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Road workers caught in path of frustrated drivers

Drivers frustrated by the slow traffic on Rock Crusher Road brought on by construction work have earned the ire of workers. "These guys are out there trying to make a living," said Larry Pfau, safety director for Carroll Contracting, the company handling the reconstruction of more than a mile of the well-traveled thoroughfare.

Pfau said Friday there may have been at least two incidents recently in which drivers have taken out their anger on signalmen.

The most recent incident was Thursday afternoon, when Jerry Ellis, 45, was directing traffic.

Ellis told his supervisors he was carrying a 10-foot pole, known as a paddle, that is used to signal drivers to stop or proceed slowly.

Somehow, one of two passing motorcyclists struck the paddle.

"The guy had at least 20 feet to move in," Pfau said. "There was no reason he had to be that close to the signalman."

According to police reports, the motorcyclist stopped, dismounted and started yelling at Ellis.

Pfau said the man punched Ellis, who was holding the pole in one hand and a radio in the other.

The man got back on his motorcycle and drove away.

The Sheriff's Office is investigating the incident.

Pfau said the company will decide whether to prosecute if an arrest is made.

In an earlier incident, Pfau said a driver of a car struck a signalman in the back with the outside mirror. He said that incident may have been an accident.

Pfau said he can understand the frustration of drivers caught in construction traffic, but he doesn't think anything is being solved by violence.

Road crews have been working since early April to rebuild more than a mile of Rock Crusher Road.

The project costs almost $668,000, and county officials expect work to be completed by the first week in September.

At least one lane will be open at a time.