St. Louis – About a dozen local landmarks and businesses, including the Ferris Wheel at Six Flags and the main terminal at Lambert Airport, will be lighting their buildings orange this week to encourage motorists to slow down in work zones.
It's part of the fourth annual Operation Orange campaign from the Missouri Department of Transportation. The program reminds drivers to pay attention and avoid using cell phones in construction zones as a way to protect construction employees and reduce accidents.
MoDOT district engineer Ed Hassinger said motorists need to be especially aware this year.
"This year, you are going to see work zones on every major interstate and a lot of places in St. Louis you haven't seen for a couple years," he said. MoDOT kept most major routes construction-free for the last two summers as workers completed the reconstruction of Highway 40.
There were 679 crashes in work zones in the St. Louis region last year, Hassinger said. Only two led to fatalities.
MoDOT employee Tony Evans has already been in a work-zone accident this year. He was working on a project on Interstate 70 near Lake St. Louis when a car tried - and failed - to pass a line of slower traffic. No one was seriously injured, though Evans was shaken.
He said he has no idea why the driver didn't see the work zone signs.
"Maybe they're in a hurry, or they're on a cell phone, they're not paying attention," Evans said. "Some people, they just get tunnel vision, they watch 25, 30 feet ahead of them."
Evans would like to see Missouri motorists banned from using cell phones in a work zone. Illinois enacted such a measure this year.