Benedict Gunter Barkan Worked as Traffic Engineer

Benedict Gunter Barkan died unexpectedly on the morning of Dec. 12, 2004 at Martha's Vineyard Hospital in Oak Bluffs. He was 79 years of age.

He was born on April 21, 1925, in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany to Charlotte Milch Barkan and Georg Barkan. The family lived in Germany until 1929 when they moved to Tallinn, Estonia where his father was Professor and Head of the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Tartu. In 1938 the family moved to Brookline, where Professor Barkan had been offered a teaching position at Boston University.

Ben attended Brookline High School and the College of Engineering at Tufts University. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering in 1946, and later completed post-graduate study in the emerging field of traffic engineering at the Yale University Bureau of Highway Traffic where he received a certificate of transportation in 1948.

He met his future wife, Glenna Kelley Barkan, of Amesbury, in November 1948 on an alumni trip to the Tufts Mountain Club in Plymouth, N.H. He and Glenna were married in Amesbury a year later. Ben and Glenna enjoyed hiking, mountain climbing, camping and skiing throughout northern New England. Ben's subsequent interests included attending Long Wharf in New Haven, Conn., monthly for 25 years, folk music, square dancing and later taking trips in their small recreational vehicle. Ben had a lifelong interest in transportation, particularly urban and passenger rail transport. He enjoyed watching trains, visiting train stations and transit systems, geography, maps, looking at architecture, reading, especially transportation engineering and city planning magazines, listening to Vivaldi, Bach, Mozart, Telemann, etc. He especially enjoyed his family, including his cats.

Ben's first job was selling Good Humor ice cream in Cambridge from a bicycle-driven vehicle at age 15. His first professional employment was with the city of Boston Planning Department in 1946 following his graduation from Tufts. After a break to complete his studies at Yale, he returned to Boston for a year before taking a job with the city of Providence as a traffic and transportation engineer in 1949. He moved to a job in city planning in Syracuse, N.Y., in 1951, and then back to New Haven in 1956 where he worked as a teacher and researcher at Yale for a year. He moved to consulting in 1957 with the traffic engineering firm of Wilbur Smith & Associates. He later worked with Frederic R. Harris, Inc. in Stamford, Conn. and Cox and Nichols in Branford, Conn. His work included urban transportation and regional planning, traffic engineering and site planning. He directed projects throughout the United States and Puerto Rico and in several European countries. In 1976, he and Alan Mess formed their own transportation consulting firm, Barkan and Mess Associates, where he held the position of president until his retirement in 1995. He remained active with the firm working part-time as a senior associate until 2002.

Ben and Glenna lived in Branford, Conn. from 1955 onward. They started coming to the Vineyard in 1979 for vacations, buying a condo in Hidden Cove in 1993. In 1997 they bought their present home on Pondview Drive in Oak Bluffs. They divided their time between Connecticut and the Vineyard, spending an increasing amount of time on the Vineyard until November 2003 when they moved here full time.

Ben's membership in professional organizations included the American Society of Civil Engineers, Institute of Transportation Engineers, American Planning Association, American Institute of Certified Planners and the International Council of Shopping Centers. In his later years, he was also an active member in Rotary.

Articles, talks and publications included A Parking Meter Revenue Contour Map, Traffic Engineering, Latest Methods of Determining Urban Highway Routes, the Civil Engineer in Urban Planning and Development, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Traffic and Transportation Aspects of Regional Shopping Center Development, University of Shopping Centers, Chicago, Ill., Developing Parking Programs for Tomorrow's Environment-Reporter's Summary, Transportation Facilities Workshop: Passenger, Freight and Parking, American Society of Civil Engineers, New York, Retrofitting Shopping Centers for Today's Traffic, Workshop on the Management of Access to Highways and Local Roads, University of Connecticut, and at the Transportation Research Board annual meeting in 1985.

In addition to his wife, Glenna, Ben leaves his three children: his daughter, Susan Elisabeth Barkan, Ph.D. who is an epidemiologist with the Department of Public Health, Seattle and King County and her daughter, Eliza Barkan; his daughter, Sally Barkan, MLIS, assistant director at the Oak Bluffs Public Library; and his son, Christopher Paul Lyman Barkan, Ph. D. who is an Associate Professor of Railroad Engineering at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, and Chris's wife, Elizabeth Lyman Barkan and their two children, Charlotte and Phoebe Barkan.

Chapman, Cole and Gleason handled arrangements and the funeral took place on Dec. 17 at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Edgartown. His ashes will be strewn in the Atlantic Ocean in the spring.

Donations may be made in his memory to the Rotary Charitable Foundation, P.O. Box 1951, Edgartown, MA 02539.