The old adage goes, in Minnesota, there are two seasons… winter and road construction.

Like every year, to stay on top of road and bridge maintenance, there are big road construction projects happening all over the state.

This year, I’m getting a first hand, up-close-and-personal look at road construction. There is a major reconstruction project happening in my city. And, the Sr. Perspective office sits right in the middle of the construction.

My office has big windows that look out onto the busiest road in town. Since spring, construction crews have been working on this road and others in Glenwood. They dug everything up, replaced all the infrastructure, and are in the process of putting everything back together again.  There have been several cities across the state that have gone through this process, so it is now our turn for the facelift.

The road looks like a big sandbox right now, but that is expected to change any day now. The town is full of cones, detour signs and big equipment. Once complete, we will have a new lane structure, new bike paths, trees, benches, the whole shabang. Today they were working on the sidewalks, and in another week or so, they will be paving the road. The project is expected to be completed by the time the snow flies.

When you watch road construction crews work every day for a few months, you really get a taste for what their world is all about. You see how the different machines and crews work together to get things done efficiently and correctly (sometimes redoing areas that are not done correctly). And you see how they adjust to changes in the weather and changes in the game plan when unexpected things pop up.

Since I own a downtown business, I was kept abreast of the construction plans going back at least four years. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) held several meetings to prepare us for the changes. I had a taste of what was coming, but really didn’t appreciate the work that would be done until I saw the crews in action.

The crews often start preparing for the day before the sun comes up, and some work until the sun goes down. I have witnessed them work full days on Saturdays and Sundays, and there is rarely wasted time or energy. They are always working on something.

If you have kids or grandchildren, you probably know this already… but road construction is one of the most interesting things to someone age 3-8, especially most boys. My nephew, Oliver, is fascinated by big machines, both in the agriculture world and the construction world. There were days when all the machines were working at the same time. I wish he could see them in action.

Some parents and grandparents were regulars on our block, bringing their little ones to watch the work.

Every spring, I become very aware of road construction projects throughout the state from my delivery    drivers at Sr. Perspective. We have about 30 drivers statewide, and they report back to the main office after their deliveries are completed each month. About half of the drivers write a note in the spring, letting me know that their delivery took longer than normal in certain areas or certain towns because of road construction. Typically, it is just a small delay, but sometimes, the road construction can really makes things challenging.  One time, while delivering to a little town near Willmar about three to four years ago, after three failed attempts to get to the business district, I had to just go back to my office with the newspapers and mail them. I just couldn’t get close enough to deliver to the business district.

In the end, construction projects are worth the challenges. I’m looking forward to the completion of our project. It is one of those projects that is hard on downtown businesses and a hassle for motorists when they are in process but will be a great thing for our city both now and into the future.

I would like to offer a tip of the hat to all the road construction men and women out there who are finishing up after a long and hard summer. Thanks for the work you do.

On a side note… If you are traveling and want to know if you may run into road construction, the Minnesota Department of Transportation has a map on its Web page that shows all current and future construction projects throughout the state. Just go to www.dot.state.mn.us.

Veterans Day Special Section

We are gearing up to our popular Veterans Day special section called “Heroes Honored.” If you know a veteran you would like to honor in this edition, see the form on page 7B. This year, all money received for the soldier tributes will be donated to Eagle’s Healing Nest, a place that helps veterans who suffer from the invisible wounds of war.