2015 Top 40 Under 40: Birgit Olkuch, P.E.

Sept. 18, 2015
Birgit Olkuch, P.E., Rail Administration Manager, Office of Modal Development. Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), District 4

Birgit Olkuch, P.E.

Rail Administration Manager, Office of Modal Development

Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), District 4

  • Alma Mater: Florida International University
  • Fun Fact: Olkuch likes to visit every local farmers market every place she visits
  • Favorite Book: "My life in France" by Alex Prud'homme and Julia Child
  • Favorite Movie: "Milk"
  • Favorite Hobby: Traveling 

When Birgit Olkuch was growing up in Europe, she saw efficient and connected mass transit systems moving people across the continent. After moving to south Florida, she wanted to bring the same level of service to the area.

Olkuch is the rail administration manager in the office of modal development for the Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) District 4. She has worked in the industry for more than 10 years, where she has worked on transit and transportation planning and engineering on large and complex projects.

As part of the MetroRail Orange Line extension to the Miami Intermodal Center, Olkuch worked with MetroRail to get a design exception for FDOT criteria due to the project’s inability to meet vertical and horizontal rail clearances set by the department. She also helped with design to accommodate the clearances while covering liability issues.  Olkuch also organized a team within her district to assist FDOT District 6 to help in completing track, signal dispatching and connections to the intermodal center.  

Olkuch is coordinating FDOT design reviews and construction monitoring as part of the modern streetcar project in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She helped formalize a funding partnership between multiple agencies on the project.

She also provided data and financial analysis in negotiations between CSXT and the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA) to allow the agency to take over dispatching and maintenance in the South Florida Rail Corridor.

Olkuch led a rail team to install the first "Dynamic Envelope" highway-railroad crossing in the U.S., which was coordinated between multiple FODT offices and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

Olkuch has been involved with the Women's Transportation Seminar (WTS) and served until 2013 as the chair of the Scholarship  and Membership Committees for three years.

“I like working in the public transportation industry because our services provide mobility to a very diverse group of people and we get people out of their cars by providing a safe and affordable way to commute and reduce traffic and greenhouse gas emissions.” 

“We can’t keep expanding our roadways and there needs to be public support for transit systems and in order to get that support from the public, we need to make the initial investment in that infrastructure because we’ve got to start somewhere.”

“I think you have to have a passion for it because there are setbacks, but you have to be passionate about your job and you’ve got to believe in transit and I think right now in south Florida, it’s a very exciting time.”