WYDOT urges motorists to use caution when driving through construction zones

WYDOT 5-26-20

Motorists traveling through Wyoming will see more construction crews working on the roads now that warmer weather has arrived.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation’s (WYDOT) construction season started recently and officials want to remind the public to slow down, put down distractions and obey posted speed-limit signs to ensure everyone is safe. WYDOT’s construction season typically starts in April and the majority of the work is completed by the end of October.

“We currently have about 65 active projects throughout the state now that our construction season started,” WYDOT Director K. Luke Reiner said. “More projects will start over the next few weeks and will continue throughout the summer. We want motorists and our crews to get home safely each day, which is why we are asking everyone to pay attention and drive extra cautiously in our work zones.”

When driving through a work zone, motorists can encounter changing traffic patterns and increased activities from crews. For example, if crews are working on one lane of a two-lane highway, traffic may be diverted to the other lane with crews allowing alternating traffic one direction at a time.

Motorists may also encounter increased signage alerting them of changing road conditions, concrete barriers that separate traffic, traffic cones, flaggers and other work zone safety measures.

“Motorists should always put down the distractions when they drive but it is especially important in construction zones,” said Wayne Shenefelt, resident engineer in Cheyenne. “When you are driving through a construction zone, you will encounter both contractors and WYDOT employees working alongside traffic. There could also be heavy equipment working in close proximity to those employees and the traveling public. There is typically a lot of things going on in these construction zones, which leaves a lot of room for something unexpected to happen. If motorists can be more alert in these areas, it can potentially prevent something tragic from happening.”   

When traveling during construction season, motorists should check WYDOT’s 511 website at wyoroad.info for road and travel conditions, allow for extra time to get to their destinations, obey posted speed limits in construction zones.

Fatalities have occurred in Wyoming’s work zones over the years with three in 2015, three in 2016, five in 2017, three in 2018 and four in 2019, information from WYDOT’s Highway Safety program indicated. As for total injuries, there were 70 in 2015, 62 in 2016, 75 in 2017, 96 in 2018 and 61 in 2019. 

“We don’t want to see any fatalities or injuries in our work zones,” Reiner said. “That’s why we want to bring awareness about traffic patterns and conditions people will experience in work zones. We want drivers to pay attention, slow down and heed construction signage so they help keep each other safe.”

Officials with WYDOT and the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Wyoming have also worked together to ensure workers on construction sites stay safe while working during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Officials developed and suggested construction protocols that address staff safety, public safety and contract requirements. 

“We have a short construction season in Wyoming, which is why it is vital we continue to move forward with our projects,” Reiner said. “We have implemented several safety measures such as social distancing to help keep everyone safe.”