By Brad Anderson
I know what you’re thinking - what in the world does SALT on the roads have to do with the beginning of another maintenance and construction season? Salt is used on the roads during the winter. But there is another way we can SALT the roads - SAVE A LIFE TODAY.Kansas roadways are busier as the days get nicer. And KDOT employees are busy working on road projects, ensuring transportation needs. This means that while we are working on the roadways paying attention to the job task at hand, we expect you to focus on the roadway you are traveling on. Please take notice and pay attention to all the orange signs, warning and informing you of upcoming roadwork - they tell you a story of where you need to be on the roadway. Look and listen for equipment and the operators running it. Please drive cautiously and alert through the entire work zone. We rely on your attentiveness while driving to get through the work day.
My entire KDOT career has been spent working in a Subarea, which happens to have an interstate route. Many of you know that traffic flow on interstate at times can be simply crazy, and when dealing with traffic control you have to be on alert at all times. I myself have personally had close calls and experiences with traffic control issues - here are a couple situations that stand out the most.
On I-70, our crew was doing a mobile operation on the outside shoulder. We had all the correct equipment needed for the operation. We happened to stop for a moment, and luckily one of the crew members was looking back towards the approaching traffic. An RV camper was coming towards us in the driving lane, and what the driver didn’t notice was that the awning had broken free from its side and was hanging away from the unit. It wasn’t just the tarp, it was the complete awning structure. We quickly signaled to the driver to get over to the open passing lane, but it was too late. The awning hit and went down the side of the KDOT truck. All of the employees were ok, and minor damage was done to the truck, but the whole scenario was too close for comfort.
The second and more memorable event was an accident at night around 9 p.m. A semi hauling a full trailer load of cattle went into the median over on its side on I-70. Any time you set up traffic control on Interstate you have more work to do, but when you add darkness into the mix the task becomes more difficult.
There we so many things going on - emergency vehicles with lights everywhere, a portable corral set up in the median holding a trailer full of cattle, a wrecker service trying to get the semi and trailer stood up and hauled off, local farmers and ranchers with stock trailers volunteering to help eventually take the cattle away … And wouldn’t you know it, there was another vehicle accident due to someone focusing on all the activity going on, and not the road they were driving on.After all that, the clean-up finished around 3:30 a.m. and we started picking up our traffic control. Then it happened – a third accident a couple miles down the road. Apparently some cattle had gotten free when the door flew open during the crash and ran along the KDOT right of way fencing. They came out on the roadway and a semi with a box trailer swerved to miss them and tipped over on its side right on I-70. We now had to set up our second set of traffic control for that night. By the time the second accident was cleaned up, daylight had come - a long night was finally over.
All that we are asking is that drivers do their part during this maintenance and construction season to make sure they get where they are going safely, and we as workers get to go home to our families each night. Remember if we all work together, and do our parts, we can SALT the roads in Kansas, even in the summer. Save A Life Today
Brad Anderson is the KDOT Subarea Supervisor in Abilene