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Prepared by Andrew Gates, 314/453-1808

April 17, 2012 01:15 PM
Missouri hosts 2012 national work zone awareness kickoff
St. Louis project highlights importance of staying alert in work zones

ST. LOUIS - The Missouri Department of Transportation in St. Louis will kick off this year's national focus on work zone awareness with an event on a construction project in St. Louis County.

The public is invited to join Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez  and MoDOT to kick off the national observance of Work Zone Safety Awareness Week, with an event on April 23 at 10 a.m. on the Route 141 reconstruction project in Chesterfield, Mo. Mendez will present a trophy to the department in recognition of hosting the national event.

With the start of spring, roadway maintenance and construction crews "hit the roads," creating shifting or narrowed lanes, nighttime lane closures and complete closures of portions of roadway - also known as work zones.

Each spring, transportation and safety officials highlight the importance of staying aware in those work zones though National Work Zone Awareness Week. This year, the week is April 22- 28.

"We need motorists to pay attention to highway construction and drive with caution to prevent senseless deaths and injuries," said Kevin Keith, MoDOT director. "We're also asking the public to rate work zones they've driven through once they've arrived at their destination, and they'll see new signs placed at the beginning of work zones that ask them to do that. This kind of first-hand information will help us make adjustments and increase safety for motorists and our work crews."

The kickoff event will take place on Route 141 in St. Louis County. The Route 141 project reconstructs a two-mile stretch of the roadway, upgrading the road from a three-lane road with at-grade intersections into a six-lane freeway with multiple interchanges. The roadway will enhance the flow of traffic through the region, reduce congestion and generate an estimated $1 billion in economic impact over the next 20 years. The $45 million Route 141 project is Missouri's largest American Recovery and Reinvestment Act project.

To get to the event, drivers should take Interstate 64 to Route 141 North in Chesterfield. Drivers will pass Conway Road, St. Luke's Hospital and pass under the new bridge constructed at Ladue Road as part of the Route 141 project.  After the bridge, drivers should look for flaggers to direct them to parking for the event, which will be on the future lanes of Route 141.

MoDOT committed to testing several innovative techniques on this project, including intelligent compaction, two-lift paving and a photocatalytic additive for the concrete which absorbs and breaks down pollution into harmless elements ("smog-eating concrete").

Every April since 2000, the Federal Highway Administration, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the American Traffic Safety Services Association have partnered together to host a national event to recognize and focus on roadway work zone safety.

The original concept was to rotate the annual April "kickoff" within the Washington, D.C. metro area between the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. That changed when the national WZAW executive committee concluded the best way to determine a host state for the 2012 and future national media events would be though a competitive selection process.  Missouri was the first state selected to host this annual kickoff.

"We wanted to select a state that's doing something wonderful that could be shared with the rest of the nation," says James Baron, director of communications for the American Traffic Safety Services Association. "The national committee selected Missouri because we were really impressed with what the state is doing with work zone awareness."

Besides hosting the National Work Zone Awareness kickoff event, Missouri has been selected to host the "National Work Zone Memorial - Respect and Remembrance: Reflections of Life on the Road." This traveling memorial is a living tribute to the memory of the countless individuals who have lost their lives in the nation's work zones. It travels to communities cross-country year-round. The intent is to raise public awareness of the need to respect and stay safe in America's roadway work zones.

The traveling memorial will be displayed in the St. Louis Galleria from Tuesday, April 24 until Sunday, April 29.

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