DOT, Highway Patrol urging caution in road construction zones | Prairie Public Broadcasting

DOT, Highway Patrol urging caution in road construction zones

May 22, 2020

ND DOT Deputy Director Ron Henke.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Associated General Contractors of North Dakota executive vice-president Russ Hanson.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

North Dakota’s Department of Transportation has scheduled $400 million worth of construction projects this season.

The DOT said while highway workers will be practicing safe distancing and implementing other precautions because of COVID-19, motorists will see the usual things in construction zones.

DOT Deputy Director Ron Henke said last year, there were two work zone-related traffic fatalities – and the goal this year is to bring that down to zero.

"Please slow down as you enter those work zones," Henke said at a Bismarck news conference. "Put down the phone. Buckle up. And remove those distractions as you drive through the work zones, and pay a little more attention."

Henke said it’s also a good idea for motorists to plan ahead. He said on the DOT Website you will be able to see where the roadwork is scheduled.

Associated General Contractors of North Dakota executive vice president Russ Hanson said drivers need to be aware work zones change often.

"Don't assume the work zone is going to be the same in the evening as it was in the morning," Hanson said. "You need to be careful, even though it's something you've gone through before."

ND Highway Patrol Sergeant Wade Kadrmas.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

If you’re caught speeding in a construction zone, the minimum fine is $80, when workers are present. Two people were killed in construction zones last year.

"There might be some feelings out there that going a little over the speed limit is not a big deal, or glancing down at the phone is not a big deal," said Highway Patrol Sgt. Wade Kardmas. "But that can turn into a citation, or criminal charges."

Kadrmas said construction workers have a lot on their minds, especially this year.

"With COVID-19, they're trying to keep their distance from one another, and they could be  spread out even more in these construction zones," Kadrmas said. "We just ask for your vigilance, and know that the Patrol will be doing our part to ensure that motorists are doing what they're supposed to be doing through the construction zones."