By Caitlin Switzer

WEST END—For the past 20 years, he has been helping to keep the roads open and travelers safe in the West End.

For Montrose County’s Assistant Road and Bridge Superintendent Bobby Reeder, it’s a labor of love.

Montrose County Assistant Road and Bridge Superintendent Bobby Reeder. Courtesy photo.

“To a person who drives, the road they use is the most important road there is,” Reeder said.

“The West End has more miles of road— and as my boss Brian Wilson has said, ‘Most of the roads in the West End just happened.’ So we blade the roads, we install bridges, we put in culverts—right now we are blasting, widening I-35, and

putting in retaining walls to make it safer for the public.”

Providing access for vehicles large and small is essential in an area where natural resource development is a way of life, he noted.

“The coal mine is expanding, and the bridge is 50 years old, so we are putting in a new one,” Reeder said.

“We feel this is a well-needed project— the old bridge probably would not hold up to the traffic.” Reeder himself has lived in Redvale since 1980.

He left his native Houston when develop- ment began to encroach on the land where

he rode horses. “I moved here

for the hunting and the way of life,” he said. “I just hate crowds— but I love people, and I love it here. This is just home—the people who live here don’t want to be anyplace else.

“I have always been a cowboy type, and still I am.”

Among the

job’s greatest challenges are hiring and maintaining a qualified staff, he said.

“When we hire unskilled people and train them, they eventually go somewhere else,” said Reeder, who oversees a staff of 16.

“We have a hard time even getting enough applicants.”

Although he enjoys his job and the inter- action with the public that it entails, Reed- er would like to see more public apprecia- tion and cost-of-living pay raises for his hard-working crew.

“We all know it costs more to do busi- ness in the West End,” he said.

“After all, until they put a stoplight in Ridgway, you had to drive more than 100 miles just to hit a red light.”