From the Other Side of Road Construction

I was thinking about construction last week after gathering video footage at various worksites around Thief River Falls. It’s easy for a farm kid, like me, to get really excited about the huge construction equipment however -without people-all that mechanical muscle is just unrusty metal. So let’s talk about the folks who make this all work.

While parked at the Highway 1 worksite this week,  two men on motorcycles pulled into the lot where I was located. They asked how the view was from the drone, so I let them look over my shoulder at the video screen I use to monitor my drone. They watched for a few seconds after which they changed from protective helmets to protective hardhats and went to work.

The thought of two guys driving in from somewhere else to spend their week working on one of ten projects currently in some state of construction intrigued me. It was like one of those action-adventure movies where people are drawn from diverse background to accomplish a great mission. The mission they work to accomplish is made of long hours and possibly time away from home. I admire people who can sacrifice time at home for the financial security of their family.

One of the most impressive sites of this summer’s construction has been the massive bulldozers working together on the bypass. The precision and the consistency of the bulldozers tell me those operators must be good at their profession. There seems to be a lot of teamwork among this group as I see them take their lunch break together, seated on the curb of black dirt they created that morning.

I don’t like the heat of summer. Heat exhaustion is unpleasant which can lead to heat stroke which is deadly. This has been a tough summer so I always hope the construction people are doing okay. I can’t imagine what laying hot asphalt-in the heat-for hours must be like, but I sure am grateful that they do the job.

Most of what I’ve written is about inconvenience or discomfort however there is also danger on the construction sites. Some of the construction must be performed while traffic still uses a portion of the site. Summer is a busy time and people have things to do so construction and daily life must sometimes coexist.

Construction zone safety is usually very simple, obey the traffic signs. I would like to go deeper and remind drivers to approach these work zones with safety in mind instead of anger, impatience or resentment-remember the workers have nothing to do with the design of the traffic structure. They just want to do good work and go home. The people who flag, or direct traffic, also have special authority to report traffic offenses to law enforcement. Most misdemeanor traffic offenses must be viewed by law enforcement however officers may cite traffic offenders within 4 hours of receiving a report from a qualified flagger, as long as the report includes a description of the vehicle and time of incident. It’s a good reminder but my hope is a little compassion and patience will work better than the threat of a day in court. I checked with the RJ Zavoral Construction Company and last week they had 72 employees in Thief River Falls. That’s 72 good reasons to slow down and be careful in construction zones.


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