Tag Archives: construction zones

A barrel here, a barrel there…

The in basket: I’ve written a couple of times about the February conference I attended over at Sea-Tac at which vendors of the latest in high-tech traffic control got to show off their wares.

Today I’ll mine a couple more bits if information I found interesting.

Have you even driven through a construction zone marked by mile after mile of orange barrels on the shoulder? Often, when I encounter such a stretch, I find myself wondering what one of those barrels costs?

So I asked Todd Wilson of Traffic Safety Supply Co., who had a booth at the conference. His answer: $80 each, mostly due to the reflective tape that makes then visible at night. That tape is pretty pricey, he said. I also visited an online site that said the barrels aren’t just thrown together, but must meet federal standards that keep them from penetrating a vehicle in a high speed collision.

So next time you find yourself passing dozens or hundreds of those barrels at a work zone, have a passenger count them and multiply by $80. And that doesn’t even count the cost of setting them out. Usually, they belong to the contractor chosen to do the job.

Todd gave me another figure while we talked – $16,500. That’s the price of one of the new-generation impact attenuators that are installed on the end of concrete abutments to absorb the impact of a car hitting one, he said.

That’s what his company was paid for one that replaced an older one at the start of the ramp that carries northbound traffic on Highway 3 over the Gorst business district on its way to Bremerton after a vehicle hit it at high speed last summer. Todd had been told it was a suspected suicide attempt, but I couldn’t confirm that. The driver was badly hurt but survived, he said. The impact was nearly double the 45-mph design capacity of the old attenuator, which had to be scrapped.

The one his company sold the state won’t require that, he said. It is designed to be pulled back into shape after its hit to guard occupants of the next car that crashes into it.

Why are Gorst, NK construction zone signs still up?

The in basket: Jack Carson wrote me on Oct. 21 to say, “Signage was posted this summer along north-bound Highway 3 near State Route 308 for paving operations on Highway 3.  The signs indicating road work and ramp closures, completed in early August, are still in place along the north-bound exit and on-ramp to/from SR 308, and signs a mile north indicate the end of the road work zone.

“Who is responsible for removing this signage litter – the state, the county, or the contractor; and why haven’t the signs been removed? ”

I don’t know if those North Kitsap signs still are there now, a month later, but the ones around Gorst, which was part of the same paving project, still are. I asked the state, which contracted for the work, if there is something remaining to be done.

The out basket: Kelly Stowe of the state’s Olympic Region, says, “There are still a couple nights of permanent signing work to be done next week (it would have been done this week but the weather was too bad).

“After that, all the work zone signs will be removed.  I would expect that they will be removed sometime next week.  We did not forget them!” she said.

What is speed limit in a construction zone?


The in basket: L.C. Smith, a one-time flagger with a Mason County public utility district,  says he wonders when he sees the signs about fines doubling in construction zones just what the speed limit is, especially when there is a flagger present.

He recalls a trooper once telling him it’s half the posted speed limit, but that was years ago, he said.

The out basket: If no reduced speed signs are posted, the speed limit is unchanged from normal conditions. It’s the fines that change, not the speed limit, in a work zone without a posted temporary speed limit. And, though the signs don’t say so, only speeding fines double. Fines for failure to yield and the myriad other possible violations remain the same. 

The presence of a flagger changes things, but no specific speed is established. State law says the following:

” A person who drives a vehicle in a roadway construction zone in such a manner as to endanger or be likely to endanger any persons or property, or who removes, evades, or intentionally strikes a traffic safety or control device is guilty of reckless endangerment of roadway workers. A violation of this subsection is a gross misdemeanor .

“The department shall suspend for sixty days the license or permit to drive or a nonresident driving privilege of a person convicted of reckless endangerment of roadway workers.”

The maximum penalty for a gross misdemeanor is a year in jail and $5,000 fine, though maximum penalties usually aren’t imposed unless the defendant has a long record of similar offenses.