KDOT and contractors are keenly aware of the value of safety on our highway projects. As we have read in previous posts here, there are countless firsthand accounts of accidents and near misses in our work zones across the state. I believe we could greatly reduce these numbers if everyone is committed to being on the same team – KDOT, contractors and the traveling public.
|Tim Garhardt and co-workers.|
Often times a contractor finds their primary focus being the project schedule and trying to get ahead, to maintain the plan or sometimes to catch back up to the plan. This is inherent to the nature of a low bid process where the estimated production rates and durations yield the costs that are incorporated in the unit prices and the overall bid strategy. This focus can, and often does, clash with the priorities of the owner’s engineers and inspectors responsible for these projects. This big challenging project on I-70 was one of those that had a clash of priorities.
When classes started again in the fall, I was again fortunate in having the opportunity to go to work for the contractor on this same project as they moved their project engineer out to oversee the paving operation and I backfilled some of his responsibilities. A view from both sides on the same project.
As I reflect today, this unique opportunity to see a project from both an owner’s view as well as the contractor’s side, was foundational for me in recognizing the value of working together and truly partnering toward a common goal. At the end of every project is some form of recognition of accomplishment. For many projects we point to the quality, the good ride or the timely completion. I believe the projects that we can be most proud of are the ones that were completed safely. We may have had our disagreements along the way, but in the end, we built the project and we delivered it SAFELY.
We need another teammate for success on our roadways and reduce the number of accidents and near misses – the traveling public. It is unlikely that we will have the chance to bring this teammate to a project meeting, talk with them face to face or celebrate the project’s success with them. So how do we get them on board? How do we get them to focus on this priority as we do?
This is where we partner with our efforts to provide a safe work zone every day. KDOT and contractors work together to provide adequate oversight and implementation of the traffic control plan with qualified personnel and quality signs and devices. We work together to make sure that these work zones have adequate reflectivity at night and correct all types of deficiencies in a timely manner. We work together to provide schedule information, phase changes and traffic impacts to the appropriate partners to get the word out to this third teammate. Through news briefs, social media and other methods, we let the public know what to expect so they can plan accordingly. Then their part is to pay attention in our work zone, put away the distractions and focus on safety as we do.
Building our projects as a team allows all of us to deliver a project safely.
Tim Gerhardt is President of Koss Construction Co. in Topeka