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DOT worker most hazardous government job in California, Caltrans director tells audience at American Traffic Safety Services Association's Traffic Expo '96 in San Diego
When you think of hazardous duty related to government work, what's the
first occupation that comes to mind? According to James van Loben Sels,
director of the California DOT (Caltrans), in the Golden Bear State, Caltrans
workers are rated as having the most hazardous job among government personnel.
Caltrans workers were cited for the dubious distinction over police and
the California Highway Patrol.
In 1995, three Caltrans workers were killed in work-zone related accidents,
and since 1992 the DOT has recorded 60 worker fatalities.
In a welcoming address before attendees at the American Traffic Safety Services
Association's Traffic Expo '96 in San Diego in late January, van Loben Sels
said Caltrans is taking measures to reduce hazards to Caltrans workers on
roadways and keep its personnel off the highways as much as possible.
Toward this goal, the DOT is using drought-resistant plants, which require
less maintenance and care, while also helping to conserve water. Likewise,
concrete-instead of metal-guardrail is being used more because it requires
Additional measures being taken include locating access areas off of the
freeway, and using longer-lasting light bulbs on freeway light poles. Gang
maintenance-the use of inmates-to maintain highways is being examined.
Pressures from the public to keep roads operational at all times, especially
at peak traffic times, is causing Caltrans to change the way it has traditionally
performed maintenance. "It's becoming increasingly tougher to find
time to perform maintenance on our highways," said van Loben Sels.
"More work is being done at nighttime and on weekends." However,
even with the pressures to keep roadways open, in order to increase the
safety of workers on the roads during maintenance operations, van Loben
Sels said the department plans to shut down a portion-in some instances
all-of a freeway to perform maintenance.
Increased safety in maintenance operations will be necessary for Caltrans
because, in coming years, maintenance will comprise much of the work Caltrans
will do in the state, according to van Loben Sels. "Many of California's
freeways are 30 to 40 years old," he said. "They are in need of
Over the next seven years, the department plans to increase by 30% the amount
of dollars invested on highway maintenance.
Traffic Expo '97 will be held Feb. 2­p;4, 1997 at the Orange County Convention
Center in Orlando, Fla. For more information, contact ATSSA, ATSSA Building,
5440 Jefferson Davis Highway, Fredericksburg, VA 22407-2673; call (540)
Following are selected exhibitors from Traffic Expo '96 in San Diego. For
more information, circle the appropriate number on the reader service card
in this issue and return it to ROADS & BRIDGES.
Barrier passes 60 mph mark
Guardian Barrier System, manufactured by Safety Barrier Systems, is the
only polyethylene barrier system to successfully pass the NCHRP Report 350,
Test Level 3, 100 KPH Crash Test, according to the maker. The system is
designed for use on highway construction projects where vehicle speeds are
as high as 60 mph. The product has been approved in Wisconsin, Kentucky,
California and New York.
The Retrolux 30 retroreflectometer by Advanced Retro Technology, a division
of Gamma Scientific, is designed to meet ASTM and CEN geometry for retroreflection
measurement of pavement-marking materials. The product features collimated
optics for illumination and receiving, a handle trigger for initiating measurement
sequence and can measure on wet or rough surfaces.
General purpose CMS
The CMS-GP432 general purpose changeable message sign (CMS) by American
Signal Co. features an all LED, full-matrix display utilizing 17 deg ITE
LEDs. Utilizing all LEDs provides legibility during all weather, daylight
and nighttime conditions, the company said. The CMS's wide viewing angle
is said to allow the sign to be legible at all times.
Quick-drying pavement marking
Thermo-Quik by Cataphote Inc. is an environmentally sound, quick-drying
pavement marking system. According to the company, when following the manufacturer's
recommended application procedures, the product has up to three times the
effective life of water-based paints.
Reflective marking tape
The Stamark High Performance Tape Series 380 by 3M Traffic Controls Materials
Division is a highly reflective, patterned pavement marking tape with warranted
brightness retention. Primary uses are for lane lines, channelizing lines,
gore markings, and symbols and legends on urban and rural roadways.
ADDCO Manufacturing Inc.'s high technology changeable message sign-the ALS-is
all-LED and all-solar. The product is designed to reduce an owner's operating
costs and save money. The product's S.T.A.R. system (Solar Tilt and Rotate)
optimizes the free energy from the sun. The system's solar panels rotate
340 deg and tilt from zero to 40 deg.
SEG orange sheeting
Nippon Carbide Industries Inc. offers its super engineering-grade fluorescent
orange sheeting. According to the company, the traffic sign technology is
the only premium grade enclosed lens retroreflective sheeting with durable
fluorescent color. The orange sheeting is said to be approximately 70% less
expensive than microprismatic sheeting.
Portable traffic curb
The Qwick Curb portable traffic curb eliminates temporary asphalt curb dividing
opposing traffic in construction zones. The product is reusable, fully portable
and comes in a highly observable yellow color.
Perimeter alarm system
The Watchdog perimeter-intrusion alarm system by Kenco alerts workers to
vehicles entering the work zone. The product is easily customized for differing
work zone areas. It includes a 100 watt siren and is easy and fast to set
Recycled plastic delineator
Carsonite International offers the Survivor, a durable plastic delineator-post
product. The delineator is the first in a series of products that utilizes
recycled materials. With recycled thermoplastics in the delineator post
and a reclaimable steel U-channel anchor, the product contains up to 75%
Intrusion alarm protects
The Myriad Safety Sentinel work-zone intrusion alarm from Traffic Management
Systems Corp. incorporates microwave, digitally encoded visible and nonvisible
light technologies previously used in military applications. The system
also provides a second tier of protection through an advance caveat to drivers
approaching the zone.
Solar detour light
Amida Industries Inc. manufactures battery, diesel, gasoline and solar-powered
trailer-mounted detour traffic-warning systems, including vehicle-mounted
and roadside models. The company's Solarrow solar-powered detour lite is
now available with LED. When the product is in its down travel mode or storage
position, the solar panels remain up to collect energy and charge batteries.
Chromatek Inc. offers TrafficCAD, a Microsoft Windows-based sign-making
software engineered to meet federal MUTCD specifications. The company supplies
complete sign-making systems, including Pentium-CPU based PC units, traffic
software and cutter.
Berry Corp. is a manufacturer of joint- sealing equipment, including its
BMA 100/60 and BMA 20 models. The joint-seal machines feature the Berry
oil-heated hose system and full-blending agitation system.
Siemens is a provider of solar panels for traffic control and safety equipment.
The company's PowerMax technology enables its solar modules to generate
power even under low-light conditions.