Road crews say they're harassed

Construction manager says some drivers ignoring 'road closed' signs

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Two or three times this month, Randy Call, Craig Road and Bridge director, has called the police to report motorists speeding around road closed signs into construction sites.

During previous years, he estimates he's had to make just one such call a summer.

Chuck Weiss, construction manager, said he doesn't know what has changed -- whether it's something in the air or if people are losing their patience, but road construction at the corner of Industrial Avenue and Stout Street has been plagued by angry drivers this summer.

It's reached the point where Weiss is worried about his crew's safety.

"They don't see they could actually hurt us with their vehicles," Weiss said.

The project began April 1. Road and Bridge closed roads on all sides of the construction site, requiring some Craig residents to drive one block out of the way.

Weiss estimates 10 percent to 15 percent of drivers ignore the "road closed" signs and drive through the construction site.

"It just seems like we're seeing it more and more. People just can't handle the inconvenience," Call said.

Once past the road closed signs, some drivers swear at the workers, give them the middle finger, and spin their tires before leaving the site.

"They just don't want to take the time to drive around," Call said.

Last week, Weiss said he saw a motorist speed across the sidewalk, cut over a scale at a grain mill, and nearly tip her vehicle as she ran off the curb.

Weiss encourages his crew of six to nine employees to calmly walk away from motorists who hassle them.

Weiss plans to put up double penalty signs as the first step to curbing the problem. That measure would increase the fine for driving in a road closed area to $60 and increase the points that go on a violator's drives license to six.

The project should be completed next week if weather permits and equipment doesn't break down, Weiss said.

Chris LeBlanc lives at the south end of Stout Street. The noise associated with the work, which starts at 8 a.m., is annoying, he said, but it doesn't take him anytime at all to drive one extra block to avoid the construction.

But LeBlanc said he does wish the Road and Bridge crew had given him notice they were beginning construction. Instead, he said he awoke to go to work one morning and found his road being torn up and closed down.

Weiss said his department doesn't always give residents notice of construction.

The crew has been reopening the roads at night, Call said, and they construct small ramps so residents along Stout Street can access their driveways.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or rgebhart@craigdailypress.com.

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