Experience pays in road construction

Thursday, June 10, 2004

When it comes to highway construction projects, familiarity breeds speed, quality and efficiency. At least, so it seems in McCook, where District 7 of the Nebraska Department of Roads is teaming with contractors to complete another important link in the rebuilding of the community's in-town highways.

Exactly on schedule, Paulsen, Inc. and the sub-contractors are on pace to complete the East Fourth to East Seventh Street segment of the highway by -- or before -- the Fourth of July weekend.

"All the paving's done on both sides of the highway," said Kurt Vosburg, district construction engineer. "All that's left is pouring a couple of alleys, finishing four or five driveways and getting the sidewalks done."

Also -- before the current project is completed -- the contractor will be bringing in a "diamond grinder" to smooth out bumps in the new pavement. "We do that before painting the lane lines," Vosburg said.

The East Fourth to East Seventh segment will complete a $3.2 million project which started in March of 2003. The first phase was completed last year, with construction crews putting in all-new pavement between West Fourth Street and East Fourth Street. That was the most-watched portion of the project since it passed through the heart of McCook's downtown business district.

All together -- between 1994 and 2006 -- highway improvements costing in excess of $14 million will span McCook from east to west and north to south.

The work started in 1994 and 1995, with a $5.5 million project that improved north highway 83 and extended pavement to the Wal-Mart Super Center on the city's west edge. The second phase in 2000 extended the new pavement from West 11th to West Fourth at a cost of $2.7 million.

Then -- to bring us to the present -- the $3.2 project began in 2003 to extend the new paving from West Fourth to East Seventh.

To bring the massive, 12-year long highway rebuilding to conclusion, the Department of Roads is scheduled to let bids this winter for a project stretching from East Seventh to just past Airport Road.

Work on that portion -- the final segment -- is targeted to start in the Spring of 2005 and to be completed by or before the Summer of 2006.

The highway construction has been, and continues to be, a major, major undertaking. Yes, there have been inconveniences, especially for retail businesses alongside the highway. But, in the long run, the projects will give McCook one of the most modern through-town highway systems in Greater Nebraska.

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