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Moms and Dads at Work, Please Slow Down

Since the holidays are over and my last blog was a little on the humorous side I thought this would be a good time to discuss a more serious issue: work zone safety. I have worked in the toll road industry for almost 20 years now. Mostly it’s been a fun and gratifying experience. But every now and then I hate my job. Like back in 2003 when the organization I worked for was in the process of reconstructing one of our toll plazas in Orlando, Florida.

GradyHill

Grady Hill

The contractor on the project was doing a great job and was actually ahead of schedule. In fact, the new lanes were already open and the contractor was on the verge of closing out the job, when tragedy struck. A highway crew was installing reflective pavement markers as part of a night time operation when a drunk driver barreled into the work zone at more than 85 mph.  The result was catastrophic. 38-year old traffic maintenance supervisor Grady Hill was killed and two other workers seriously injured. Hill left behind a wife and several children. (More information >>)

That leads me to the MoPac Improvement Project. We are now closing lanes nightly, lanes are being realigned, construction barriers are going up, and an increasing number of construction vehicles and workers are in the field. The speed limit is now reduced to 55 mph southbound between US 183 and RM 2222 and as work expands to other sections of the project the speed limit will be reduced in those areas too.  I should also remind everyone that speeding fines are doubled when workers are present and you are supposed to reduce your speed by 20 mph when driving in a lane adjacent to a stopped emergency vehicle, TxDOT vehicle, or tow truck.

Memorial_1

Grady Hill Memorial

I know construction zone speed limit reductions can seem like an inconvenience, but they are there for a reason. The unfortunate fact is that nationally more than 700 people are killed in work zones each year.  In 2012 there were more than 16,000 accidents and 137 deaths in Texas work zones.  And, the majority of those deaths involved drivers and/or vehicle occupants, not highway workers. So for your own safety as well as the people I work with, please slow down and keep an eye out for the changing conditions. I want all of us to be able to enjoy the benefits of the project when it is completed in 2015.

 

 

 

 

5 Responses

  1. MoPac Man says:

    A sad and likely true statement.

  2. Jay Juba says:

    Y’all did a really poor job on the re-stripping…very difficult to see at night or dawn/dusk. You really need to add speed bumps or resurface/re-stripe…it is a mess.

    • MoPac Man says:

      It is always a challenge to cover over existing striping. We ground it off and put a black sealant (tack coat) over it in accordance with accepted standards. Other than resurfacing the entire roadway (which we’ll do later in the project) it is practically impossible to completely hide the old striping.

      I haven’t heard from anyone else who’s had an issue with the striping at night. We have had a couple of other complaints about the striping mainly concerning the reflectiveness of the black sealant at certain times on bright sunny days. That glare should wear down over time and become less of an issue.

      Because of feedback such as yours we are enhancing the temporary striping with additional delineator buttons and reflective pavement markers. They should help, and if you are having issues seeing the white stripes at night, the reflective pavement markers should offer a big improvement.

  3. Cheryl says:

    Man oh man did all the trees have to be destroyed?

    • MoPac Man says:

      The MoPac Improvement Project involves the construction of Express Lanes in each direction from Parmer Lane to Lady Bird Lake. In the area north of RM 2222 the lanes are being constructed in the median of MoPac where the trees you referenced were located. The trees were removed in accordance with the approved Federal Environmental Assessment (EA) for the project. The EA was approved after two years of extensive study and numerous public meetings in which community feedback was solicited. In response to that feedback hundreds of new trees will be planted as part of the aesthetic and landscaping plans for the project.

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