April marks the official start of the road construction and repair season. This will not surprise anyone who travels on roads and highways. The telltale orange barrels and pylons have been popping up along state and local thoroughfares in recent weeks, signaling that work crews will soon be working on designated projects.
On Interstate 74, which runs through Vermilion County and skims downtown Danville, notices were recently posted that the eastbound and westbound straight lanes of the freeway just west of St. Joseph, would close at the start of work on a project involving bridge repairs. on the Salt Fork River and the Salt Fork.
Bridge projects are some of the most common travelers will encounter and require a great deal of time and attention from contractors when applying bridge deck coatings and substructure repairs. In this case, the current lane closures should be complete by Labor Day, when construction shifts to left-hand lanes. The whole project should be finished in November, at the end of the work seasons.
The project is significant and will impact interstate travel in the county for the duration of peak traffic. This means that motorists can expect periodic delays when traveling through the area. For Danville folks, travel to Champaign and other points west should be approached with extra caution.
As boring as construction season can be, travelers should resist the temptation to let their aggravation make them less aware or less cautious of increasing traffic hazards. Construction areas can be dangerous for motorists and workers, so special attention is always required. Put down your mobile devices, keep your eyes on the road and slow down when approaching work areas.
Illinois Secretary of Transportation Omer Osman made this recent appeal to motorists: “No matter what mode you’re traveling in, if you’re traveling in Illinois this year, you’ll pass through work zones. The people behind the cones and barricades are someone’s father, mother, son, daughter, friend or neighbor. Please slow down and give them room to work, for your safety and ours.
Each year, more than 6,700 motor vehicle accidents occur on average in Illinois work areas, resulting in more than 1,600 injuries. In 2021, 25 people died in Illinois work areas, none of whom were workers, the first time this has happened since 2015.
In addition to refraining from activities that may cause distracted driving, motorists are urged to obey signs in and around work zones, to slow down and to be on the lookout for slowed or stopped traffic. Consider the limitations of heavy equipment, trucks and utility vehicles. Give them extra distance to stop if they are behind you.
No matter where you travel, drive responsibly. Be careful. Be careful.