Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Slowing down and paying attention vital to work zone safety

By Cara Mitchell

We’ve seen a trend over the past few weeks, and it’s not one anyone likes. On three separate occasions during overnight hours in Tacoma, all lanes of Interstate 5 near the State Route 16 interchange were blocked by collisions. According to the Washington State Patrol, high speeds, inattentive driving, and not driving for conditions were contributing factors.
Drivers should pay attention to and follow
all signage near work zones.

The collisions occurred within the boundaries of our I-5/SR 16 Realignment – HOV Structure and Connections project, where both directions of I-5 temporarily have narrowed lanes and shoulders. The highway has been in this temporary configuration since May while design-build contractor Skanska rebuilds southbound I-5 in a new alignment near SR 16 to accommodate future HOV lanes.

Having a work zone with narrowed shoulders and lanes is common, and it requires drivers to pay extra attention to the road. When there is less room for error, glancing at your phone, changing radio stations or allowing other distractions that take your eyes off the road is not a good idea. Speeding, following too closely or aggressive driving behavior is also not advisable.

We’ve enjoyed five months of gloriously dry weather, and as the fall rains begin we could all use a reminder that driving on wet pavement is different than driving on dry pavement. Please slow down, especially when driving through work zones, and pay attention to your surroundings. The extra couple of minutes spent getting to your destination may end up being the most important minutes of your life.
Speed and inattention have led to three recent collisions in the same area
 of I-5 in Tacoma.

We are taking steps to help drivers better navigate through our work zone. Skanska recently repainted the lane lines and installed new reflective pavement markers on both directions of I-5 through the project. They have also added reflective markers to the median barrier, and motorists will soon see signs that encourage drivers to pay attention and slow down.
Nothing is more important than focusing and being alert while driving, for everyone’s safety (Photo courtesy Oregon DOT).

I-5 will be in this temporary configuration at SR 16 for another few months, and during this holiday season we all want to go home safely to our families and friends. We also want to thank you for your patience as we work to wrap up this major construction project.