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Published October 17 2010

Ask your government: Road construction prompts look

Dear readers,

I was short on your Ask Your Government questions for a few days. Therefore, I decided to ask a question that I’ve always wondered before I return to your questions next week.

“Why will there be road construction cones up for long periods of time, yet there’s no work being done on that stretch of road?”

Here’s what Jamie Olson from the North Dakota Department of Transportation said:

“The North Dakota Department of Transportation’s mission is to provide a transportation system that safely moves people and goods. In order to do that, road construction is necessary to maintain the 8,500 miles of highway throughout the state.

“When doing construction projects, safety is the No. 1 priority, including the safety of the traveling public and the safety of the construction crews working on the roadway. Traffic control devices, including cones and signage, are in place to keep everyone safe.

“During a project, the contractor may block off a five-mile segment of road, but work on one mile at a time and continue down the five-mile segment as the project progresses. Continuously moving the cones requires additional resources and could slow down the project and/or make it more expensive.

“Cones are also placed on an extended area to allow for the movement of equipment that may be entering and exiting the work zone and for the general safety of the construction crews that are working on the site.

“Another reason you may see cones section off a portion of roadway is final elements of a project may be waiting for completion. For example, concrete could be curing, which takes up to 10 days, or pavement markings, guardrail, signage or shoulder work may not yet be complete on the project.

“These elements are essential before traffic is allowed on the roadway.

“For projects in urban areas, one of the concerns is traffic congestion. Cones may be placed in order to slow traffic down and lessen the effects of congestion around interstate on-ramps. Again, this is for the safety of the motorists and the crews working on the roadway.”

Do you have a question for a state government official or agency? Send us your question, and we’ll do our best to find an answer.

E-mail politics@wday.com (Subject: Ask your government).

You may also write to Teri Finneman, c/o Forum Communications, Press Room, State Capitol, Bismarck, ND 58505.

Please include your name, town and a phone number to reach you for verification.

Keep up with North Dakota state political news throughout the week at http://northdakota.areavoices.com.


Teri Finneman is a multimedia reporter for Forum Communications Co.