April 21, 2023
By Lane Kimble
The numbers from the past five years illustrate one piece of the story.
11,678 crashes. 4,370 injuries. 63 deaths.
But it’s the people who can better remind us all to drive carefully in and around Wisconsin’s work zones.
“June 4, 2009 rings a bell with a lot of us here at Dane County Highway as we lost a coworker on our roads to a tragic accident,” Assistant Maintenance Superintendent Jon Strandlie said this week during WisDOT’s Work Zone Awareness Week kickoff press conference.
Strandlie was referring to James Porter, 61, who was hit and killed while doing roadside maintenance on Highway 151 near Sun Prairie.
“Not only did we lose a coworker and a friend, but we lost one of our family. And (James’) family lost a son, a brother, a father, and a grandfather,” Strandlie said.
Strandlie shared that story while standing in front of orange cones with black ribbons, symbolizing workers who never made it home to family and friends. The event also featured the State Patrol Superintendent, a Federal Highway Administration representative, and workers from R.G. Huston Company – putting faces and real people behind those statistics.
“The women and men in work zones all across the state have a right to a safe work environment,” WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompson said during his speech. “All work zones are temporary, but the decisions we make behind the wheel can have an impact that lasts forever.”
Gov. Tony Evers declared this week (April 17-21) Work Zone Awareness Week, which included daily reminders of safety tips and a nationwide “Go Orange Day” on Wednesday.