Road Construction Not For Faint Of Heart

By: James Steiner
By: James Steiner

By the looks of it, with all the orange cones and detour signs around town you can see it's road construction season.

Those who do the work have to put in long hours in extreme conditions.

As I found out today, it's not a job for the weak at heart, or body.

When we think of road construction, we see flaggers on the road, people using jack-hammers, and workers driving those big trucks.

I tried my hand at all three jobs.

Speaking of controlling traffic, Wendy Morgan says: "It can be one of the toughest standing in the heat and asphalt all day long. take everyone's abuse."

After a lesson in safety, I was ready to take over the reigns by directing traffic on Sparks and Baring Boulevard. Road crews had the area down to one lane in each direction while they lay new asphalt.

"Most people don't stop," says Morgan. "Some people intentionally swerve at you if you're not paying attention."

After a close call, Morgan told me "you got to watch equipment as well as anyone on the road."

I quickly learned I needed eyes in the back of my head after nearly getting clunked on the head by a two-ton machine. This is especially when you have to go in the road and stop traffic.

You're just hoping drivers will see you.

Talking about my shot-lived career as a flagger, Morgan said: "There was no traffic but it was easy."

A little courtesy goes a long way especially when drivers see you as a hassle on their way to work or way home.

Construction workers say they don't realize all this work is for them. Like breaking up the concrete, which I tried next. Crews are also putting in new sidewalks on Sparks Blvd. for people at the high school and those using the park.

The jack hammer gets a little noisy so I need nose plugs and eye glasses for my protection. The jack hammer weighs 90 pounds. You need to put your weight into it if you want to crack the cement.

It's hard work and, after 20 minutes, I hadn't made much headway. But I was willing - and glad - to move on.

It's onto the roller truck.

The crews tell me the truck rolls over the gravel and makes it flat so they can lay down the gravel. It's one of the many handy machines workers use to build roads.

But, as I've seen, .there's a lot for drivers to watch out for in construction zones. And, there's a lot construction workers have to deal with.

Take it from me . . . road construction isn't easy - but it is fun.

No one was hurt today in our story. But, construction workers say that's because everyone stayed safe.

They want the public to know they're out doing a job and please for drivers to be careful where they're working.


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