Drive Like You Work Here: Construction Season Requires Driver Partnership for Work Safety Zone
April 10 was Go Orange/Roadway Worker Appreciation Day
Calling on Marylanders everywhere to promote safety for highway workers, drivers and passengers, officials with the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) and the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) kicked off Maryland’s Work Zone Safety Awareness Month on Tuesday at the Interstate-895 bridge replacement project. Officials said the site of the $189 million project is an example of work zones across the state that require motorists to slow down and stay alert.
“At MDOT, we focus on work zone safety every day, and we’re asking drivers to do the same. Simply slow down and pay attention,” said MDOT Secretary Pete K. Rahn.
Governor Larry Hogan has declared April as Work Zone Safety Awareness Month, expanding on the April 8-12 national Work Zone Safety Week observance. The Governor designated April 10 as Go Orange/Roadway Worker Appreciation Day, encouraging Marylanders to wear orange to promote work zone safety. Local landmarks including Government House in Annapolis and M&T Bank Stadium and the World Trade Center in Baltimore will be lit in orange as a tribute to highway workers.
MDOT is entering a robust spring and summer construction season, and these awareness efforts, combined with a summer-long outreach campaign, are intended to protect workers and those who travel through the hundreds of work zones in Maryland.
“In work zones, you’ll see the orange cones, barrels and signs imploring drivers to focus,” said MDOT SHA Administrator Greg Slater. “Please support the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters out there improving our roadway system.
“Drive like you work there,” Administrator Slater added, “because our team members do.”
State officials say that over the last five years (2014 to 2018), 46 lives were lost in Maryland work zone crashes. Nationally, there are an average of 700 fatalities each year in work zone-related crashes. Of those, drivers and passengers account for four of five work zone deaths.
Tuesday’s event at the I-895 bridge project was also attended by Maryland Transportation Authority Police Chief Col. Jerry Jones and Henry Alfred, MDOT SHA Safety Manager.
The bridge project will replace the 60-year-old span and the Holabird Avenue exit ramp north of the Harbor Tunnel, and rehabilitate the tunnel. The project began in April 2018 and is expected to be completed in summer 2021. Construction at the bridge in entering an important milestone this week: Beginning Friday, the northbound bore of the Harbor Tunnel will be closed for 60 days, and the southbound bore will accommodate two-way traffic, one lane in each direction. During this period, motorists are encouraged to use I-695/Key Bridge or I-95/Fort McHenry Tunnel as alternate routes.
The work zone safety campaign reminds drivers to focus, slow down and “drive like you work here.” In social media posts, radio public service announcements and education materials, Baltimore Ravens’ offensive lineman Marshal Yanda is encouraging Marylanders to Go Orange on April 10, and “be on guard” as they drive through work zones. Throughout the campaign, MDOT SHA will share “Go Orange” efforts on its social media platforms, with the hashtag #GoOrangeMD.
Officials also encourage motorists to plan ahead and learn where construction projects are before hitting the road. For a complete listing of major roadway projects in Maryland, visit Road Ready, an online construction brochure. For more information on Work Zone Safety Awareness, visit www.roads.maryland.gov and click on the work zone safety banner. Maryland drivers can also call 511 or visit md511.maryland.gov for live traffic updates, including construction delays and lane closures.