Construction on California Roadways Gets Into Full Swing
During construction season, it’s always a little more difficult to know what’s on the road ahead. Conditions can quickly change, lanes can be altered, workers can be in or near the road, and speed limits can suddenly drop. These possible risks can also increase the chances of a serious vehicle accident.
It can be hard to pay attention and keep focused on the road when construction projects seem to pop up all over Northern California and Southern California. This article provides information about major road construction projects planned in California in 2020 and how to be safe on the road no matter where you are.
2020 Projects to Be Mindful of on the Road in California
Northern California Projects
San Francisco is likely to be the city hardest hit by road construction projects in 2020. A massive $15 billion budget for Caltrans means that many of the roads, bridges and culverts in the area that have needed repair for a long time are finally being targeted for updates. Roads will see improvements and the addition of new lanes.
The project includes improvement to Interstate 680 between Scott Creek Road in Milpitas and the 101-280 junction, as well as I-680 from Sunol to Dublin.In addition, work is also expected to get underway at Highway 85 between Bernal Road in San Jose to 101 in Palo Alto.
In total, according to Constructive Dive, that will allow for repairs and construction on over 17,000 miles of road surface and 500 bridges. It will also kick off a paving program that will stretch over the next decade in San Jose.
An Interstate 5 repair project just kicked off in January 2020 and is expected to last over the next year. The 20 mile highway stretch to be repaired in this project includes an I-5 stretch from San Joaquin County to Sacramento.
In Santa Clara, there’s a project to widen Foothill Expressway between San Antonio Road and El Monte Avenue. A new lane in each direction will be added, along with improvements made to the intersection in general. Construction on that project is scheduled to begin in March 2020.
In Alameda, roadwork along I-880 is underway to improve more than 104 miles of road north of Fremont Boulevard to High Street. The project is expected to complete the north- and south- bound near Oakland shortly.
The California High Speed Rail Authority has also closed down some areas in Monterey, including Eastbound Avenue 7 when getting off of State Route 99. In addition, the City of Monterey is regularly doing street work that could throw your commute or errand trips off kilter; check their website to see the latest projects.
Southern California Projects
Three new underground stations will be built in 2020 under the Regional Connector Transit Project. This means removal of the Alameda St and 1st St intersection. While businesses will stay open during the construction, anyone going through downtown LA should plan to use alternate routes. The street will be closed several weekends: March 27, April 3/10, May 1, and August 28 for that project.
Inland Empire/San Bernardino
There are a lot of road construction projects happening in the Inland Empire after a rough winter season on San Bernardino area roads. Caltrans has been able to catch up on a lot of backlogged and tabled projects thanks to the passage of SB 1.
Drivers can also expect the huge construction project near the 60-91-215 interchange at Riverside and new bridges at Monta Vista Avenue, Benson Avenue, and Pipeline Avenue to impact them throughout at least the fall of 2021. Ongoing lane closures are expected as part of that process.
Facts About Construction Sites and Injuries
Drivers are at risk of being critically hurt in an accident if they don’t adapt their speed for road conditions or if they strike another vehicle that suddenly merges or brakes. In the midst of all this are construction workers on the road, who can also be injured. Construction workers face a higher risk of serious or fatal injury due to the nature of their jobs.
Between 2016 and 2017, total work zone fatalities increased by 2 percent in the United States, according to the Federal Highway Administration. In 2018, a total of 671 fatal crashes happened across the country, leading to 754 fatalities, according to Work Zone Safety.
Travelers on the road all face higher risks of serious injuries near construction zones due to other drivers zigzagging, sudden braking, and challenges with unexpected lane changes. Inattentive drivers can cause accidents with major pileups and big injuries.
Safety and Precautionary Steps for Avoiding Road Construction Projects
The more you can do to be aware of your environment, the easier it will be to avoid accidents. Watch for signage that indicates a change in driving patterns or the presence of people near the road. Flashing lights and bright colors are used to capture your attention, but this can make it hard when the construction workers wear colors very similar to orange cones.
Here are some other tips to keep in mind when you’re driving into a construction zone.
First, plan for extra delays. Trying to rush through because you’re tight on time gives you less room for error if you need to adapt your driving quickly. Stay patient and allow for extra time in case the speed limit is reduced.
Second, don’t follow too closely. It’s all too easy to end up in a rear-end collision if you don’t leave at least seven seconds of space between you and the next car to brake in adequate time. Using defensive driving techniques can also help you maintain a safe distance from workers, construction equipment, and other vehicles.
What to Do After a Work Zone Accident
Other drivers are the most common cause of vehicle accidents. This is due to failure to adjust speed, inattention, or trying to change lanes without the clearance to do so. In some cases, a work zone accident is not caused by driver error, but by the road conditions within the zone. This presents unique considerations for an injured vehicle driver or passenger trying to determine liability to recover compensation.
In some cases, work zone accidents may have occurred due to poor maintenance or marking of roads used during construction, improper or inaccurate signage, or insufficient signage. All of these issues can contribute to work zone accidents. Safe road alternatives or construction warnings may have prevented drivers from passing through the work zone safely.
If you or someone you know has already been injured in a construction zone accident, a proper investigation of the scene is a vital next step after getting medical attention. Attempting to determine the liability and the cause for the collision can be an enormously challenging task for an injured victim who already has enough on their plate. If you think the accident was not your fault or construction conditions may have been a contributing factor, this information should be shared immediately with your California personal injury attorney.
Recovering from a construction zone accident can seem like an uphill battle, but having an experienced attorney at your side to guide you through it can make a big different in your ability to recover.
Our law firm has worked with many construction accident victims to assist them with the full process from investigating the accident all the way through negotiating settlement and if needed, preparing for trial. Contact us today to get answers to your questions about your construction zone accident.