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Roadwork brings warning to drivers in Tulsa area

Roadwork brings warning to drivers in Tulsa area

This article first appeared in the Tulsa World
BY MATT BARNARD - Tulsa World
Published: April 4, 2009

Dan Schmidt, safety director for Traffic & Lighting Systems Inc., speaks to drivers Friday about several upcoming road construction projects during a news conference in Tulsa. PHOTO BY MATT BARNARD, TULSA WORLD

TULSA — With federal stimulus funds paving the way for dozens of road projects in Oklahoma, drivers should be more careful, officials said.

Representatives from several government agencies gathered Friday afternoon near Tulsa’s Inner Dispersal Loop to urge caution as construction workers are sent to busy highways across the state.

About $465 million will soon funnel into Oklahoma for transportation work, officials said. The extra money will double repairs, but increase congestion and traffic problems, said Dan Schmidt, safety director for Traffic & Lighting Systems.

"We realize that tempers run short, but road construction companies and their employees are doing the work that you asked to be done,” he said.

In 2007 — the most recent year for which complete figures were available — 21 people were killed in work-zone crashes throughout the state. High speeds and driver inattention were cited in many of the accidents, according to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

The projects will be stressful for crews as they work alongside speeding cars, Transportation Department Project Manager Nathan Bullard said.

"I’ve been doing this for about seven years now, and you never do get comfortable,” he said. "You really have to stay on guard at all times. It’s very high-tension and very nerve-wracking.”

Police and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol plan to add officers near certain work zones to help prevent automobile crashes, officials said.

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