ST. LOUIS — It’s National Work Zone Awareness Week (April 11-15). State transportation departments are using it to highlight the ongoing need for road safety and to honor those who have lost their lives in construction zones.

“A lot of people seem to forget the people behind those cones, behind the barricades, behind the barriers, that is somebody’s mother, father, son, neighbor, and friend,” said Joel Cumby, a construction engineer for the Illinois Department of Transportation District 8.

He said this Work Zone Awareness Week hits home after IDOT saw an uptick in injuries and deaths.

“Last year, unfortunately, there were 25 deaths and over 1,600 injuries in Illinois work zones — and that’s just absolutely unacceptable. We can and must do better,” Cumby said.

Just last week, an IDOT truck was involved in a fatal accident after the truck was hit by a driver on I-64 in East St. Louis. Illinois State Police said the driver later died and was charged for improper passing of an emergency vehicle.

Cumby said the department has tried to evolve with the changing statistics. He said IDOT has recently created a specific safety unit to help with work zone safety. The department also has spent more time and resources putting work zone safety messages on highways.

Over in Missouri, two MoDOT workers were killed in a crash in November and one of the workers was pregnant.

“In 2021, there were 17 fatalities in work zones across the state of Missouri. Seveteen fatalities, 17 too many,” said MoDot district engineer Tom Blair.

Blair said many of the crashes they’ve seen have been caused by speeding in work zones, distracted driving, and failure to yield to work crews and other drivers.

“That makes it more important this year to ensure that we all take this week to focus on work zone unawareness so we can go into this work zone season as motorists and as employees doing everything we can,” Blair adds.

  • For a list of all in-progress and upcoming MoDot projects, click here.
  • To see weekly construction reports for the St. Louis region, click here.