Construction season has been better than expected

Jacques Rutten

Nearly five months ago, I wrote a column in this space about the busy road construction season that was planned for Lewistown this year. At the time, a bright orange “Road Work Ahead” sign had just gone up in my front yard near east Main Street and I was dreading what would surely be a long, frustrating construction season.

In the weeks that followed, road work began all across town – sidewalks torn out up and down Main Street and 7th Avenue; a new intersection on top of the hill, and of course the removal of the overpass and the reconstruction of the bypass interchange on the west end of town.

There is still a lot of work to be done on the west end of town, but this past week has been quiet on the east side of Main Street. The new sidewalks are in place and that part of the project is almost finished.

I am no construction expert, but it appears the crews from Century Companies working in Lewistown this summer are doing an outstanding job. From controlling traffic to communicating with the public to the physical work itself, it has the look of a well-run project.

When I was growing up in Minot, North Dakota, my dad ran a small asphalt and concrete construction company. He used to say you could judge the quality of a construction crew just by driving past and seeing how many of them were “standing around doing nothing.” As someone who drove through the construction zone on the east end of Main Street at least four times a day this summer, I think my dad would have agreed that the crew from Century is a good one.

I worked at my dad’s construction company from junior high into my college years. It was hard work and long hours, especially for a teenager who would have much rather been hanging out at the lake with friends.

When I was a junior in high school, we landed a big job at the local Air Force base, pouring dozens of concrete driveways for base housing units. We were short of workers and my dad informed me that I would be a shovel operator on the concrete crew that summer. I did not enjoy the work, but I liked being part of the crew. It was a fun group of guys who shared a special bond, built during endless days under the hot summer sun. The guys who had been there for several years were true craftsmen who took great pride in their work. I learned a lot that summer and gained a tremendous amount of respect for the people on that crew. Seeing the crew from Century work on the east end of Main Street this summer brought back a lot of those same feelings I had 25 years ago.

About two weeks ago, as I was driving past the old Central Feed parking lot, there was a big group of Century’s workers gathered. Their equipment was packed up and they had the look of a crew that had finished a big job and was ready to move on to the next.

I thought about pulling in and letting them know how much I had enjoyed watching them this summer and that I appreciated what they were doing for our town. I didn’t do it that night, but I will here … Thank you for a job well done.



Where is your favorite place to go camping in Central Montana?