We’re generally mindful of the construction zone speed limits now placed on Interstate 94 in the east metro, even though going 45 mph is risky business for the law-abiding. One can almost read the texts on the phones of the drivers behind.
On Friday, several cars went racing past — police K-9 units from Wisconsin, Burnsville, St. Paul, and some other suburbs. They weren’t on an emergency call; it’s just that 45 mph is just too slow for important people who have places to be.
That doesn’t stop MnDOT from continuing to ask people to slow down, as it does again in Tim Harlow’s column in the Star Tribune, focusing on I-94 on the other side of the Twin Cities.
Here’s the part that surprised us at first: MnDOT pays the State Patrol to enforce the speed limit.
MnDOT is paying the patrol $75 to $100 an hour to watch over the work zone at various times of the day and tag leadfoots. A trooper nabbed one driver clocked at 74 mph where the speed limit is 55. Troopers have also cited drivers for other violations such as not wearing a seat belt, drifting over lanes and driving with a suspended driver’s license, said Lt. Tiffani Nielson.
“Blue and red lights are our saving grace,” said John Sloan, project manager for PCI Roads, the company MnDOT hired to carry out the $46 million project to repair 50 bridges and resurface the road. Police presence and the threat of a $300 fine for drivers caught speeding in a cone zone might have the desired effect. “If traffic reacted the same way to orange lights, there would be a different story here.”
Presumably, the State Patrol officers being paid are off-duty and working overtime shifts.
“I see people fly by me all day long,” Sloan said. “People don’t listen to the speed limit. They get in the habit of going 70 in a 60, and now there are workers and 30,000-pound machines right next to the driving lane. There are a lot of hazards there and the workers feel unsafe. There just seems to be a lack of common sense.”
And math skills. Driving at 60 instead of 45 through the duration of the east side’s project from Woodbury to St. Paul saves about 60 seconds.
No workers have been killed on the I-94 project since it started last year and resumed a few weeks ago.