Safety and the value of movable barriers...

by guest blogger Jeff Adamson

Working on the side of the road is one of the greatest hazards our construction crews deal with. Just the other day we received an email with a story that we thought was worth telling  from the project inspector on the SR 285 Senator George Sellar Bridge project in Wenatchee: "Yesterday afternoon a vehicle struck the QMB.  It was a hit and run.  There were two ironworkers (70’ +- off the deck) in the man lift just past the point of impact.  They reported hearing a thud and seeing the vehicle regain control.  The QMB probably just saved two lives.  It goes to show that the QMB was a great idea and a good investment!"

What is a QMB?  It stands for “Quick-change, Movable Barrier”.  The SR 285 Sellar Bridge project that’s adding a new eastbound lane is one of the first projects in the state that has utilized this relatively new technology for separating traffic from the construction crews.  The benefit of the QMB is that it can be put in place, and then moved (up to 18’) in a matter of minutes instead of the hours required to place/remove traditional concrete jersey barrier.  In the case of the Sellar Bridge project, the majority of the work had been done during night time hours so 4 lanes would be open during the high volume traffic hours.  A special vehicle put the QMB sections in place each evening and moved them to shoulder each morning until December when night work ended.  Since it’s too cold for any concrete work over the winter, only some daytime iron work is continuing as weather allows.  So, until spring, the QMB has been placed to keep traffic off the new lane, providing the necessary space for the work underway preparing for completion of the last piece of the project – a new bicycle/pedestrian bridge facility being added to the structure outside the bridge rail, next to the new lane. (We made room for the new lane on the existing bridge by removing the sidewalks.)

This event last Wednesday (Jan. 12) reconfirms, for us, the value of the emphasis on safety we maintain and justifies the expense for things like QMB instead of plastic traffic cones.
For more information on the Project:

Don't Let Traffic Jams Make You A 'Road Rage' Offender

Most drivers have experienced being stuck in traffic and I'm sure almost everyone would agree that it can be a frustrating experience. Nobody enjoys sitting in bumper to bumper traffic, especially when you’re in a rush to get to work or have an appointment to be at, but it’s important not to let that frustration turn into anger, cloud your judgment and turn into road rage.

While there isn’t reliable data on the exact number of ‘road rage’ incidents happening on our roads, stories about them still show up in news headlines every day. In fact, a recent article in the Washington Post about traffic congestion reported that the number of drivers in the DC area that say they frequently feel anger towards other drivers has doubled in the past five years. The Foundation’s 2009 study on aggressive driving behaviors also supports the idea that aggressive behaviors are more commons than we think – simple things like speeding, running red lights and cutting someone off are all aggressive driving behaviors that in some cases results in a more violent act of road rage.

All drivers need to take a deep breath sometimes and remember that most important thing about your commute is getting to your destination safely. Here are a few tips on how to avoid aggressive driving from our road rage brochure:

1. Don’t offend
• Avoid cutting other drivers off and apologize if you accidently do so
• Avoid tailgating and aggressively honking the horn as these things anger other drivers
• Avoid making inappropriate or offensive gestures

2. Don’t Engage
• If you notice an aggressive driver, do your best to get out of their way
• Avoid eye contact to prevent any encounter from becoming more personal
• Seek help if you think someone is following you by driving to a safe/crowded location

3. Adjust Your Attitude
• Don’t focus on “making good time”, instead leave earlier to allow yourself extra time in case there is traffic that slows you down.
• Put yourself in the other driver’s shoes – would you want to be cut off, tailgated, or yelled at?
• If you find yourself getting angry while driving, take a deep breath and remember any escalation of a situation will only make things worse.

A couple of feel good videos to start your weekend...

First we have a great story about a couple who's long distance relationship was held together by their train trips. John Lee, a Seattle attorney, asked us if he could propose to his girlfriend, Sarah Kaufmann-Fink, on the train and we were very excited to help set this up:

The second is from the Grays Harbor Chamber of Commerce.  The US 101 Simpson Avenue Bridge had to close in August after an inspection revealed damage under the bridge. This closure resulted in a long detour for citizens in the Hoquiam area. We were able to repair the bridge and reopen it Jan. 10.  The Grays Harbor Chamber of Commerce cleverly used a karaoke video to promote the local businesses after the bridge re-opened. We love the fact that they found a way to be positive and creative during a tough situation:

A winter acrostic to help you be prepared...

Here's a little winter acrostic and haiku for you from our very own, Jamie Holter:

WSDOT Says: Be ready


Weather: it changes, check the forecast and check it again later

Snow: means different things to different people. If you don’t like to drive in snow, then don’t.

Diapers: bring extras if you plan a long trip with your young kids. (Bring prescription drugs, too, if you need them.)

Oranges: just one of the tasty snacks you’ll want to have in your car in case you get stuck

Tires and tanks: make sure your tires are inflated and you have a full tank of gas

Brakes, batteries, belts should all be in good working order before winter. Chains should be in your car.

Email updates let you know in advance what to expect on the road (

Radio in your car is a great way to stay on top of changing weather conditions. News radio stations update traffic many times an hour.

Everyone can get home safely if we all prepare and plan ahead

All wheel drive. If you have it, that’s good. But everyone should carry chains. The only way you’ll cross the pass during intense snow storms

Driving too fast for conditions is the worst thing you can do in a snow or ice storm

Yakking on the phone: Don’t do it while you drive, it's illegal to do. We want you to make it home.

Traffic is building
Drivers leave before the storm
The snow rush is on

Share your winter haiku with us!