Watching concrete dry is a serious job in Fredericton

Watching concrete dry is a serious job in Fredericton

It's not quite like watching paint dry, but guarding freshly poured concrete is a job Jake Taylor takes very seriously. 

Taylor is a flagger with traffic-control company Safety First, but on Tuesday his assignment was directing walkers rather than drivers. 

It's his job to divert people around wet concrete and avoid potentially sticky situations. 

"I'm watching the concrete here dry because barriers don't seem to be enough to keep people off of them these days."

Gary Moore/CBC

Taylor spent a few hours sitting next to a small stretch of wet concrete on Regent Street at Montgomery Street in Fredericton. 

Two barriers were placed at both ends of the new sidewalk repair, but Taylor said some people don't pay attention to where they walk.

"Some people are just looking down and going about their business," he said. "They see something in front of them and they just walk right around it."

It's not the first time that Taylor was assigned to fresh concrete duty. He was recently stationed around the corner on Montgomery Street — a posting that caused him some grief. 

"We cut out a curb and had to pour a new curb in, and a colleague of mine we're there watching it, and we left for probably less than 10 minutes, and by the time we came back there was roughly half a dozen footprints in it." 

Unfortunately, not much can be done once someone steps in the fresh concrete, Taylor said. 

Pedestrians get distracted

"We just shook our heads," he said. "We're not there to see who did it, so we can't scold anyone, and there's not really anything you can do except fix it."

Taylor said he doesn't see much vandalism — or people intentionally ruining the concrete. The biggest problem is distracted walkers. 

But it's an inconvenience for everyone, Taylor said. 

"It's making us have to block traffic off longer, redo work we've already done. You know, money is being spent that doesn't need to be spent because it's more materials, more everything."

Mike Walker, the manager of roadway operations with the City of Fredericton, said it's an issue for the city.

"When freshly poured concrete has been placed, you're susceptible to — whether it's mistaken or on purpose — somebody walking through that, somebody stopping to write their name in it."

Gary Moore/CBC

"We have had concrete vandalized, and it is an issue for us," Walker said, adding that it doesn't happen often, maybe once a year. 

Regardless of whether the damage is on purpose or unintentional, it's costly to redo the work.

"Ultimately, you're spending the same amount of time to dig out the new concrete, and you're spending the same amount of money for materials and labour to place it again."

Walker said supervising fresh concrete isn't new, but it's become part of the job.