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National Work Zone Awareness Week still on for April 20-24
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National Work Zone Awareness Week still on for April 20-24

Michigan DOT cancels kickoff event due to COVID-19 concerns

National Work Zone Awareness Week will continue as scheduled on April 20-24. However, Michigan officials canceled the April 21 kickoff event in accord with CDC guidelines regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

As of Sunday, the CDC recommended groups not hold gatherings of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks.

Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) officials discussed the issue with ATSSA today. It was agreed that MDOT will instead host next year’s event. Virginia DOT had been scheduled to host in 2021 but will now host in 2022.

National Work Zone Awareness Week highlights the importance of safe driving through work zones because of the risks of injury or death. The event started in Virginia in 1997 and became a national event three years later after ATSSA teamed with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AAHSTO) to increase its exposure.

The week starts on April 20 with Work Zone Safety Training Day, which emphasizes the importance of laying the groundwork for safety through training of personnel. Companies are encouraged to pause during the workday for safety demonstrations, discussions about safety policies and other prevention steps.

April 22 is Go Orange Day during which all roadway safety professionals are encouraged to wear orange to show their support for work zone safety. Watch for our Twitter feed and the hashtag #Orange4Safety.

MDOT had planned a large-scale event, which was scheduled to include Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other public officials at the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti Township.

This year’s theme is “Safe Work Zones for All: Protect workers. Protect road users.” It features a poster reminiscent of the World War II poster with Rosie the Riveter. In her place are a male and female roadway worker proclaiming the message of the original poster: “We Can Do It!”

Michigan chose that image as a reflection of its industrial heritage. The original “Rosies” worked as riveters in an aircraft factory that built B24 bombers. Today that factory is the American Center for Mobility, an outdoor track on a 500-acre property where Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAVs) are tested and where the kickoff event will be held.

MDOT has a partnership with ACM and felt it would be the perfect location for the NWZAW kickoff as it is representative of the future of our roadways, according to MDOT Work Zone Tech Specialist Chuck Bergmann.

It was unclear where the event will be held next year.

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