By Neal SaskowskiOur company Pavers, Inc., completed a small intersection project that by number of vehicles was the busiest in Salina with over 32,000 vehicles per day. The project had 60 calendar days to complete and was actually completed in 45 calendar days. Traffic was restricted to one lane in each direction and NO LEFT TURNS were allowed anywhere in the work zone. The work zone speed limit was set at 20 mph. In the 45-calendar day period, law enforcement issued 506 work zone citations. Most were speeding and illegal left turns. At one point in the project there were six to eight NO LEFT TURN signs and at least four 20 mph signs in each direction. Really!
Vandenburgh Street in Wellington was completely closed for re-construction. A semi hauling propane drives around 10 barricades with ROAD CLOSED signs on them, proceeds down the rock sub grade when he finally realizes that he cannot proceed any further. When asked where he was going he stated that his GPS told him that this was the highway he was supposed to be on! This same project had an elderly lady in her 80’s follow a concrete delivery truck into the work zone. She was adamant that this was the road to highway 81.
Twice on two different projects in Hays we had someone drive their vehicle into fresh concrete pavement, almost striking the concrete finishers. The first instance traffic was being controlled by flaggers to provide a closed lane for the workers. A motorist while driving in the flagged lane attempted to turn into a closed intersection in the work area and actually ran into the rear of the concrete paver, just trying to get to the side street. The second instance, a motorist drove around the ROAD CLOSED barricades and when she realized that she could not proceed past the concrete paver and workers she attempted to drive around the concrete paver with the workers waving and screaming to stop, right through the wet concrete.
On Kansas Avenue in Newton in front of the medical center and the Wal-Mart entrance, we had seven days to remove and replace half of the entrance. Into the medical center we had a single lane ONE WAY in and ONE WAY out. Of all the vehicles going into the medical center, less than 10% obeyed the traffic control.
Of course there are many reasons the traveling public disobeys work zone traffic control. One of the greatest is as long as they can get away with it and not get caught; they will do what they want. After 35 years in the construction business I have thought I heard it all, but throughout the state of Kansas, you will find some excuse that you have never heard.
With all the work zone problems, I find disobedience to be the #1 problem, followed by not paying attention and ignorance. The traveling public needs a change in mentality to keep the not only the workers safe in work zone but all those who have to travel through it also.
Neal Saskowski is the Vice President of Pavers, Inc., in Salina