DOT Officals and Craven County crew remind drivers of construction zone safety

CRAVEN COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) – In 2021, nearly a thousand people in the U.S. died because of crashes in construction zones, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

Often, the victims are the drivers, which is why officials remind people to pay attention, including at an area in Craven County.

Anyone who drives on U.S. 70 in James City is probably familiar with the construction work that started about two years ago. Now, crews and officials are asking people to be extra careful when passing by.

“That someone’s family member that’s working beyond the orange barrel, the cones, the hard barriers, they’re out here trying to do a job to make improvements for the traveling public,” said Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Southeast Regional Safety Manager Eric Yates.

Being distracted or reckless when driving in these zones can come with deadly consequences. In fact, hundreds of thousands of wrecks occur every year in the U.S. in construction zones, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

“The statistics tell us each year in the U.S., there’s roughly 105,000 vehicle motor crashes in work zones, and within those 105,000 there’s roughly 42,000 injuries,” said Yates.

People working at the site say anyone behind the wheel should be on heightened alert. “It’s really important for motorists as they approach the work zone to be in tune and put down any distractions,” said the James City Project Resident Engineer, Wendi Johnson.

She says that’s especially true for this project. “James City is a unique project in a sense that there’s not a lot of good detour routes, so that means for one the contractors time that they can put road closure in is restricted a lot to night,” said Johnson.

Extra signage is set up to remind people of the work ahead. “The boards will actually display messages like slower traffic ahead, prepare to stop, all in an attempt so motorists will know what they’re going to encounter as they encounter it,” said Johnson.

The construction started on this project about 2 years ago, and while they are slightly behind schedule, they are expected to have it completed by the middle of 2026.

There is a closure happening on April 20th at the western end of the construction. It will happen on and off between midnight and 5 a.m.