The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

March 13, 2013

Don’t put road crews in danger

PennDOT: Work zones to begin popping up

— While PennDOT officials say it’s too early to lay out road and bridge work plans for the 2013 construction season, it’s time to remind motorists that crews already are patching potholes and performing other emergency fix-ups.

In fact, the familiar orange cones were placed last week on Route 22 outside Cresson in anticipation of work.

“This is kind of more of an emergency fix,” Penn-DOT spokeswoman Tara Callihan-Henry told our Kathy Mellott. “Once the snow clears away, they’ll get started on this.”

Motorists weary of being slowed by caution flags for snow- and ice-covered roadways will now be restricted by the spring and summer construction season.  

On tap near Cresson is a project involving a bridge that carries traffic over a Norfolk Southern Railway line. Traffic has been reduced to a single lane in the area.

“Motorists who speed, drive distracted or are simply careless when traveling in a work zone pose a great safety risk to highway workers and other drivers,” noted PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch.

There’s no question work zones pose particularly dangerous driving conditions.

In 2011, the last year for which data were available, there were more than 1,800 work-zone crashes in Pennsylvania, resulting in 21 deaths, including one highway worker. 

The Pennsylvania State Police provide speed enforcement in work zones on state highways. Motorists caught driving 11 miles an hour, or more, above the posted speed limit in an active work zone, or who are involved in a crash in an active work zone and are convicted of speeding, automatically lose their licenses for 15 days.

Nearly 600 motorists had their licenses suspended for work-zone violations in 2011.

Callihan-Henry reminded drivers that PennDOT’s 1-800-FIX ROAD telephone number works year-round to report potholes and other dangerous road conditions, but that during winter months callers usually get a dispatcher rather than an answering machine.

With the current freeze-thaw cycle, more and more potholes are surfacing, creating distractions for drivers while posing damage risks for vehicles.

Motorists also are reminded that they can check traffic conditions on major roadways in the state before traveling by visiting www.511pa.com or calling 511.

With warmer weather anticipated and the arrival of spring next week, we want to thank state and municipal snowplow drivers who have done another yeoman’s job working long hours to clear snow and ice from our highways over the winter months.

It’s a tough job indeed, and one we all should very much appreciate.

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