PennDOT urges caution during construction season

May 13, 2019 Cranberry Local News

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CRANBERRY TWP — More than a dozen road projects are ongoing in Butler County, officials said Monday, and drivers should be aware of the workers manning those work zones.

PennDOT officials presented ongoing projects, safety initiatives and partnership opportunities at an open house and talked with officials from the county, area municipalities and representatives for state representatives.

Brian Allen, assistant district executive for design, discussed what the department is doing to ensure the safety of drivers and workers along state roads. Allen said that over the years, safety initiatives have helped make state roads safer, with officials recording an overall reduction of traffic accidents and fatalities.

One effective tool in improving road safety is high friction surface treatment.

The treatment is an effective, albeit expensive polymer binder that increases pavement friction on a roads deemed at risk for high rates of vehicle accidents.

Allen said areas with the treatment installed see a significant reduction in traffic accidents on wet roads and turns. However, the treatment is not cheap and can only be installed in select areas deemed to be at risk for vehicle accidents.

Additionally, PennDOT installs signs, reflectors, reflective tape, lighting and other amenities to help reduce accidents.

Mike Mattis, PennDOT's Butler County maintenance manager, reminded those gathered at the open house of the danger to road crews and brought up a slide of the PennDot Worker Memorial. The memorial shows the number of workers killed while working on state roads, signified by helmets and safety vests.

“We have to encourage drivers to slow down in work zones,” Mattis said. “Even one of those hard hats and vests are too many.”

He added that state troopers and area police officers face risks on the road that could also be avoided if drivers slowed down and followed the rules.

Mattis encourages officials to make use of the department's “agility opportunities.” These opportunities allow municipalities, organizations and others to partner with PennDOT to more efficiently pool resources and get more done with less.

Mattis said PennDOT has several partnerships with municipalities and organizations in Butler County, including with area fire departments and Butler and Cranberry Townships.

He said those interested in more information should contact PennDOT's Butler County agility coordinator Chris Robinson at 724-284-8800.

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Caleb Harshberger

Caleb Harshberger

Caleb Harshberger is a reporter covering Adams, Forward and Middlesex Townships and Evans City, Callery and Valencia Boroughs. He started as an intern with the Butler Eagle in Jan. 2017 and was hired as a staff writer in June of that year. Harshberger earned a degree in philosophy at Grove City College in 2017 and is originally from Syracuse, N.Y.