Maryland’s highway administrator joined with state police Tuesday in a plea for safety on the roads during the construction season getting underway in the D.C. suburbs this spring.
This is Melinda Peters’s first construction season as administrator of the agency responsible for state roads, but she has spent a lot of time around highway projects — most recently as the director of the Intercounty Connector project.
Her message was pretty simple: “Slow down and pay careful attention behind the wheel,” she said. “Our goal is to get everyone — drivers and workers — home safely at the end of the day. It starts by being prepared and knowing where and when to expect roadway construction.”
After a mild winter, those work zones certainly aren’t hard to find. Peters was standing in the middle of one of them, where the Landover Road bridge across the Capital Beltway is under reconstruction. That project is quite far along and should be completed in May.
“These busy roadways are our offices,” said State Police Lt. Col. Pete Landon. He noted that sometimes the only protection that highway or emergency workers have is the reflective vests they wear.
Those, and maybe some speed cameras, which the state uses in a few of the long-standing work zones. But there will be so much work going on in zones that shift every day — whether for paving or grass cutting or pothole repair — that many road crews are highly dependent on the skill and alertness of individual motorists.
Over the past decade, an average of 2,600 crashes have occurred each year in Maryland work zones, injuring more than 1,400 and killing 12 people, according to state statistics.
“Pay attention,” Landon said.
The State Highway Administration lists its upcoming and continuing projects in an online brochure called e-Road Ready.
Here are some highlights:
* The rehab on the Capital Beltway’s Northwest Branch Bridge in Silver Spring will continue through the year, but it will get more interesting when the work zone moves into the middle of each loop and traffic is diverted around both sides of the work zone barriers.
* Work is just getting underway for several road projects around the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda. These intersection improvements are designed to address the extra traffic generated by the federal base consolidation.
* Construction begins this spring on the next segment of the Intercounty Connector between Interstate 95 and Route 1. The work is scheduled to end in fall 2013.
There will be a lot of resurfacing, including 16 major projects in Montgomery and Prince George’s, said Kevin S. Nowak, the assistant district engineer with responsibility for the two counties.
That includes I-270 between the Beltway and Old Georgetown Road, which should be done this summer; East West Highway from New Hampshire Avenue to Park Avenue, a spring through summer project; Georgia Avenue from Emory Lane to Baltimore Road, during the summer and fall; Central Avenue from Enterprise Road to Devonwood Drive, summer into fall; and Largo Road from Homestead Drive to Prince George’s Community College, during the summer and fall.