Caltrans District 11 will begin installing memorial signs in roadside rest areas along state highways in San Diego and Imperial counties to honor the 21 District 11 workers who have died in the line of duty and to encourage travelers to drive responsibly, it was announced Tuesday.
The memorial signs were designed, manufactured and will be installed by Caltrans workers to recognize the workers who have been killed on the job since 1921 across the state, according to the agency.
“Safety is Caltrans’ top priority,” said Caltrans Director Tony Tavares. “Lives are literally at stake every day. We hold a sacred duty to remember all the people who have lost their lives working with us, and I implore all Californians to please slow down and move over in every work zone, every time. A life may depend on it.”
According to the agency, with the passage of the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs of 2021 as well as Senate Bill 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, Caltrans and local agencies now have significant additional funds to repair and maintain California’s transportation system. The additional funding has increased the number of Caltrans employees and contractors working on the state highway system, “highlighting the importance for drivers to stay vigilant and aware.”
“It is more important than ever to take special care and to watch out for our highway workers on the state’s roads,” said Gustavo Dallarda, District 11 director. “Our work provides people and businesses with multimodal options to safely go where they need to. That work is very dangerous.”
“I am making a plea to the traveling public to pay close attention to the signs, cones, striping and other installations that drivers to reduce speeds in construction zones,” he said.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, highway construction and maintenance work is one of the most hazardous occupations in the United States. In 2021, more than 9,500 work zone collisions occurred on California highways, resulting in an estimated 2,971 injuries and 73 fatalities. Nationally, drivers and passengers account for 85% of people who are killed in work zones.
Caltrans has partnered with the California Transportation Foundation to develop two funds to benefit the families of Caltrans workers killed on the job. The Fallen Workers Assistance and Memorial Fund helps with the initial needs a surviving family faces and the Caltrans Fallen Workers Memorial Scholarship is available to the children of these workers.
For more information or to make donations, visit the California Transportation Foundation at https://dot.ca.gov/programs/safety-programs/shsp.
City News Service contributed to this article.