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ODOT observes National Work Zone Awareness Week

Last week, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) kicked off its $2.35 billion construction year with nearly 1,000 projects occurring that will preserve existing roads and bridges, enhance capacity, and improve safety.

In observance of National Work Zone Awareness week, ODOT is emphasizing that this investment into Ohio's valuable transportation network cannot take place without work zones.

"Ohio is known for its outstanding highway system because we invest in preventative maintenance to keep our pavements in good condition," said Kirk Slusher, deputy director for ODOT District 1. "We ask motorists to keep in mind our work zones are a necessary part of our overall success as a state," he said.

While orange barrels can be an inconvenience, they are a sign of progress and improvement. Since 2011, ODOT has invested an unprecedented $16.4 billion into 7,918 projects across the state. ODOT is responsible for maintaining 43,211 lane miles of roadway and 14,095 bridges. Ohio has the fourth largest interstate system by lane miles. Ohio’s transportation infrastructure supports the state’s 6.5 million jobs.

“Our transportation network is Ohio’s most valuable man-made asset,” said ODOT Director Jerry Wray. “It gives us the ability to move goods to market, get to work, take our children to school, visit an amusement park or explore the beautiful natural wonders of Ohio.”

Despite a near-record level of road work, last year saw the second lowest number of work zone crashes in a decade in Ohio. There were 4,891 work zone crashes, resulting in 119 serious injuries and 19 deaths. Of the 19 killed, 18 were motorists. One was a contract worker who struck and killed in a work zone on Interstate 70 on the west side of Columbus in September of last year.

The vast majority of these crashes were caused by drivers following too close.

“We need drivers to pay attention every moment they are behind the wheel, but it’s even more vital in work zones. These zones often contain narrow lanes and changing traffic patterns. When driving through work zones, drivers need to leave more room between their vehicle and the vehicle in front of them, slow down, pay attention, and avoid all distractions,” Wray said.

ODOT crews were struck 152 times last year. Ohio law requires that drivers move over or slow down when they see our crews working along the roadway.

Unfortunately, through the years 164 ODOT employees have lost their lives while on the job.

The Ohio Department of Transportation maintains the state's largest man-made asset – the transportation system. ODOT's mission is to provide the safe and easy movement of people and goods from place to place. As a $2.8 billion per year enterprise, ODOT invests the bulk of its resources in system preservation through maintenance, construction and snow and ice operations.

The environmental review consultation and other actions required by applicable Federal environmental laws for this project are being, or have been, carried-out by ODOT pursuant to 23 U.S.C 327 and a Memorandum of Understanding dated December 11, 2015, and executed by FHWA and ODOT.

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