2009 Work Zone Memorial photo

2009 Worker Memorial

2009 Go Orange photo

WSDOT Headquaters Building Goes Orange for Work Zone Safety

2009 WSDOT Remembers

Since 1950, 56 Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) employees have died in work zone-related activities. Each year across the nation, approximately 1,000 people are killed in roadway work zones, and with the recent enactment of the President's economic recovery package, 2009 could be one of the most active highway repair seasons in recent memory.

To call attention to roadway workers and the risks they face when working next to an urban freeway or along a rural roadside, WSDOT is hosted a Work Zone Awareness event, Go Orange, April 20 - 25. WSDOT's Headquarters in Olympia will held a remembrance ceremony on April 23 for the families and co-workers of those who have lost their lives in work zones.

Secretary Paula Hammond hosted the ceremony with WSDOT's work zone partners, the Washington State Patrol and Association of General Contractors.

Hammond dedicated the memorial to honor the 56 employees killed in the line of duty.

"Why we are really here today is to honor our workers and their families, co-workers and friends," Paula said.

She thanked the thousands of employees who face work zone dangers every day. She emphasized that the work road workers do each day is vital to driver safety, congestion, preservation and keeping our economy moving.

WSP. Capt. Bill Hilton agreed, saying he knows this because of the collisions to which troopers no longer must respond.

"What a joy to think gosh, it's been forever since we had a head-on at the Narrow's bridge, or a bad t-bone at Burley-Olalla, Capt. Hilton said. "That isn't anything we did by writing tickets. That's the result of great design, quality engineering, and top-notch construction."

Caroline Sand, widow of John D. Swan, (killed October 11, 1985) talked of how John loved his family and how much she knows John would have loved seeing his grandchildren.

"It's the kids (they had five) and every time they go through something like graduation or get married or have children that I think about what we are missing," Caroline said.

Caroline also thanked WSDOT for hosting the work zone memorial and how much she appreciated the WSDOT family.

Belle Williams, widow of Sam Williams (killed February 22, 2000), was unable to attend this year. WSDOT Assistant Sec. Jerry Lenzi joined by Belle and Sam's daughter Kelsey Williams, 18, read from a note Belle sent to WSDOT this year.

"Because of roadway safety awareness programs, people get to hear 'Honey, I'm home' – I ache to hear those words again from big Sam," Belle wrote. "I am blessed though to hear 'Mom, I'm home' or 'Mom, I'm glad you're home'. So even though it's not always openly recognized – I want you to know, those of us who have lost someone, appreciate all of the efforts to make it possible to hear those words."

WSDOT also honored four of our contractor partners killed in WSDOT work zones in 2007 and 2008. WSDOT is submitting their names to the National Work Zone Memorial Wall for inclusion in 2010.

These workers are:

Kollin S. Nielson of Renton was an employee of Kiewit Construction and died on June 22, 2007 on I-405 near Totem Lake when a drunk driver crashed through the work zone and struck him.

Thomas J. Hintz of Everett was an employee of Rinker Materials and died on July 12, 2007 on the SR 20 project west of Burlington

Ricky C. Schaff of Graham was an employee of Ceccanti Inc. and died on March 27, 2008 on SR 304 near Bremerton

Lynette M. Anderson of Beaver, Washington was an employee of Lakeside Industries and died on June 23, 2008 on US 101 near Brinnon.

Photos from the memorial are posted on WSDOT's Flickr site. We're also getting photos from the regions "going orange."

WSDOT reminds motorists to drive safely in work zones by paying attention to lane changes and signs, and by driving the posted speed limits. In work zones, 99 percent of incidents involve only the driver and passenger. That's why in 2009, WSDOT is building on its Give 'em a Brake program to encourage more organizations around the state to show their support for work zone safety. We hope you will Go Orange! during WSDOT's Washington Work Zone Awareness Week.