Thursday, September 27, 2018

Engineer with young family emphasizes the importance of reading signs in work zones

By Victoria Miller

When you work in construction, it does not take long to realize how easily someone can get hurt if something does not go according to plan.

Sergiy Ovsyychuk is a young engineer on the Interstate 405/State Route 167 Interchange Direct Connector Project in Renton. He moved to Seattle from Sacramento to continue his civil engineering studies at the University of Washington. After moving up to the Pacific Northwest, he met his wife, Roxi, and went on to have two sons, Eli, 4, and Ezra, 1. Ovsyychuk graduated from UW in 2016 and began working for Guy F. Atkinson, the contractor on the Direct Connector project.
Sergiy says it's vital that drivers pay attention to signs near work zones, for everyone's safety.

Having only worked in the field for two years, Ovsyychuk has gained some good experience regarding construction projects. With the Direct Connector being the first project he has worked on after graduating college, he says it offers a variety of work. The Direct Connector Project has included work such as relocating the Talbot Hill noise wall and building a new Talbot Bridge, in addition to building the flyover ramp that will connect the HOT lanes on SR 167 to the carpool lanes on I-405. Ovsyychuk says this project is a good learning experience, which is what he enjoys most about it.

A good learning experience is not without its downsides, though. In just two years, he has already experienced several work zone incidents that have shown him just how dangerous some situations can become, and how careful crews and drivers must be at all times.

One incident that stands out was during a night of paving southbound SR 167 in summer 2017.

"One vehicle pulled into the work zone behind the paving truck and other vehicles began to follow because the drivers thought that was where traffic was going," he said. "That was my first experience with an incident. No one got hurt, but someone easily could have been."

A similar situation happened during a closure of the Talbot Bridge in Renton. The crew adjusted their traffic control plans accordingly after each incident by putting flickering and rotating lights on barrels to better delineate the work zone from the traffic, and tightening the spacing of the traffic safety barrels to deter people from driving into the work zone mistakenly.

Ovsyychuk emphasizes the importance of reading signs and message boards in work zone areas.
Sergiy is looking forward to teaching his two young sons how to ski.

"I hear from the traffic control supervisor all the time that nobody reads the signs. They're just driving and doing whatever they want," he said. "Pay attention to the signs. We set them up to warn the public so they know what to expect rather than have them just follow traffic wherever it goes."

When he isn't working on the Direct Connector Project, Ovsyychuk enjoys spending time with his family, taking his sons to play basketball and soccer at Lake Wilderness Park in Maple Valley, and hitting the slopes at Snoqualmie Pass.
"We took a trip to Whistler and I'm trying to teach the boys how to ski," he said. "Ezra was a little too young last year so maybe this year."

Next time you are driving through an area that is under construction, read the signs – and remember that there are people with families behind the traffic barrels, people like Sergiy, who still need to teach their sons how to ski.

We ask all drivers in work zones to:
  • Slow Down – Drive the posted speeds, they're there for your safety.
  • Be Kind – Our workers are helping to keep you safe and improve the roadways.
  • Pay Attention – both to workers directing you and 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.