My name is John Crawford and I am the Supervisor at the KDOT Goodland Subarea office.
Our maintenance work zones do not get as much publicity as a planned construction project. Our work zones are temporary and can be set up anywhere from two to eight hours. The maintenance work is usually to take care of a problem that is remedied with materials and equipment that can make the ride a little better or to extend the life cycle of the roadway.
Being temporary and subject to the availability of materials or equipment or weather, our work zones can be a surprise for the traveling public. The road doesn’t really matter. Whether it’s a secondary two-lane highway or a multi-lane interstate highway, the temporary maintenance work zones may require travelers to move or react to actions they witness once in the work zone.
Oftentimes once the traveling public recognizes a work zone, the attitude comes out. People make negative comments, say that we are wasting the taxpayers’ dollars and are just out there to make them late. Obviously that’s not the case - we are doing our jobs--to maintain and improve our highway system in Kansas. As a Subarea Supervisor, it is my job to make sure that all my crew members return home at the end of the day in the same or possibly better condition than they arrived to work in.
And that means being alert to the potential dangers posed by passing traffic. For example, on two separate occasions, while in work zones that were clearly marked with advance warning signs, arrow boards, truck mounted attenuator and delineated with cones for the taper and transition to the other lane, I witnessed a semi-tractor trailer rig and a pickup truck and trailer run into and over the cones used to delineate the work zone. This caused the cones to fly up and into the work zone very near where employees were working.
These cones and stabilization weights are roughly 10 pounds each. They could do serious damage to equipment and workers if they happen to be struck by these flying cones. I am not sure if it is the intent of the driver to try to hit us or just knock over our cones. Although I have not had an employee hit with these flying cones, it doesn’t mean it can’t happen.
This is not funny and it is a dangerous action in a very safety-sensitive situation. Although we do plan room for protection, these cones when struck at 65 to 70 miles per hour can fly far and fast. And if these devices are knocked over, it could cause an accident from the confusion caused by missing cones.
So please be patient, follow the directions of the work zone signs and please try not to hit or move the cones. I want to return to my family safe and sound just as much as you want to return to yours.
John Crawford is the Supervisor at the KDOT Goodland Subarea office.