This construction season, the Missouri Department of Transportation is turning the state orange! Some MoDOT buildings and landmarks throughout the state will be lit orange from April 2-6 in recognition of National Work Zone Awareness Week, which marks the start of another big season of highway construction.
"Despite MoDOT's efforts to make Missouri work zones safe, people are still killed and injured in work zones every year. In 2006, 20 people were killed in Missouri work zones - including four MoDOT workers," said Don Hillis, MoDOT director of System Management. "This year, MoDOT workers are asking Missourians to Watch Out for Us as they travel through a work zone."
With the successful completion of the Smooth Roads Initiative that brought 2,200 highway miles up to good condition, MoDOT is now improving 5,600 miles of roadways over the next five years. The improvements will bring 85 percent of Missouri's major highways up to good condition by 2011.
"The Smooth Roads Initiative was such a successful program and made a noticeable difference in the look and feel of our roadways," said Hillis said. "Although it will be a tough act to follow, we are excited about our new Better Roads, Brighter Future project. The successful completion of the project has the potential to prevent 85 injuries a year, save 10 lives a year, support more than 48,000 jobs, save $100 million a year in fuel costs and create more attractive places for businesses to locate."
The 2007 construction season will be the first with Missouri's new work zone law that passed in August 2006. The law means big penalties for reckless drivers - injuring or killing a highway worker could cost $10,000, as well as losing your license for a year and/or jail time. New work zone signs reflecting the penalties can be found all over the state. The new law also strengthened several other provisions. More information about the newest laws can be found at http://www.modot.org/.
"We're constantly making our work zones safer and smarter with new technology and brighter signs to help prepare drivers for what's ahead," Hillis said. "We now have the tools to alert motorists about construction zones ahead of time."
But with 1,000 work zones this year, there will be some delays, frustrations and opportunities for drivers to be distracted. "We ask motorists to be patient with us and remember to always buckle up and Drive Smart," Hillis said.
Four MoDOT employees were killed last year in the line of duty. This year one of the messages in MoDOT's work zone awareness campaign features Ken Hoierman, a worker who was tragically killed in August of 2006 in a work zone. The message urges drivers to Watch Out for Us. A memorial page for those killed in the line of duty can be found at MoDOT's Web site, www.modot.org/workzones/inmemory.htm.
According to Missouri statistics, most work zone crashes are caused by inattention, excessive speed and following too closely. Motorists are the ones most likely to be killed or injured in a work-zone crash. In 2006, 20 people were killed and 1,197 injured in work zones.
"In the grand scheme of things, a few minutes of inconvenience means years of smoother, safer driving," Hillis said. "We're doing our part to keep you moving through Missouri, but the difference is you. Drive Smart and Arrive Alive."
For more information about construction projects, work zones statewide or to access the 2007 statewide work zone construction map, visit http://www.modot.org/ or call 888-ASK-MODOT (275-6636).