Moving Tribute

It seems important people always demand something custom
made.

  As Eastern
Metal/USA Sign, Elmira, N.Y., was closing construction on the American Traffic
Safety Services Association’s (ATSSA) National Work Zone Memorial some
wondered how they were going to make it move. Transporting the five panels
which listed 744 names of those killed in the roadwork environment required a
firm—and delicate—hand. Special attention had to be given to the
crates . . . the custom-made crates.

The detail was one of many considered by ATSSA, which felt
the behind-the-scenes scramble of a large project such as this from the get-go.

“There was a lot of things going on,” Jim Baron,
director of communications for ATSSA, told Roads & Bridges.

 

Road flair for design

It was right in front of the Washington Monument in April
2001 where Baron stood tall with his idea. The traffic safety
association’s first work-zone shrine—868 traffic cones for those
who lost a life in 1999—was wrapping up in Washington, D.C., when ink already
started to run on the 2002 planner.

“Someone asked me what I was going to do next
year,” recalled Baron. “I hadn’t even thought about it, and
just at that moment I looked down the Mall and saw the Vietnam Memorial Wall
and thought to myself that would be a great thing to have for men, women and
children killed in work zones.”

After approaching Jan Miller, vice president of sales for
Eastern Metal/USA Sign, Baron “roughed out” a design on his
computer that called for square panels. The digital sketch was turned over to
Steve Eller, graphic designer and marketing associate for Eastern Metal/USA
Sign, who quickly became the project’s character builder. Sections
representing a curved roadway replaced square panels. The whole project would
end up taking about 11 months to complete.

“(Miller) called me back and asked me if he could make
some changes,” said Baron. “What they returned to me was just a
phenomenal rendering of what this thing was going to look like. They went in
and gave it a roadway theme.”

ATSSA also was on the receiving end when it came to
donations for the me-morial. 3M, St. Paul, Minn., and Reflexite Americas, New
Britain, Conn., donated material, a corrugated plastic called Endurance, for
the panels. The two companies worked off templates supplied by Eller to give
the product a second color—construction orange.

The material arrived at Eastern Metal/USA Sign in 4- by 8-ft
sheets. Workers used a simple jigsaw to cut and shape the panels—the
tallest is approximately 84 in. and the shortest is 60 in. Each section is 40
in. wide, and the five together span 23 ft 7 in.

For the names, the idea was to place seven lanes on each
piece and list those killed in work zones below. Different symbols represent
different people: child (cross), law enforcement official (shield), motorist
(circle), pedestrian (person), work-zone worker (diamond) and public safety
official (black square/white cross).

Software helped with name alignment. After input, the
computer spit out a group of names ready to be placed on each panel. So all
Eastern Metal/USA Sign had to do was apply an adhesive sheet.

For the frame, Eastern Metal/USA Sign used another area of
its corporate mind.

“We have a department that also does custom and
commercial architectural work, so as far as the posts and the base plates those
are all extrusions we normally use in the architectural end of things,”
said Eller.

The memorial maker, however, has never had a use for
custom-made crates, which is where Custom Case Co. stepped in. Eller provided
weights, material sizes and everything else that was going to be shipped. The
crates were made to hold over 500 lb. Two are currently used to haul the
memorial from city to city, but a third crate was built knowing that more
panels will be added down the line.

 

Noodles of requests

While Eastern Metal/USA Sign shaped the traveling showpiece,
ATSSA attempted to circle dates.

“We put this big map up and started putting little
yellow stickies on this map as far as who wanted this memorial and when,”
said Baron. “It was mind boggling. It was like, ‘OK, New York wants
it here and Texas wants it there.’ It was like a big bowl of
spaghetti.”

The pasta puzzle wasn’t making sense, and to make
matters worse ATSSA was constantly on the phone answering questions like how
the memorial was going to get to a particular place, how it’s set up and
how it’s taken down.

Monica Worth was hired as a consultant to create some
structure in the scheduling system. Worth has worked with the traveling Vietnam
Memorial Wall, so she was a veteran herself in this area.

“We basically threw everything up in the air and said,
‘Monica, you catch it and figure everything out,’” joked
Baron.

The memorial exchange also became a problem. Initially, it
was thought DOT workers could meet at state borders with their pickup trucks
and pass the five-piece set along. The weight, however, became an issue.

“If it was done that way you would need a
forklift,” said Baron.

Professional movers were hired and use a hydraulic lift on
the end of a 18-wheeler to deliver the memorial. The company also could have a
broken part shipped and repaired in two days.

“If we didn’t have that service and the memorial
was dropped and something broke, the show would have to be canceled for the
year,” said Baron.

Collecting the names was an added chore. Wherever Baron
traveled he would talk about the idea and ask for names, and there was heavy
promotion at Traffic Expo 2002. Several ATSSA members also took the information
and gave it to their DOT public affairs officers, and the National Law
Enforcement Memorial submitted several names as well. Baron said a majority of
those killed in work zones are motorists, but only 10 are currently on the
memorial.

“I just think that’s because most of the names
were submitted by DOTs, so they were workers,” he said.

This project wasn’t without the last-minute hurdles,
either. On top of the crate dilemma ATSSA discovered late that something had to
be done so Congressman James Oberstar (D-Minn.), ranking Democrat on the House
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, could actually
“unveil” the memorial.

ATSSA tossed it back to Eastern Metal/USA Sign, which
created black front covers and T-shaped removal devices.

 

A site to see

High winds wreaked havoc over the dusty construction site in
Capitol Heights, Md., during the unveiling ceremony of the memorial on April 9.
But when it was all over, there wasn’t a dry eye under the white tent set
up by ATSSA.

Amy Snyder, American Road & Transportation Builders
Association’s Highway Workers Memorial Scholarship recipient, capped the
long list of speakers with a heart-tugging speech about her stepfather, Heiland
Goldsborough, who was killed in a work zone in 1999. His name is one of the 744
honored on the memorial.

Snyder was actually enjoying a school field trip, which
included a tour of an ambulance, when she heard news of a road accident. She
later learned it was Goldsborough.

“Each morning when I got up for school he would leave
me a note saying he loved me and he would pick me up after school,” said
an emotional Snyder, a student at Bradley Academy in York, Pa. “Standing
here and talking to you is hard, but I’m doing this to make sure somebody
else’s dad will be there and pick them up after school.”

Baron was moved by all the family members in attendance,
which included ATSSA “Roadway Worker Memorial Scholarship” winners
Angela Finch and Trevor Davies.

“I looked at all the families there. I’ve been
through a few things in my life where people forget the families, and the
families are always the poor people left behind. It was so good to see the
families show up for this,” he said.

When Oberstar spoke he recalled his early days working in
the open pit mines. It was there where he witnessed a horrific event, and
Oberstar has been a safety advocate ever since.

“I watched a dump truck back up and kill a
worker,” he said. “The problem is when a work-zone fatality happens
it doesn’t make the evening news. We can do better as a country. We have
to do better.”

After Oberstar’s words members of the victim’s
families, including Snyder, Finch and Davies, helped unveil the black-covered
memorial. They were then allowed to copy the names of loved ones using paper
and pencil, much like what is done at the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

“I had no idea that the memorial was going to be on
that grand of scale,” said Eller. “It was kinda overwhelming, but
it also was exciting.”

“There was six months of work and then you saw
everything right in front of your face,” said Carrie Tarquinio, ATSSA
public relations coordinator who works closely with Baron. “It makes an
impact on you. And then to see everyone’s expression in the crowd. It was
really emotional.”

The memorial is currently working its way through a
multi-city tour. At the end of the year National Capital Industries, Lorton,
Va., will check for damage and add more names.

As far as what’s in store for 2003, Baron isn’t
whispering any secrets.

“It’s going to involve the memorial, but this
will be a different angle.”

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