A Cowboy’s Faith: Highway construction finally completed – Osage County Online | Osage County News

A Cowboy’s Faith: Highway construction finally completed

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Is the highway open yet?”

That question has been asked and responded to dozens of times in the past several months.

“Yes.” After more than a year, the ranch front highway to cities north and south has traffic going by. Official opening was weeks ago, but painting and signage construction has continued in recent days.

While the project seemed like it would never get done, talk about the renovation has been ongoing for years. Each time a schedule was announced, another highway or bridge took priority, moving the date back.

The project was deemed necessary to make the highway safer, which included widening, straightening, and reducing blind spots. It was a two-phase effort, so detours were not as long as rebuilding 30-plus miles all at one time.

As with any construction, the “new” highway is far from perfect, but nobody has denied “much better than before.” If one accident let alone a fatality is prevented, it’s worth the cost and time-consuming hassle.

The south half of the project was the most frustrating because drivers were forced to drive on gravel. Detour signs were either nonexistent or confusing, so many commuters became lost in the countryside.

Regardless of what the destination was, it took twice as long to get there, not considering all the flat tires.

The north half of the construction required more time because a large bridge was replaced to meet railroad specifications. Additionally, straightening the highway required tearing out some pasture hills.

Large modern bulldozers and land moving equipment with knowledgeable operators made the major project possible. One wonders how the original highway construction through prairieland was even possible decades ago.

At least there were decent highways to travel on for the north detours, which were more clearly marked. Yet all the roadways were very narrow and crooked, requiring considerable time and caution.

Seemingly impossible to count the number of truckloads of dirt and gravel the entire project must have required. There was a constant flow of construction crews coming and going for the endeavor.

Uncertain about the total cost of the completed highway project and really don’t care to know. But every taxpayer had to help pay for it.

Reminded of Isaiah 40:4 “Make the road straight and smooth, fill in the valleys, level off the hills, a highway fit for our God.”


Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.


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