Sixty orange traffic barrels line the east lawn of the Capitol Campus in Olympia this week.
Each barrel represents one of the Washington State Department of Transportation workers killed on the job since 1950. They’ve been placed as part of National Work Zone Awareness Week, but the need for work zone safety exists all year long.
Transportation work zones are dangerous places. Vehicles often zoom by just inches from workers — who are there making improvements to keep all travelers moving. And in addition to the tragic loss of the 60 WSDOT workers, there are also countless workers injured each year — some with life-changing injuries.
Trent Galusha knows those dangers first hand. He works as an Incident Response Team driver, responding to stranded motorists and helping with traffic control at crash scenes. Six years ago, though, a passing motorist thought it would be funny to throw a 64-ounce Slushee at Galusha on the side of Interstate 5, striking him in the head.
He suffered a traumatic brain injury, struggling to remember even basic things. It took months of treatment and pain before he returned to work and two years before he felt fully himself again.
“It took a long time before I could drive by that spot again,” he said. “And we’re just out there trying to do our job. … It can be scary because people are not focused on their driving. … I bet I see 30-plus people still to this day texting and driving or watching videos and driving.”
Read the rest of the story on the governor's Medium page.