URP Alumni Spotlight: Allan Hodges

Alumnus Allan Hodges discusses aspects of his career after graduating from MSU with a degree in Urban & Regional Planning.

Allan Hodges

Where did your MSU Urban & Regional Planning degree take you?

It opened the door, like a passport, to a fascinating career in planning and related fields.

My first job after Michigan State University was at the Boston Redevelopment Authority, where I prepared a recreation plan for the North End, a dense neighborhood. While MSU didn’t teach me recreational planning I had enough tools to find my way and do the research necessary. Much of the plan was implemented! I also set up a District Planning Program at the neighborhood-level using comprehensive planning techniques.

From there I went to the Washington, DC, area and worked for a real estate economic consulting firm, a regional planning association, two trade/professional associations and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

I returned to Boston, MA, where I became director of planning for a global engineering and planning firm based there, which took me throughout the U.S. largely in transportation infrastructure projects. My role was primarily environmental documentation.

I retired in 2014, after 34 years with Parsons Brinckerhoff (now WSP).

What is your career highlight?

Successfully getting all the environmental impact documents approved that I prepared/managed for the Big Dig Project in Boston. The project included seven miles of interstate highway, mostly in tunnels and one large cable-stayed bridge. At the time, the $14.5B project was the largest public works project in the U.S. It transformed Boston, MA, and added 250 acres of parks!

What does the future of the planning profession hold?

I think it is bright. There is still much to do in land use planning, housing, infrastructure, sustainability and social equity, and planners are right in the middle of these issues. How well they do their job depends on their training, perseverance, level of patience and integrity.

It is a tough field, made more difficult by weak planning legislation and politics at all levels. For example, an effective planner has to understand the appropriate laws and regulations better than the government regulators.

Michigan State can only point you in the right direction. The rest is up to you.

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