Changes coming to Missouri work zones

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JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Department of Transportation will start using temporary rumble strips in high-traffic work zones to alert drivers. Contractor vehicles will also be outfitted with blue in red lights in hopes drivers will be more aware of their surroundings in work zones.

 “It’s too senseless, all the things that are happening,” said MoDOT senior maintenance worker Justin Sundell. “We need to get back to actually driving and being less focused on our devices and things that have changed a lot of lives for the worst.”

Two workers, and 16 people total, were killed in work zone crashes this year.

Sundell said workers support the safety changes.

“Any kind of safety device that we can implement to make our lives better and make the traveling public life better we are absolutely going to be 100 percent on board with that,” Sundell said.

He said his favorite part of his job is the family feel of MoDOT. Whenever there is a loss within that family Sundell said he feels the lasting impact.  

“It’s very surreal,” Sundell said.  “You can never actually stop thinking about that. It’s always in the back of your mind and it’s always something we take very seriously.”

MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna said workers making it home to their families it a top priority. 

“We can’t lose sight of the really tragic significance of these statistics. These are family members, friends, coworkers and neighbors that didn’t make it home to their loved ones,” McKenna said.

As Missouri’s winter begins to slow residents will see more workers on roadways. Some of the most active work zones will be on Interstates 70, 44, 64, 55, 270 and U.S. Route 65.

MoDOT said there are three ways to navigate work zones safely:

  • Observe warning signs and merge before reaching lane closures.
  • Be aware of changing traffic conditions.
  • Be prepared to slow down.

The new additions to MoDOT’s safety procedures are meant to grab a driver’s attention.

“Our safety partners are always looking for options to enhance safety and grab the attention of drivers, so that their distractions may pull them back to the road,” said Missouri State Highway Patrol Colonel Sandy Karsten. “The red and blue lights is one option for that.”

She said the lighting change could cause some issues for troopers and other law enforcement.  

“From a law enforcement perspective we do not want people to become desensitized to that lighting configuration,” Karsten said.

Karsten said agencies will track how drivers react.  

“You never know until something is actually put in place,” she said. “We will be watching that with our partners in MoDOT and well as the highway contractors are also watching the impact of the lighting configuration on safety in work zones.”

To check the work zones you could encounter while you drive check MoDOT’s Traveler Information Map.