Transportation officials from Ohio and Kentucky on Wednesday used the site of the largest road construction project in the region as a backdrop for the kickoff of both states’ annual work zone safety campaign.
Fittingly, it’s a project that will connect the two states.
The joint news conference by Kentucky Department of Highways District 9 and Ohio Department of Transportation District 9 was on the Ohio side of the Ohio River at what will eventually be the foot of the new $81 million Ironton-Russell Bridge.
The site was chosen because it is one of numerous jobs that will be taking place in northeastern Kentucky and southern Ohio during this construction season, which spans the spring and summer months, officials said.
“Hundreds of work zones will be springing up across the region this spring,” said Bart Bryant, chief district engineer with Kentucky Department of Highways District 9.
Because of that, it’s more important than ever for motorists to exercise extreme caution when traveling through construction zones — to protect their own safety, that of their fellow motorists and that of the workers in those zones, Bryant said.
Quoting statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, he said work zone accidents kill about 500 and injure about 37,000 every year.
According to Vaughn Wilson, ODOT District 9 deputy director, the top three causes of construction area accidents are following too closely, failure to control and improper lane change. While he said he didn’t have statistics he could cite, Bryant said he believed cellphone use — texting and driving, specifically — also was a major contributor to such incidents.
Wilson said workers in construction zones are in extremely vulnerable positions and it’s up the motorists to take the necessary precautions to allow them to do their jobs safely.
“We do all we can to ensure the safety of our workers and the motoring public, but to see a real reduction in work zone crashes, certain driver behaviors need to change,” he said.
Wilson and Bryant both said work zone safety can be improved by following such fundamental driving tips as not tailgating or speeding, planning ahead for delays when one knows one will be traveling through a construction area, paying attention to signs, obeying flaggers and keeping up with the flow of traffic.
Officials also used the news conference to announced some of the other road construction projects that will be taking place in the region during the coming months. In Kentucky, those will include:
‰Paving of almost three miles of U.S. 60 in Ashland (12th and 13th streets) from Rose Hill to downtown, and of several miles of Winchester and Blackburn avenues.
‰A bridge replacement on Keys Creek in Boyd County, construction on Ky. 750 at Raceland, Ky. 8 in Lewis County, Ky. 1947 at Grayson and Ky. 377 at Morehead.
‰Nearly 12 miles of new blacktop and other improvements on Interstate 64 in Rowan and Bath counties, and the paving of 12 miles of I-64 in Carter County later this summer.
Ohio projects will include:
‰A $12 million resurfacing and bridge rehabilitation on U.S. 52 in Scioto County.
‰A $3.2 million resurfacing on State Route 140 in Lawrence and Scioto counties.‰ A $1.1 million resurfacing project on State Route 141 in Lawrence County.
‰About $1.9 million in slip repairs in Lawrence County.
KENNETH HART can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2654.