The Indiana Department of Transportation is leveraging innovations in technology and equipment to reduce the risk of crashes in work zones as a record-setting 2021 road construction season begins in the state.
INDOT Commissioner Joe McGuinness joined law enforcement and road construction contractor partners for a work zone safety showcase Monday on the Robert D. Orr Plaza near the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis.
The purpose was to highlight efforts being made to make work zones safer as INDOT continues to deliver Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Next Level Roads plan, which invests $60 billion in improving existing roads and finishing major projects over 20 years.
“Indiana’s economy is firing on all cylinders as we fight through the challenges of a global pandemic,” Holcomb said. “Our best-in-class transportation assets are critical components to our blueprint for success, and we’re making strategic investments necessary to provide a safe, reliable transportation system that fuels Indiana’s continued success.”
INDOT will deliver nearly 1,300 construction projects this year, a record for a single construction season. When combined with preventative maintenance activities, the state is investing more than $2 billion in road construction in 2021.
“Hoosiers will once again see more orange barrels than ever before across Indiana this construction season,” McGuinness said.
“Those barrels are a sign of the progress we’re making to build and maintain our transportation system so that communities continue to grow and prosper and people can travel safely and conveniently across the state,” he said. “Those orange barrels are also a reminder to slow down and pay extra attention in work zones to make sure people who work in and drive through our work zones stay safe.”
In 2019, Holcomb’s legislative and administrative agenda directed INDOT and the Indiana State Police to research and implement equipment and technology solutions to reduce the risk of work zone crashes. A multi-agency task force was formed in late 2019, and several innovative solutions were tested during the 2020 construction.
Following positive results from research conducted in partnership with the Joint Transportation Research Program, INDOT will be deploying back of queue warning trucks, automated queue warning systems and the Haas alert system in work zones this season.
Queue trucks are equipped with high-visibility warning lights and portable message boards to warn motorists to be prepared to slow down or stop when approaching a work zone. The trucks can be moved closer to or further away from a work zone depending on the length of queue to ensure motorists are warned of slow or stopped traffic at the appropriate intervals.
Automated queue warning systems are a work zone intelligent transportation systems comprised of a set of roadside speed sensors and portable changeable message signs. The system has a customizable speed threshold to accurately detect queued traffic. This information is then relayed to portable and responsive message signs that transmit warning messages to drivers upstream of the work zone.
Haas alert system sends real-time digital alerts to Waze when first responders or construction crews are on scene with emergency lights activated. Drivers who receive these notifications have more time to slow down and/or move over.
Hoosiers are encouraged to visit nextlevelroads.com to use INDOT’s Google Map-based tool to find projects happening near them. Motorists also should check INDOT’s CARS program for real time-traffic conditions and construction project updates. To report a roadway concern, call 855-INDOT4U or visit indot4u.com.
Next week, INDOT will recognize National Work Zone Awareness Week. You can help promote work zone safety by wearing orange April 28.
For information on work zone safety, visit workzonesafety.in.gov.
[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”By the numbers” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
2021 Next Level Roads construction season
Resurface or replace 2,048 lane miles of pavement
Rehabilitate or replace 753 bridges
91 projects to improve safety and traffic flow
Chip seal nearly 1,193 miles of pavement
1,193 total projects with a total investment of more than $2 billion
Source: Indiana Department of Transportation