Emergency response in construction zones

I-75 North near Stewart Street. (WDTN Photo)

DAYTON, Ohio – (WDTN) It was a frustrating day for drivers on 1-75 N near Dayton. One lane was closed for hours after a semi hit a guardrail causing a backup.

What about drivers of emergency vehicles?

We wanted to know, how delays like this impact first responders on I-75.

Vehicle after vehicle inching along Interstate 75 north bound, waiting their turn to get through the one lane of traffic open in this construction zone.

That was the scene around Dayton for hours today.

“When you have to close a lane, we do just have one lane open north bound. That can lead to some delay,” said Mandi Dillon with ODOT.

But all this traffic with barely any room to move has us asking, are construction zones designed with emergency response in mind?

I talked with a trooper at the Ohio State Highway Patrol. He said responding to an accident in a construction zone can be difficult especially when there’s no shoulder to drive on.

Their best option at that point is to slowly make it to the scene by weaving through traffic…which can slow response time.

I asked Spokeswoman Mandi Dillon if ODOT does anything to help with this.

“We’ve alerted all of the emergency responders, firefighters, police ahead of time so they know there’s going to be a construction zone there and they know what the proper detours are,” said Dillon.

Dillon said getting to an emergency when orange cones and cement blocks are in place is planned out even before a project begins.

One of their programs is called “Quick Clear.” That involves working with law enforcement from around the area to plan out routes around or through construction zones.

“It’s just a program that helps us clear these types of accidents as quickly as possible,” said Dillon.

Dillon also said they can close additional lanes or even take emergency vehicles through parts of construction zones to get to an incident.

Dillon said that’s why it’s even more important to slow down and use caution in those construction zones to avoid accidents in the first place.

You want to make sure you are giving everyone the space they need and just staying alert when you are in the construction zones,” said Dillon.

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