Working the roads

AT WORK

State highway worker Bryan Wilson cuts grass, plows snow, but is no friend of snakes

Working

August 23, 2006|By NANCY JONES-BONBREST | NANCY JONES-BONBREST,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Bryan Wilson

Road maintenance worker

State Highway Administration, Owings Mills

Salary --$16.76/hour

Age --44

Years on the job --Nine

How he got started --Wilson worked as a Baltimore City deputy sheriff for 11 years. After budget cuts eliminated his job, he went to work for the State Highway Administration. He said it was a good fit because he liked the camaraderie of the staff and he wanted something outdoors.

Typical day --Wilson is responsible for maintenance on roads in Baltimore County north of Owings Mills, including Interstate 795 and Reisterstown Road, as well as those to the south including Liberty Road, Security Boulevard and Interstate 695.

The work includes repairing potholes, digging ditches, hauling debris, paving roads, leaf removal and fixing drainage problems. During the summer months mowing, trimming and paving make up much of the work. In the winter, snow and ice removal are part of the job. Hours run from about 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, but Wilson also is on call in case of road cleanup after emergencies such as storms or accidents.

The good --"When a job is done, being able to look back and see how well it was done and say, `We all did this.' " He said he meets a lot of people on the job and enjoys that as well.

The bad --Cleaning up the remains of dead animals, especially on hot summer days.

The unexpected --A snake lurking in the grassy area along the road. "I ran. And when I came back, it was gone."

The heat --"Even when we have the 100-degree days, I still love to be out there doing grass. I'm an outdoor person."

Snow removal --Wilson is assigned to Interstate 195 during winter storms and must make sure the road is clear of snow and ice. Policy requires maintenance drivers to be out before the first flake falls, so they can stay ahead of the storm. He asks motorists who venture out on the roads during snowstorms to be patient. "There are drivers who will come around the plow truck, then go into a spin. Once they do this, now I have to stop and it's not that easy. Big trucks slide just as easy as cars. Just be a little more patient. The things being done are for you all."

Longest stretch --The Presidents' Day snowstorm in 2003. Wilson worked five, 24-hour days. Meals, snacks and cots were provided.

Training --Wilson is certified to operate about 13 pieces of equipment and holds a Class A commercial driver's license.

Leader at SHA --Wilson is president of the Owings Mills Quality Circle group, a fundraising and outreach organization for community causes that the highway administration sponsors. He also is a representative with its mentoring program and a diversity coordinator.

Philosophy on the job --"Being able to come home in the evening is a good day." Working with heavy equipment and being on the road constantly, Wilson realizes his job can be dangerous.

Nancy Jones-Bonbrest Special to The Sun

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