Construction workers are being injured, and authorities are turning to the public, once again, and asking them to think about what they are doing when they travel through the work area.
If Earl Capps could write the manual for driving in a highway construction zone, it would all come down to three words.
"Be considerate, thoughtful and cautious," he said.
That simple advice works with the vast majority of drivers who are responsible and make efforts to be cautious when traveling through construction work zones. However, there are those drivers who just don't get it. Those drivers who don't want to drive safely and obey the posted speed limits get to meet the troopers who've been assigned to patrol the work zone. Those troopers work long hours and in some dangerous conditions. Having watched these troopers work on a lot of nights, I can't say enough about them.
But since the problem doesn't seem to go away, it's obvious that more help is needed - but in the current budget situation, more help won't be coming.
However there are legislators who have offered to help find ways to fund more troopers for work zones around the state without putting the cost on taxpayers. Expect more discussion on this subject in the upcoming months ...
Some recent data:
- Four company vehicles have been rear-ended in the work zone since work began in August. Three with employees in them at the time.
- A random sampling of traffic citations shows motorists cited when the work zone speed limit is reduced to 45 m.p.h. for night work showed an average speed of 74 m.p.h.
- Since January, there have been seven critical loss-of-control incidents where motorists were going so fast they either hit concrete barrier wall or ran off the road entirely
- In a recent two week period, the Highway Patrol issued over 300 tickets during night work.
Until then, our employees will continue to dodge cars and objects being thrown at them with little help. At least until someone gets killed.
Get ready for a lot of orange barrels, concrete barriers and lane shifts on your interstate commute for the next three years.
Widening Interstate 26 to eight lanes from the Mark Clark Expressway to Ashley Phosphate Road in North Charleston is about to start.
The widening "will be the most radical transformation of an interstate in the Lowcountry that anyone has ever seen," said Earl Capps of the U.S. Group Inc., which won the construction contract for the $66 million project.
The 2.9-mile project will include nearly a complete makeover of both the Aviation Avenue and Remount Road interchanges with new on- and off-ramps and collector lanes beneath the bridges.
- Charleston Post and Courier (July 13, 2008)
If you're traveling through this area, there are some things you'll need to keep in mind:
- Lane closures will only take place at night,
- 45 m.p.h. work zone speed limits with lots of cops,
- Periodic lane shifts can be expected throughout the project on I26, along with Aviation and Remount Roads.
This time of year, especially in rural areas, there's a lot of farm equipment on the road, and we join Hugh Weathers, our Commissioner of Agriculture, in urging you to be careful out there:
Hugh E. Weathers, South Carolina’s Commissioner of Agriculture, urges drivers to use caution when driving near tractors and other large farm equipment on the highways around the state.
Each spring and summer there is an increase of tractors and other large farm machines that travel South Carolina’s back roads as farmers work their fields. Every year there are collisions involving farm equipment and vehicles across the state and the Department of Agriculture encourages everyone to drive with care as they approach any farm machine on the road.
“Tractors and combines on the roads are a part of South Carolina,” Weathers said. “I urge all drivers to slow down, be patient behind large tractors that may be driving slowly, and pass with care.”
This project, funded by York County's Pennies for Progress program, will complete a long-overdue full four-lane southern bypass around Rock Hill, allowing travelers heading to York and points west of Rock Hill without having to fight city traffic or two-lane roads.
If you'd like to keep up with this project's progress ... yep, I'm running the project website at www.901Construction.com.
Piney Grove Road widening and bridge replacement:
This project will replace the bridge over Kinley Creek, rechannel the creek to reduce potential erosion of the roadway, and add a center turn lane for two blocks both north and south of the creek.
U.S. Route 321 at U.S. Route 21/176 intersection realignment:
This project will replace the fork and yield intersection with a standard "T" intersection, complete with a traffic light. U.S. 321 will remain the through-route, while U.S. 21/176 travelers will have to stop and then turn right or left to get onto U.S. 321.
While daytime work that interferes with traffic is usually very restricted by SCDOT contract requirements, we do ask you to slow down exercise extra caution through these work zones. Both projects will likely require lane shift and temporary realignments to facilitate work, which will slow traffic while motorists get used to them. Watch out for those motorists, as well as our workers and construction vehicles.
If you have any questions about either project, please let me know. I'll be glad to help.
As an added bonus, I put the Piney Grove Road project online with a traffic information website, which you can find at http://www.pineygroveroad.com/.
On this blog, that's an important week.
As someone who works for a highway construction general contractor, I'd like to ask all of you to put safety first at all times when driving, but to pay extra attention in those work zones.
While my company has been fortunate to have had zero injuries or fatalities due to work zone incidents, U.S. Group is the exception to the rule in that regard. Having had a couple of near misses myself while on job sites, I know just how risky it is.
Keep in mind that when workers can work safer and therefore with more confidence, they work faster. That means they can open those roads up sooner. So, please help us help you.
There's even a Work Zone Safety coloring book you can download for hours of coloring fun. West and Mike ought to enjoy that.
If you think it's cold outside, try spending the entire night out in this weather. For the company quarterly newsletter, which I am responsible for, I spent part of Sunday night down on US 21, just south of Beaufort, on St. Helena Island, taking pictures of the night work we've got going on. They'll be out there for five nights a week for the next three weeks - talk about tough and hardcore.
The temperature when I got there at 6.30 pm was a moderate 56, by the time I write this, at midnight, as I thaw out for the ride home to Summerville, it was already down in the mid-40s, and headed for the mid-20s before sunrise.
For the newletter, I took some pictures and got to do some non-corporate communication stuff by helping with traffic control, moving barrels and waving the Stop/Slow paddle for a few minutes. We had one lane closed, so traffic was taking turns on the one lane that was left open.
For those of ya'll traveling through work zones, please be sure to SLOW THE HELL DOWN!!! There were plenty of people who didn't do that tonight, and thus far, nobody's been hurt - yet.
Here are some sobering statistics about work zone dangers:
Sources: Federal Highway Administration - Fatal crashes and fatalities - Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) & Injuries - General Estimates System (GES)
- Over the last five years, the number of persons killed in motor vehicle crashes in work zones has risen from 872 in 1999 to 1,028 in 2003 (an average of 1,020 fatalities a year).
- Eighty-five percent of those killed in a work zone are drivers or occupants.
- More than 40,000 people are injured each year as a result of motor vehicle crashes in work zones.
- Approximately half of all fatal work zone crashes occurred during the day.
- More than two times as many fatal work zone crashes occurred on weekdays as on weekends.
Yes, I said SIXTEEN THOUSAND tickets.
From that discussion, I was directed to put together this poster to circulate to our employees, as well as others in the construction arena, to help educate their workers and engage them in spreading the word about the need to slow down in work zone:
Slowing down might be a good idea ... for you, for other motorists, and for those working. I may be the office brainy-geeky HR and corporate communication person, but I've been out there on the side of the road and have my own personal close call stories.
Even worse, I've stood just feet away from a tarp that covered someone who was just moments before, a living, breathing human being - someone who was a friend, co-worker, father, and husband. It's something you'll never forget.
What can you, as a motorist, do to help? Here are three things easy things that you can do in a work zone:
- Slow down,
- Watch for slowed or stopped traffic ahead, and
- Keep an eye out for flaggers and construction vehicles in the roadway.
You can slow down for us, or you can stop for the blue lights. Either way, it's up to you ....
In any event, everyone make it a GREAT weekend out there!
The second occurred literally minutes after the first one. By some small miracle, no motorists or construction workers were hurt.
These spectacular pictures show what a little speed and a lot of inattention caused. That the truck driver walked away with his head attached is amazing.
Needless to say, we've asked for increased law enforcement patrols. When it comes to choosing between increased danger to workers and motorists or traffic fines and higher insurance, what choice do we have?
Many people who drive through work zones don't think much about it, in part because they don't know someone who may be working there.
Guess what? Now you do know someone who does.
I may work mostly in an office, but I get out on jobsites from Beaufort to Florence, Newberry to Charleston, and I've seen the near-misses, been on sites of fatalities involving vehicles. I've had to jump out of the way of cars, so I know firsthand how dangerous these work zones are.
By some small miracle, my company has had zero serious injuries or fatalities. However, many other companies have plenty of sad stories to tell. These work zone safety facts from the S.C. DOT are sobering.
When driving through work zones, you can do your part to help us by following these ten Work Zone Safe Driving tips will help us greatly.
Our lives are in YOUR hands. Please help us.
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