2015 Top 40 Under 40: Erin Trahan, P.E.

Sept. 18, 2015
Erin Trahan, P.E., Transit and Rail Project Manager, CH2M

Erin Trahan, P.E.

Transit and Rail Project Manager


  • Alma Mater: Northeastern University
  • Fun Fact: Trahan was named the first female Drafter of the Year at her high school.
  • Favorite Book: "Oh, the Places You’ll Go!" by Dr. Seuss and Miranda Richardson
  • Favorite TV Show: "National Geographic: Engineering the Impossible"
  • Favorite Movie: "Planes, Trains and Automobiles"
  • Favorite Hobby: Cooking

Erin Trahan had an interest in building and structures since childhood, so she went to Northeastern University to study structural engineering. When she first got into the field at an engineering firm in Boston, she started out in the civil group and one day they needed an engineer to work on a transit project and Trahan was tapped for the task.

After taking on the project, Trahan developed a love for transit once she learned all the new puzzles and challenges it presented her professionally.

Trahan began work on projects across the country and even overseas, where she worked as the alignment engineer for the integrated master rail plan in Dubai.

Trahan works with CH2M in the Denver office. She originally moved there to work on the Union Station project in Denver, then as an in-house extension staff for the Regional Transportation District (RTD). The juxtaposition of working with RTD after having previously worked with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) in Boston offered Trahan the chance to see different challenges in improving legacy systems compared to an area like Denver building a new system.

She continues working on projects across the country, such as the lead rail engineer for the Texas-Oklahoma Passenger Rail Study, where she’s leading the rail alternatives task force; lead rail engineer for the Oregon Passenger Rail Study, to identify high-speed rail alignments between Portland, Oregon, and Eugene, Oregon; lead rail engineer for the Tri-Rail Coastal Link Management Oversight Consultant contract, which includes coordination with the All Aboard Florida project; and task manager for the Oceanside Transit Center in Oceanside, California, where Trahan is coordinating construction documents and cost estimates for the intercity station.

When Trahan was in high school she was the first female Drafter of the Year at the school. Now, she mentors junior colleagues and  is involved with the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Younger Member group in Denver.

“I’d really like to see more people outside of the immediate metro areas embrace transit. Europe has a good handle on that and I think that would help people understand it a lot better.”

“I think moving to Colorado was a big one for me. I did some work on the MBTA, but then coming to Denver, a city that was just building, just figuring out their system, it was a very big learning experience for me because it gave me a very different perspective.”

“Be open to anything. My degree is in structural [engineering] and I started out in the civil group in Boston as an intern and they needed some people to do transit and I have never done anything like that, so it sort of threw me into it, but I actually learned to love it.”