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Interstate 95

I-95 connects Miami to Maine and along the way links Jacksonville, Savannah, Richmond, Washington, New York City, and Boston. The highway travels through coastal areas of Georgia, and almost all of the Georgia miles were built by Shepherd Construction.

“Ed Samples worked for W. L. Cobb, and he was one of the best bidders I’ve ever seen,” Harold Shepherd recalls. “Bidders are born. You don’t train a bidder. My brother Dan was one of the best bidders I knew. We’d be driving down Courtland Street with a stack of bids for the DOT, and he would say, ‘Cut $50,00 from so-and-so and add $100,000 to the other one.’ We’d make the changes and get both jobs. Ed Samples was the same way. He could look at a set of plans one time, then roll it up. He knew it.

“Anyway, Ed said there were hardly any bidders in Savannah, and we could make some money there. That’s when we got our first job on I-95, and we stayed there getting more and more projects until the whole thing was finished. We did all of I-95 except for about thirty miles. Seaboard had a section near Brunswick, and Roy Foster had a section at Darien. We’d make money two years, then lose money the next. The rain would get you. We went through two or three hurricane seasons.

“Part of making a successful bid is knowing where your dirt is coming from and where it’s going. The DOT let the interstate in about eight-mile increments, and they would have a diagram of cuts and fills, but it wouldn’t include quantities. You started at the high spot and worked to the low spot. My brother Charles would also pull a lot of fill from the drainage ditches, but we knew we would need a lot more fill than we had on the site. So two days before the first contract was let, we bought a piece of property on high ground. That became our first borrow pit, and it’s one reason we were able to get the job. Later we found sharks teeth as big as your fist in that borrow pit. Over time we found borrow pits from the South Carolina line to Savannah to Dublin.”

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