HistoryReaching more than a century of service is a rarity for any company, no matter the type. For heavy construction contractors, who often face greater long term challenges and risks than firms in other industries, the achievement is truly exceptional. We are one of few heavy construction contractors to have reached such a historic milestone.
When our founder Patrick F. McCarthy emigrated from Ireland to Iowa at age seventeen, he could not have imagined the impact he would have on the industry. Starting out as a water boy, he quickly advanced to stone cutter to foreman to superintendent. Then in 1897, he founded McCarthy Stone Company in Davenport, IA.
In 1903, we incorporated and became McCarthy Improvement Company; the same time government initiatives to create roads and highways in America became popularly known as improvement projects. We paved numerous roads throughout Iowa and Illinois and constructed the foundation of the Centennial Bridge across the Mississippi River. By the 1920’s, we employed over 500 workers at the peak of the construction season. This remarkable growth was largely due to the reputation we earned for performing quality work.
After establishing ourselves as paving specialists, we began to diversify, fulfilling contracts for building rights-of-way and laying tracks on the Pennsylvania, New York Central, Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, Santa Fe, and Southern Railroads. When Congress passed the Rivers and Harbors Bill in 1927, we extended our services to construct numerous locks and dams along the Mississippi River.
In the thirties, we worked as the general contractor for Lock and Dam No. 21 at Quincy, IL, Dam NO. 10 at Guttenberg, IA, Lock No. 5-A at Winona, MN, Lock and Dam No. 13 at Clinton, IA and extended the river walls of Lock and Dam No. 11 at Eagle Point.
Water-related construction continued throughout the forties and fifties as we expanded throughout the Midwest to the Southeast. Projects included the building of the $3.5M Santee-Cooper Dam near Charleston, SC; flood-control measures on the Ohio River; the massive $11M Fort Randall Dam project in Yankton, SD; and the Kansas Turnpike.
The sixties and seventies marked a strong return to roadway paving. Awarded contracts for the Illinois Toll Way and sections of Interstates 57, 74, 80, and 235 brought us back to the core expertise we refined over the course of seventy years.
Paving projects in the eighties included Ellsworth Air Force Base in Rapid City, SD; a $16.2M job repaving the base’s air strip for the B-1 Bomber; construction of Illinois Interstate 5 from Rock Island to Whiteside County; runways and taxiways at the Nashville International Airport in Tennessee, the Quad City International Airport in Illinois, Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta; and extensive widening of Interstates 75 and 85 in Georgia, to name a few.
By 1997, we reached a century of service. While we diversified the scope, our focus remained on our core expertise—concrete and asphalt paving. Quality had become our benchmark, but we concentrated on raising the bar higher.
Our internal raising of the bar paralleled with increased demands coming from state transportation agencies and other project owners. This energized our efforts to pioneer partnership in testing and Quality Control/Quality Assurance.
We believed partnering would foster solid working relationships and outstanding quality. Having fully embraced this concept, we were thrilled when the Iowa Department of Transportation began to implement the partnering model into some of their projects in 1992. IDOT’s goal was to have one partnering project in each of its six regions. We volunteered to partner on two projects in that first year.
In addition to being first to partner on projects in the state of Iowa, we spearheaded partnering firsts in states throughout the Midwest and Southeast, constructing the first partnership project by the Illinois DOT; the Knox County I-74 concrete overlay, for which we earned the national ACPA award, and orchestrated the first partnered project by the Georgia DOT; the Atlanta to Athens Highway 316, known as University Parkway.
We are particularly proud of urging the Nashville Airport Authority to participate in their first partnering project, the new construction of 8,000-foot Runway 2C/20C. Being a very aggressive project to start in October and be open to air traffic by the following May 1, it was especially indicative of the potential benefits partnering can provide.
The NAA agreed to partnering, largely due to commitments to American Airlines, but they imposed a $20,000-a-day liquidated damages clause, if we did not meet the stringent deadline. It was rewarding to have completed the job on time, but receiving the Airport Authority’s crystal commendation, recognizing the effectiveness of our working style, made it even more so.
Like our name implies, McCarthy Improvement is dedicated to continuous improvement of quality, efficiency, and reliability in the heavy construction industry, constantly evolving the way business is done to meet those goals. In the new millennium we acquired Foley Construction, Bellamy Bridge Builders, and recently Ballenger Paving to meet this aim through turnkey solutions.
Our turnkey approach is geared to bring projects in on time in the best possible way. Our team takes initiative to save clients money through efficiency and reliability, and because we work together, scheduling is proactive and fine tuned. Customer satisfaction is what maintains the longevity of any company, and our trinity of experts has longstanding track record for meeting and exceeding private and public sector needs alike.
Our commitment to quality, efficiency, and reliability means you can count on us to get the job done right.
McCarthy Improvement's expertise in concrete and asphalt paving combined with Foley’s capabilities in earth moving and underground utilities and Bellamy’s proficiency in bridge building and repair provides comprehensive, turnkey solutions for a broad range of heavy construction projects.
Our integrated services eliminate the tangle of subcontractors, cutting costs as well as headaches. Harmonizing this efficient approach with our reliable expertise and commitment to quality is why we’ve been industry leaders for more than a century. We’ve built a solid reputation throughout the Midwest and Southeast for completing projects in the best possible way, on time and within budget.
Whether your need is single scope or wide-ranging, we provide ideal solutions for commercial and public sector projects. Private developers trust us to establish the groundwork for educational, military and industrial facilities, shopping centers, and residential sub-divisions that often include lakes and golf courses. Public agencies rely on us for rapid completion of interstate and highway, airport, railway, and bridge projects, as well as street and sidewalk projects. Both look to us to review plans and make option recommendations.
Asphalt and Concrete Paving
Footings, Foundations and Floors
Grading and Excavation
Bridge Building, Jacking and Repair
Pile Driving and Shoring
Quality Control and Assurance