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THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNEI-15 Engineer Weary But Proud as Project Winds Down
BRANDON GRIGGS THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE
May 29, 2001
For four years, Richard Miller has inhaled exhaust fumes, endured thundering traffic andfielded queries from frustrated friends and strangers such as, "Hey, I work at 5300 South. Howdo I get to work now?" Miller is one of more than 2,000 workers who since April 1997 haverebuilt Interstate 15 -- the largest construction project in Utah history.Only now, with 17 miles of widened freeway reopened, can Miller catch his breath and admirehis handiwork."I don't think I get romantic about it. It's only concrete," says the square-jawed UDOT projectengineer. "But I do get goose bumps thinking about what's been done. I'm just amazed that thisamount of work got done in four years. I'm really proud of that."A 15-year veteran of state road construction, Miller is a human face on what has been a largelyfaceless project. The 41-year-old moved to Utah in 1984 to escape the congestion of thefreeway capital of the world, his native Los Angeles. Never could Miller imagine that hiscrowning career achievement in Salt Lake City would be building a mega-freeway that mostcommuting-crazed Californians would envy.Miller signed on in 1996 to supervise quality control on the project's southernmost segment,from 10800 South to 4800 South. By last fall, he had been promoted to oversee its entire length.Miller and his team of technicians monitored the work of hundreds of carpenters, machineoperators, ironworkers and laborers hired by Wasatch Constructors to
the freeway.On Miller's office wall hangs a large aerial photo of
's junction with I-215 -- "just to remindmyself," he says with a chuckle, "of where my home's been these last four years." Completingthe job took 7.8 million man-hours, and some 10,000 of those were Miller's. He has workednights and weekends, been paged in the middle of the night about traffic accidents and heardgrumblings from impatient motorists. At times the $1.59 billion project's demands haveexhausted him, tested his wife's patience and caused him to miss his children's soccer games."I don't think I've ever had a 40-hour week on this job," says Miller, who will remain on theproject until October to finish details. "It's been really stressful and challenging. But it's beenrewarding, too. As an engineer you look at plans all the time. And [the reopened freeway] looks