My sidewalk supervisor put his stamp of approval on the new bridge at Calion. For years, every time he drove that way, he inspected the work and muttered suggestions. The project began years ago with widening the road. “They are cutting down trees,” he observed as we drove by miles of fallen trees. “They are preparing to make a wider road and bridge.”
The next several trips to Little Rock, he pointed, “Look at that heap of trees burning. Such a waste.”
It has taken years to complete this wonderful new bridge, years of my sidewalk supervisor muttering, “when are they going to get it done? How long have they been working on those girders? I thought they would be done by now.” And “I guess they aren’t working today,” as he passed backhoes, trucks and cranes lining the road on a rainy day or Saturday afternoon.
Sometimes he skipped supervising. “Let’s go through Camden this time. That road work ties up traffic.”
My sidewalk supervisor approved the improvements, “Remember when we first came down this road? It had no shoulder. They called it the ‘dump road.’ I wonder if that was because they dumped so many loads of dirt to build up the road or because you sure could get dumped off the road with one small error?”
“This road is so much better than when we first came, and now it’s a four lane.”
Finally he could dust the dirt of the job off his hands, “They finished paving the new road. I guess work on the old road comes next.” He peered through the windshield at the other side of the road as he steered around the orange cones.
The orange cones got a lot of attention through the years. Noticing their placement, he remarked, “They put out the cones. They are going to start working on the next part now, I guess.”
When the cones had been there a while, “I wonder when they are going to begin? Watch out for the quick turn through the cones to the other side of the road.”
As we drove over finished paving, he noted, “The cones are still here. They just have to paint the stripes and the road will be done.”
And then last week, surprise, surprise! No more orange cones! With only yellow and white lines to guide us, a brand, spanking new road stretched before us and into the blue sky on the bridge to Heaven. Every time we start up that steep slope at 50 miles per hour, I see only blue sky in front of us and beside us. No trees, no water, no land. And, now, no worries about being stuck behind a slow lumber truck with half a dozen wobbly logs hanging out the end or fearing cars invisibly coming up the other side of the bridge on the my side of the road.
At the crest of the bridge a wave of concrete appears, revealing the rest of the bridge and the highway before us. Four lane luxury. Such a relief after a narrow two lane highway that demanded we carefully observe the double yellow stripe, stay on our side of the bridge and watch for anyone driving up from the other direction to meet us in the middle. With two bridges, we soar upwards, confident that all the traffic on our bridge flows the same way.
It’s done. The Calion bridge is completed. For this, my sidewalk supervisor, and everyone else traveling between El Dorado and Fordyce, are truly grateful.
Now my sidewalk supervisor only has to inspect the work on the four lanes being built around Fordyce. It will take a while. The Supervisor’s job is not over yet.
Joan Hershberger is a former staff writer for the El Dorado News-Times and author of “Twenty Gallons of Milk and other columns from the El Dorado News-Times.”