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May 19, 2023
Granite is heavily involved in advocating for work zone safety improvements in Washington state. The company is a member of two separate committees that focus on work zone safety improvements: the WAPA/WSDOT/AGC Paving Work Zone Risk Reduction Committee; and the Union Senators Industry (USI) Work Zone Safety Committee.
The WAPA/WSDOT/AGC committee has been working for many years on work zone safety initiatives with a sizable level of success. A key initiative from this committee was for uniformed police officer (UPO) presence in work zones to deter irresponsible and unsafe driving by third-party motorists to be written into the WSDOT Standard Specifications book. There have been inconsistencies in the past regarding whether UPO presence would be included in contracts for WSDOT work and the committee wanted to eliminate those inconsistencies while securing more safety measures for workers.
Other items that have recently been adopted by this committee are placing temporary rumble strips ahead of work zones and testing smart work zones (SWZ) throughout the state. These SWZs sense when traffic has backed up past the advance warning signs and turn on additional signage to compensate for the backup. An interesting function of the SWZs is the way they communicate with the driving app Waze. When the SWZ is activated, it connects with Waze to inform drivers of upcoming traffic control changes so they can potentially take an alternate route around the work zone and are not caught unaware of traffic pattern changes or backups. Granite successfully implemented SWZ on its recent Interstate 5 rehabilitation project in the Woodland area.
The USI committee is comprised of the major construction unions in Washington (led by the Laborers), senators and industry members including Granite. Since its inception less than a year ago, the committee has already made major strides toward accomplishing its goals. Notably, USI has worked tirelessly advocating for a bill to implement speed cameras in work zones across Washington. The bill recently passed in the Senate and is currently being reviewed in the House Transportation Committee.
Coordinated and persistent pressure and advocacy by the unions and senators for reforms and meaningful change has moved policy and reforms faster than any committee members, including Granite, could have hoped. Outside of the bill to implement speed cameras, USI has also made it a priority to place billboards along major streets and highways, advocating for safe and focused driving through construction work zones across the state.