Union and City Raise Public Awareness about Safety in Highway Work Zones

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Local 1455 President Mike DeMarco discusses highway safety at a joint news conference with the Dept. of Transportation marking National Work Zone Awareness Week on April 4. Accompanying DeMarco are City Council member Ydanis Rodriguez and Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg,

By DIANE WILLIAMS

The union is working with the Dept. of Transportation to encourage motorists to be more cautious as they drive in highway work zones, where four workers have died in recent years.

On a raining April 4 under the Seeley Avenue bridge in leafy Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, New York City Dept. of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and Local 1455 President Mike DeMarco were joined by Council member Ydanis Rodriguez and dozens of workers in neon safety vests to highlight National Work Zone Awareness Week, April 3 through 7.

“This is one of the more important concerns that both labor and management collaborate on and strongly support,” DeMarco said. “We work very hard to keep all DOT workers and motorists safe in work zones as we improve and repair streets and roadways.”

DC 37 Locals 376, 983, 1157, 1455 and 1506 represent hundreds of DOT workers who maintain and repair roads and highways throughout the five boroughs.

As part of the mayor’s Vision Zero program, DOT participates in the annual Work Zone Awareness campaign sponsored by the federal Dept. of Transportation. and the Federal Highway Administration to raise driver awareness and decrease the number of injuries and fatalities caused by motor vehicle crashes in roadway work zones.

Nationwide on average 35,000 people are injured and 700 die each in work zone crashes each year. In New York City, 25 DOT workers have been injured in work zone crashes since 2009; four died.

State lawmakers recently introduced a bill to improve work zone safety that makes it a crime to drive into an active work zone punishable by a fine of up to $500 and imprisonment. It would make vehicular manslaughter in a work zone a class B felony.

“This gray and rainy weather perfectly illustrates the conditions our members work in day and day out to keep streets safe,” DeMarco said. “We urge motorists pay attention, refrain from distractions like texting, and obey DOT merge signs and work zone speed limits. It saves lives.”

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