2021 40 Under 40: Jarl D. Jacobson, PE

Nov. 23, 2021
Jarl D. Jacobson, PE, US West Region – Transit Design Manager, AECOM

Jarl Jacobson’s dedication to transit began when finishing his engineering degree and working as an intern for the Utah Transit Authority (UTA). His passion for transit and the benefits it brings to communities, was sparked while working on UTA’s first before and after study for a light-rail transit (LRT) line that was accepted by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

Following graduation from Brigham Young University in 2006, Jacobson began a consulting career focused on transit and multimodal design. During the process of becoming a licensed professional engineer, Jacobson worked on two back-to-back LRT projects as a consultant for the UTA. The West Valley and Airport LRT Projects now operate as the Green Line. Part of that corridor is along North Temple, which had been deemed Utah’s most complete street. Jacobson helped coordinate many unique features such as joint utility trenches, solar panels on transit shelters, green track and relocation of seismic recording equipment. As a resident in the Salt Lake Valley, Jacobson is often focused on assisting UTA with capital improvements such as the Utah Valley Express that began revenue service in 2018. Jacobson has also worked for Omnitrans, AC Transit, L.A. Metro, Valley Metro, Capital Metro and Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority. Jacobson is passionate about bringing the best practices from each project and making the next project even better. His work includes implementation of transit elements into multi-modal corridors and complete streets. He has a unique understanding of how to bring together multi-discipline designs while minimizing and mitigating conflicts to limit right-of-way impacts, balancing the competing interests of project stakeholders, meeting environmental constraints, minimizing risks and achieving project goals.

Jacobson has been a presenter on bus rapid transit (BRT) at the APTA Bus and Paratransit conference in 2017. He also stays up to date on the latest industry standards for BRT and has reviewed APTA standards as they come out to the members for input. Jacobson successfully coordinated the approach for use of the interim approval of red pavement for transit lanes for the first implementation of this transit strategy in Utah for the Ogden BRT, which is currently under construction. Jacobson was instrumental in creating the design standards and implementing the design on the first BRT in Nebraska as part of the Omaha Rapid Bus Transit project, which began service in the fall of 2020. Jacobson has practical experience in nearly all aspects of transit design including dedicated guideway, business access and transit lanes, queue jumps, station design, transit signal priority and project commissioning. Jacobson’s empathy for transit riders and operators has helped him in his authoring of design criteria and made him a trusted resource for his clients and at AECOM.

Jacobson has been an integral part in BRT and LRT design projects in 10 states for multiple transit agencies and has been a part of grade crossing safety improvements that have enhanced pedestrian and motorist safety. He is passionate about bringing together the best elements to provide complete corridor projects that meet project goals and are attractive amenities to their communities. Jacobson has an attention to detail and a wealth of knowledge for implementation and best practices in transit design. His unique understanding of the multiple facets of transit design makes him a trusted resource to his clients. His clients such as Houston Metro, have even asked him to write design criteria for their BRT programs. Jacobson’s un-matched depth of knowledge leverages final design and construction phase experiences to inform decision-makers on the “why” and “how” of planning and conceptual design work. Jacobson’s strengths come from his genuine concern for agencies and stakeholders to understand how best their projects can be set up for success. Jacobson loves the opportunity to make communities thrive by creating a better quality of life through transit design and this mentality is exhibited through his work of delivering 19.7 miles of in-service LRT and 55.8 miles of in-service BRT for communities around the nation.