DOTs begin annual limitations on construction, lane closures for Labor Day weekend traffic

(Phto: VCU CNS / Flickr)(Phto: VCU CNS / Flickr)

Many state departments of transportation (DOT) will suspend work on bridge and road projects, or at least limit lane closures, throughout their respective states this Labor Day weekend to provide motorists a traffic congestion respite and to reduce potential work zone incidents.

AAA has stopped releasing forecasts for traffic volume for this holiday weekend, as it is lower than other holidays, but continued with Memorial Day and Independence Day and will provide a forecast for Thanksgiving. Lack of forecast aside, this coming weekend is still one of the more heavily-traveled times of the year.

Vehicle miles traveled for the first six months of 2016 broke a record, reaching 1.58 trillion million miles, according to a recent Federal Highway Administration Traffic Volume Trends report. The previous record of 1.54 trillion miles was set last year.

“We know that thousands of motorists will be traveling Tennessee’s roadways during the Labor Day holiday,” says Tennesee DOT Commissioner John Schroer, whose agency is halting all lane closures on interstates and state highways from noon today through 6 a.m. September 6.  “We want them to get to their destinations safely, and without road construction delays.”

The Georgia DOT will suspend construction-related lane closures on similar routes in at least the northwest portion of the state from 5 a.m. today until 5 a.m. September 6. “The only exception would be for emergency maintenance work in the case of traffic accidents, and other unpredictable types of transportation incidents,” says DeWayne Comer, district engineer at the Georgia DOT in Cartersville. “We understand that a lot of people are hitting the road for the Labor Day holiday and we would like to make it a little easier for them to go through northwest Georgia. We typically see an increase in roadway fatalities during heavy travel holidays. We cannot overemphasize the need to slow down, drive alert and take every pre-caution to protect yourself and your passengers.”

South Carolina DOT is following a similar pattern, and is prohibiting, with the exception of emergencies, lane closures, road closures, shoulder closures, pacing operations “or any operations that may impact the efficient flow of traffic or hinder normal traffic operations” until 6 a.m. September 6.

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“We remind motorists to focus on safety during this Labor Day Weekend,” says Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall. “For many South Carolinians, it will be a time of relaxation, family gatherings, traveling to sporting events or possibly an end of season vacation. We want everyone to reach their destination safely.”

Neighboring North Carolina DOT began its restrictions on most construction at 6 a.m. on August 31 and will lift them at midnight on September 5. The Virginia DOT will extend their roadwork limitations a bit longer, until noon on September 6.

New York State DOT will lift its non-essential lane closures for road and bridge construction projects on state highways until 6 a.m. September 6. “As always, drivers should remember to pay attention to the road and stay off their cell phones during this busy travel weekend,” says Commissioner Matthew J. Driscoll.

The Ohio DOT also will suspend most construction work over the weekend as well, and emphasizes the importance of safe driving practices even during the period of inactivity. “ODOT has seen an alarming rise in crashes and fatalities in Ohio’s work zones, where drivers and passengers are more than twice as likely as workers to be victims,” says ODOT Director Jerry Wray. “Last year, Ohio had the highest number of work zone crashes in a decade.”