MENTOR, Ohio - New construction zone safety signs were unveiled Friday during a news conference in Mentor.
Twenty-eight construction workers have been killed in Ohio construction zones in just the last two years.
Locally, Kokosing Construction has been directly impacted by construction zone tragedy. Last fall, one of their workers was struck and killed by a semi truck on I-77. Another worker was seriously injured after being run over by a taxi on Brook Park Road. Four different drunken driving crashes happened in Kokosing Construction zones last year.
All of that led the company to contact State Sen. Tom Patton (R) of Strongsville.
Patton introduced legislation that resulted in new safety signs being unveiled this week.
The portable variable speed limit signs have yellow flashing lights much like school zone signs reminding drivers to slow down.
Currently, construction signs show a posted speed limit, for instance 60 mph.
But the new signs can have the speed limit lowered electronically and remotely during construction work hours, while also activating flashing yellow lights on the portable signs.
Officials said many motorists grew used to the older static speed limit signs in construction zones and often ignored them by not slowing down.
Officials said they believe the flashing yellow lights will alert motorists much like school zone signs.
The flashing yellow lights also mean traffic laws are enforceable by troopers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, unlike the static signs, which are a recommended speed limit.
"Today is another benchmark in our efforts to improve work zone safety," said ODOT Director John Wray.
Wray also said the deadly crash on I-90 in Avon last week that killed a bridge painter could result in an ODOT policy change.
The policy currently allows construction zones under a half-mile long to not lower speed limits.
The speed limit on I-90 near the Nagel Road overpass where the worker was recently killed was still 60 mph. Wray said ODOT will take a closer look at that policy and perhaps using these new signs.
The new flashing yellow light speed limit signs will be used for the first time Friday night in the construction zone on Route 2 in Lake County between State Route 306 and State Route 615.