Increased holiday travel expected when Lone Star State’s main street has highest number of work zones to date
AUSTIN — Navigating construction can be difficult and risky for drivers and workers. As the Texas Department of Transportation tackles one of its largest construction projects in department history – expanding or improving more than 100 miles of I-35 across the state – educating the public on the necessity of driving safely through work zones is a top priority.
"Interstate 35 is the Main Street of Texas serving as a major artery for not only motorists, but for the businesses that make our great state the economic powerhouse it is," said John Barton, TxDOT’s deputy executive director. "Unfortunately, the reality is we are beginning to see many crashes in work zones threatening our front line teams who risk their lives daily to keep Texas moving. To better protect them, we’re ramping up our educational efforts to encourage Texans to use extreme caution when driving through work zones."
Also at great risk are drivers. In 2011, there were 14,670 crashes in roadway construction and maintenance zones in Texas, resulting in 116 fatalities, the majority of which were motorists. Currently, TxDOT has 20 active work zones along I-35 encompassing 109.6 miles from north to south Texas – the most the agency has ever had on the state’s main corridor. While these work zones indicate great progress for our state, they also call for enhanced enforcement from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
"DPS will be increasing enforcement in specific construction zones to encourage drivers to observe posted speed limits," said Highway Patrol Major Casey Goetz. "Fines double when workers are present in construction zones. Motorists need to do their part and adjust their driving habits in work zones to help reduce the risk of crashes. Careless actions by a few end up costing everyone."
According to AAA Texas, 7.1 million people in the state will travel by automobile this holiday season – a 2 percent increase over last year. And, as more than 1,000 citizens move to Texas daily, TxDOT will continue to work with law enforcement to protect all Texans and ensure all roadways remain safe and reliable.
"Education on the dangers of speed and distracted driving in work zones will always be a key component to what we do at TxDOT," Barton said. "But at the end of the day, each of us has the power to protect lives as we drive. We just need to put our cell phones down, buckle our seatbelts and focus on driving safely."
To learn more about work zone safety, watch Maintenance Crews – Working for Texas, or visit the TxDOT YouTube channel and search for "Working for Texas." More information about work zones can also be found at www.txdot.gov.
The Texas Department of Transportation is responsible for maintaining 80,000 miles of road and for supporting aviation, rail, and public transportation across the state. TxDOT and its 11,000 employees are committed to working with others to provide safe and reliable transportation solutions for Texas by maintaining a safe system, addressing congestion, connecting Texas communities, and being a Best in Class state agency. Find out more at TxDOT.gov. Fan us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.