|Work Zone Safety Press Conference|
If you’ve ever attended a meeting with our President, Travis Woodward, you’ve probably heard him end the meeting with a simple message, “slow down for work zones”.
This message is especially poignant following a tragic accident on August 9th that occurred on I-84W in West Hartford. At the time of the incident, the right lane was closed, with two lanes open to traffic. A DOT employee had been struck in the face by a motorist who had driven into the active construction pattern, when the motorist was directed to exit the pattern, the motorist stopped his vehicle, exited, and assaulted the DOT worker before returning to his vehicle and leaving the scene.
Thankfully, the DOT worker has since been discharged from the hospital, but not everyone has been as lucky though. In Connecticut’s DOT history, 37 workers have been killed while working in a DOT work zone.
CSEA members Travis Woodward, David Ferraro and Terri Thompson joined our brothers and sisters from CEUI SEIU Local 511 and Senator Richard Blumenthal to highlight the dangerous and violent work zones that DOT members are working in each and every day.
David Ferraro, a construction project manager, survived an accident where he was struck by a drunk driver while on the job back in 1995. He lives his life in severe pain everyday, but still calls himself lucky. Lucky because he survived, and lucky because he got to return home to his family.
Ferraro called on legislators to act now to educate and enforce motorists on the Move Over Law, and expand the Work Zone Speed Camera Pilot Program to address the avoidable and senseless violence and accidents that are happening in these work zones.
“Police, fire, EMS, and tow truck operators are all heroes for helping us in times of distress on our roadways,” said Ferraro, “Give them a break, slow down and move over so that they can do their jobs in the safest manner possible. When traveling through work zones give me and my coworkers a break too. Slow down, don’t drive distracted or impaired and help keep us safe as we work hard to maintain and improve roads and bridges throughout the State.”
Woodward also addressed the crowd and talked about his recent trip to the Mixmaster Rehabilitation Project in Waterbury with the summer internship program (you can read more about the internship program at the end of this article). At this project, they track vehicle speeds through the work zone and even though the speed limit through the work zones is 40mph, the average speed of the motoring public is 68mph, with many cars being clocked at over 80 or even 90mph.
“I have spent many years of my career working behind the thin orange line with my brothers and sisters,” said Woodward, “We need to make safety a priority so my coworkers and I can come home safely at the end of our workday.”
Terri Thompson, a former DOT employee and current CSEA Council 400 Retiree member and Principal Transportation Planner with the Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) also spoke at the press conference. Thompson remembered her over 37 years of service to the DOT and her experience working in these dangerous work zones, “I spent many days and nights working on our roads alongside vehicles traveling too fast and some weighing up to 80,000 lbs and many drivers just not paying attention. I’ve had some scary moments and learned an important lesson to keep my head on a swivel to avoid getting hurt or killed.”
Senator Blumenthal, who spoke at the press conference, recently introduced the bipartisan federal resolution to raise awareness of “Slow Down, Move Over” state laws to reduce the dangers CSEA and CEUI members discussed. This resolution also recognizes the important role law enforcement, fire and rescue, emergency medical services, tow truck operators, and transportation workers play in road safety.
Connecticut already has its own “move over” law. Drivers who approach an emergency vehicle parked on the side of the road must slow down and move over a lane. It’s been on the books since 2009 but much more work is necessary to ensure it is being properly enforced and the Work Zone Speed Camera Pilot Program is expanded.
DOT COOPERATIVE WORK SUMMER INTERNSHIP PROGRAM
On August 10th, CSEA President Travis Woodward joined the DOT Cooperative Education Intern Employment Program for a field trip to the Waterbury Mixmaster Rehabilitation Project. This intern program is open to current college students who are interested in a career in the CT DOT and offers positions in Newington, New Haven, Norwich, Rocky Hill, Thomaston, Chester-Hadlyme and Rocky Hill-Glastonbury offices.
The DOT recruits for positions for everything from general/clerical and maintenance, to professional engineering and informational technology system analysis.
You can learn more about this program by visiting: portal.ct.gov/DOT/COOP-Employment/COOP-Employment