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ODOT director highlights need for safety in work zones

Event held to recognize National Work Zone Awareness Week


Lima (Friday, April 12, 2019) Alongside live traffic on Interstate 75, representatives of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and their partner organizations highlighted the need to reduce speed through work zones during an event today in recognition of National Work Zone Awareness Week, April 8-12.

Standing in the work zone along I-75 in Findlay, representatives from ODOT, the Ohio State Highway Patrol and Beaver Excavating shared their perspective of working in a zone where drivers consistently disobey posted speeds.

"You are endangering the life of another human being when you speed through work zones," said ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks. 

According to Lt. Matt Crow, post commander for the Ohio State Highway Patrol in Findlay, speeds collected through the I-75 Findlay zone this week show that 85 percent of motorists are exceeding posted speeds, with many clocked over 70 and 100 miles per hour. "This is a very, very heavily traveled section of I-75, and it's important for motorists to slow down and pay attention," said Crow, adding they are regularly patrolling the zone.

The partnerships with contractors and law enforcement to create safe work zones are certainly important, but the cooperation of motorists is perhaps the most important aspect of work zone safety. "The decision to drive safely lies with the individual, and right now we're seeing many choosing to do otherwise," said Chris Hughes, ODOT District 1 deputy director.

There are approximately 15 electronic speed signs through the zone, said Rob White, ODOT project engineer for the I-75 project. The speed displayed changes based on the level of protection workers have for the task they're performing. "When the beacons are flashing, workers are present. If we're working behind concrete barrier the speed will display 55 miles per hour. If we're only behind barrels or cones, the speed will display 50 miles per hour," said White. In all cases, the speed displayed on the electronic signs is the legal speed and is enforceable.

Randy Martin, safety director for Beaver Excavating which serves as the prime contractor for the I-75 project, said their goal is to build the job safely. "Slower speed through the zone is such an important part of how safe a job is for us and motorists, and it can't be emphasized enough," he said.

The reconstruction and widening of Interstate 75 through the city of Findlay and Hancock County is in its third of four years of construction. The $114 million project is expected to be completed in late 2020.

Since the project began in 2017, 257 crashes in the zone have resulted in property damage, 62 crashes resulted in injuries, and no fatalities have occurred.

Last year in Ohio, 4,662 crashes in work zones occurred. Rear-end crashes are the top type of work zone crash with speeding and following too closely being the top factors.