Caltrans is again honoring the dozens of highway workers who've lost their lives on the job and stepping up efforts to make work zones safer.
189 traffic cones sat on the west landing of the State Capitol Thursday during the transportation department’s 29th annual memorial - each bearing the name of a Cal Trans worker who lost his or her life in the line of duty.
“…Deborah Ross, District Four, 2009… Gary Smith, District Three, 2010… Shawn Baker, District Two, 2013…”
Members of the California State Military Reserve stood at attention when the latest cone was added to the display, honoring Caltrans maintenance worker William Casdorph who was killed last September along State Route 163 in San Diego.
“He was selfless, passionate, dedicated to his family – including his Caltrans family,” said the transportation department’s director Laurie Berman.
“To say he had a big heart would be an understatement,” she continued. “A few years ago, he helped rescue a blind, deaf and feeble Jack Russell Terrier while he was working near I-8. Then, he was able to reunite the dog with his very grateful owner.
“He went out of his way to help the public, and his co-workers, and made a huge contribution to people’s lives without them ever even knowing him by keeping our highways safe.”
Berman also recognized four contract workers who lost their lives on the job in the last year before announcing a new safety initiative to get drivers to slow down in work zones.
“You’ll be seeing signs that say ‘reduced speed limit’ and include the lower speed limit – usually 55 miles an hour – through the work zone,” Berman explained. “We’re asking that you slow down, pay attention and put away your distractions.”
Kevin Walker is just one of the Caltrans workers asking for your cooperation. His truck was destroyed in an accident along I-5 the day before last Thanksgiving. Fortunately for the highway maintenance lead worker, he'd left the cab to talk with a CHP officer about the initial incident he'd been responding to.
“My message for everyone is ‘stay off your devices and when you see flashing yellow lights, give us a break and move over a little bit,” said Walker. “The last thing I want is to become a cone. It almost happened to me last November.”
Caltrans is also expanding the space between workers and traffic and expanding work windows to allow crews the flexibility to get projects done quicker with less impact to the public.