MoDOT Kicks Off Work Zone Awareness Week
COLUMBIA -- There are plenty of things Chad West doesn't like about working along the highway. As a MoDOT employee, working alongside cars driving at 60-plus miles per hour happens more often than not. On Monday, West worked alongside Highway 63 South, removing rock off the right side of the highway near the Prathersville Road exit.
And here, three of his least favorite parts of working on the road came together.
It starts with how close the cars get to the work crew, even with a line of orange cones separating him and the MoDOT maintenance crew from the cars zipping past. Next, it's the car-honking.
"Others will honk at us, on purpose, and you jump, because you're already on pins and needles."
Finally, the rain. It makes drivers more erratic, which is the last thing a roadside construction worker needs a driver to be.
On Monday, West said drivers seem to be going slower than usual.
"There's probably a state trooper at the top of the hill," West says with a short laugh.
While West and other workers removed rock, protected by the slim, orange cones, MoDOT began Work Zone Awareness Week with a new slogan, "Don't Zone Out." As major construction projects begin, such as the Stadium Boulevard diamond interchange and Route Z bridge widening in Columbia, MoDOT, along with the Missouri Highway Patrol, hopes to curb car accidents and on-the-job fatalities of MoDOT and construction workers.
"We're going to have a lot of people on the job. There will be a lot of people moving around that we need folks to be careful of," said MoDOT central district engineer David Silvester.
This year, MoDOT director David Nichols said motorists can expect more advanced warnings of emergency response vehicles and construction sites.
"You'll see much more reflectivity, much more in the way of strobe lights and reflectors. Motorists will be able to see those moving operations well in advance so they'll have time to slow down."
According to Missouri Highway Patrol Major Dale Schmidt, 626 people were injured in work zone crashes in 2012. This is down from 712 injuries in 2011, a 12 percent decrease. Nine people died in those wrecks in 2012, including Clifton Scott, a MoDOT employee killed last year in an on-site wreck in Independence, Mo. Scott appears in a 2001 recording in MoDOT's public service announcement for this year's Work Zone Awareness Week. Nichols called Scott's words "prophetic" as Scott asks motorists to slow down and think of the workers' families. Since 2000, sixteen MoDOT workers have been killed on the job.