Thursday, June 21, 2018

The challenge to drivers before the SR 99 tunnel opens

By Laura Newborn

The new SR 99 tunnel beneath downtown Seattle could open as soon as this fall, providing a direct route from CenturyLink and Safeco fields to the Space Needle. There's a lot of work that has to happen before we can give you an exact date for the tunnel opening, but one thing we can tell you is travelers will face big challenges immediately before the tunnel opens. We must close the viaduct before we can open the tunnel – there's no other way to connect SR 99 to the new tunnel. That means there will be three weeks of no SR 99 traffic through Seattle – no viaduct and no tunnel.

Why do you have to close the viaduct before the tunnel opens?
The current alignment of SR 99 near the stadiums is temporary. Today's configuration allows traffic to weave through an active construction zone. After the tunnel is complete, tested and all systems are 'go', we will have to realign SR 99 and connect the tunnel ramps.

This means we must close SR 99 from the West Seattle Bridge to the south end of the Battery Street Tunnel for approximately three weeks (if the weather cooperates). The pictures below explain why. The orange areas on the right show the areas where crews will have to work to build new ramps and road connections to open the tunnel to traffic. As you can see, these work areas sit right atop the present-day highway.
Left: Current SR 99 near the stadiums (looking south). Right: Work areas needed to open the tunnel

Left: Current tunnel portal near Seattle Center. Right: Work areas needed to open tunnel

Three weeks of a full SR 99 closure, plus additional time for ramp closures
The intensive amount of work required at the tunnel's south end near the stadiums means that key ramps will close sooner and open later than the rest of the highway. For drivers heading south, the current southbound exit to South Atlantic Street (for reaching the stadiums and interstates) will close approximately one week before the full SR 99 closure to create room for the realignment work. For your future planning, this exit will disappear entirely when the tunnel opens, replaced by a stadium/I-5/I-90 exit from the tunnel.

For drivers heading north toward downtown, the new SR 99 northbound exit ramp to Alaskan Way and downtown Seattle will open two weeks after the tunnel opens, as this ramp will take longer to complete.

If you're driving from the north during the closure, SR 99 will narrow to one lane in each direction near Mercer Street so crews can build a new section of highway connecting SR 99 to the tunnel (see picture above). The Battery Street Tunnel will remain open during the three-week closure, but drivers will have to exit and enter at the Western Avenue off and on ramps.

It's a little hard to follow. Our program website has additional graphics showing the closure step by step.

I don't use SR 99, why should I care?
We know from experience that closing SR 99 through Seattle has a region-wide impact. During past planned closures, commutes on I-5, I-405 and I-90 started earlier and lasted longer. Seattle city streets were also more crowded. Many drivers pitched in and changed their commute times, but there's no question that three weeks is a long time to ask drivers to sustain change. Add some rain to the equation and traffic could become even more challenging. We are working with our partner agencies to identify multiple ways to help keep people moving during the three-week shutdown of SR 99, but there's no doubt this will be a challenging time for everyone. We will share more information as we get closer to a starting point for the closure.

What can I do now?
We don't yet have a date for this three-week closure, but it could come as soon as this fall. We will be able to give about a month's warning. Still, thinking about potential alternatives now can help you later.
Using your tools and having a game plan will be vital during the closure. We will have much more information about alternative ways to keep people and goods moving as the closure approaches.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

WSDOT #TBT highlights busy traffic weekend in Puget Sound area

By Ally Barrera

You may notice that this week’s Busy Weekend Map looks a little more. …simple. …than usual. There’s a reason for that!

In honor of the popular “Throwback Thursday” trend on social media, this week’s map is paying homage to the one that started it all.
This week's Busy Weekend Paint Map highlights events and roadwork with a significant effect on traffic, including the closure of westbound US 2 at the Hewitt Avenue trestle and Seattle Pride.

Our first Busy Weekend Map made its debut just before Pride Weekend 2016. Despite its simplicity and – ahem – “unsophisticated” drawings, the map got a lot of attention. Two years and about a dozen maps later, it’s still one of our most popular Tweets.

More importantly, it spawned the Busy Weekend Maps you’re used to seeing today, which have become one of the most popular ways we alert the public about events and roadwork that could affect their weekend travels on state highways.
Our very first Busy Weekend Map for June 24-26, 2016.
Even two years later, it's still one of our most shared tweets.
Here’s some of what you need to know if you plan on hitting the road this weekend:
  • Large events will affect traffic: Expect lots of congestion in and around Seattle as people head to some big special events, including PrideFest and the Sounders vs. Chicago match.
  • US 2: The westbound US 2 Hewitt Avenue trestle will be fully closed from 7 p.m. Friday to 4 a.m. Monday for paving work. Detours are set for those going from east Snohomish County to Everett.
  • I-90: 24/7 lane reductions and traffic shifts on westbound I-90 will cause big travel delays for people heading either direction over Snoqualmie Pass. Pack extra water and snacks!
  • SR 99: All lanes of southbound State Route 99 through downtown Seattle will be closed from 9 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Sunday for work related to the SR 99 Tunnel project. Know your alternate routes before you leave home.
These Busy Weekend Maps are not meant to be a social event calendar. They are meant to show what events and construction work will significantly affect people who use state highways. The maps are just one of many tools we offer to help people know traffic conditions before they hit the road. We urge people to also check our Special Events Calendar page and Weekly Travel Planner for a more comprehensive list of events and roadwork happening near them.

Also be sure to stay up-to-date by:

New drone video highlights challenges of maintenance work on the I-5 Ship Canal Bridge

By Nicole Daniels

Just like performing routine maintenance on your vehicle, adding air to your bike tires or cleaning your walking shoes, maintaining our bridges is an ongoing task. But as with anything in life, things get old and need to be repaired and replaced. And that's the case with Seattle's I-5 Ship Canal Bridge.
Built in 1962, the Ship Canal Bridge is a double-deck structure that about 265,000 vehicles use daily to cross Portage Bay, between the Eastlake and University District neighborhoods. The many years of fluctuating weather, the growing number of vehicles using the roadway and heavy loads from freight have caused extensive wear and tear on the bridge deck.
Performing repairs on the I-5 Ship Canal Bridge requires chipping out damaged pavement and
patching the hole up, until funding for a more extensive repair is available.

The future of the Ship Canal Bridge
The Ship Canal Bridge is one of more than 300 bridges identified statewide as needing a complete deck overhaul within the next 10 years. Although we inspect it regularly, and make spot repairs as needed, a full-blown rehabilitation hasn't happened on this structure since 1985.

The $55 million needed to completely overlay the entire Ship Canal Bridge deck isn't available for at least another 6-to-8 years, around 2026. So until we can fully repave the structure, it's critical that we continue to keep the bridge in a state of good repair.
Maintenance crews remove damaged concrete from the I-5 Ship Canal Bridge before putting in new
pavement on top of the rebar.

Challenges
Repairing the bridge deck is not a simple, quick task that can be done at any time. Extensive concrete repair needs dry and warm weather, which typically limits us to the spring and summer. We also have to avoid peak travel times and comply with local noise restrictions, while also taking into account needs of other projects and the many major events that happen in Seattle this time of year.

There is never a good time to close lanes on I-5. However, we've been working closely with the City of Seattle and large event venues and organizers to pinpoint the weekends with the fewest conflicts in an incredibly vibrant city. It doesn't mean we can completely avoid disruptions, but we're trying to at least limit them.

What to expect and when
Throughout the summer, we'll be patching potholes and repairing expansion joints. The majority of this weather-dependent work will require closing two lanes and some ramps on I-5 between SR 520 and Northeast 45th Street on Saturday and Sunday mornings, with one closure extending throughout the weekend.
  • June 23-24: Northbound reduced to two lanes from 2 to 10 a.m.
  • July 7-8: Southbound reduced to two lanes from 2 to 10 a.m.
  • *July 15: Southbound reduced to two lanes from 2 a.m. to noon.
  • July 28-29: Northbound reduced to two lanes from 2 to 10 a.m.
  • *August 11-12: Northbound reduced to two lanes from Friday night to Sunday evening.
* These weekends we will be working alongside our Revive I-5 contractor crews in order to reduce the amount of weekend closures and minimize delays for travelers.

You can keep up to date on specifics of the closures by checking our website.

What you can do to help
  • Use alternate routes. Consider using SR 99, I-405, SR 520 or I-90 to avoid delays through the city. Even though the lanes reopen early, we still expect to see up to 9-mile backups.
  • Be a helper. The more people who carpool, use transit or delay discretionary trips, the more manageable the backups and delays will be. We recognize it's not possible for everyone to do this, but those who can help make a difference.
  • Know before you go. Be prepared and check traffic before you get behind the wheel:
Due to limited funding for bridge preservation projects, we need to make the most with what we have right now. This repair work will help buy us more time until funding becomes available to redo the entire bridge deck. And with your help and cooperation, we can do this without causing significant backups.

Thank you, as always, for your patience as we complete this much-needed repair work on I-5.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Long time, no talk: How we’ve been ramping up for back-to-back US 2 Closures

UPDATE Friday, June 22: The weekend closure of the westbound US 2 trestle has been POSTPONED due to rainy weather forecast Friday and Sunday nights

By Frances Fedoriska

Between rain delays, holiday weekends and big events, it has been a while since we’ve had to prepare for a scheduled closure of westbound US 2 between the Lake Stevens/Snohomish area and Everett. That’s why, with back-to-back weekend closures scheduled from 7 p.m. Friday, June 22 to 4 a.m. Monday, June 25, and 7 p.m. Friday, June 29 to 4 a.m. Monday, July 2, now is as good a time as any to quickly show you what we’ve been up to.

Absolutely no rain allowed
While some of our projects can get work done in the rain, this is not one of them. The two rain delays we’ve had so far are because the waterproof material we are using to protect the trestle from our wet weather has to be applied when there is NO rain or moisture AT ALL. Applying the material when there’s a hint of moisture voids the warranty for the waterproof coating, and nobody wants that. So we will continue to wait for those dry Snohomish County summer weekends.

Working for the weekend
Between the postponed closures, weeknight westbound drivers on US 2 have likely seen the men and women of Lakeside Industries hard at work overnight, preparing the trestle’s dozens of expansion joints for our weekend closures.

Contractor crews make cuts to either side of an expansion joint, then fill it in with grout. This has to be done before we can do any paving work during a weekend closure

Little room for error
The trestle expansion joints are less than 50 yards apart, so we have to be precise in all the repair work. Our margin for error between the top of the road and the top of the expansion joint is just 1/8 inch. The difference between a smoother ride and an uneven, bumpy one is razor thin.

Back-to-back closures
During the June 22-25 and June 29-July 2 closures, no one will be able to use the westbound US 2 Hewitt Avenue trestle between the SR 204 interchange to the on-ramp from Homeacres Road. During both closures, all lanes are scheduled to reopen by 4 a.m. Monday. Since our first two weekends were rained out, here’s a quick recap of what we will do during these closures:
  • Remove old, damaged pavement
  • Inspect the trestle
  • Make any needed repairs
  • Put down a new waterproof coating to protect the trestle from our harsh PNW weather
  • Put down a new layer of asphalt on the far east end of the Hewitt Avenue trestle.
By now you know this, but it bears repeating: This work is weather dependent.

Mark your calendars
We need six weekend closures to rehabilitate the westbound trestle. These closures are tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday to 4 a.m. Monday on the following weekends:
  • June 22-25
  • June 29-July 2
  • July 13-16
  • July 20-23
  • August 3-6
  • August 10-13
The Detour
For the first four weekend closures, we will reverse traffic on 20th Street Southeast.
During the first four weekend closures of westbound US 2, travelers will be detoured westbound on 20th Street SE and returned to the far west end of the US 2 Hewitt Avenue trestle, just before the I-5 interchange.

20th Street Southeast is a single-lane road and doesn’t have the space to efficiently move all the travelers who will be booted off westbound US 2 during these closures.

Help us keep traffic moving:
Travelers who want to go west toward Everett during these closures should consider these options:
  • Brace for congestion. We expect nearby state routes 9, 96 and 528 to get slammed with travelers avoiding the US 2 detour on 20th Street.
  • Carpool
  • Take transit
  • Move discretionary travel to a non-construction weekend travel during non-peak hours. Before 8 a.m. or after 8 p.m.
  • Be a helper. Share this information with friends and family.
  • Be prepared. Check ahead before you get behind the wheel.
    • Our website will have closure and lane reduction updates.
    • Get weekly email updates on King and Snohomish County projects.
    • Our Twitter account will have info about traffic.
    • Download our mobile app for traffic maps and other news and updates.
Thanks in advance
We know there’s no good time to close an entire direction of a busy highway like US 2, and that these closures disrupt weekend travel plans. However, doing this extensive preservation work will reduce the need for future emergency repairs that add time to already long commutes in Snohomish County. We appreciate any adjustments you make to help us complete this important preservation work on US 2.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Hawk holdout delays bridge painting project

No, not Earl Thomas. A pair of red-tailed hawks picked a surprising place to nest

By Marqise Allen

Our construction projects often deal with rain delays, but a bird delay? That's a new one.

And that's what happened when two red-tailed hawks nested on the SR 99 Aurora Bridge in Seattle, throwing off the original schedule to begin painting the bridge this spring.

They say raising a child takes a village. The same could be said for raising a baby red-tailed hawk on a bridge in the middle of Seattle. Though the birds are common to the area, it's extremely rare for them to nest on bridges. Red-tailed hawks typically nest with their egg in trees in urban environments. Maybe a high rise at worst.
Left: Peek-a-boo. Gerry, a young red-tailed hawk born on Seattle’s Aurora Bridge, gives us a look from a safe distance.
Right: The SR 99 Aurora Bridge red-tailed hawks proved elusive for photos, but this is likely what they looked like.

While we're caretakers of our highway infrastructure, we also work to protect wildlife. Ensuring the egg's survival meant coordinating state agencies and the contractor for the project, patience, and a bit of luck.

These two lovebirds likely have experience landing a home in a housing market that can be tough even for hawks. The pair are probably the same birds that nested on the bridge during the first phase of the painting project in 2016. Unfortunately, the nest was built too close to where workers were already painting on the north side of the bridge, directly below the bridge deck. The nest was moved and the egg was given to the Burke Museum.

"We wanted to prevent a similar situation this time," said biology lead Katina Kapantais.  "So we kept an eye out for them. We saw them hanging out around the bridge, but we never saw a nest."
A look at where two red-tailed hawks nested on the SR 99 Aurora Bridge, causing a bridge painting job to be delayed.

Usually it takes red-tailed hawks a couple of weeks to set up a nest. This pair did it in three to four days during Easter this year. And they not only built their home during the holiday weekend, but also laid an egg.

Kapantais said we initially thought we'd need to move the nest again, but instead the contractor – Liberty Maintenance – proposed working around the birds instead. They proposed a number of options and worked to adjust their schedule for a few weeks and limit noise to avoid disturbing the birds. The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife reviewed and signed off on the plan.

And everyone's patience paid off. The egg successfully hatched in early May.  The baby bird – which our contractor named Gerry – has already taken flight and left the nest for higher beams in the area. It'll stay near the nest for the next few months until it builds up enough strength to hunt and fly farther before moving on somewhere else.

Even in ideal circumstances, baby red-tailed hawks have about a 50 percent chance of survival, Kapantais said. Many either flame out of flight school (a pass/fail course) or their parents simply abandon them and stop bringing food.

"The fact that this one survived with roads and water below is great news," Kapantais said. "And it took a group effort."

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Foam Base: Crews use blocks of geofoam to build a new ramp on SR 167

By Victoria Miller

If you drive on State Route 167 in Renton near the Interstate 405 interchange, you may have noticed an imposing tower of big white blocks stacked in the median. Contrary to popular belief, they aren’t actually giant sugar cubes. They are a material called geofoam that is critical to building one of the bridge approach ramps on the I-405/SR 167 Interchange Direct Connector Project.
Nope, these aren’t giant sugar cubes. We’re using geofoam to build bridge approach ramps on our Direct Connector project.

Why did we decide to use geofoam?
For those who aren’t familiar with the Direct Connector, it’s a new flyover ramp currently under construction that will connect the I-405 HOV lanes to the SR 167 HOT lanes.

To take drivers up and over the interchange, crews need to build what we call approach ramps on each side. On the I-405 side, crews are able to use compacted soil to build the ramp. But they can’t use this same method as easily on the SR 167 side because the underlying soils are very soft and would settle or sink over time under the weight of the compacted soil. In this case, our contractor decided to use geofoam blocks instead of compacted soil to keep the project moving on schedule. Since late April, crews have been installing more than 2,700 blocks between the concrete walls of the SR 167 ramp, and their work is now almost complete.

What are the benefits to using geofoam?
Although you may not realize it when looking at a finished construction project, geofoam is actually quite common. We have used this synthetic material on other construction projects, including the direct access ramp at the I-405/NE 128th Street interchange in Kirkland, on SR 519 near Safeco Field in Seattle, and at the I-405/NE 10th Street Bridge in Bellevue.

The most common other fill material that we use — good old-fashioned dirt — would require more extensive work to improve the ground. Crews would need to bring oversized piles of dirt to the work zone and dump them onto the ground – a practice we refer to as surcharging or preloading – causing it to settle. This method can take longer and have higher costs because crews have to wait until the ground has settled before removing a portion of that dirt and building a structure on top of it.

Using geofoam reduces the weight placed on the underlying soils, eliminates the need for that ground improvement process and speeds up construction. First, crews dig out a section of the ground that is greater than the weight of the geofoam. Then they place blocks of geofoam and stick them together with a quick-setting commercial roofing adhesive. Once all the geofoam is in place, crews tie reinforcing steel on top of it between the ramp walls and then pour concrete on top.
Once the geofoam is in place, crews tie reinforcing steel on top before pouring concrete (above and below).


How much does the geofoam weigh?
The geofoam weighs a fraction of the weight of normal soil, yet it is just as strong because it is manufactured to meet the same strength standards as other methods. The dirt that crews dig out before placing the geofoam weighs more than all of the geofoam being placed.

Each standard block of geofoam has a weight of 248 pounds. Once all of the blocks are installed, their total weight will be almost 700,000 pounds! If we used only dirt, it would weigh as much as 100 times more and have greater impacts on the ground in this area.
Each standard block of geofoam weighs 248 pounds, and once they’re all installed the total weight will be 700,000 pounds.
Using innovating materials and techniques helps construction crews complete our projects as quickly as possible.

We realize that construction is disruptive to traffic and to the communities nearby, and we are working to bring travel benefits to the public as soon as possible. That’s why we are working with our contractors to look for innovative materials and construction techniques — such as geofoam — to complete our projects as quickly as we can.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Fresh paint brings new lane configurations on I-5 near DuPont

By Cara Mitchell

Travelers who use the Center Drive on-ramp to southbound Interstate 5 will soon see a change in how they merge onto the highway.

As early as next week, contractor crews working on the I-5 - Mounts Rd. to Center Dr. Auxiliary Lane Extension project will stripe southbound I-5 to its final configuration of four lanes from the Center Drive overpass, with the lanes tapering to three near Mounts Road.

This change adds some capacity to the interstate at this location. It also means that travelers entering southbound from Center Drive will need to merge left twice before reaching the Mounts Road exit. Currently drivers only merge left once.

This work will require a series of overnight lane and ramp closures on southbound I-5 between Center Drive and Mounts Road.

Crews will begin their work near the Mounts Road on-ramp to southbound I-5 and continue their way north towards the Center Drive overpass. Each night will involve a different section of southbound I-5 and associated ramps. Rain could reschedule the work.

One down, three to go
The auxiliary lane extension project is the first of a four staged construction project that widens nearly 8 miles of I-5 and rebuilds three interchanges between Mounts Road and Gravelly Lake Drive in Pierce County.
The northbound I-5 auxiliary lane opened to traffic in November 2017. As early as the week of June 11,
southbound I-5 will be restriped to its final configuration.

In 2017, I-5 was widened between Center Drive and Mounts Road to extend a northbound auxiliary lane from Mounts Road to Steilacoom-DuPont Road. This work required all lanes of I-5 between Center Drive and Mounts Road to temporarily shift toward the right shoulders, thus creating a work zone in the center median for the project.

In November 2017, the northbound lanes of I-5 were striped into their permanent configuration and the new auxiliary lane opened to traffic. The wet winter weather prevented final striping in the southbound direction. After the southbound striping and final signage is installed, the auxiliary lane extension project will be complete.

The second stage of construction that rebuilds the Berkeley Street and Thorne Lane interchanges and widens I-5 just north of Steilacoom-DuPont Road to Thorne Lane will begin early fall.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Secure your load: every trip, every time

By Barbara LaBoe

You click your seat belt when getting behind the wheel and make sure child seats are securely fastened – but do you give the same attention to items you're hauling?

Unsecure loads can be deadly, yet we still regularly see items from trash to large pieces of wood or metal flying out of the back of vehicles on roadways. Last year, the Washington State Patrol contacted 6,268 vehicles for failing to secure their load and at least 170 collisions were caused by unsecure loads. Of those, 16 involved injuries.

Nationally, more than 200,000 crashes between 2011 and 2014 were caused by road debris, according to a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Safety, including 39,000 injuries and 500 deaths.

Seattle's Robin Abel knows the dangers all too well.

In 2004, her daughter was seriously injured by road debris on Interstate 405. The experience made Abel a safety crusader. She's since lobbied state and federal officials and this year 47 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands will officially recognize June 6 as Secure Your Load Day, vowing to educate the public on the importance of safely securing loads.

"Unsecured loads and road debris are not freak accidents but frequent incidents and most are preventable with just a few minutes of time and a few dollars in equipment," Abel said.
This Washington State Patrol photo from a 2016 unsecure load crash on State Route 97 shows just how dangerous items can be when they crash into oncoming vehicles. The driver of this car was sent to the hospital but survived.

It's not just large items either. Even a hammer or shovel thrown in the back of a pick-up truck can turn dangerous once it's suddenly hurtling toward other travelers. "A 20-pound object at 55 mph has a force of 1,000 pounds at impact," Abel said.

Abel worked for tougher laws for those who violate the secure load laws in Washington and elsewhere – making it expensive as well as dangerous to drive with unsecure loads. In our state, fines now range from a $228 citation to criminal charges if items cause property damage or injuries.

In addition to the danger, unsecure loads also are a major culprit in roadside trash along our highways. We spend $4 million a year on roadway cleanup and have an active Adopt-A-Highway program and the Department of Ecology Youth Corps program assisting with trash clean up. Despite those efforts, the amount of trash on roadways continues to grow. Even a "quick trip" to a landfill or helping a friend move requires tying down or otherwise securing the items.

Not sure how to make your load secure? Abel and the Washington State Patrol suggest these safety tips:
  • Tie down load with rope, netting or straps
  • Tie large objects directly to the vehicle or trailer
  • Cover the entire load with a sturdy tarp or netting
  • Don't overload the vehicle
  • Always double check load to make sure a load is secure
"Secure Your Load as if everyone you love is driving in the car behind you," Abel said. Because, after all, someone's loved ones are.
The hydraulic cylinder lift arm that came off another vehicle crashed through the windshield of this car in 2016, narrowly missing the driver.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Incident Response Team member jumps over guardrail to avoid being hit by drunk driver

By Tina Werner

It was an early September morning in 2017 and Kathy Vatter was almost on vacation. She didn’t know things were about to change.

Driving conditions on State Route 512 in Parkland near Pacific Avenue were clear and dry, what some would refer to as a "calm night." But calm nights can change in an instant, as it did for Kathy, an Incident Response Team Supervisor and a 33-year employee with our agency.

Around 3 a.m., Kathy received a call from our traffic management center that there had been a deadly collision on SR 512. She arrived on scene to set up traffic control, turning on her flashing orange arrows to divert and warn traffic away from the crash area. As cars flew by, Kathy noticed one particular vehicle that appeared to be approaching the scene and not slowing down.

"It was in that moment I knew they weren’t going to move over and I needed to act fast," Kathy said.

To avoid being hit, Kathy jumped over the highway guardrail. Within seconds, the oncoming vehicle slammed into her IRT truck with such force that both vehicles were totaled.
Kathy Vatter’s IRT truck was hit by a drunk driver on SR 512 in Parkland.

"It seemed like forever," Kathy said.

The causing driver was driving under the influence of alcohol. The driver’s passenger suffered serious injuries in the collision. That’s statistically common, as 96 percent of people hurt in work zone collisions are the motorist, their passengers or passing pedestrians.

Fortunately, Kathy wasn’t hurt, and in fact helped direct traffic through the area while the State Patrol and emergency responders worked the scene.
Kathy waited with the motorist and passenger until State Patrol and emergency
responders arrived on scene, while continuing to redirect traffic.

Kathy was lucky, however many of our workers can’t say the same.

Since 1950, we have had 60 workers killed on the job – many of them in marked roadway work zones. On average our state has 837 roadway work zone injuries annually.
The guardrail where Kathy Vatter jumped to avoid being hit by an oncoming drunk driver.

Luckily, Kathy’s awareness of her surroundings and quick action saved her from injury.

"I want to live to retire," she said. "If I had been injured that night, our lives would look a whole lot different."

Fortunately, Kathy and her husband Ron are still able to enjoy their active outdoor lifestyle, including hiking and swimming. But all that could have changed in an instant.
Kathy Vatter and her husband Ron celebrating his 60th birthday.

"I am just glad it was me," Kathy said. "Someone with less experience might not have been so lucky and that would devastate our team."

You can help road workers stay safe by:
  • Slowing down – Drive the posted speeds, they’re there for your safety.
  • Be kind – Our workers are improving the roadways and helping to keep you safe.
  • Pay attention – Both to workers directing you and to surrounding traffic.
  • Stay calm – Expect delays, leave early or take an alternate route if possible; no meeting or appointment is worth risking someone’s life.
Remember, road workers have family and friends they want to go home to safely. Please do your part to help.

"Lots of people forget we are humans too," Kathy said.