HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
August 28, 2006, Herald Journal

Road construction isn’t so bad

By KRISTEN MILLER

I have learned many things in my life, but never have I thought I would know the ins and outs of road construction.

This summer I had the opportunity (notice how I make it sound like an honor) to cover the Broadway construction project.

When I was first assigned this beat from my editor, I thought, “how hard could that be?” Well, there happens to be a lot that needs to be covered by Mr. Don Broberg, the project inspector.

For example, figuring outwhere the detour is going to go, who does what and when, and solving problems that arise unexpectedly.

I would go to the Wednesday meetings where the project was discussed. After the meeting, Don would have to clarify the information that was discussed, because the terminology was a little over my head. But after a couple more meetings, I was beginning to recognize the lingo.

Aside from the meetings at City Hall, reporting on the project was by no means a clean job.

Me, being a woman of fashion, would wear my cute sandals, which probably weren’t the safest, but I wasn’t going to wear galoshes to work. Many times I was teased by the workers for my choice of footwear, or lack thereof.

I have learned a thing or two about construction safety. Most of all, stay out of the way.

A person is fairly safe on the sidelines. Unfortunately to get some of the photos I was able to get, I had to get up close and personal.

I’m just lucky I never fell into the 10-foot trenches the pipe crew dug. It did take me some time to trust the crew. It’s not the easiest thing to stand next to a huge machine with a bucket that can turn in a complete 180 degrees. I was afraid I was going to get knocked in the head. Thankfully I did not. Turns out this large machinery is a backhoe and the crew actually do know what they are doing.

I must say I have learned a thing or two about sewer and water. Like why they seem to be digging on the same block for a long period of time. Apparently, there is a lot more to sewer and water for towns and residences than I had ever imagined or cared to think about. It’s all underground and was never of that much interest to me. But, now I know.

I have a lot more respect for construction workers. They have a hard job especially when it’s 100 degrees outside. Sometimes it was hard for me to be on the site in that kind of heat, even just to take photos. But fortunately, I got to go to my air-conditioned office, otherwise there was a possibility I would’ve melted. I can’t imagine working from morning to night in such heat. Oh, and the rain. A person would think as soon as it rained, construction would end. Well, it depends on how much rain.

The crew was easy to work with. Upon first meeting, I wasn’t sure how things would go, but I was quickly reassured.

People, including me, are anxious for the construction to end so we can have a normal downtown again. But, the crew will be missed by many.