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Work zone safety in spotlight as construction season begins

Apr. 11, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

IRONTON -- Millions of dollars will be spent on construction this summer in Lawrence and Scioto counties in Ohio and Boyd, Carter and Greenup counties in Kentucky, and highway officials joined forces in Ironton on Wednesday to talk about construction zone safety.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and Ohio Department of Transportation officials met at the site of the $81 million Ironton-Russell Bridge to remind motorists to slow down in construction zones and give construction workers their undivided attention. The bridge is scheduled to be finished in the fall of 2015.

Nationwide, there are about 500 fatalities and 37,000 injuries each year in construction zones, said Bart Bryant, Kentucky Department of Highways District 9 chief engineer. Seventeen of those fatalities were in Ohio, and five were in Kentucky.

"We want to create a heightened sense of awareness on work-zone construction safety," Bryant said. Dozens of work zones soon will spring up, he said. "We want to keep our workers as safe as possible, so please slow down.

"As highway workers, we train flaggers, put up work zone signs and barrels, provide online listings of road work and put our best people on the job to keep motorists safe," Bryant said. "And, as drivers, we all need to take a few simple steps such as slowing down and reducing distractions to keep from becoming one of those persons killed or injured."

"We do all we can to ensure the safety of our workers and the motoring public," said Vaughn Wilson, Ohio Department of Transportation District 9 deputy director. "But to see a real reduction in work zone crashes, certain driver's behaviors need to change."

Some of the projects on tap this summer include:

A $12 million resurfacing and bridge rehabilitation on U.S. 52 in Scioto County.

A $3.2 million resurfacing project on Ohio 140 in Lawrence and Scioto counties.

A $1.1 million resurfacing project on Ohio 141 in Lawrence County.

Approximately $1.9 million in slip repair projects in Lawrence County.

Milling and paving of nearly three miles of U.S. 60 in Ashland from Rose Hill to the downtown area. Several miles of Winchester Avenue and Blackburn Avenue also will be repaved.

A bridge replacement on Keye's Creek in Boyd County and construction on Kentucky 750 at Raceland, Ky.

Nearly 12 miles of new blacktop and improvements along Interstate 64 in Carter County between Grayson and Olive Hill.

A lot of the work on heavily traveled U.S. 60 in Ashland will be done at night, Bryant said.