Benton Andrews started his road to becoming a road builder in 1952. In high school, he worked summers for a Montgomery construction firm, and, at age 18, he began driving a dump truck for Robert R. Dunn, Troy, Alabama.
The “home boy” from Dublin, Alabama, did not like staying away from home. The road took a detour. Benton took a position as lineman for the local telephone cooperative, which worked out rather well for a while. He was not very happy climbing icy telephone poles and being on call at all hours by the Pentagon and FAA to repair lines to their microwave tower at Pine Level, Alabama. He just really wanted to return to construction work.
Benton’s road really began in the early 1960s. The federal interstate system was beginning in Alabama, and Benton became an essential part of this new roadway program. In 1963, he became a foreman on an I-59 base and pave project near Gadsden. There, he learned the basic skills — the “nuts and bolts” or the “roadbed grades and densities” — of road building. He soon was promoted to superintendent and worked on I-85 projects. In Mobile, he worked on I-65, including the interchange at I-65 and Highway 43. He also built many Farm-to-¬Market roads in South Alabama.
As superintendent for a Birmingham construction firm, he based and paved the Montgomery northern by-pass. In 1973, Benton transferred to Tuscaloosa as west Alabama area manager. He supervised road and site projects and oversaw operations of two asphalt plants and the company’s sand and gravel operation.
Benton made road building a family business in 1981, when he established RaCON, INC., in Tuscaloosa. Over its thirty-plus years, RaCON’s primary work has been road and highway projects throughout Alabama. To name a few, Benton led RaCON to build US-82 in Pickens County and through the Sipsey Swamp in Tuscaloosa County. He built US-80 in Marengo and Sumter Counties. He widened I-20 in St Clair County. RaCON also completed some of the largest site preparation projects in the Southeast, including the Mercedes Plant near Tuscaloosa and the TK plant near Mobile.
Benton’s road continues. Although he took a brief stab at a beach retirement, he grew restless. “Diesel fuel is in his blood.” In 2011, Benton began building the Baldwin County Expressway. He has a knack for knowing how to move the dirt. He has a commanding knowledge of ALDOT specifications and construction. This is best described by the ALDOT Baldwin County project manager and engineer, who stated “you can’t get anything past him.”
Benton has built roads for almost 60 years, in sixty-four (of the sixty-seven) Alabama counties. Benton is a true ALABAMA ROADBUILDER.