Interstate 55 construction zone merits review

Interstate 55 construction zone merits review

THE ISSUE:  Too many fatalities have occurred recently on Interstate 55 construction zone.

OUR VIEW: The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) should follow State Senator Andy Manar’s suggestion for a site review.

STAUNTON (Dec. 28, 2017) – Last week, State Senator Andy Manar of the 48th district sent a letter to Randall Blankenhorn, Secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), asking for a review of what could be done to address the extremely dangerous construction site of Interstate 55. The site is just outside of Manar’s district near the Hamel and Edwardsville exits in Madison County. Within the last month alone, the site has claimed the lives of five women, two of whom were Manar’s constituents and residents of Macoupin County.

Several other crashes have occurred in the area of the construction zone between Hamel and Illinois 143 since late October when traffic was reduced by one lane in each direction for road repairs. The road work is expected to continue through late September 2018.

Manar stated, “Clearly there is a problem that needs to be addressed. I have constituents who drive this stretch of highway every day or have loved ones who do and they are extremely concerned about their safety in light of these crashes.”

Manar is asking Blankenhorn if more can be done to minimize crashes and improve safety on behalf of motorists and construction crews who are working on the highway project. Manar suggested that perhaps there can be warnings to slow down or have more police patrols.

We commend Manar for his willingness to hold IDOT more accountable in order to address this situation. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the families of the victims who had to bear such unfathomable news right before the holidays. Semi-truck drivers were responsible for initiating both crashes, one of whom admitted to being distracted while reaching for his drink and the other who reportedly made no effort to stop, thus slamming into the stopped traffic at highway speed.

While there is no remedy for such ignorant, blatant disregard for the law or careless behavior, it is simply unacceptable to allow this situation to continue despite flashing signs and pavement striping that warn motorists to slow down. IDOT officials have a tough job to do. Certainly they are trying to make efforts to improve the road and in the midst of trying to do so they have to contend with motorists who cannot give them or their fellow citizens a break. It seems silly to have to take officers away from other duties in order to sit on the interstate and have more of a presence prior to the construction zone, but it’s no laughing matter that lives have been lost that did not need to be. We strongly urge IDOT to take swift action to address this situation and work in concert with police and legislators to achieve a zero tolerance for recklessness in construction zones.