TXDOT stresses work zone safety, adds new safety measures to protect workers

The Go10 project is the largest scale project to date for the Texas Department of Transportation’s El Paso office. Credit: KFOX14

KFOX14 got a behind the scenes look at the GO10 work zone in West El Paso.

It’s the largest scale project to date for the Texas Department of Transportation’s El Paso office.

Construction in the heavily commuted portion of I-10 is difficult, made more dangerous by drivers who fail to follow detours and speed limits and break through barriers.

TXDOT District Engineer Bob Beliek said safety is not only a constant concern, but dangerous work conditions are distracting and can affect the time line of road projects. Proper protection setup for drivers and workers helps keep everyone safe and working efficiently.

However, reckless drivers, who ignore all of the protections, pose a lethal threat and have killed seven workers in the El Paso area over the past five years.

“People don't drive at the speed limit through the work zones, and it's important, because we're dealing with reduced lanes, closures, no shoulders in this area, and if you’re going above the speed limit or riding bumper to bumper, it makes it that more dangerous,” said Beliek.

Drivers often complain about the time of closures ,but TXDOT said they try to schedule most of the roadwork overnight between Monday and Thursday. While overnight roadwork saves more headaches for drivers, it can be more dangerous for workers.

In Texas, drunken driving is a leading cause for crashes and a big contributing factor to why the state leads the nation in traffic deaths.

Due to this, a one of a kind dragnet was added to the GO10 work zone. It helps catch rogue vehicles if drivers pass all the other barriers without injuries or damage.

On top of all these safety measures, the El Paso Police Department assist more with overnight closures with several units on sight to help alert drivers of closure but still have their eye on the road during the day.

“The El Paso Police Department has been and will continue to run speed operations on I-10 on the Westside. Drivers need to obey the speed limit, be patient and signal when you are changing lanes, allow others to merge in and don’t ride bumper to bumper, giver yourself space, “said Lt. Steven Schmidt, with the EPPD’s special traffic unit.

The GO10 project has a lot happening all once, and that's why project manager Tom Twomey urged drivers to be patient and think of everyone’s safety, not just their drive time.

“This is a $158 million project. We're halfway through the project, time and money right now. We just finished switching at Mesa. That's built in three phases. We finished the first phase, which is the demolishment of existing eastbound traffic and the shift of that eastbound traffic on top center bridge that was built. Over the next couple of month, we’ll be shifting a lot of areas, opening up lanes and demolishing ramps as new ones are completed,” said Twomey.

He also said the project was behind at first but has caught up and has potential to finish up to a month ahead of schedule, if weather cooperates and everything else continues to run smoothly.

The expected completion date for the project is April 2019.

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