On freeway construction sites, never drive into work zones

Driving around barricades endangers workers, you and your passengers

PHOENIX – For those building the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway, it’s obvious which vehicles belong in the 22-mile work zone. Many are very large. Smaller vehicles have flashing lights, and some have brightly colored flags waving high in the air to let others know they are in the area.

It’s just as obvious that some vehicles are personal transportation and do not belong on a work site. Some are driven by people looking to explore, others by people hoping to save a few minutes. It’s a dangerous practice that takes place on Arizona Department of Transportation construction sites around the state and has been a challenge of late at freeway work sites.

“The reason we close roads or block off construction sites is for safety,” said Robert Samour, ADOT’s senior deputy state engineer for major projects. “There are many hazards in a work zone that you might not recognize if you’re not familiar with the site.”

That includes huge construction trucks that haul material.

“Equipment operators aren’t looking for you and might not see you,” Samour said. “Construction vehicles are many times larger than a passenger vehicle and could cause significant injuries in a collision.”

In addition, construction workers are focused on building a freeway, not on traffic they don’t expect to be there. Private vehicles driving in the wrong places create an unexpected danger for the hundreds of workers are present every day on this project.

Even if workers aren’t around, unfinished job sites present many dangers to drivers. Some bridges may not be paved yet, and those that are paved may not have railings for safety. Ground that looks solid may not be compacted enough to support passenger vehicles, which could end up sliding down a hill or falling into a hole.

In addition, those stopped by law enforcement for trespassing work zones can result in substantial penalties set by local jurisdictions.

ADOT and Connect 202 Partners, the project developer, stress safety constantly for those building the freeway. Workers have undergone safety training and wear safety equipment at all times on job sites.

“That’s why we ask drivers to stay clear of work zones until we open the road to the public,” Samour said. “We want the community to enjoy the new freeway, but only when it’s safe to do so.”

To learn more about the freeway, please visit SouthMountainFreeway.com.