Work Zone Safety Awareness Week News Release
April 3, 2019
WORK ZONE SAFETY AWARENESS WEEK NEWS RELEASE – For release on or prior to April 8, 2019
Portage County Officials Remind Drivers to “Drive Like You Work Here” in Work Zones this Construction Season
At their March meeting, the Portage County Board of Supervisors declared April 8th to April 12th as Work Zone Awareness Week for the County. This coincides with the national event which is
sponsored by federal, state and local transportation officials each April in an effort to draw attention to the safety needs of road workers during construction season. This year’s theme is “Drive Like You Work Here.”
Portage County Highway Commissioner Nathan Check urges people to follow the theme and drive carefully in highway work zones throughout the 2019 construction season. “The Portage County Highway Department has over fifty men and women who are proud to work hard to improve our roads and bridges. This is in addition to thousands of other highway, public works, utility, emergency responders, police, fire, refuse collectors, and tow truck drivers who are on our roadway system daily as part of their workplace. This year’s theme will hopefully force drivers to evaluate their driving habits during their daily commutes and while they are in work zones. We ask that everyone take the extra time, avoid distractions, and stay alert on the roads. Things happen very fast in work zones, even with reduced speed limits.”
Preliminary figures from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation show that there was more than 3,100 work zone crashes throughout Wisconsin last year. This preliminary data included 1,274 injuries and 9 fatalities from work zone related crashes. Portage County officials urge people to drive carefully in highway work zones as the start of maintenance and construction season begins throughout Wisconsin. As the weather turns, work zones will be more prevalent putting more highway workers and drivers at risk. Generally, crashes occur when drivers speed through a work zone, do not pay attention to changing road conditions, run into other vehicles or highway equipment, or drive off the road completely.
“Starting in April, the Portage County Highway Department will be ramping up for our construction and maintenance activities on state and county roads as 2019 will be another busy year for our workers and travelers,” said Portage County Highway Commissioner Nathan Check.
“Work Zone Awareness Week is a great campaign but it is critical that the traveling public follows the rules of the road in work zones year-round. Please remember that our road workers are just like everyone else. They want to do a good job and make it home to their families at night. We ask that everyone take the extra time, avoid distractions, and stay alert on the roads. Things happen very fast in work zones, even with reduced speed limits.”
Additionally, drivers are reminded that it is illegal to talk on a hand-held mobile device while driving through a work zone. Violators face fines of up to $40 on first offense and $100 for subsequent offenses, plus costs. The Portage County Highway Department reminds motorists that following the law is simple: “Just remember: Orange cones – Put down the phones!”
Portage County Highway Department has another busy year of maintenance and construction projects planned throughout this year. Motorists can expect speed limit reductions on many of the county’s construction and maintenance projects throughout the year. A summary of the major County projects are highlighted below:
Project: CTH I (CTH Z to Collins Lake Lane) Reconstruction
Project Description: In 2018, this roadway was reconstructed to improve drainage, horizontal & vertical alignments, and flatten side slopes. The existing road base was widened to accommodate 11’ travel lanes and 5’ shoulders (1’ paved and 4’ gravel). All culverts were replaced along the project. Sight distance was improved along this section of road with the hills and curves being realigned for safety.
For 2019, the final work will include asphalt paving, shoulders, pavement marking and signage. CTH I will be closed to through traffic throughout construction. Access will be provided to adjacent residences and businesses as well as emergency vehicles during construction, but all other traffic shall utilize alternate routes.
Estimated Construction Date: Anticipated state date is early May with completion in early June.
Project: CTH F (STH 73 to CTH W) Resurfacing
Project Description: This project consists of resurfacing the existing roadway which includes pulverizing the existing pavement, grading, replacing culverts, asphalt paving, gravel shouldering, pavement markings and sign replacements as needed.
CTH F will be closed to through traffic throughout construction. Access will be provided to adjacent residences and businesses as well as emergency vehicles during construction, but all other traffic shall follow the signed detour route which will include STH 54, CTH U, and CTH W.
Estimated Construction Date: Anticipated started date is July 2019.
Project: CTH Q-Main Street (Main Street to CTH KK) Reconstruction
Project Description: This project is through the Village of Amherst Junction. New pavement, drainage improvements, curb and gutter, and sidewalk are being coordinated with the Village.
CTH Q will be closed to through traffic throughout construction. Access will be provided to adjacent residences and businesses as well as emergency vehicles during construction, but all other traffic shall utilize alternate routes.
Estimated Construction Date: Anticipated started date is June 2019.
Project: 2019 Crackfilling and Chip Sealing
Project Description: Approximately 60 miles of county highways is planned to be crackfilled and chip sealed. Deficient culverts will be replaced, cracks will be filled with rubber crack filler. Road repairs will be wedged with asphalt prior to the chip seal process. New pavement markings will be installed. 2018-2019 Chipseal Map
A majority of these roads will remain open to local traffic during chipsealing and sweeping with reduced speed limits. Traffic is encouraged to utilize alternate routes until all roads are swept.
Estimated Construction Date: Anticipated started date is May 2019.
Project: CTH A Bridge Replacement over Tomorrow River
Project Description: The replacement of the CTH A bridge located south of USH 10 will be completed under a Wisconsin Department of Transportation Project.
CTH A will be closed and detoured in this area to CTH D ,CTH Q, and CTH KK during construction.
Estimated Construction Date: Anticipated started date is April 12th.
Additional information on specific projects can be found on their website at http://www.co.portage.wi.us/highway/. There will also be additional information posted regarding the multiple state maintenance project which the county will be performing in 2019. Any questions may be directed to the Portage County Highway Department at 715-345-5230.
While typical construction work zones are prevalent throughout the county and state, there are also a significant number of maintenance and emergency operations that may be short-term or moving operations. Drivers are reminded of the state’s “Move Over, Slow Down” law which requires drivers to shift lanes or slow down in order to provide a "safety zone" for a squad car, ambulance, fire truck, tow truck, utility vehicle, or highway maintenance vehicle that is stopped on the side of a road with its warning lights flashing. This law is critical as not all work zones are limited to major construction zones. These can include daily maintenance, emergency vehicle stops, utility work, and even garbage pick-up.
Before hitting the road, drivers are encouraged to check 511 Wisconsin (511wi.gov and @511WI on Twitter), or use the 511 Wisconsin smartphone app for updates on road conditions and traffic flow. In addition, the follow tips are provided for giving undivided attention to the road:
- Don’t fool around. Eliminate distractions like eating, drinking, talking on the phone, or fiddling with electronic devices.
- Expect the unexpected. Speed limits may be reduced, traffic lanes may be changed, and people and vehicles may be working on or near the road.
- Slow down. A car traveling 60 mph travels 88 feet per second, and the faster you go the longer it takes to stop.
- Give yourself room. Rear-end collisions are the most common work zone crashes, so don’t tailgate.
- Allow about three seconds of braking distance. Look for signs. Orange, diamond-shaped signs usually give you ample warning of lane closings, construction areas, and flaggers and other workers ahead.
- Be patient. If you don’t see workers, that doesn’t mean they’re not there. Observe the signs until you see one that says you’ve left the work zone.
- Plan ahead. Leave early or map out an alternate route. Find the latest road conditions and work zone news at 511 Wisconsin.
- Follow the law. Slow down and move over, if possible, when you see flashing lights.
- Consider turning off the phone until you reach your destination.
- During a long drive, consider leaving a voice mail explaining how long you’ll be unavailable.
- If you have to make a call, find a secure place to pull over and stop, such as a wayside or a gas station.
The Portage County Highway Department workers and their families thank you in advance for slowing down and driving attentively through our work zones.