they could with what they had. Having the capabilities they have with the new facility will dramatically increase their efficiency.”

Mason city shop insideThe new garage can house 17 trucks. Updated wash bays will protect the more than $100,000 investment per truck by keeping them clean of salt and other chemicals. Large outbuildings designed specifically to store salt and mix brine, as well as a large cold storage building for spare parts, will make the garage employees' jobs easier. 





 Here's a look at a few construction photos from the project: 

Grading-driveway staked
Grading and staking the site
District Office Interior
Concrete floors of the district office/materials lab


District Office Sheeting
The buildings are coming along.
Frames for cubes
Cubicles going up in the district office/lab/Britt construction

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