Watch out for work areas


Be especially careful when crossing construction zones this summer. What looks like a road maintainer could be a state soldier looking for work zone violations as part of Operation Hardhat.

Operation Hardhat is a law enforcement campaign targeting motorists driving recklessly in construction areas.

Some soldiers will be patrolling active roadwork areas throughout the summer along the Adirondack Northway, Thruway and other highways where construction or maintenance work is underway. Others will be disguised as road maintenance workers.

They will be on the lookout for drivers who disobey signaling personnel, accelerate into the work area, or violate state travel law.

“We have zero tolerance for those who drive recklessly and endanger the lives of others,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

Bryan Viggiani, public information officer for the Department of Transportation, said the goal is for drivers to treat work areas like they treat police vehicles – slow down; drive carefully.

“People tend to slow down when they see a police vehicle,” he said. DOT wants work vehicles to be seen in the same terms.

“Our people are sometimes there with nothing more than a shovel or a pestle,” Viggiani continued. “It’s dangerous work, and we need motorists to respect it.

In 2019, a maintenance worker was killed when a tractor-trailer driver crashed into his truck while parked on the shoulder of Highway 17.

There were a total of 214 work area intrusions statewide in 2019, 67 among DOT forces and 147 among contractors.

Ten DOT employees were injured.

The operation began last week, and in two days of application on the Northway in Warren and Saratoga counties, soldiers issued 85 tickets. Sixty-four were for speeding, two for cell phone use, one for unsafe lane change, one for violating traffic control and 17 for other infractions.

Further efforts in Broome and Cortland counties saw soldiers writing 67 tickets.

During last year’s Operation Hardhat, state police wrote 1,048 tickets statewide.

Question: I live in Clifton Park and cross the Northway on Sitterly Road frequently, as do many other cyclists and pedestrians. The relatively dense traffic results from the shopping centers on either side of the bridge and the limited number of crossing points available. The bridge has adequate lane for riding, but the railing on the side of the bridge is quite low for a cyclist. This places the passenger’s center of gravity higher than the rail and encourages passengers to venture into the taxiway rather than risk a fall on the Northway tracks below. On all Northway bridges similar to Clifton Park, additional barriers have been added, usually chain link fences, for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. Would it be possible to add such a fence to the Sitterly Road bridge now that the road is being modernized? It would be a great improvement in security.

—Tom Metzger, Clifton Park

A: According to Viggiani, pedestrian style fencing is in the DOT plans.

It will be installed on the railing when the running surface of the Sitterly Road Bridge is rehabilitated, which he says is expected over the next two years.

I-787: Exit 6 of I-787 southbound to Route 32 (Broadway) at Menands will be closed July 24-27 as DOT performs resurfacing and pavement work. To make a detour, the DOT suggests taking exit 7W to Route 378 West to merge onto Route 32.

Have a question about transportation in the Capital Region? Send an email to [email protected] and fill in your name, city and phone number or tweet @abigail_rubel.


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