States continue road and bridge work, DOT operations amid coronavirus pandemic

Various states have put protocols in place to maintain safety for workers during pandemic

March 26, 2020
Dispatchers for Arizona's Traffic Operations Center are still on duty 24/7 to monitor the freeways and highways across the state.
Dispatchers for Arizona's Traffic Operations Center are still on duty 24/7 to monitor the freeways and highways across the state. Image: Arizona DOT

Several state DOTs are continuing operations, including road and bridge construction work, while much of the nation has limited movement and in-person social interaction in various aspects of life in response to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Michigan DOT crews are reportedly considered essential by the state, which is currently under a stay-at-home order. Work on projects such as the I-496 construction project—which is set to begin April 1—are still expected to commence without delay. The difficulty for crews, according to one report, is maintaining the recommended 6 ft of separation from their fellow crew members while working.

The Arizona DOT (ADOT) says its essential operations will continue with little expected interruption. ADOT says pavement repairs will continue, as will highway construction and improvement projects. Around the state, maintenance crews are repairing pavement and guardrails, removing rockfall and performing other work to keep highways operating safely. ADOT construction and improvement projects are moving forward as well, with no anticipated disruptions. ADOT says from jobsites to offices, its employees are observing social distancing guidelines and taking precautions such as workers using the same vehicles every day. Many meetings involving groups are moving to video conferencing or conference calls. The dispatchers for the state's Traffic Operations Center are still on duty 24/7 to monitor the freeways and highways across the state.

The Alaska DOT&PF is following the state's guidance on liberal telecommuting and a significant percentage of employees are working from home in order to maintain at least 6 ft of separation. For those employees who cannot telework, the DOT&PF says it is diligently working to ensure social distancing and implementing thorough cleaning protocols. For example, equipment operators are cleaning their vehicles before and after each use and meetings are held in the equipment bays where employees have room to stand at least 6 ft apart.

The Florida DOT (FDOT) is reportedly continuing work on one of its most high-profile projects, the I-4 Ultimate Improvement project. According to one report, FDOT crews are hoping to get that project and others like it completed more quickly due to the current lack of traffic on state highways. Officials have said within the last year that the project is approximately nine months behind schedule due to delays from Hurricane Irma, damages to infrastructure, and several worker injuries or deaths on the jobsite.

Many states continue road, bridge, and maintenance operations while states such as Pennsylvania and cities like Boston have temporarily suspended all construction activity. However, these cities and states are still allowing for emergency or essential transportation construction or maintenance work to continue. Other high-profile projects around the country have recently been suspended as a precaution to protect workers from COVID-19 exposure.

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