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Public Works Director David Jessup will retire this month after 28 years with the city of Woodbury. The two biggest projects in the city's history, the I-494 and Tamarack Road and Lake Road interchanges were constructed under his leadership. Staff photo by Riham Feshir

Saying farewell to a long, eventful career in engineering

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His colleagues refer to him as an "entire institution."

While working at Woodbury City Hall for nearly three decades, over half of the city has been built under David Jessup's leadership.

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The public works director brings a significant s amount of infrastructure knowledge about groundwater management, storm sewers, streets, interchanges and tunnels.

But he hardly takes credit for his major accomplishments.

And now that he's retiring, Jessup said he's confident engineering and public works department staff will continue quality services that residents have become accustomed to.

"He's been, I have to say, one of the most dedicated employees I've ever seen and met," said Klayton Eckles, engineering and public works deputy director. "He's had such a passion for excellence that it's been a good example for all of us in terms of delivering great service to our residents."

Jessup, a soft-spoken engineer who kick-started his career at the Minnesota Department of Transportation, was hired as Woodbury's first city engineer in 1985.

During his 28 years of service, he watched Woodbury's population grow from 15,000 to more than 64,000 today. At that time, there was hardly any development east of Radio Drive, construction of the Wedgewood neighborhood was just getting started and the Tamarack Village and Woodbury Village retail centers had yet to be built.

As the city grew, so did the public works budget and staff - from $1.6 million in 1985 to $15.5 million today, and from 10 to 55 staff members in engineering.

The services that public works provides may not always be visible, a challenge public works often faces, but every single resident uses them on a daily basis.

"You always expect the water to come out of the tap, you always expect the toilet to flush, the roads plowed," Jessup said. "You expect the light to come on when you flip the switch in the morning."

Prior to 1985, the city did not have an engineering department, though the public works department had already been established.

Two years into the job, Jessup was promoted to Public Works Director when city officials decided to merge the two departments together.

With a big chunk of the city still in the development stages today, public works and engineering will continue to play a large role in the design of the roads, sewer and stormwater management.

The constant development of Woodbury, a fairly young community that saw major population growth in the 1990s, is part of the reason Jessup's job remained exciting, but "not overwhelming," he emphasized.

"It certainly was challenging, but also incredibly fun," Jessup said.

During his tenure, Woodbury was the lead agency in constructing two major interchanges at Interstate 494 and Lake Road in 1997, costing $13 million, and the I-494 and Tamarack Road project in 2002 at $24 million.

The two were the largest public works projects in the city's history.

"This has not been a job where you do the same thing tomorrow as you did yesterday," Jessup said. "It really hasn't been the same position even though it's had the same title."

For the full story, see the Wednesday, June 12 edition of the Bulletin.

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Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.
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