By Sean Kilcarr, AASHTO Senior Editor
WASHINGTON — In the shadow of the Frederick Douglas Memorial Bridge – Washington, D.C.’s largest transportation infrastructure project to date – federal, state and local officials gathered with other transportation industry representatives to re-emphasize the importance of roadway work zone safety, especially since 799 motor vehicle drivers, passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians were killed in work zone crashes in 2017, which includes 132 highway workers.
From a trucking industry perspective, there’s certainly cause for alarm.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said in 2017, 30.4% of fatal work zone crashes involved at least one large truck. The percentage of all fatal crashes that involved at least one truck was 12.4%.
The plan is to replace the nearly 70-year-old functionally obsolete bridge and the nearby I-295 and Suitland Parkway interchange with a more modern, wider, and safer roadway, according to the District Department of Transportation.
The bridge project – expected to open for use in 2021 – will feature the kind of work zones that can prove challenging to drivers and others during the spring and summer road construction season.
That’s the underlying reason for National Work Zone Awareness Week, being held April 8-12; to reduce fatalities and serious injuries in work zones by encouraging everyone to slow down and pay attention.
The event – held in the nation’s capital on April 9 and hosted by DDOT – served as the national “kickoff event” for the 2019 safety campaign; a campaign put together through a partnership of the Federal Highway Administration, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the American Traffic Safety Services Association, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and other groups including the American Road & Transportation Builders Association and Associated General Contractors of America, plus individual state departments of transportation.
“Safety is everyone’s responsibility,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in a statement. “So please focus 100 percent on driving, be sober, be considerate of road workers and other road users and, please, obey the posted speed limits.”
The kickoff ceremony featured a number of speakers, as well as the ATSSA’s “Memorial Wall,” created to honor highway workers, motorists, and others who lost their lives in work zone crashes over the last two decades.
“As the weather gets warmer, highway workers are heading outdoors to improve our roads and keep us moving,” said Brandye Hendrickson, FHWA’s deputy administrator, during a speech at the event. “We all need to do our part and drive carefully, so that we can help keep everyone safe wherever construction is under way.”
She told the AASHTO Journal that the annual National Work Zone Awareness campaign is a “good reminder” to everyone using the roads – motorists, commercial truck and bus operators, bicyclists, and even pedestrians – to “take ownership” of the work zone safety issue.
“We can get a little lax over a long winter,” she said. “But we can’t afford to do that when work zones start popping up very frequently at this time year to fix and improve the roads.”
Hendrickson also noted that, since 2005, FHWA has awarded more than $50 million in grants to develop work zone safety guidance and training and support the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse – a database dedicated to providing the transportation construction industry and the general public with comprehensive information on ways to improve motorist, worker, and pedestrian safety in roadway work zones.
Jeff Marootian, DDOT’s director, told the AASHTO Journal that not only are projects like the Frederick Douglas Memorial Bridge aimed at making the roads safe “for everyone that uses them” regardless of mode of travel but “they need to be safe for the men and women working on them as well.”
Guillermo Rivera, commander-special operations for the Metropolitan Police Department, pointed out that as work zones alter traffic patterns, motorists in particular need to use extra caution when navigating them in order to ensure the safety of workers, bicyclists and pedestrians in and around those areas.
Lyndsay Sutton – whose father, Steven Morgan, died in a November 2011 accident while working on I-75 in Florida – emphasized that same point. “Fixing potholes and lane markings make roadway travel safe,” she said. “Construction may be a nuisance, but remember, highway workers are out here for us.”
“Every day, in highway work zones from coast to coast, state DOT employees put their lives on the line making communities safer, stronger, and more efficient,” added Jim Tymon, AASHTO’s executive director, in a statement. “Motorists owe it to those workers, their families, and the rest of the traveling public, to stay alert in work zones so that everyone gets home safely at the end of the day.”
Big rig loaded with mail crashes in Little Rock; tractor ends up on guard rail
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The old saying about those who deliver the mail goes something like this: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
But Sunday some indecision did.
The Arkansas Department of Transportation posted on its social media site that the driver of a tractor-trailer carrying a load of mail couldn’t decide which ramp to take off Interstate 440 Terminal Interchange with Interstate 30 and ended up striking the guard rail.
The tractor separated from the trailer and wound up hanging partially over the bridge railing.
Officials said one of the tractor’s fuel tanks became dislodged and fell onto Interstate 30 below causing an explosion and fire.
The driver was taken to a hospital, but her condition is unknown.
Traffic was delayed on both I-30 and I-440 which is the main thoroughfare between Little Rock and the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.
Colorado DOT kicks off project to install media cable barriers on I-25
DENVER — The Colorado Department of Transportation kicked off a seven-month project in June that aims to install new median cable barriers along Interstate 25 between Pueblo and Colorado Springs as a safety measure to prevent median crossover crashes.
According to an article in the Journal of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Colorado agency noted in a June 14 statement that it is using a “multi-phased approach” based on vehicle crash history and traffic volumes to specifically locate the new cable median barriers – part of its Whole System – Whole Safety initiative that takes a systematic approach to safety that includes driving behaviors, the built environment, and operations.
“Improving the safety of Colorado’s transportation network by reducing the rate and severity of crashes and improving safety conditions for travelers is our main goal,” Shoshana Lew, executive director of the Colorado DOT, said in a statement. “The statewide program’s whole system approach is unique in how it brings together all areas of the driving experience, resulting in improved and enhanced safety for motorists.”
The $3.5 million project – expected to be completed by December – will remove any existing barrier structures and replace it with media cable barrier along with “added offset” from the travel lane and flattened median side slopes.
That will continue to eliminate vehicle cross-over crashes, the agency noted, while additionally reducing nuisance hits as the northbound cable barrier can be removed. The net effect will allow better maintenance access, reduced maintenance costs, better traffic flow, and further enhancing safety, Colorado DOT said.
A 68-page study wrapped up last year by the Center for Transportation Research and Education at Iowa State University determined that cable median barriers “significantly” reduce motor vehicle crash fatalities and injuries, though they do lead to an increase in “property-damage only” crashes, according to the collected data examined by the school’s researchers.
That study found that out of the 6,718 median-related crashes it examined over a nine-year period stretching from 2007 to 2015, cable media barrier safety devices reduced fatalities, incapacitating injuries, and non-incapacitating injuries by 68.7, 36.8, and 23.9 percent, respectively.
Love’s opens new facilities in Michigan, Illinois and Pennsylvania
OKLAHOMA CITY — Love’s Travel Stops is now serving customers in three new locations — Bridgeport Charter Township, Michigan; Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania; and Hampshire, Illinois.
The Bridgeport Charter Township location at 6560 Dixie Highway (near Interstate 75 and Exit 144) adds 80 new jobs to Saginaw County and 87 truck parking spaces.
The Slippery Rock stop off Exit 105 and I-79, brings 40 jobs and 48 truck parking spaces.
The third location in Hampshire at 201 Love’s Crossing (near Interstate 90 and U.S. Highway 20), has 177 truck parking spaces and brings 80 jobs.
In total, Love’s is adding 312 truck parking spaces for professional drivers.
“These three locations place us in the perfect spots to serve more customers,” said Tom Love, executive chairman and founder of Love’s. “All are along major interstates that are popular for trade routes and leisure travel. We’re proud to add truck parking in areas where our customers need it.”
The travel stops are open 24/7 and offer many amenities.
More than 12,000 square feet of space, Hardee’s restaurant, 87 truck parking spaces, 87 car parking spaces, eight diesel bays, Speedco location on-site, four RV parking spaces, eight showers, laundry facilities, bean to cup gourmet coffee, brand-name snacks, Mobile to Go Zone with the latest electronics, CAT scale.
More than 10,000 square feet of space, Arby’s restaurant, 177 truck parking spaces, 53 car parking spaces, nine diesel bays, Speedco location on-site, three RV parking spaces, seven showers, laundry facilities, bean to cup gourmet coffee, brand-name snacks, Mobile to Go Zone with the latest electronics, CAT scale.
Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania
More than 10,000 square feet of space, Subway restaurant, 48 truck parking spaces, 60 car parking spaces, seven diesel bays, Love’s Truck Tire Care center, two RV parking spaces, six showers, laundry facilities, bean to cup gourmet coffee, brand-name snacks, Mobile to Go Zone with the latest electronics, CAT scale.
In honor of the grand opening, Love’s will host ribbon cuttings and donate $2,000 to the Bridgeport Historical Society, Northern Butler County Feed My Sheep Food Cupboard in Slippery Rock and Hampshire High School.
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