PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — You may have noticed that the digital signs along the state’s major highways are now sharing messages like: “work zones are a sign to slow down.”
As the weather gets warmer, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) is reminding everyone to be vigilant while driving through work zones.
“Our workers are in danger every day,” RIDOT Director Peter Alviti said. “They’re out there working just a few feet away from traffic … picture at your office, where many of us work, a large commercial truck going by … that’ll rattle you up a bit.”
“These people work out there in that environment every day, rebuilding your roads and bridges,” he continued. “The least we can do for them is pay attention, abide by the law and slow down.”
Each year, according to Alviti, hundreds of people are injured in work zone crashes. Last year, Alviti said there were 750 work zone crashes statewide.
“We’re grateful that none of them were fatal, but we can’t say the same for many of the other states,” Alviti said.
Alviti said the number of deadly work zone crashes has spiked nationwide over the past decade, with more than 850 deaths reported last year alone.
That number is a 150% increase over the past 10 years, he added.
Alviti said they’re underscoring the importance of work zone safety now more than ever as the state enters peak construction season.
“We’re putting out construction here in Rhode Island at a faster pace and in a greater amount than ever before in our state’s history,” Alviti said. “It makes it even more important for motorists to pay attention, obey the law and drive carefully when in or near a work zone.”
Rhode Island is expected to see an uptick in construction projects thanks to President Joe Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Alviti said the federal funding will help the state move forward with approximately 100 projects worth nearly $2 billion.
There are more than 60 construction projects planned for this year alone, which will create over 200 work zones.
Alviti encouraged drivers to expect an increase in work zones throughout the spring and summer months. He also suggested allowing for extra travel time to ensure the safety of other drivers and those in work zones.