In recognition of National Work Zone Awareness Week, which begins today, Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) Director Michael P. Lewis is inviting members of the media to join him for a tour of active highway maintenance work zones. Reporters will have an opportunity to experience firsthand what it feels like to work along some of Rhode Island's busiest roadways.
WHEN: Tours will take place on Thursday, April 10, 2014, from 1-2 p.m., and Friday, April 11, 2014, from 1-2 p.m. and 2-3 p.m. Space is limited; email Rose Amoros at firstname.lastname@example.org if interested in participating.
WHERE: Tours will depart from RIDOT's Highway & Bridge Maintenance Headquarters, located at 360 Lincoln Avenue, Warwick. Participants will ride along with Director Lewis and visit active work zones where bridge repairs or other maintenance activities are being conducted. Those attending must wear closed-toe, rubber-soled shoes. Safety vests and hard hats will be supplied.
The Rhode Island State Police will also be on hand to provide another perspective of what it is like to work along the interstate. Every day, these roadways are "work zones" for dozens of safety officials and tow truck drivers. To protect these workers, Rhode Island enacted a "Move Over" law in 2008. It requires drivers to slow down or, if possible, move one lane over when passing an emergency vehicle responding to an incident or otherwise assisting someone along the side of the road.
In addition to the work zone tours, RIDOT is partnering with AAA for the fourth consecutive year to light the State House dome orange during Work Zone Awareness Week. The Pawtucket River Bridge will also be lit up in orange.
National Work Zone Awareness Week, sponsored by federal, state and local transportation officials each April, draws attention to the safety needs of road workers during construction season. Generally, crashes occur when drivers speed through a work zone, do not pay attention to changing road conditions, run into other vehicles or highway equipment, or drive off the road completely. In 2012, the most recent year for which data are available, 609 people died in highway work-zone crashes nationwide – an increase of 19 fatalities from 2011.
"Many sections of our nation's roads will be busy with workers and drivers in the coming months as construction activity picks up," said Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Deputy Administrator Greg Nadeau. "By following the rules of the road in work zones, we can keep people safe during National Work Zone Awareness Week and all year long."
The FHWA works with state and local transportation officials and industry groups to promote improvements in work zone planning and design, increased law enforcement near work zones, enhanced worker training, and heightened awareness among drivers. Over the last decade, FHWA awarded nearly $33 million in grants to promote work zone safety training and the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse.
For more information on National Work Zone Awareness Week, visit http://www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/wz/outreach/wz_awareness.htm.
Contact: Rose Amoros 401-222-1362 x4450, 401-261-2159