Safety: Mission Zero

Written by  John Obr, Construction Division Director, Texas Department of Transportation

At TxDOT, safety for the traveling public, our workforce and contractors is our number one priority. While safety is always paramount in work zones, there’s a real need to use extra caution during holiday periods when more motorists are on the road traveling to visit loved ones.

Derek Angel stands with Bill Hale
Derek Angel stands with Bill Hale at the Houston Area Christmas Luncheon. Hale,
longtime Dallas District engineer, was then appointed director of engineer operations for
metro districts in August. Recently, he was promoted to TxDOT’s chief engineer

We work closely with our contractors before and during holiday periods to ensure they’re on board with our best practices regarding work zones operations. There is one primary reason for this emphasis on safety. We want every person working on TxDOT projects to return home to their loved ones at the end of the work day. Simple enough. That includes all contractor personnel as well as department employees.

Facing danger in work zones is unavoidable. We often work inches away from speeding traffic as we build and maintain the Texas transportation system.

We conduct regular safety meetings with contractors to discuss, in detail, the work zone traffic control plan, construction phasing and any need for changes to improve work zone and traffic safety. Two weeks before a holiday period, we communicate with contractors the dates that the department will not be allowing lane closures so that they can plan their work appropriately. We don’t allow lane closures during peak holiday travel times, except in unique situations with prior approval from the TxDOT district. We also schedule crews for final drive-thru of major projects for issues that need to be addressed prior to the holiday period.

One week before the holiday travel period, we check roadways, particularly work zones, for debris, including shredded tires. We also verify that work zone signing and pavement markings are in place and clean. Dead signing, markings, barricades and drums that are damaged or no longer reflective are removed or replaced.

During the holiday travel period, we notify our Communications Division and administration of any emergency closures. We also make sure that construction equipment is parked in safe, secure locations.

John Jasek
John Jasek TxDOT and Wade Miller with Big Creek listen intently as
General Weber, Executive Director TxDOT, addressed the Waco Area
meeting participants.

As part of our effort to be the best-in-class department of transportation, it stands to reason that we are going to set the highest expectation of Safety: Mission ZERO. This isn’t a just a performance measure; this is our TxDOT family making sure that every family involved in the highway construction industry enjoys every holiday together. And, a quick shout of thanks to all our contracting partners on the safety front. Your willingness to share your thoughts and ideas with TxDOT supports our charge to take our bestin- class safety program to the next level, and your efforts are very much appreciated.

Be Safe. Drive Smart. Give them a brake. Don’t barrel through work zones. Many messages, one goal. Safety: Mission Zero.

MediaEDGE Logo sml